Choosing A Primary School: What to look for?

My daughter has been at nursery less than six weeks and we have been told that we should be receiving letters home about enrolment for primary school. Wait, what now? Do they not know that I haven't even had time to get use to the idea that she goes to nursery and now they are talking about primary school choices, am I not heartbroken enough! My daughter is one of the youngest in the year, a late summer baby so she will just turn four years old before she goes to primary school and I just can't seem to get my head around that one. However, despite my feelings it's time to get serious and think about choices for primary schools as there is more to it than just reading their ofsted report. So where do we start?
Do Some Research

It may sound obvious, but you'd be amazed how many parents rely on rumours and opinions of a certain school rather than using their own judgement, and their own eyes. I started off by going online to find out all the information that I needed about the school in my area, chose a couple of schools looked at their ofsted reports and then scanned over the websites to check out their policies.

Arrange a visit

Sometimes just looking over an ofsted report and a website is simply not enough. A visit to see the school is quite important, so organise an appointment to arrange a visit or ask if they have open days for children starting primary school. I have always found first impression to be pretty accurate, be prepared with questions to visit the school. Does it seem a happy school? Are the staff friendly? Is the classroom bright and cheerful? What type of equipment do they have? What's the school food menu like? What are the school policies? Are parents encouraged to help out in the classroom? This is vital as you will get a real sense of what the school is like, and hopefully make your choice easier. 

Ten questions to think about when choosing a primary school

1. What is the location like?
2. Do the pupils look happy?
3. How many pupils are in each class? Teacher - pupil ratio?
4. Are teachers keen to meet parents and involve them in school activities? Are reception staff helpful?
5. What is the headteacher like? Do they get involved with the children?
6. What is the school reputation like?
7. Are the buildings and facilities clean and well maintained, and are there resources such as musical instruments, a canteen, computers and a well-stocked library?
8. What is the school playground like? Do they have recreational grounds?
9. Does the school have specific policies on bullying, canteen food, and health and safety? Are school rules clearly outlined and enforced?
10. Are there any extra costs, such as for uniforms, textbooks, stationery and excursions?

Try and Understand the School

Each school has different niches and strengths and it's very important to find out more about the school itself and the environment including the curriculum before deciding on whether the school suits you and your child's needs. Once you're back from visiting the school, go over all the information that you have read and were told at the open day, go back over their website, policies, and ofsted report. By now, you should have a great deal of information about the school, the environment and their values which can help you narrow down your choices. It may be hard to find a school that is perfect, but if you do it's more than likely to be full, so try not and set your sights on one school only, have a least three. When making the choice for your child's school it is much more than just skimming over an ofsted report or checking the school policies. You have to really focus on the needs of your child and whether you think that they would adapt to school environment well, trust your instincts by all means, however try and be realistic. 

What next?

After all the research, visiting the school, meeting teachers and pupils, asking all the questions you needed, you should have a pretty good idea what the school is like and hopefully you have narrowed down your search to the top three schools? What you need to do now is  apply online visiting the website. You should put the schools in order of preference from 1 to 6 (don’t worry if you don’t have 6, just put in as many as you want to include up to that number). The Reception class admission round opens on 28 September 2017 and closes on 15 January 2018, all dependant on your area. And that's it! Good luck!


  1. It's a really big decision for some people, although for others there aren't that many to choose from! I really feel for those who don't get their preferred school too. I hope you find one that really suits you.

  2. As a former teacher, I would say that the visit to the school is key. The Ofsted report doesn't always tell the whole picture. You really need to go and visit the school and get a feel for the place.