How to Choose a Primary School

Choosing a primary school can be a really hard and sometimes quite stressful decision. Not only do you usually have to be in the catchment area of a school, many schools are over-subscribed. Because of these factors, it is worth giving some thought to your child’s primary school quite early.

To find primary schools in your area you may use websites such as ‘Schoolsfinder’ which will also give you useful information, such as the distance of each school from your home, the number of children in the school and the schools Ofsted rating.

The vast majority of children in the UK are educated in state primaries. Of the remainder, most are privately educated. If you are considering a state school, you will find a copy of your local council’s information booklet very useful and this can be found on the council’s website. This will provide information on the application process and deadlines; the number of pupils at each school, the admission number and how places are allocated if the school is oversubscribed. Each primary school will also have its own prospectus, which you can get by contacting the school directly. These provide more specific information on each school.

Types of state primary school

There are five types of state school:

•    State schools

•    Foundation – mainly former grant-maintained schools. Governing body owns land, employs staff and is the admission authority with the LEA.

•    Voluntary aided – owned by a voluntary body, usually religious, who appoint most of the governors. LEA-funded except building and repair costs, which are shared between governing body, LEA and government. Governing body is admission authority – with consultation again from LEA – and may give priority to practising members of the relevant religion.

•    Voluntary controlled – like voluntary aided, but with mainly LEA-appointed governors and the LEA as admission authority.

•    Community special and Foundation special – for pupils with severe special educational needs.

To get an idea of the school you may wish to look at the league tables in relation to their most recent results or view their most recent Ofsted report.  These can be easily found online on the Ofsted website.

You may get useful information from local parents, playgroups and children’s centres.  However the best way to make your mind up is to visit the school and get ‘a feel’ of what it’s like on a typical day.  This is usually done via an appointment made with the school or at one of their ‘open days’ where you have the chance to tour the school and speak to the pupils and staff.

Once you have decided on a school please ensure you pay close attention to the application process as this sometimes differs from school to school.

Useful Sources/Links