Tough Decisions Ahead: Choosing Secondary Schools

A parent support group on Facebook that shares tips, strategies and information about English Language Arts Writing

School selection time is here again and I want to put in my two dollars’ worth (inflation, you know! 🙂  In case you are wondering what qualifies me to offer advice, I have worked in the education system for a long, long, time.

50 cents

Parents can select any schools they want, no matter how illogical or unrealistic their choices might be… except, of course selecting a girls’ school for your son, or a boys’ school for your daughter. Hmmmm! Someone might one day come up with a constitutional case for that, who knows! For now though, other than for the obvious gender reasons, you are free to select any school you aspire for your child to attend.

One dollar

You might not get what you want. Let’s be realistic. If your child has never made an A in the past two school years, does it really make sense selecting four schools with cut off marks in the 200 range? You are better off selecting one of those ‘top schools’ in the hope that your child manages to make the grade, and select the other three in descending order according to your child’s proven performance.


Catchment area matters. For example, if you know that all of south Trinidad is aspiring to get their children into Naps, Convent and Pres, and you know that you do not belong to the religious denomination and so can’t get on the 20% list, and you know that your child has never ever outperformed his/her classmates, chances are that you already know that your child has a better chance of winning the lotto than of getting in… But we can all hope for that elusive small chance, right? There are, however, some really good schools that do not attract students from such a large catchment area because of their location. You might want to consider some of those for your second, third and fourth choices.

Two red notes

Consider selecting the lowest school that you want your child to attend as your fourth choice. You know the school I am referring to, right? The one that is well, ok, but the buildings are kind of old… or is alright, but nobody from that school ever got a scholarship…or, is not too bad, you know, but it used to be a junior sec… or… Well, I think you got the idea. Remember, if your child does not make the marks for the higher-rated schools, and you do not have an acceptable option, he or she will be placed in the school closest to you that has space… that is usually the school that almost nobody chooses. So, yes, the choice is yours. However, if you do not choose realistically, you might end up complaining that your child has been ‘zoned’.

And a little ‘bligh’: My Selection Process

Oh yes, I too have to make that tough decision, as my firstborn will be doing SEA in 2019. My choices? The top school that is closest to where we live. After all, I live quite down in the bush, and the Creek, Debe and Woodland are always flooding, so no San Fernando schools for her! I am taking my chances on my alma mater, Iere High School as her first choice, her father’s alma mater Fyzabad Anglican Secondary (Intermediate) as her second choice. Good third and fourth choices for her include Fyzabad Composite, Penal Secondary, and Palo Seco Secondary. Vessigny Secondary is an excellent option too. More than 50% of their students passed 7 or 8 subjects at CXC, over 75% passed at least five subjects, and only four failed Mathematics! (Yes, they did better than many ‘prestige’ schools). Vessigny is actually a first choice for many students, but I want her as close to home as possible.

I am not bothering to put Siparia East or West on her list of choices. I am not condemning these schools, you know. Some of their students have done quite well. However, if she does not get into the selected schools, that is where she will automatically be placed anyway. It makes no sense throwing away a choice by putting one of the schools to which students are automatically zoned. I do have a fifth option, though: I am ready, willing and able to homeschool her through the Secondary level.

Meanwhile, I wish you and your children all success, and remind you to come by my group “The Write Stuff” to get lots of help in preparing your child to ace the very important Creative Writing component of the SEA examination. Writing an excellent essay can make a huge difference to your child’s results. Here is a link for your convenience.:

DISCLAIMER: I do not know all the schools in Trinidad and Tobago, so please, do not inbox me for recommendations on specific schools. Your child’s teacher or principal will be able to help with that.

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