Last year we asked parents what three factors they chose in choosing a secondary school and the results are very interesting. A hundred parents responded and cited a huge array of issues that mattered to them, showing that there is far from a consensus on what is important in secondary schools. Thirty per cent of parents rated “good results” as the most important thing. Second came “happiness of children” at 27 per cent. And in third place, at 24 per cent, came “good pastoral support”. Other important factors were “quality of teaching” and “personal/academic development”. The full results are as follows:

Good results 30
Happiness of children 27
Good pastoral care 24
Quality of teaching 23
Opportunities for development/ academic achievement 22
Vibrant/ welcoming atmosphere / environment 19
School ethos 16
Proximity 14
Discipline 12
Range of facillites / broad cirriculum 11
Local 9
Reach potential / Stretch high achievers 9
Safety of my child 9
Good extra curricular 8
Sport 6
SEN support 6
Good Ofsted 5
Bullying 5
Strong art department/ creative subjects 5
Good comms with parents 5
Children feel safe / secure 5
Leadership 4
Good reputation 4
Balance between results & pastoral 3
Local community involvment 3
Mixed sex / single sex 3
Good peer group/ friendships 2
Likelihood of a place 2
Diversity 2
School size 2
Comprehensive 1
Class size 1
Uniform 1
Amount of homework 1
Parents at the school 1

Watch our brand new video of pupils from local secondaries talking about their involvement at our events.


Meet the Parents gives primary school parents the chance to meet parents and pupils from the local secondary schools, and get frank, first-hand information on their experience there.

Meet the Parents is a brilliant initiative, which should help applicants to state secondary schools feel more confident about what they would be experiencing as students in those schools. As part of a comprehensive-educated dynasty, I hope it becomes part of the fabric of the education system.”
Robert Peston,  Political Editor, ITV News and founder of Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org)

As our communities become more fragmented, it is harder for some primary school families to get to know children at the local secondaries. So parents find themselves relying on gossip and age-old reputations instead of getting “the story” on what’s happening in their local school. In today’s educational landscape schools can change  – and improve – extremely quickly. Parents’ views can often lag behind: Meet the Parents  is there to ensure they catch up.

Prospective secondary school parents get the chance to ask the sort of questions they can’t ask on a school visit or open evening. They go to their children’s primary school one evening, and informally put questions to a panel of parents and pupils who have committed to the local schools. Afterwards, they might have the chance to chat more privately to secondary school families during a “mingle” in the school hall over light refreshments.

The events are organised not by the secondary schools but by Meet the Parents staff.  This way there are no vested interests from the secondary schools: they realise that families are talking frankly and what they say is unedited.  The aim is to give primary school parents information they can trust in a down-to-earth setting.