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'More than a score'

I’d like a ‘More Than A Score’ placard. I’d like to wave it in front of my children’s primary school headteacher and governors every time they have a meeting. And if that doesn’t work, I’d like to wave it front of the year 6s every morning just to remind them that their educational achievements amount to so much more than the set of Sats scores that the government – and consequently many primary schools – currently lead them to believe they are.
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COMMENTS  |  APRIL 2019


Double standards for spouses of prep school heads

Have you noticed this in prep schools? That where there’s a head’s wife, she is expected to perform a vicar’s wife role, with pastoral care and tea parties for pupils, but when it’s a husband, he has his own life, and no expectations at all?
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COMMENTS  |  APRIL 2019


Secondary schools must become more inclusive

State secondary schools that control their own admissions tend to be less representative of their communities, according to new research by The Sutton Trust and the National Foundation of Educational Research. The report highlights that the concept of comprehensive education often doesn’t live up to its name, an issue that should concern us all.
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2019


With France, and now Ontario, having introduced mobile phone bans in school, will the UK be next?

Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, is legislating against pupils using mobile phones in classrooms in an attempt to help them focus more on their learning. There will be exceptions such as medical reasons, students with special needs and teachers who want to use them as part of their lessons.
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2019


Are we seeing an end to the traditional structure of a school day?

Is the model of traditional school hours outdated and no longer fit for purpose? It’s a question that has come to the fore as a top performing London state school has decided to adopt a four-and-a-half day week, sending teachers and children home just after midday on Fridays.
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2019


We must have zero tolerance to teachers hitting children

PE Class
A PE teacher who slapped a four-year-old boy following an after-school football class has not been punished by the judge trying his case. How can this be right? Or even possible? It all started when the child, who attended a school in the West Midlands, had a tantrum after being asked to stop pulling Post-it notes off an ideas display by his teacher Ian Webber.
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2019


Can schools really put values before data?

School boys lining up
Headteachers increasingly talk about their schools being driven by values not data. But what does that mean in practice? And is it even possible in today’s educational landscape? David Barrs, headmaster of the Anglo European School in Essex, recently told me how values – in their case, having a global outlook – was the raison d’etre for their school being set up and that every single piece of learning they provide has a global lens.
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2019


Language learning takes a nose dive at a time that couldn’t be more important

Language learning
Modern foreign language learning has taken a nose dive in UK secondary schools, according to new BBC analysis. In fact, it’s at its lowest level since the turn of the millennium, with French and German suffering the most.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


National offer day 2019

As National Offer Day approaches, it’s a nail-biting time. And if, in the worst case scenario, you fail to secure a place at the secondary school of your choice, it can be a miserable, disheartening time, particularly when you find the Ofsted rating of the school you’ve been offered is anything less than Outstanding (otherwise known as an Ofsted Grade 1).
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


Deal or no deal – what does Brexit mean for schools

Amid all the talk of Brexit – which fills our newspapers on a daily basis and our broadcast media on an almost hourly basis – there has been surprisingly little speculation about the impact on UK schools. And yet leaders of schools in both sectors tell us they are worried about the legislation changes Brexit will bring, with few feeling prepared for it, deal or no deal.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


State schools can be brilliant too

If I had a pound for every time a parent told me they chose a private school for their child because ‘our children’s education is our priority’, I would probably be rich enough to send my own children to an independent school. If I wanted to, that is.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


What makes a great sixth form

Sixth form
So your child wants to do A levels. For most, this will mean staying on at their current school, either because they want to, you want them to, or it just feels safe. Other youngsters decide on a fresh start with new people or a wider range of courses, or perhaps their school doesn’t have a sixth-form. And then there are those that aren’t quite sure.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


Schools are failing children with dyslexia

Dyslexia
‘There’s no point in revising, Mum – I won’t do well anyway.’ We’re only two terms into secondary school and this is the kind of comment my dyslexic daughter is regularly coming out with. There’s nothing wrong with my daughter’s intellect or her thirst for knowledge and learning. But there is something wrong with her confidence levels, which have taken a nose dive - at least as far as her schoolwork is concerned.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


A level retakes

As if it’s not bad enough that many of today’s A level students feel like guinea pigs in the new linear exam system – with many young people feeling bored and frustrated by the limitations compared to the old modular set-up – students across the country are terrified of screwing up. If they fail any of these new-style A levels, they will not only have to find a school or college which offers re-takes (not all do) but they will pay for it.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2019


The impact of social media on children

Children’s use of social media has hit the headlines not for the first time this year, even though we haven’t even got to February. Children ‘remain an afterthought’ for leading social media companies, Anne Longfield, England’s children’s commissioner, has said.
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COMMENTS  |  JANUARY 2019


The cost of raising a child

Counting
Got a spare £209,783.39? The ‘true’ cost of raising a child is more than £200,000, according to new research by 118 118 Money. That includes more than £5k on pocket money per child and £20k in birthday party costs.
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COMMENTS  |  JANUARY 2019


Whatsapp groups are causing untold stress. And that's just the parents' groups.

What a great idea, I thought, when a mum in the playground suggested we start up a class Whatsapp group. Messages such as ‘Don’t forget it’s mufti day today’ and ‘Anyone have any size 2 football boots they’re getting rid of?’ would surely be much more conducive to instant smartphone messaging with real time alerts than group emails that inevitably clog up your inbox and get lost in the system.
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COMMENTS  |  JANUARY 2019


You’ve heard of forest school. Well, now there’s beach school and it’s taking off, big time.

Beach Schools
Britain’s schoolchildren are getting increasing opportunities to have their lessons on the beach and the benefits are huge. READ MORE

 

COMMENTS  |  JANUARY 2019


Schools are increasingly helping the hungry

Feeding the children
While many of us are finalising our shopping lists for the usual mammoth Christmas lunch, other families don’t even have enough to eat and it is increasingly falling on schools to help. It shouldn’t have come to this.
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COMMENTS  |  DECEMBER 2018


What teachers really want for Christmas

Christmas presents
It’s December and right on cue comes the annual press features flurry about Christmas presents for teachers. This year’s favourite gift to the media (so far) was from a parent who tweeted The Good Schools Guide a decidedly un-festive letter sent by an Oxfordshire independent girls’ school. This bureaucratic gem was offering ‘guidance’ as to maximum spend on presents for teachers which, in case you’re wondering, is £50. Yes, that’s right, £50.
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COMMENTS  |  DECEMBER 2018


We need to tackle loneliness in our schools

Loneliness in schools
One of my lasting memories of my younger school life is standing in the corner of the playground during breaktimes, with my back to all the other children, staring out towards the empty field. I was alone and I felt lonely. I have no idea why I did it. Perhaps someone had been unkind to me. Perhaps I felt sad about things going on at home. Nor do I have any idea how long it went on for.
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COMMENTS  |  DECEMBER 2018


Kindness in teachers

Kindness in schools
Kindness is the single most important quality that students want in their teacher, according to a survey by TES. Only nine per cent thought being knowledgeable was important. ‘Kindness’, ‘compassion’, ‘understanding’, ‘caring’ and ‘not being shouty’ are words and phrases that we hear time and again from students at the schools we visit when we ask them about the virtues their favourite teachers. ‘Anyone can swot up on a subject and know everything about it – a good teacher has to have so much more,’ one student recently summed up.
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COMMENTS  |  DECEMBER 2018


SEN Support within mainstream schools

SEN support
It comes as no surprise to us to learn from a survey that three-quarters of special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos) say they do not have enough time to cater for the needs of children on SEN Support within mainstream schools. More shocking is that nearly 60 per cent said they didn’t have time to ensure provision was in place for pupils with more severe needs who have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). This is a failure of statutory duty, since EHCP holders – unlike those on SEN Support - have a legal entitlement to the level of support specified in their Plan.
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COMMENTS  |  DECEMBER 2018


Changes to school sex ed must go further

Sex Ed
Sex ed is back in the news again. The latest criticism is that not enough children in primary schools are being taught what it means to be lesbian, gay and bisexual. In response to the DfE’s consultation on relationships and sex education, which closed earlier this month, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health has called on the government to make a ‘clear statement’ that teaching about healthy relationships must include discussions around LGBT+ people and relationships.
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COMMENTS  |  NOVEMBER 2018


Three-year-olds being tutored? Yes, really – and it needs to stop

Tutoring three year olds
Children as young as three are being taught by private tutors at a cost of £40 an hour or more. In a fight to get them into top schools – or because they don’t trust schools to teach core subjects well later on - parents are paying these tutors large sums to give these tiny tots formal lessons, usually in English and maths, sometimes on a daily basis.
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COMMENTS  |  NOVEMBER 2018


Schools and social media

Social media
Like it or loathe it, social media is becoming a growing part of school life. And no, we’re not talking about pupils grabbing time between lessons to check their Snapchat or Instagram. We mean schools themselves using social media channels to improve everything from their teaching methods
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COMMENTS  |  NOVEMBER 2018


FE demonstration

Further education
College makes history by shutting its doors to march against FE funding cuts today – is it a sign of things to come? Today, for the first time ever, a college principal has closed his college to allow staff and students to march against the government funding cuts to the further education (FE) sector.
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Ofsted and exam results

Ofsted
Ofsted to ditch exam results as criteria for success. But why wait another year? And can Ofsted make other changes while they’re at it, please? Ofsted are, at long last, going to ditch using exam results as a mark of a successful school. School inspectors have finally woken up to the fact that their current obsession with test scores have reduced teachers to the status of ‘data managers,’ which has in turn had a detrimental effect on pupils.
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Why music education matters

Why music matters
A primary school in a deprived part of Bradford has been completely transformed and it’s all thanks to music being prioritised in the school week. No wonder the story was picked up by some of the national press. But with music proven to boost children’s intellectual, linguistic and emotional development, why aren’t more (or all) schools putting it in the spotlight?
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Parents support headteachers' protest last week

Headteachers protest
It’s not often that parents would support the idea of headteachers taking to the streets in an act of anarchy instead of spending their working day looking after their child’s school. But parents have been overwhelming in their support of the 2,000 headteachers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who marched on Downing Street last Friday to make a stand against school funding cuts.
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Setting and streaming in schools

Streaming in schools
Ok, so you knew your daughter was unlikely to be in the top set for maths. But the bottom set seems a bit harsh. Does it matter? It’s a question parents all over the country will be pondering as their offspring are put in their sets ready for the academic year ahead.
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Victim blaming

Victim blaming
From pointing the finger at children who are bullied (why didn't he fight back? is he too sensitive?) to condemning children who are mistreated online (it's her fault for sending the pictures to her boyfriend in the first place), there is still too much victim blaming in schools. ‘Did he bring it on himself?’ ‘If she was more resilient, it probably wouldn’t have happened.’
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COMMENTS  |  OCTOBER 2018


Girls and autism

Girls and autism
Hundreds of thousands of girls with autism are undiagnosed, ran the headlines this weekend. In fact, the supposed exposé is nothing new. The failure to recognise autism in girls and women because it is seen as a ‘male’ condition has been talked about at conferences and explored in journals for at least five years. But the revelation that the ratio of girls and boys with the condition may be as high as 1:3 or 1:2 should be a wake-up call to us all.
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COMMENTS  |  SEPTEMBER 2018


Parents get time off for children's first day of school - but is it enough?

First day of school
Working parents, take heed – the BBC reported this week that many employers are now giving workers an extra day of paid leave so they don’t miss out on their child’s first day at school. But do employers go far enough in ensuring parents get to be there for major moments in their child’s school life?
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COMMENTS  |  SEPTEMBER 2018


Have traditional school uniforms had their time?

School uniforms
No September would be complete without the hordes of tabloid headlines around strict headteachers putting children in isolation or sending them home for inappropriate uniforms. But is it me, or do the numbers seem to get bigger and bigger every year? Not just the number of schools clamping down, but the number of kids involved.
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COMMENTS  |  SEPTEMBER 2018


Starting School

Starting school
Thousands of four-year-olds are getting ready to start primary school, but parents are often left feeling more fearful than their littluns. It doesn’t have to be this way. While schools have become better at understanding parents’ anxiety around their children starting school, there is still much more that they could do to support families through the transition.
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COMMENTS  |  AUGUST 2018


A Level Results Day 2018

A level results day
It’s that nail-biting time of year again, with A level results due out in less than a week. But does August have to be so stressful? The University and College Union (UCU) says an ‘urgent overhaul’ of our university application process - so that students apply to university on the basis of their actual, not predicted, exam results - would make things much simpler and fairer for everyone. It would also bring us into line with the rest of the world.
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COMMENTS  |  AUGUST 2018


GCSE Results Day 2018

GCSE results day
Performance at GCSE is the key that unlocks entry to A level, BTec and university courses. Most sixth forms and FE colleges will have indicated the GCSE grades a student must obtain to study a particular subject at A level – it’s usually grade 4 (C) or above, but sometimes a higher grade will be stipulated. Whatever subject(s) you want to study..
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COMMENTS  |  AUGUST 2018


Taking the Next Step: University, Disability and Special Needs

Univerisity disability and special needs
If your son or daughter has special needs or a disability (SEND), taking the next step to university can seem daunting. But, says Bernadette John, universities welcome these applications and have well-established means of easing the path.
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COMMENTS  |  JUNE 2018


Straighten your tie

School uniform
Do school uniforms really benefit children’s learning? Far from it, claim schools that are ditching uniforms altogether. Kate Hilpern reports.‘Tuck that shirt in!’ ‘That’s a detention for forgetting your tie again!’ Reprimands like this will probably sound as familiar to your offspring as it did back in your own school days.
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COMMENTS  |  MAY 2018


How to: Get the best out of your head teacher

Get the best out of your head teacher
Good schools try to foster lasting relationships with parents, working in partnership with them. So how can you develop the best relationship with your head? Guy Canning, who has been a head teacher himself, provides the lowdown...
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COMMENTS  |  APRIL 2018


Prep girls not equal to the beautiful game?

Prep girls and football
One of the reasons parents choose a prep over a state primary - glossy school brochures show gazelle like girls mid leap to grab a netball, flushed boys in joyful athletic tackle. You’re purchasing an almost daily focus on games, with top class coaching, weekly fixtures and match teas; the chance to learn all about comradery, winning and losing on a chilly pitch..
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COMMENTS  |  MARCH 2018


Educational Dilemmas

Education dilemmas
I have two children. My son, 12, is studious, serious and academic, but also sporty and likes performing. He has just started at an independent school and loves it. My daughter, 10, is bright but scatty, lives for her social life and manages her school work on the wing – with highly variable results.
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COMMENTS  |  FEBRUARY 2018


How to: make sure you're not ripped off by tutors

Ripped off by tutors
There’s a reason new tutor firms have sprung up like wildfire, and – spoiler alert – they may not all be driven by idealism. Sure, some people (and in our biased view, very often the best) who go into tutoring either had a rocky ride with the school system themselves (it’s surprising how many are dyslexic) or are natural teachers..
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COMMENTS  |  JANUARY 2018

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles


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  • About the number one UK trusted school guide.

    The Good Schools Guide is the UK’s number one school guide, helping parents in every aspect of choosing the best education for their children. Trusted by parents for over 30 years, the guide includes unbiased and candid school reviews and in-depth articles on education-related issues. It is available in print, online to subscribers or through GSG’s expert consultants. Uniquely, each school is selected on merit alone. No one can buy their way into the GSG’s good books. And from famous names to local treasures, their writers visit every single school, interview the head, speak to pupils and parents, analyse academic…

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National School Offer Day 16th April 2019. Didn't get the school you wanted? 'Don't panic': download our helpful pdf. Click here