Choosing The Right School For Your Child*

Choosing where to send your child to school can be as daunting as it is exciting. You might live in an area where there are lots of potential options for primary and secondary schools.

You might want to send your child to a local primary school, or perhaps you want to send them to a boarding school like There are a number of different options to consider.

But how do you narrow down your choices and find the right fit for your child?

Types of school

The first thing to look at is the type of school you could send your child to:

State schools are the most common, they follow the national curriculum and make up the majority of schools in the UK. Different schools have different entry requirements, for example grammar schools often require an exam prior to entry as pupils are commonly selected based on academic ability.

Special schools are schools with specialised equipment and training to help teach children that have various special educational needs. This includes being able to help with specific aspects of development or allowing a child to learn while also helping with the management of a long-term condition.

Faith schools are very much the same as a state school, however they can also teach elements of a specific religion as the religious studies aspect of the curriculum. They might also operate their own specific admissions criteria.

You might be able to rule out certain schools based on how they meet your child’s needs. For example you might not require a place at a special school helping you to focus your search in other areas.

Admission criteria

One way to narrow down your choice of school is to look at your current list of choices and see which schools your child meets the admission criteria for. For many schools this can be a mixture of the following:

  • Adhere to a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • Are currently in care or being looked after
  • Live in the local catchment area
  • Who do well in the entrance exams (this applies to schools with a selection process, such as grammar schools or stage schools)
  • Who have a sibling already at the school
  • Who went to a particular primary school (can influence entry into certain high schools)

You might be able to use these to narrow down your choices, for instance you might be able to rule out some schools based on religion, or the distance from home. This helps you to make your list of potential options much more relevant to your child.

Doing your research

Once you have your list of potential schools for your child the next step is to carry out research.

Researching different schools can take different forms. This can be as easy as requesting a prospectus to give you a very top-level insight into a school and what it can offer your child.

You should look at going along to open days. Take the opportunity to have a look around, look at the facilities, meet the faculty and try to get a much more personal feel for the school. Take your child along and see what they think too, especially as they will be spending a lot of time there, so it’s important that they feel comfortable.

Open days and prospectuses are very good at presenting an image of a school to people, you should always look a little deeper than this. Maybe you have friends or family who have sent their children to the same schools. Try talking to them, what do they think, are their children happy at the school? What are the teachers like to deal with? Taking the time out to speak to people can give you extra insight you might not necessarily have had.

If you don’t know anyone who’s had dealings with a school before then try looking online. You should be able to find feedback from parents, inspection results and Ofstead ratings which can help to fill in any gaps and ease any reservations you might have about a school.

Talk to the school

The last thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to talking to and researching a school is that if there are any specific questions or worries you have then contact the school in question.

Ask specific questions, perhaps even arrange to go in and have a chat. There’s no harm in getting the information you need, especially when it all relates to something as important as your child’s education.

Doing your research and narrowing your search down is massively important, it streamlines the entire application process by giving you a clearer idea of where you would like to send your child and puts you on the right path to guaranteeing that they get the best education available to them. 

*Contributed on behalf of Rossall School

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