Making the right choices for your secondary school
SEPTEMBER and October are important months in the school year. Not only is it the time when children and young people start back at school, but also the time to make choices about secondary school, for children due to move on next September.
All Bristol secondary schools will be holding open days through September and October, as an opportunity for families to talk to staff, governors and students and see the facilities on offer. Even if you think you have made up your mind, it is not too late to take a look at a couple of other schools before deciding on your final preferences.
I am pleased to report that, over the past few years, our secondary schools have undergone a major transformation in the quality of facilities on offer and, most importantly, the results now being achieved by young people. The very latest results show that 52 per cent of students gained five or more GCSEs at A* to C including English and
maths – a 16 per cent improvement over the last five years.
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We are now in a position where there is high quality leadership in place in schools across Bristol, high expectations of what all young people can achieve, and effective partnership working with a range of new providers.
Very many – though not all – of Bristol's secondary schools now have academy status. This means that although you will apply through Bristol City Council for a place, academies are their own admissions authority, with their own criteria for accepting students. Some determine admissions on the basis of postcode or distance, others by selective banding, religious beliefs, or a lottery from across the city. It is important that parents, carers and children take the time to understand how the schools you are interested in will be offering places. This is to save you unnecessarily 'wasting' any of your preferences by making unrealistic choices.
Advice and help to understand the different criteria is available from the website at www.bristol. gov.uk/schooladmissions.
Some useful tips in making your school choices are:
â Do not leave it too late to start looking at schools and discussing with your child their desires, needs and interests;
â Do not forget the practicalities as part of the decision process – how will your child get to school and will a breakfast or after-school club be needed?
â Use all three of your preferences; this is the best way to ensure that you get a school you want;
â Take time to read the allocations from last year – these will tell you how far away the furthest applicant to get in lived. This will change from year to year depending on numbers applying;
â Apply online to help manage your application and get the quickest answer on national offer day – Friday 1st March 2013.
Taking the time to do your research and talking to other parents will help you feel confident about making the right preferences for your child. A comprehensive booklet listing the schools and the admissions process is available at www.bristol.gov.uk/ schooladmissions.
You can also contact the School Admissions team, on 0117 903 7694, to request a hard copy. Anyone needing help with filling in the forms can contact the Family Information Service for advice, on 0845 129 7217.