New Year schools special: Our guide to choosing for your children

New Year schools special: Our guide to choosing for your children
Choosing your child's school (stock image)

‘What should a prospective parent be considering when looking for the right school for their child?’

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the biggest decisions parents make, and it can seem like an extremely daunting prospect at the outset. It needn’t be.  We are fortunate to have so many excellent schools here in Tunbridge Wells, both state and independent, and all our schools achieve very good academic results.

However, I think the starting point for parents is to think about the school that will provide the best journey to those final GCSE and A-Level results for their child, as well as how their child’s gifts and talents can be developed. 

Here at Kent College, we provide a nurturing environment alongside a personalised approach to education for the girls. We take a forward thinking, creative and adventurous approach to life and learning, and recognise the unique talents of each girl in a vibrant community.

As a result our value added is outstanding and at GCSE, girls typically achieve one grade higher than predicted for every subject that they take. In addition, our extensive facilities mean that we can provide an unrivalled range of sporting, artistic, musical and dramatic activities. 

When visiting a school it is just as important to get a sense of ‘fit’ as, after all, it is individual teachers we remember long after we leave, and very often subjects are chosen because pupils are inspired by those teachers.

Ultimately, a school visit should communicate a sense of what it feels like to be immersed in that particular school community and that learning is engaging, supportive and fun. 

Julie Lodrick
Headmistress, Kent College Pembury

Open Morning Tuesday March 3, 2020 9.30am-12pm.

‘What is the most important thing to consider when choosing a school?’

The most important factor when choosing a school is to make sure that you are matching the school to the needs of your child, rather than the other way round. First and foremost your child needs to be happy, nurtured and challenged – all future success flows from this.

Good results are a by-product of an excellent all-round education and time and again we see children thrive when their wider talents are spotted and encouraged, and where the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of school life is promoted.

Choose a school that values sport, the performing arts and creative arts equally and gives all children the chance to develop in these areas. Academic results are vitally important but delve under the surface of published ‘results’ – choose a school that values and promotes academic progress for all, whatever the children’s starting points. These schools are likely to have the best classroom practice and engage children effectively in their learning.

Look for a school that has high expectations but doesn’t place young children under too much pressure. A school should listen to your children, keep them safe and allow them space to get bored and be creative. Citizens of the 21st century need a broad range of skills and habits including collaboration, problem solving and digital literacy. What does the school do to develop these qualities?

Finally, look for a school that will show what life is like on a normal school day and watch the children at work and in the playground. If you meet happy, engaged children and open, welcoming teachers then you are probably on the right path!

Mark Hammond is the Headteacher at Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory School, a co-educational school for children aged 2-13 years in Five Ashes, East Sussex. Skippers Hill were recently rated EXCELLENT in all areas in their September 2019 ISI inspection.

‘Best in UK’: Tonbridge School teams win international physics contest

Upper and Lower Sixth students from Tonbridge School emerged as the ‘Best in the UK’ after taking part in a prestigious international physics competition.

More than 400 teams from across the world competed in the International Physics Brawl, a three-hour online contest which tests knowledge and problem-solving skills.

Teams were awarded points for successfully solving problems, which became increasingly challenging as the contest progressed.

In the Upper Sixth contest, a team made up of Kevin, Justin, Godwyn, Peter and Ricci was awarded first place in the UK, and 21st in the world.

The other Upper Sixth teams finished fifth in the UK (28th in the world) and 11th in the UK (70th in the world) respectively. 

In the Lower Sixth competition, a Tonbridge team featuring Thomas, Sherman, Ben, Michael and Kiefer achieved ninth place in the world, an achievement which made them the highest placed UK team at that level.

ÉThe school’s other Lower Sixth teams also put in exceptional performances, achieving UK positions of second, fifth, and sixth (20th, 42nd and 58th in the world) respectively.

Phil Deakin, the school’s Head of Science, said: “Our Sixth Formers can be proud of their excellent showing on the international stage, and for two of our teams to finish in top spot for the UK is a hugely impressive achievement.”

Tonbridge School

01732 365555  High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1JP

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