Six ways to discover what a school is like

30th April 2004 at 01:00
* Take a tour. Is the site well-maintained? Are classrooms clean and tidy? How is pupils' work displayed? A badly maintained school could indicate management problems or low staff morale.

* Spend time in the staffroom. This will help establish whether teachers are happy and co-operative. Just 10 or 15 minutes should be enough to detect a bad atmosphere. l Speak to the students. Ask them what they like about the school and what they think could be improved.

* Find out about training. Ask to speak to the person who co-ordinates professional development or the induction programme. What kind of support can the school offer to help you settle in and work towards your professional goals?

* What weaknesses are there? A good school will be happy to tell you about both its strengths and its weaknesses. Ask members of senior management about the school's targets and their strategies for improvement.

* Observe the reception staff. How they treat you can be a useful mirror of the head's attitude.

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