September is upon us and that means back to school for children in Kent and all over the country. Quealy & Co estate agents in Sittingbourne discuss how to find the best school for your little ones.
One of the top concerns that many families have when moving to the Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Minster or Faversham area is finding the right school for their children. Many home moves are explicitly made so that families can move closer to the catchment area of their dream school.
But what happens if you find your dream house first and then need to find the best school close by?
As your local and independent estate agent, we know the North Kent area exceptionally well and receive so many questions about this that we decided to give you our best advice to help keep you informed. In this article, you’ll find our top tips to help you find the right school for your children when moving to the Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Minster or Faversham areas.
Work out what your priorities are
Let’s face it, it may be tough to find a school that has absolutely everything that you’re looking for and all the schools in the local area have their own strengths.
When looking for a school in North Kent we recommend making a list of your priorities. For instance, are you looking for a school with a tremendous academic record or one with a specific subject focus? Are extra-curricular activities essential or does your child have any special needs that the school should cater for? Are you looking for state schools or private schools? Day or boarding? Single-sex or co-ed? There are lots to consider before you even kick off your search.
Writing down all your priorities like this will help you focus your search, as this is an area that’s packed with lots of great schools to choose from!
Start your school research well before your move
Once you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in terms of priorities, it’s time to start researching. We recommend doing this as early as you possibly can. You will probably want to visit several schools in the Sittingbourne area before you decide on the best fit, so make sure you leave enough time for multiple appointments and open days.
It’s straightforward to access all the information you need on the excellent schools in Kent as you can do this online, even if you’re currently located in a different part of the country.
Start gathering critical information online using reputable sites such as The Good Schools Guide and check the school performance tables on Gov.uk. Read through online school reviews and scour the Ofsted reports.
School research can be a time-consuming process, which is why we recommend starting early. Once you’ve whittled it down to your top three schools in North Kent, pay each of them a visit with your child. Which brings us on to our next point…
Pay your top choice schools a visit
Although this might not be immediately possible, we highly recommend visiting schools when you can. Take a tour and get a good feel of the environment that your child will potentially be spending lots of their time in. Talk to the staff and pupils and ask them questions.
Here are some of the key things to observe on a school visit:
- How do the students and teachers interact with each other?
- Are the facilities clean and well-maintained?
- Do the teachers seem enthusiastic and happy to chat through all your questions?
- Is the environment and community friendly and welcoming?
- Do the children appear happy and engaged?
If it’s not possible for you to physically visit the school before you move, don’t despair. Check out their website. Some schools now offer virtual tours of their campuses. You could also hold a Zoom call with the headteacher to get a better feel of the school, and it’s teaching style.
Find out where your new neighbours are sending their children
If you have the chance to say hello to your new neighbours before your move, ask them about their personal experiences with the local schools in the local area. Chatting with another parent could save you research time, as they will have done the same research when they moved and may also have first-hand experience of a school if they are sending their own children to one of the schools that you’re interested in.
Make sure you have a back-up plan
Once you have found the perfect fit, find a back-up! It’s always sensible to have a Plan B in case your chosen school in the Sittingbourne area doesn’t work out. Creating a list of your top two or three schools means that you can quickly fall back to another option if needed, although of course, we hope your child gets into your first choice!
Need further advice?
Our staff at Quealy & Co Estate Agents are local and have extensive knowledge of the Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sheerness area. If you are moving to North Kent soon, start your home search with us, and we’ll be happy to advise you on all aspects of your move.