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School Applications – Visiting 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 third in a series of five articles where members of our Education Law team share some top tips about the application process.

Having done your research and identified a shortlist of your preferred options, you will want to phone each of these schools to arrange a visit, or find out if they have an open day. Ultimately, it will only be by visiting the schools that you will know which one will be the best for your child.

It is a matter for you if you want to take your children along, and you can always ask for a second visit, if you choose not to take them along the first time. You may also wish to think about taking someone else with you, they may spot something you don’t, or remind you to ask a particular question.

What kind of things should you be looking for when you arrive? You might want to consider some of the following:

  1. How friendly was your welcome at reception? Were the office staff helpful? You may find yourself having to deal with them when day to day issues crop up, like arranging for prescribed medication to be administered for your child.
  2. On your tour of the school were you shown around the whole site, and not just your child’s prospective classroom. What was the general appearance/ atmosphere?
  3. How do the staff relate to the pupils? Are the teaching staff paying attention to the pupils? Is there an air of respect between the staff and with their pupils? How are they interacting?
  4. How are the children behaving? Do talk to the children if you have an opportunity.
  5. If you are not being shown round by the Headteacher, you should at least have the opportunity to speak to them at some point during your visit and have the opportunity to ask some questions.
  6. What are the classrooms like? Are they cramped? Are the wall displays up to date?
  7.  Food. Is there a school canteen or are meals delivered in?
  8. What are the medical facilities on site? Is there access to speech / physiotherapists and occupational therapists? How long is the waiting list to see the Educational psychologist?
  9. If you are a working family, ensure to ask about the wrap around care available. Are there any after-school activities? Who gets to attend? How often a week?

Don’t forget that your own instincts can be a very good guide to as to whether you feel the school can offer the right type of teaching for your child. As you look around check to see if the children are happy, and ask yourself would your child be happy here too. Every child is different and you will know your child best and whether they would fit in and suit a particular school or not.

Article written by Andrew Bolc

Look out for next week’s blog, which will cover the topic "Check the Admission Arrangements".

If you are in the process of preparing an application to a preferred school, contact our Education Law department on either 0808 168 5550 or

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