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Why I Set Up School Compass

Updated: Jan 12

I know you care deeply about the development and education of your child. I also know you are busy and have lots of other worries, not just school. This can leave you feeling a little bit ‘done to’ rather than ‘done with’ when it comes to education.

You wish you knew more and had trust information to turn to - but you don’t have the time to wade through all of the information out there.

Image of a person at a crossroads with a decision to make

Education changed my life - it is my life​

I am an education geek. I love thinking, reading and writing about education. Education changed my life and is my life. I love talking about education with anyone who wants to know more.

I started teaching and working in schools at the age of 21 - living and working, for two years, on a remote island in Japan as part of the JET Programme. After another two year stint working in Shanghai in China I returned to the UK and trained to teach through Teach First. I was placed in a large academy in Hull, qualified as a teacher and completed my Masters in Education at the University of Manchester. I then moved to East London to a start-up Free School. I worked in this school for eight years, first as a head of department and then on the Senior Leadership Team. I am currently working for a Multi-Academy Trust designing teacher training courses.

My partner has also been a teacher her whole career and we met working in the same school!

Why does this matter to you?​

I want to demonstrate how much of my life, and my time, is dedicated to education.

Why does it matter? Because I have recently become a dad. Like you, my partner and I are keen for our son to have a great school experience.

However, one thing I have noticed since becoming a dad - and being inducted into the world of parents - is we have a clearer view of the type of education we want for our son, why we want this type of education and what to look for in schools.

We understand the differences between all of the different school options and the pros and cons of each. It is not only that we know more details about schools, it is that we know how to find out the information we need to make an informed choice about our son’s education.

I want you to have this information too. I want you to feel more in control and confident with the decisions you make. Even really engaged parents struggle without this.

For example, we live very close to an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ school which is always at the top of the league tables for exam results. In fact, this school often makes the national press for the number of students who go on to study at Oxbridge. People are moving to our street to be in the catchment area in the hope that their child will get a place at this school.

We will not be sending our child to that school. Why?

Of course, it is not because the school is ‘bad’ - it is quite clearly strong in many areas. It is because we do not want the type of education that school will deliver to our son. We will be applying for another school which is ‘Good’ according to Ofsted and is around the middle of the league tables for the area. We believe more in the curriculum and pedagogy of this school and we know we can compensate for any shortcomings at home.

Another parent I spoke to was about to apply for an 11+ exam for his daughter so she could try to get into Grammar School. When I asked him why, his answer was because all of the other parents in his Whatsapp group are doing it!

He didn’t want to send his daughter to grammar school, but felt that, as a good dad, he should.

A different parent was trying to save as much money as possible to send his son to private school. When I asked him why, his answer was that private schools have better teachers. Is this the case?

If you choose to apply for a grammar school or private school (for interest, we will not be doing either for our son) that is great.

But I think you deserve to have all of the information you need to make these huge decisions with confidence.

I simply do not think there is enough information out there for parents. The information which is available is either narrowly focused or overly subjective.

I believe that you have the right to choose the best education for their child - what ‘best’ means will be different for different people and different contexts. I genuinely do not believe that any school or system is better - they all have pros and cons.

Is there an NCT equivalent, but for education?​

I want to provide a space for you to explore the school system in more depth - not only learning about the system, but delving into your own values and wishes for your child’s education. I wanted to connect you to other parents across the country, to share perspectives and work through problems together. We found this through doing NCT before giving birth to our son - why is there not an equivalent of NCT for school age children? Well, now there is.

It is called ‘Compass’ because there is no ‘right’ direction. I want to support you to make whatever decision they choose to make. But I want to give you the tools and knowledge to come to this decision.

I will be writing blogs and running courses. If you want to feel more in control of the education decisions you make, please join us!

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