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How to choose the right school for my child?  

Which school?

Parents often ask my opinion when it comes to choosing schools for their children. They feel torn between wanting to do the best thing for their child, while being uncertain of how to judge a school before their child has attended it. How do I find out about a school, from the website alone? What is the media saying about it? And most importantly, is this the right one for my child? 

It is not easy to find the right school: whether private or state, schools are difficult to read by their marketing profiles alone.  

The answer, however, is far closer than you might think. It lies in a place most parents are not expecting it to be. The number one resource parents are encouraged to use when selecting schools for their children is their own instincts

Put simply, if it feels right to you, then pick it. If it feels wrong, avoid it. I distrusted my instincts and ended up in a school that brought me top grades, but one that, I feel, did not get the best out of me. I was an all-rounder, capable, and curious, but I ended up in an academic school that was not hugely supportive of other aspects of my character, such as my sensitivity or creativity. 

Thinking about culture in schools 

It is actually quite rare that capable students thrive in highly academic environments. Highly academic environments, in my experience, are ideal for naturally academic people who spend a lot of time reading and have an insatiable hunger to learn; or for capable people who respond well to disciplined work structures over loose ones. But this is not for all bright kids. Highly academic schools tend to have academically serious cultures. This means the students will be competitive, focused and disciplined, rather than playful about their studies. Grades will matter. If your child likes international communities; sports as much as school work; encouragement from staff as well as disciplined exposure to new ideas, it might be worth considering the role of academic culture when making a decision about schools. 

Think of your child's personality. Are they more emotional than pragmatic? Are they mature, curious and interested in the world around them, or more socially orientated and light-hearted about school? Think about them as they are, and based on your knowledge of their personalities, think about the school objectively. Consider facilities, and reputation, but also culture and atmosphere. Do you and your child like the mood of the school? Do you see your child getting comfortably assimilated there? 

Below are some wonderful resources that you might like to review when it comes to choosing schools. Without exception, trust your instincts. You'll know better than anyone which is the best fit for your child. 

Good luck! 



Why we should be teaching our kids that failure is a good thing - really!  


I've never been so grateful for anything as much as the times I've fallen flat on my face.   

- My A-levels were one long string of poor grades until my final exams.   

- I have never had a job where I wasn't threatened with being fired within the first three weeks.   

- I've been dumped so many times I've forgotten most of them.  

My reaction?   

- I never worked as hard as I did for my A-levels.   

- I came into the office for as many weekends as was necessary until I couldn't be faulted at work.   

- I still can't remember the guys!  

All this made me much much stronger, and any successful person will tell you the exact same thing. One friend told me recently that he wished so much he'd failed earlier on in life so that he'd have been more ready for it when the time finally came. It is an inevitable fact of life.  

And a wonderful, wonderful source of learning, growth and muscular development in the most important muscles we will ever need - LIFE MUSCLES. These are the muscles that make perseverance possible, provide us with the humility we need to overcome our fears, and bring our self-belief into sharper focus. Only the pain of failure can develop these muscles and give us the chance to become our fullest selves - the heroes that learn how to overcome.   

Why we tell our children that pass and fail are two opposing forces we can only explain by our need for economy of expression. 

The late Ken Robinson was an advocate of creativity in education. He did wonderful work promoting creativity in schools and businesses, but most of all, he introduced new ways of looking at old debates.  


Click the pic to watch Ken Robinson's talk!



Embrace failure! It builds your most valuable muscles! 

What do you want to do?  

Career Tips No.1

If you can't answer the question “What do you want to do?” 

Don't try until you can!


So much about careers advice is rooted in a question that begins each conversation and so often does not yield a useful answer: “What do you want to do?” 

If the client is seeking advice, it’s highly unlikely that they have the answer, but equally, no trained professional is allowed to give one, because the job of the careers advisor or coach is to guide the client into finding their own. 

But why is this question so very difficult to answer, except for the people that have no need of it? It's mainly because the language of the question is embedded with assumed knowledge that makes answering it create, rather than alleviate, pressure.

Let me break it down for you: 


"What" assumes a universe of knowledge about all the careers available to you in the world. More traditional careers, like medicine and law, are often misunderstood, and don't suit as many people as apply for them; but worse, jobs such as animal rearer, or chocolatier, or product manager don't factor into obvious choices because far fewer people have heard of them. Answering this question invites an ill-informed answer, so it's more advisable to start the conversation with an exploration of various jobs, than beginning with the end of the conversation.

"Do You"

This part of the question assumes you know who you are in a careers context. But it's more likely that you have never really worked before, or if you have, and your former role was the wrong fit, then you won't know what it was about it relative to your character that made it a poor match. It takes time to decipher the "agent in a careers context", so using a word like "you" doesn't help us much.

If you would like to learn more about why it is you are struggling to answer the question, "What do you want to do?" watch the video below. 



For more information on careers, how to find your true voice, or to follow the Creative Voice Campaign, follow this link an sign up for monthly free careers tips and more! 

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