How to get the school you want - Two kids girls pencil drawing, Leeds schools, catchment areas Leeds Grammar Horsforth Froebelian School

How to get the school you want – Helpful Hardisty

Wondering how to get the school you want for your little one, but not sure where to start? Scoring your children a spot at your perfect school can feel pretty overwhelming. From deciding on a school that’s the best fit, to getting your head around the application process, our Helpful Hardisty guide will help you decide what’s important. You’ll be taking first day snaps before you know it!

Do your research

Have an idea of where you would like your child to go to school well in advance of the date the forms need to be in. Once you know, you can then find out how to get the school you want. Get to grips with each school’s admission process and criteria in plenty of time. Scout out the pros and cons of each.

Go to the Department of Education website and you can put in your address and get a list of schools nearest to you. Ofsted reports can read to find out how a school is scores.

Weigh up the pro’s and con’s

While Ofsted is a great guide, it’s not the only thing to consider. Check out websites ask other mums with older kids if they have recommendations. At the end of the day though, it’s up to you to decide which school will suit your child the best – and it may not necessarily be the one with the best academic results. Consider the admission process and the criteria and weigh up the pro’s and con’s.

‘Ask yourself: Would my child suit an academic or more nurturing school? Does the school have a clear school philosophy? Is it what you think of as most important? It’s also worth reading through school newsletters – just from the tone you can get a feel for the place,’ says Elena Dalrymple, editor of primary-school education website

Plan a visit

Visit as many of the schools you want as you can. Call and ask about open days. You can make appointments the September before your child is due to start school.

‘To get a feel for the school, visit in person, chat to the teachers and watch the children learning and playing,’ says Elena. ‘You might have heard gossip about what a school is like or read its Ofsted report, but nothing is as important as looking around yourself.’

‘In the classroom, look at the displays,’ says Elena. ‘Are they showcasing recent work? Are they interactive and inviting the children to have a go at doing something? It’s also worth asking about after-school clubs. Extra-curricular activities can make an enormous difference to what your child will learn and experience at school. They can also indicate the teachers’ enthusiasm and commitment.’

If you aren’t able to visit your shortlisted schools, arrange to meet up with some parents of pupils already at the schools to pick their brains. They can offer you a perspective from a fellow parent’s point of point which could be very helpful.

Know how and when to apply

Start looking into primary schools for your child before their fourth birthday. And if that is this year, start looking and researching now! You’ll need to apply for three schools during the autumn for a place the following September. The deadline is January 15 the following year.

You’re unlikely to get a place at the school you want if you miss the deadline! Be sure you submit your application in plenty of time. Most councils now ask you to submit your application online, but each individual one decides how they would like this done so do check with your local authority.

It’s down to you to apply, contact your local council’s education department for the forms to fill in.

Understand the allocation process

Primary school classes can only accept a maximum of 30 pupils. The school you love, may not be the one you get a place for.

Children in public care are given priority and there are other criteria that apply, including:

  • Whether you live in the catchment area will make a difference. This isn’t always how close you live to the school (it can be a designated area). Check with the school before applying to see if you apply. Remember, catchments for some areas can be as small as 0.1 miles if you live near a popular school. Check Leeds Primary School catchment areas here and Secondary School catchment areas here.
  • If you or your child have a disability or special needs that makes travelling difficult, you will be given priority.
  • If you already have a child at the school, then your pre-schooler will have more of a chance vs other children.
  • Your child’s faith will be a factor if you’re applying to faith schools. Schools will give priority to children of the same faith.

Don’t leave it until the last minute to apply as you may need additional forms and birth certificates. You don’t want to scramble around for them on the last day!

Faith schools often have their own forms to fill in. They may also ask you for a reference. If so, your priest or other religious minister may need to confirm that you regularly attend your place of worship. Some faith schools have a certain number of places allocated to non faith students, so check each one individually.

Play the waiting game

It takes a few months to hear whether your application was successful. In the meantime, try not to worry and be patient. You’ll hear from your local council on April 16th to see if your child has got a place. Ask to be put on the waiting list if you don’t get your first choice place. Call the school to ask them to keep you on it. Keep in touch with them to see where you are on the list as people will drop out.

Don’t be afraid to appeal

If your child doesn’t get a place at any of the schools you applied for, don’t panic! Contact the council to ask which schools still have places.

You can appeal the council’s decision if you think reason for refusal wasn’t fair. You can take a look at the school admissions appeals code here. If your appeal goes ahead, you’ll be asked to attend a hearing. This will be held at the school or the council’s offices and you’ll be given at least 10 school days’ notice.

Are you thinking of moving to help improve your chances of getting into the school you want? Contact us now to register for property matches – you’ll be the first to know about properties in our area before they hit places like Rightmove or other online platforms!

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