Families will always seek out information, and many will undertake detailed research, when they are choosing a school for their child. An inspection report or league table may help, but most parents recognise that they can only ever provide a snapshot of the education on offer.
Most of us in the UK have an idea of what an American summer camp is like: swimming, hi- jinks, Patrick Swayze in 'Dirty Dancing'. So when I was approached to teach Mindfulness in Schools Project's '.b' at a family camp in New Hampshire this August, I was intrigued... How would the two experiences mix together?
Mindfulness is not enough on its own; it is no silver bullet. Schools are complex places and people more complex still - teachers, pupils and parents alike. Mindfulness must be part of a broader pastoral net, not only in terms of social and emotional learning, but also child protection.
An hour teaching teenagers who don't want to be there something they don't want to learn is never pleasant... A few things tend to raise their curiosity: that they can physically change their brain; that mindfulness is used by top sportsmen and musicians; that it might help with their exams or, at the very least, help them worry less about their exams.
Why is it called .b? The red 'dot' of the logo stands for STOP - like a red light. And the 'b' is saying BE. So .b is inviting those in schools - toddlers, teens and teachers alike, to 'stop and be'. Just for a moment.
Gone are the notions, in this country at least, of individuals with Trisomy 21, as it is also known, not being worthy of lovely clothes, of having to wear hard-wearing institution garments, of shameful regulation haircuts, of being 'put away and forgotten' as they were segregated from society in institutions.
Schools often place such an emphasis on getting their students moved on to university that they neglect the members of each year group who either don't want to go to university or don't have the grades to do so.
GCSE results alone provide a narrow and confusing measure of success with no real consideration of the overall benefits to children of their time at school... under new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, there is a real opportunity to take an approach which not only provides a strong academic grounding but also instils character values in students.
Had I the chance now, I tell my 17-year-old self to climb down off the bandwagon, get a grip, go to Uni and get on with my life. Because you know where a great place to 'find yourself' and grow up is? University.
Gordonstoun's, whose alumni include the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, was reduced from £148,086 to £29,618, a taxpayer funded subsidy of £118, 468. Wester Hailes state school, where over 40% of pupils are are eligible for free school-meals, paid its tax liability of £261,873 in full... How can this be right or fair?
We all know that schoolchildren go through a "summer dip", where learning falls back over the long summer holiday. From 2015, state schools will even be allowed to set their own term times, which may see summer holidays shortened.
I am earning money already and learning how to manage my finances. Whereas if I had gone to University, I would have around £66k debt to pay! To make matters worse, Computer Science graduates are earning less every year, they are earning on average £2,261 less today than in 2007. Instead, I will have earned over £66k creating a difference of over £132k!
Last week we saw the overall pass rate for A levels fall for the first time in 32 years, students who achieved lower grades are being told they have an opportunity to go to university after 30,000 new places were created.
School sport is exactly where we should be looking to address the discrepancy between male and female participation rates... We know that participation rates among girls are lower, but until we use data to identify and clarify the reasons behind this imbalance, it is difficult to address the problem.
Ok, I am going to get on my soapbox and talk about a subject that has been dear to my heart for a number of years. Let's get Home Economics back on the National Curriculum for all children from the age of 9 (at the very least - in my ideal world even younger).
Coding is about so much more than helping children understand the technology they are using - it is about giving them skills for life. Coding improves problem solving and thinking skills, and will play a hugely important role in improving children's future employment prospects.