On the sparkliest weekend of the year ...
We ponder sparkle in relation to the schools we visit. Some schools sparkle in their own right, it might be the glitter of sun on ancient polished floors, or dazzlingly lush acres, the light reflected from the architect-designed glassy planes of the newly unveiled music practice hall. Or, more likely for us, the passionate sixth former who talks of transformative volunteering experiences, or the pride of a year four pupil explaining their work to us, the co-operation between children in year one activities, or the rapport between a teacher and her class. Definitely memorable and sparkling and yet, we demand more!
Then there are the Heads who sparkle and yes we do rather demand a Head that wows and enthuses, and utterly convinces us of their passion for education and their ability to lead in any of the schools that we seek out or recommend. But again, this isn't enough...
The little bit of magic, the wow factor...
We know from visiting schools with our own child, or with clients' children in mind that the most special moment of all, is when there is a moment of connection between our most cherished wish for this child, and the school that might just be able to make that wish come true - sometimes this reveals itself in listening to a Head, more often in when the Head really listens to us talk about this child and responds in a way that suggests real understanding.
Very often pupils supply the sparkling wow moment - if they are allowed to speak about their experiences and are not coached on simply marketing the school. A fresh, first-hand experience that promises just what you are looking for is the Open Day memory that lingers beyond the whizz bangs. We think it might be these moments which deliver the 'we just knew it was the one' moments for prospective parents.
But, how to find the sparkle?
Sometimes a school is right for so many reasons which have to be listened to - geographically, economically, academically but on first visit it fails to live up to your hopes. It may not be the right school. But, we'd recommend a second visit - do things differently. Ask for an interview with the Head, so that you can talk about your child's particular needs and circumstance and take another tour with pupils if possible. The second time, you will be more finely tuned in terms of what you want to know.... and who knows... the sparkle might be there after all!
If you'd like to engage us to help you fast-track your way through the UK's most sparkling schools, do get in touch. Claire@schoolhunters.co.uk