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What do you look for in a new school?

Do you scan the latest Ofsted report or ask opinions of friends and family? Or do you think about location, size of schools or friendship groups?

The chances are it is probably all of the above and much more. For many parents, choosing the right primary and secondary school is currently top of the agenda.

For schools, this means planning open days and tours, both during school time and after school, to help parents feel confident that they are making the right choice.

Speaking to many of our staff, I know they are delighted to be able to once again welcome back prospective students, and their parents, after hosting virtual tours for the last couple of years.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but an online open event doesn’t give you the full flavour of a school, compared to talking to staff in the inside of a classroom or showcasing a range of sporting facilities. 

I know choosing the right school can often feel quite daunting, especially as we are so fortunate to have many excellent choices.

We would recommend visiting schools, speaking to key staff, talking to friends and families, and thinking about location and where friends are going. So all of the above really!

We’ve also been holding tours of a different kind recently with this week seeing the opening of the Sir Peter Hall School in Bury St Edmunds.

This school for children with special educational needs is our third brand new special school and we take the very special responsibility that comes with opening our doors for the very first time very seriously.

For some, it has meant signing up to a new school before seeing a real building in place – something that takes a great deal of trust.

But there were tears of joy last week when families were invited to see the completed building ahead of being fully in the new school on Monday of this week.

Elsewhere, there have been lots of reasons to celebrate with schools achieving the Inclusion Quality Mark Centre of Excellence.

And on an individual level, we saluted those staff members who completed the London Marathon for some amazing causes.

We know running and fitness can have such a positive impact on mental health – and the same can be said for gardening.

So it was wonderful to learn that Sybil Andrews Academy, and its Year 7 pastoral officer Laura Caunter, had won Bury in Bloom awards after students helped transform an outside area into a new school garden.

All these achievements, in and out of the classroom, deserve huge praise and congratulations.