We hope the answer to this, perhaps rather cheeky, question is, ‘yes’!
All good parents want the best for their children. They want their child to have opportunities and the chance to develop every bit of potential they have.
Most Good Schools Guide Education Consultants clients come to us wanting help in finding the best school for their child. But what is ‘the best school’? And why might we offer one list of schools as ‘best’ to one family and a rather different list to another family? What qualifies a school to be seen as ‘best’ on any list?
My standard answer to any parent who begins by telling me he wants a list of ‘the best’ schools is: “Tell me about your children”. This can come as a bit of a surprise to some but, once they start to tell me about their children, it becomes clear to them why I asked the question.
It must be St Zebedee’s?
Perhaps St Zebedee’s Girls’ School is – according to standard measures like results and reputation – ‘the best’ girls’ school in London. But will it be the best of the possible schools in the area for Nadia? Or Gemma or Lucinda? It might be. If Gemma is exceptionally quick, has a lively curiosity, is always reading and looking things up for her own satisfaction and finished Harry Potter when she was 9, it might well be. If she is confident socially, emotionally robust and doesn’t tire easily, it quite possibly will be. If you live within an easy journey of the school and Gemma likes exams and will interview well, it could be the school she should go to.
But if Nadia is quietly studious, a little slow sometimes, shy, finds writing stories hard going or is not good at memorising, although she may well be top of her class at primary school, is a delightful child with lots of nice friends, perhaps she would do better, achieve more highly and be happier at somewhere less demanding. Forcing her into a ‘top’ school – if, indeed, she gets in – won’t necessarily be the way to make her either perform better at the public exams she will take in due course or make her happy.
Exams and confidence
And why put a child in for exams she will almost inevitably fail? A knock to the confidence of that kind to some children – especially when they know only too well how important it is to the parents that they succeed – can be damaging and can actually harm their prospects of doing well at whichever school they do eventually go to.
Ambition – yes!
So – be ambitious for your children! Send them to schools which will encourage them to be the best they can be. But don’t send them to schools where they will struggle to be average and where they will develop a false sense of their abilities through comparing themselves with the brightest 1% in the land. The ‘best’ school for your children will be one in which they can thrive, be confident and succeed.