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Primary school application deadline on 15th January 2019

The Good Schools Guide offers its top tips for applying to primary schools

PaPrimary Schoolsrents of children born between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015 have until 15th January 2019 to apply for a primary school place for the academic year starting in September 2019. Having advised parents of school applications for more than thirty years, The Good Schools Guide recommends the following:

  • There is still time to research your local schools. All primary schools have websites and many produce brochures. Have a look online to get a feel for the school. Some schools may be holding last-minute open mornings or tours. Get a good feel for each school and look at how they are presented and whether the pupils seem happy and well-behaved.
  • You know your child better than anyone else. What would encourage them to learn, progress and develop socially? Some children love a library while others want lots of outside space in which to run around. Find out whether schools offer any particular activities or if there is a strong emphasis on reading or writing, art or sport.
  • Look at the most recent Ofsted report. All the reports are available, as are details of SATs results, on the Department for Education Performance Tables website.  https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/
  • Make sure you get the application process right. Your Local Authority’s Admissions Guide explains how to apply and lists the admissions criteria for schools in your area. Information from previous years is also published such as whether schools were oversubscribed, how places were allocated and the distance children admitted previously live from the school. If applicable, catchment area maps will also be included. The Good Schools Guide website contains maps for each school based on where pupils have been admitted from in recent years. This will give you an idea of how likely you are to get a place.
  • A faith school may be an attractive option but you will need to complete a supplementary information form (SIF) which will ask for details of your family’s religious adherence. Regardless of its proximity to your home, many faith schools will give priority to children from religious families. Always check the school’s over-subscription criteria to be sure.
  • Remember you are not choosing a school but rather listing those you would like your child to attend. Most Local Authorities ask parents to list three or four schools in order of preference. London parents are asked for six. The Good Schools Guide advises parents to include at least one where you are virtually sure of getting a place – even if it isn’t you first choice. Otherwise, you risk being offered an undesirable, under-subscribed school some distance away.
  • Appealing the decision if you are unhappy with the outcome of your application is unlikely to work. Successful primary application appeals are rare and are dependent on the Local Authority making a mistake when assessing an application. Long journeys to the school or having siblings at a different school are not grounds for an appeal. However, if you have a genuine case, it's worth getting good advice and challenging the decision.

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