Choosing a School

Choosing a school for your child can be very daunting for a parent, whether that be for primary or secondary. It is a choice that could affect the child for the rest of their lives and so one needs to be found that suits their needs.

Things to consider

  • Location – the nearest school has more chance that your child will get into it. It also means that your child will more likely to have friends that live nearby. As your child ages it means they are more likely to independently get themselves too and from school. If you aren’t picking the local school, then how accessible is it – could your child take a bus, would it be a problem if there were after school activities? What about the weather? Would you still be able to get them there if it snowed?

schoo run in the snow @pinkoddy

  • Education – whether that be to cater for your child’s special needs, how they cater for children how are middle of the class, or where they are in the league tables – it’s whatever is important to you and your child.
  • Socially – how do they deal with bullying? Do they have extracurricular activities? Do they have good music lessons?
  • Communication – How approachable are the staff? What are the relationships like between staff and existing pupils?


  • Facilities & Resources – are the buildings in good condition? Do they have many resources? What are they like for computer technology? Do the books appear to be well read or just their for display?
  • Parents association – is it well established and flourishing? What are they saving up for?


Things to do
  1. Make sure you visit as many schools as possible. Open days are good, but really if you can manage to drop in on a “normal” day then you will get more of an idea about what the school is “really” like.
  2. If possible, speak to other parents/children at the school/s as to what they think.
  3. Obtain the admission booklets – which will also set out the admission criteria.
Really the main thing is not to leave it too late; this is especially important if your child needs to take an entrance exam to your chosen school. And most importantly, I feel, is getting your child’s opinion on the schools and what they think. And don’t worry – it wont be as bad as you think.

Every child aged 5-16 is legally entitled to a place at a state school. Usually you are allocated your preferred school but many schools have more requests than they have places.

Each school has a set of rules to follow to determine which children receive those places – the admission criteria, and this is set by each school’s admissions authority.

In state schools this is the local authority or governing body (in foundation and voluntary schools), whilst independent schools set their own.

School admissions code
Primary school places
Secondary school places
The local authority (contact)

But which criteria do you think schools should give top priority to?
Currently many schools have so many sibling requests that no other families are able to get into the school, even when it is their closest school.

Should linked playgroups be taken into account? Children with disabilities who find it hard to travel – should they take priority over siblings? Or would it be impossible for a parent if their children were in different schools? Should twins be separated?

Which order would you prioritise
Links (eg Playgroup or primary to secondary)
Or is there some other criteria?

5 thoughts on “Choosing a School”

  1. Personally I think that the opinion of your child is very important, at least at secondary level – involving them has so far worked well for my kids – and the only children I know who’ve struggled at secondary were sent to schools against their wishes and away from their friends

  2. Some great comments! It’s very important to take a look around the school, especially on a regular day. I teach preschool, and my director is great about scheduling family tours so they can see what we really do every day.

  3. We had no choice on schools at all, everywhere is over subscribed so you only get in the nearest or the one that always has space…fab tips though for people in a better position.


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