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The parent's perspective

PUBLISHED: 11:05 08 July 2010 | UPDATED: 11:48 23 August 2010

The scrapping of plans to build new schools isn t just a concern for heads and teachers, parents too are faced with real dilemmas, writes journalist and mum, Shelley Whittaker. Some will be sending their children off to new schools in September that they

The scrapping of plans to build new schools isn't just a concern for heads and teachers, parents too are faced with real dilemmas, writes journalist and mum, Shelley Whittaker.

Some will be sending their children off to new schools in September that they expected to be rebuilt and improved in the near future. Now they're faced with a school that might otherwise not have been their first choice.

Others will be looking at schools this autumn or in future years and will find it hard to see a school on its merit rather than being stunned by its new facilities and being lured to it like a moth to a light.

Those parents who can see through the school's surrounds to the more important issue of teaching may well find it hard to convince their children that the shiny new school isn't as good as the one with peeling paint and portakabins.

I have four children, two at secondary schools in Kent, one at a primary, and the other about to go off to university. Choosing schools has never been an easy task.

Schools are only ever as good as the teachers inside them, and, to an even larger degree, the management of that school. All four of my children have moved schools at some point during their education because that was the right thing to do for them at that time. I have no regrets about this and urge parents to ensure they are happy with their child's education and, just as importantly, that their child is happy. If that means moving schools, so be it.

As a journalist specialising in education, I've been in many schools. Some have top of the range facilities and others teach children in dilapidated classrooms. But the shiny surrounds of a new school don't necessarily bring good education with them, and that would be my word of warning to parents facing the unenviable task of choosing a secondary school.

I've had the privilege of seeing inside two of the new Gravesham schools and they are indeed very impressive. With the new schools comes a new approach to learning as well.

Open plan teaching areas are much bigger than the classrooms we all know. I hope this works out well for all children but as a mum I'm not convinced it would benefit all of my children.

We'll just have to watch this space and see. No doubt parents and children will vote with their feet.

I just hope they choose wisely, otherwise we could see some good schools with old buildings facing falling school rolls and ultimately closure - that would be a tragedy if it was based purely on school buildings rather than the teaching within them.

? Are you a parent keen to share your views with us on this issue? If so contact michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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