Choosing the right school for your child can seem like a daunting – and overwhelming – prospect.
Not only is choosing a school a big decision, it’s one that will go on to shape the rest of their lives.
With so many independent, state and faith schools in our area I remember not knowing where to start when it came to choosing the right primary school for Bluebell.
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Now Max and Marigold are at the same school too and having been through the process three times so far I’ve discovered that there are certain things it’s important to think about, things I wish I’d known the first time around.
So, if you’re reading this because you’re feeling the overwhelm too in this collaborative post here are five things it’s worth considering when looking for primary schools in your area.
5 things to consider when looking for primary schools in your area
1. Location, location, location
Start by finding out which schools are in your catchment area – that’s the area around a school that determines which children are offered a place at that school. Make a list of all the schools in your catchment area (I remember being surprised by how many there actually were!) and then make a shortlist of those you’d like to find out more about and visit.
2. Think about what you want for your child
Every child is different (I should know, I’ve got four of them!) and what suits one child may not suit another. That also means that a school that is perfect for one child might not be quite the right environment for another. For example, instead of a mixed school you might want to consider an all-girls’ school like this independent primary school in Leicester which has different departments aimed at bringing out the best in girls. Equally, an all-boys’ school might be the best environment for your child. Thinking about what you want for your child will help focus your search and find a school that will ensure they thrive.
3. Find out the entry criteria
If it’s an independent school you’re interested in, how much are the fees? If it’s a faith school, what’s the entry criteria? Faith schools often have different entry criteria than schools which are not influenced by religious teachings. For example, our children go to a Catholic primary school which required a supplementary information form as well as the Local Education Authority application form. We had to submit a copy of their baptism certificate and a form signed by our priest stating that we regularly attend church and are active members of the church community.
4. Book a visit when the children are actually there
When we first visited primary schools for Bluebell there was a stark difference between the schools we visited in the evening when all the children were at home and the ones we visited during the school day. Seeing the children in their natural environment during the school day will help give you a feel for the school and for the teachers. What’s their behaviour like? Do they seem happy? What’s the relationship like between the teachers and the pupils? If you time your visit right it’s also a chance to speak to other parents with children already at the school to find out what they think.
5. Trust your instincts
You might not have been through the school application process before and you might be new to the whole thing, but it’s really important to trust your instincts. As I say about so many things when it comes to parenting, if something doesn’t feel quite right then it probably isn’t. Only you know what’s right for your child and your family, so don’t be afraid to trust your instincts!
Have you applied for a primary school in your area recently? I’d love to know your top tips!
This is a collaborative post.