Will they like it? Will they do well? Will they be happy? Will I be happy? What if I make the wrong choice?

Making decisions about the important stuff in life can be difficult and the pressure is often far greater when we’re making choices for others, particularly our kids.

With the deadline for primary school choices on the horizon, you might be wondering how to choose the best place for your child. Values can be a great place to start.

Values are the things that are important to us, the things that really matter and by aligning our values with our choices, we can create clear direction, energy, engagement and fulfilment. Conversely, when we lose sight of our core values, which often happens when we take on greater responsibility, lose our sense of self, or find ourselves swayed by the views of others, it can lead to dissatisfaction, disengagement, and a lack of direction.

So when it comes to making this important decision about your child’s education, here are 3 ways to make a values-based choice:


Before you start scrolling through school websites and others’ recommendations, make some time to start with you and your child and ask yourself some questions. What’s important to you? What are the qualities that you praise/ encourage/ see as important in your child? And, equally importantly, what really matters to your child? What do they need to flourish at school? Examples might include creativity, ambition, kindness, work/life balance, respect, authenticity, inspiration, happiness.


Ofsted reports and results will only ever give you part of the story of a school. What’s important to the school? What are their values? Do you see and/or feel them; as part of the website, communication with and from the school, the school environment, your school visit, conversations with the students and staff? Be sure to talk to more than one person to get a real sense of what the school is like for those currently there.


Having identified your values, and those of the schools you’ve looked at, you can now identify the closest match. But remember that there may need to be compromise, something that parenting teacher and clinical psychologist Dr Shefali Tsabury talks about in a recent episode of the brilliant The Motherkind Podcast listen here. If, for example, your choice involves costly wraparound care or fees that you really can’t stretch to, or the school’s results are fantastic but it doesn’t appear to provide the nurturing environment that you know your child needs, this isn’t true alignment.

If you’d like to learn more about Values, how they can help you in your life and career, and give you a stronger sense of what’s important this Christmas, and for the start of 2020, Pam would love you to join her at one of the next small group workshops in Marlow taking place on: Monday 2nd December 7:45pm and Tuesday 10th December 9:45am

Pam Cottman is a resilience, leadership and careers trainer, coach, and speaker - and a mum.

A former Assistant Headteacher, she spent 14 years working with students, staff, parents and governors to support the development of young people and her teams. She now runs her own business, working with individuals, schools, teams and organisations and supporting them to reach their potential, focusing particularly on building resilience - through self-awareness, a positive mindset, confidence building and giving people the self-care tools to cope with challenging situations.

She is also a big fan of The Good Place, spending time outside, and curling up with a good book.

Website: https://pamcottman.com/

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