September. A month that can only mean one thing. The start of a new term at school. And for some families, like mine, this September has been a looming deadline for months, in fact years. My daughter has just crossed the threshold of a new and exciting stage in her life, and has just begun at her new secondary school.
It’s been quite nerve-racking. A long process which officially began a year ago with the various school visits and planning, and much longer ago when first picturing the day your baby would be all grown up and dressing in an oversized blazer and stripey tie.
Without a glance behind her my daughter has been making ready for this step for some time. She is in a hurry for independence, she can’t wait to be a teenager. It’s not so easy for the parents. If only I’d known then about the website School Reviewer, back when I was visiting, considering, applying for schools.
Do you sometimes feel that you don’t know where to get the clearest information on schools, which is factual, consistent, easy to read and comprehensive? Do you wish to see reviews on schools, just as you would find all over the web for restaurants, holidays, and any possible item you might wish to purchase? School Reviewer is a website which aims to arm parents with all the knowledge they need on the subject of education. As you can tell by the name, it has reviews of schools by parents, but it also has a lot more.
The first thing I found which was really interesting was the heat maps of schools’ catchment areas. To somebody applying for school places for their children, this is as useful as explaining the mystery of the universe. The site has been granted access to real Department of Education information from last year, so it is not guesswork, but based on reality.
The easiest way to use the website is to search by school – there you will find various listings such as the parents’ forum (many of which are still to be populated, but you, yes you, can change that), the buy and sell marketplace, like an eBay for school sweatshirts, and the academic results and Ofsted ratings from previous years.
My daughter’s year was embroiled right in the middle of the SATs controversy in June, when the government decided to change its curriculum and levels half way through Year 6 and bring in some grammatical ‘SPAG’ tests which even had me floundering. I personally do not believe that children in either key stage 1 or 2 ought to be tested using this outdated method but, whether you agree or not with the theory of the SPAG, parents do wish to have preparatory material at home for their children to practise with. On School Reviewer you can find some example papers for your children to take at home; some are free and some are on an annual subscription. We are not just talking SATs. This also extends to the compulsory GCSE Maths – there are videos to download per topic, all with handy steps and tips to follow, written by an experienced Maths tutor. School Reviewer goes so far as to show how you can gain a 100% A*, so if this is what you are aiming for, this is invaluable advice. I particularly like the way that these are presented in individual, short topics, which is a bonus for some children I know very well, who have attention spans shorter than those of a gnat.
It is more and more common these days to engage the help of tutors. School Reviewer intends the Tutors section to be a go-to section for tutors themselves, who are not charged to advertise here, as well as those parents who are looking to find them. This part of the website has not been populated much yet, but it has massive potential as a national database and will complement the other schools information which is already here.
The blog is also a very useful page on this website. It mixes up news stories on the theme of education with parenting tips about schooling. One article I need to study intently is called ‘Encouraging your children to do their homework’ and another one is ‘How to get children to follow rules’. As with the maths videos, the tips are easy to read and easy to follow, which makes the big parenting issues seem much less daunting. School Reviewer is not an old-fashioned resource either. I clicked onto ‘A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat’ and their monthly guide for parents is a very current one: ‘School Reviewer’s Parents’ Guide to Social Media’. These monthly guides will give you the information you need without having to rely on what your kids tell you!
If you are still hesitant about clicking on to find out more, School Reviewer has just received a ringing endorsement from Baroness Karren Brady, which you can see and listen to on the home page. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not about to argue with this inspirational woman, and if School Reviewer is good enough for ‘Lady Brady’ (as she calls herself on Twitter), then it’s good enough for me. For all stages of your child’s education, please do give School Reviewer a try.
This is a sponsored post.