“What a parent does, not who they are” has the greatest impact on the academic success of their child - Professor Charles Desforges

Choosing a secondary school for your child can be a stressful and anxious time in the life of a parent - how to wade through the choices, understand the different schools types, what they mean and what they cost, are only a few of the questions to ask and consider.

The Aga Khan Education Board hosted a new event which provided bite-size, digestible information and key considerations for parents whilst on the journey of choosing a school, all with the child at the heart, ensuring that all the discussions were parent and child focussed.

During the morning, speakers highlighted the importance of choosing a school that suits a child’s needs, learning motivations and personality, and Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, Chairperson of the Aga Khan Education Board, emphasised the difference that can be made when a child is in a school where they feel safe, confident and excited about their learning.

Five industry-renowned speakers covered:

1.     Key questions to consider when choosing a school

2.     The process for state school applications

3.     Private school bursaries and scholarships

4.     Special educational needs (SEN)

5.     SchoolDash – an online tool

1. Key questions to consider when choosing a school

Laura Cunningham, an Independent Education Consultant, who previously worked for the Department of Education, highlighted the transition that state schools have undergone and that the quality of education they provide has seen a vast improvement. Laura stressed the importance of choosing a school that suits the needs, learning motivations and personality of your child.

2. The process for state school applications

Salma Ishaque, a Department of Education Policy Advisor, spoke of a key consideration for parents - the state schools admissions process. Salma also reassured parents that the application process ensures fairness and did some “myth-busting” to address some of the application myths that parents are told before applying. Citing, one example, Salma clarified that only expressing one school preference is not the way to guarantee your school of choice and that doing so caries considerable risk.

3. Private school bursaries and scholarships

Susan Hamlyn of the Good Schools Guide (https://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/) outlined the typical costs for private schooling and the application process for fee assistance offered by private schools (through bursaries and scholarships) for highly able children.

4. Special educational needs

Shazma Ismail, an SEN specialist, explained that all children have different needs with respect to their learning. Shazma noted that parents should monitor their children’s learning in order to identify any issues they may be facing at an early stage, so that assistance can be sought if needed.

5. SchoolDash – an online tool

Timo Hannay, the founder of SchoolDash (https://www.schooldash.com/), demonstrated his website and explained how it publishes data that has been gathered and analysed to provide parents with up to date information on schools.

Visit the following webpages for more information:

Starting and attending school by gov.uk

School Guide

For more support with making choices about your child’s schooling, contact the Aga Khan Education Board Education Advisory Service at [email protected]