Any family knows the importance of school. It’s a place for children to flourish and expand their life experience, it gives structure to family life and is often the cause of a squabble or two. Therefore choosing a school for your child is a big decision and will likely play a vital role in shaping their future.
In this article we will take the process of applying for a school place one step at a time so by the end you will be confident in what you need to do.
You can research schools here.
When To Apply For A School Place
Before you do anything, you will need to know timeframes. From 5 years old it is a legal requirement to ensure your child is receiving full-time education.
The school year starts in September and you will need to apply for your child’s position the January before they are due to start.
Therefore by this time you will need to have made an informed decision as to the school you would like your child to attend, backed up by research and at least one visit to an open event within the school.
When To Start Your Research
The best time to begin researching schools is a year in advance to your child starting there. This will provide you with plenty of time, as often it can be tricky, to come to a conclusion on where your child will thrive to the best of their ability.
Depending on the school you choose, you may have to enrol your child up to three times throughout their education:
- Infant Schools: Enrol at 4 years old and graduate at 7 years old
- First Schools: Enrol at 4 years old and graduate at 9 years old
- Primary Schools: Enrol at 4 years old and graduate at 11 years old
- Junior Schools: Enrol at 8 years old, graduate at 11 years old
- Middle Schools: Enrol at 9 years old and graduate at 13 years old
- Secondary Schools: Enrol at 11 years old and graduate at 16 years old
In the process of applying for schools, organisation is key. If you keep up-to-date with school visits and research, the proceedings should all fall into place nicely.
How To Choose A School
For starters, I recommend you first decide what type of school you wish for your child to attend. Begin with the basics: Are you looking for a day school or a boarding school? Independent or state?
These opening decisions will layout the foundation for your school search and begin to give you a clearer direction.
Look for a school with an atmosphere that you think would best suit your child’s learning style and ensure you listen to their opinion. Once you have a basic outline of the type of thing you’re looking for, you can begin attending open days and finding out other parents opinions.
On the ‘To Do’ list should also be a consideration of Ofsted ratings. Ofsted is an organisation tasked with assessing achievement, quality of teaching, the safety of pupils and the standard of management within schools. Their ratings can play a key factor in a final decision.
There are four levels of Ofsted ranking:
- Requires Improvement
The better the ranking the higher the quality of education the school provides as a whole. Ofsted reports can be especially useful in the choice between two schools, evidently, the school with the higher ranking would be the logical choice for your child. However, don’t rely on Ofsted alone – ask around in the local community and find out the opinions of others.
Consider the results of previous students as well as the anti-bullying scores of the school in question and its league tables.
Picking a school is more about a series of rational choices for your child’s benefit than the frenzy and chaos it can appear to be. As long as you remain level-headed throughout the process, there is no need for any doubt!