Questions to Ask when I go to the school show BESSA

BESSA 2018 is just around the corner!  Here are some questions parents should think about asking when speaking to the school representatives you will meet.

General Information

  • Where exactly is the school located? Is it in an urban or rural setting? What are the transport links to the school?
  • What is the size of the school? Is it small (50-60 in a year group) or large (over 200 in a year group)? Is it co-ed or single sex?
  • When was the school founded? Find out some history.
  • Who owns the school? Is it a charitable trust? Or part of a larger commercial group?
  • How long has the Head been at the school? Are there any change in headship plans?
  • What are the school hours? How does the day work? Is there school on Saturdays?
  • What outdoor space and facilities does the school have? Are there any facilities the school is currently lacking?
  • Does the school have a religious faith, or any other particular ethos? How do you cater for children who do not come from your religious background?
  • How diverse is your school community? How many international students are there, and from which countries?

Admissions process

  • What are the main entry points into the school? Is there any possibility for entry at other times (eg. January intake).  How will my child be integrated into the school then?
  • When should I register?
  • What are the entrance criteria?
  • Will my child have to take any screening tests and if so, how should they prepare?
  • Will my child be interviewed?
  • What are the fees?
  • What scholarships do you offer and how do we apply for them?
  • What bursaries would be available to my child if we require fee assistance?
  • If I have more than one child at the school, is there a sibling discount policy?

Academic questions

  • What is the staff to pupil ratio?
  • How do you monitor each child’s progress, and how do parents receive information?
  • Does the school follow A Levels, Pre-U or the IB curriculum? What subjects within these curricula are offered?  Are there any subjects not offered – eg. Chinese, any art or less popular options?
  • Which universities do you feed?
  • How do you support university applications? Do you have a US university advisor? What about other universities around the world – eg. HK, Singapore, Australia?
  • What careers advice do you offer?
  • What are your IGCSE and A-Level/IB results?
  • How many pupils stay on in the Sixth Form? How many join the school at 16+, do many come from overseas?
  • What are the staff qualifications? How many are subject specialists?
  • What is your SEN (learning needs) support? Is it a department within the school, or outsourced? What assessments do you do? Which learning difficulties do the school cope with?
  • If my child has a particular talent, how will you support, enrich or stretch it?


  • What extra-curricular activities and clubs do you offer?
  • Will my child take part in drama productions and musical concerts? Can my child have individual or group lessons, and is it part of the curriculum?
  • What sports do you offer? Does everyone have to do the same sports?
  • Will my child be likely to be in a team? Which other schools do you compete against?
  • What trips and expeditions do you run?

Pastoral questions

  • How do you promote well-being and happiness? What happens when things go wrong?
  • What happens if my child is unwell or injured?
  • What are your drug policies? How do you manage teenage stress and mental health?
  • How do you deal with bullying?
  • What do you do about home sickness?
  • How do we stay in touch with our child? Can my child have a mobile phone?
  • How do you manage safeguarding?
  • How does the boarding setup work? Are boarders grouped in houses? Which members of staff are responsible for boarding?
  • How many full and part time boarders do you have? How many children are in school on Saturday nights?