How do we choose the right school?

So it’s coming – this time next year my little baby boy will be a school boy!  When on earth did this happen??
My views on completing the schools admission process

This year, our council has changed its ways of working with regard to school placement applications.  This year, instead of sending out letters to all parents with children who qualify for starting school in September, you now need to apply for a school place online.  I’m fine with this, I had worried that the letter may end up at our old address, in our old town… so to have the application completed online removes a little bit of the stress that is applying for schooling!

I downloaded the information for parents booklet, and yes I read it from cover to cover.  This is my one and only, so I’m going to be a bit thorough here.  I then spoke to other parents about the submission process and schools, and everyone had an opinion.  What stood out the most, is that these options were based on hearsay and rumours – not from actual visits, stats or ‘insider information’.   
Booking time with all the local schools for a tour

I chose the schools nearest to us and the one I’d really like Max to go to and booked myself and my partner on their open days.   I booked to go on 5.  Saw my ‘favourite’ first, loved it, was sold on the idea of my son going there…… The second school was OK, my partner liked it more than me, but I loved the idea of the forest school teaching that they had.….3rd school I really disliked and this one actually caused us to have a bit of an argument!  The 4th school we loved and was in competition at this point with our original first choice, and the final school we saw in the evening so it was quite hard to get an idea of, but we felt it was OK.
Finding out what the criteria is for each school in my area

So 5 schools later we had our 1st and 2nd choice.  In the booklet, it is suggested that you add your catchment school in your listing.  We have 2 schools in our catchment and were fortunate enough to love  1 of them (the other is the one we had a row about!).   We couldn’t decide on our 3rd choice so guess what – we did, we went and had a look at a 6th school and I’m soo pleased we did as this became our new favourite!!!  

I’ve since completed the application form, had a little cry and some wine at the thought of my baby starting school and now I can sit back and wait for April 18th when I will receive an email informing me of the school Max will be going to....

My advice for parents:
Don't take to heart other people’s options unless backed up with stats.  At the end of the day, every child is different.

Look at as many schools as you want!  Don’t worry if you end up looking at 12 schools, if you have the time and the resource to do this then do it.  Make sure you are happy that you’ve done what you need to do for your child before filling in the form.

Don’t be afraid to speak up on the open day tour.  Ask every question you can think of, phone up afterward and ask any further questions you have.

Do read the booklet completely, look at the over-subscription criteria but also don’t let that put you off or be the decider whether or not you put your child in that school.

Read the Ofsted reports to give you some great information on the school, but as with options, and distance, don't let that be the only deciding factor.

Fill in the form when you have a quiet moment.

Be happy with your choices and you know what even if your child ends up in the one school you did not want –be enthusiastic for your child, after all, they are the ones that have to spend 6 hours there each day.

The School Oftsed reports give great information on how the school is performing

Good Luck, I’m off to have more wine now, I’m not ready to admit my baby is actually a little boy!

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