Finding your child’s first ever school can be a little bit daunting. It is a big decision to make and will shape your child’s development for the next 7 or 8 years. So just how do you go about making this choice?

The first thing you need to do is make a shortlist. The majority of parents will base this shortlist on a radius around their house. Some will be left with a choice of 1, some with a choice of up to 10. Wherever you are on the scale, it is important to add these 8 questions to your analysis to find the best local schools.

1. Know the admission criteria – this may seem obvious, you apply and you are accepted or rejected. However, school admission criteria runs much deeper than that and it is well worth checking out the rules beforehand. A church school, for example, will prioritise local baptised children over non-faith children who live 10 miles away. Don’t waste one of your schooling options on an unrealistic choice.

2. Check how far from your home it is – drawing a radius on a piece of map software to find local schools is fine, but how accessible is the school. 3 miles in a straight line may be more like 5 miles down a country road! Think about your walk to school. That 20 minute walk on a warm June morning might sound blissful, but will it still be the same in mid-January when it is cold and dark?

3. What are the public transport links like around it – if you are relying on public transport to get your children to school, then consider the details. Is there a bus, tram or tube stop nearby? Can you park your car nearby if you are driving? You will also need to check the times during both summer and winter of any public transport you intend to use to make sure it is viable.

4. What secondary schools does it supply – you may already know this, you may not have thought about it yet, but it is important when you set out to find local schools for your children that you consider where they may go to secondary school. Remember, your children will have made friends and will probably be keen to follow those friends onto secondary school rather than cut ties and go in the opposite direction.

5. What is the school’s OFSTED rating – OFSTED is the single most important barometer of a school’s quality and ability because it is a standardised report of the operations of a UK School.

6. Does the school have a good catering service – will your child be taking food with them, or will you be availing of the school’s own kitchen? If it is the latter, make sure the quality is adequate and that your child gets the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn.

7. What are the class sizes – class size is important when you set out to find local schools for your child – too large and the teaching becomes diluted, too small and the classes often get merged with other year groups, or your child may not make as many friends as you would anticipate. This is a personal choice but needs to be considered.

8. What after school clubs are available – if you need before or after school childcare or want your child to take part in sports after school then you must consider the availability of these clubs and the quality of them. Working until 5.00 p.m. is absolutely fine and can be continued, provided there is some after school facility on site or through school transport.

So when you set out to find local schools, remember to make yourself a list of local schools, set out your criteria from our recommendations and your own personal choice, and use these to score each one. Your process of finding a local school for your child will be simple!

By yanam49

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