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School Applications – Research Schools

With the deadline for primary school applications approaching on 15 January, parents and carers of children due to start school or move into year 3 in September 2018 will be anxious about making the right choices and ensuring the application is made correctly and on time. 

Here, we re-visit the second in a series of five articles where members of our Education Law team share some top tips about the application process.

Knowing which school is right for your child can be a daunting decision to make however considering what you expect from a school before the selection process can make this decision much simpler. As a starting point, always give yourself more time than you think is necessary to research the right school for your child. We would suggest you start looking a year before your child is due to commence school. They will legally need to commence school by the beginning of the term after their fifth birthday.

We all tend to focus on the academic results when choosing a school however it is important that parents also consider the school as a whole. In many cases, it may be clear at an early age that a child is excelling in a particular subject. As such, you may wish to research local schools who perhaps offer extracurricular activities that would suit your child’s passion or if your child struggles with classroom learning, you may wish to seek out schools that have a greater number of teaching assistants so your child has more opportunity to receive support.

A key thing to remember is not to rely solely on what others say. Each parent will have a different view about the same school and so it is important that you are confident you have chosen the right school, for the right reasons. You should always do your research. You can do this in a number of ways including reading the school prospectus. Each school will be able to provide this to you and it is also very helpful to peruse the school website. This will provide the schools ethos and values together with the academic timetable. This will provide great insight into the general day to day running of the school.

The school is not the only source of information and you should never limit yourself to the school publications only. They will inevitably speak only of the positive aspects of the school and so to obtain an overall and well-rounded view, it is important to consider the most recent Ofsted report and even look back over the last two to three years. This will give you an accurate report of where the school is succeeding and where there may be need for improvement. This is particularly important if you are specifically looking at a school because they provide a certain subject. If you are then to learn that in fact they are not meeting the required standard in that subject and it is an area that improves requirement, you may find yourself disappointed if you have already enrolled your child.

The most important factor is your child’s needs. Each child is different and some schools approach may suit your child far more than any other. This is very important if your child has special needs as some schools are more able to offer the support required than others. Researching each school will allow you to make an informed decision.

In the event that you find yourself undecided, the Department of Education website can offer a comparison of different schools in your local area. This is an incredibly helpful tool and allows parents the ability to focus on their child’s requirements.

Top Tips:-

  1. What is important to your child and you when considering their education?
  2. Does your child have any particular needs or do they excel in any area of study? If so, does the school you are considering provide for this?
  3. Do your research yourself, don’t rely on others to choose your child’s school.

Article written by Clare Campbell

If you are thinking about making an application to a preferred school and require assistance or further advice, contact our Education Law department on either 0808 168 5550 or

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