Choosing a right school for your child makes a huge difference in their academic career. With lots of state schools in your area, it sometimes becomes tough to decide which school is best for your child. I find parents every now and then asking me how to find a school where my child will thrive and reach its full potential. So, today I decided to give you my 5 best tips to identify the best school for your child.
5 ways to find a good primary school in your area
- Which schools are in your catchment area?:
Before we head over to other things the first thing is to make a list of schools that are in your catchment area. The catchment area is normally 1 to 2 miles from your postcode. The distance could be defined by walking route or straight line and varies from council to council. My favourite website to find catchment area is www.findaschool.info
This website offers the most detail search function, like other sites you have to enter the postcode and you can access to plenty of information.
The information includes a search for local schools and detailed catchment areas information, admissions criteria, OFSTED inspection results, census report, results, comparison with other schools and much more.
- Check the performance of schools:
Once you know which schools are in your catchment area, I would advise you to make a list of all the schools and head over to www.gov.uk to check the performance of the schools in the past by looking at their Ofsted report. You can also compare different schools there.
To check latest school performance tables click on this link https://www.gov.uk/school-performance-tables
- Visit different schools:
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of preferred schools, phone the schools and make an appointment to visit. I strongly suggest visiting the school on a normal afternoon rather than an open day, as on open days schools tend to polish and set the schools rather than showing the real environment.
When you visit a school look for these things in school:
- The school should have high expectations
- Well educated teachers and fully trained staff
- Busy, visible children
- Rigorous curriculum
- Parents are welcomed warmly and questions answered
- Also look for school disciplinary policy
- What extracurricular opportunities are available for students?
- Active parent organization
According to Ralph Lucas, editor of the Good Schools Guide “Focus on those that have strong parent involvement and a good head teacher”.
- Talk to local parents:
Make sure you talk to the parents you see when you visit the school. The parents or your neighbours whose children are already attending school can give you the best review. Ask them if they are happy with their children progress? How is school pushing their children? Also, inquire if the staff is alert to children specific needs and how much parents are involved with the school’s procedures?
- Trust your judgement:
Once you have all the information collected and in hand, I would say as a parent you can understand your child needs well, so trust in your instincts. Whichever school you choose will make a huge difference in your child’s life, so don’t hurry, take time before you make the final decision. Also, you must keep in mind that it’s not 100% confirm that one school you chose your child will find a place in it, so stay open and keep at least two options.