The headache of the school application

Rewind back almost two years ago and I clearly remember feeling a little overwhelmed with the school application process. This article from the Huffington Post pretty much sums it up.


My eldest had just turned 4 and I was having to “research” and look around local schools to choose (and I use that word very loosely) where we would like him to go.

We are lucky with the schools in our area. They generally have great Ofsted reports and are mostly rated Good or Outstanding. Great on paper… but in reality there is so much more to choosing a school place than what they tell you in those reports. You are effectively making choices about your child’s education for the foreseeable future. I wanted to choose a place where my son would feel happy and safe.

My initial choice was the school closest to the nursery he was attending at the time. It was only 1.6km away from our house but living in an area where there is a short supply of schools meant the likelihood that he would be offered a place there were slim.

The other options we had were a church school or the school closest to our home. Both of these options meant he would effectively be starting anew and have no familiar faces from nursery.

It was a tough decision but we weighed up the pros and cons over and over. A school closest to his nursery but further away from home where he would already have friends, but possibly may not get a place versus a school closer to us which we could easily walk to, not know anyone but would more likely be offered a place? We discounted the church school pretty early on because we wanted our son to have an unbiased take on religion and not learn more about one over the other.

As much as I would have liked to have put down the school closest to his nursery as first choice so he could stay with his friends I wasn’t convinced that basing it solely on that was enough. Looking at it from another point of view, he was already familiar with the school closest to us because our then child minder picked up and dropped off from there every day. (I seriously went round and round in circles over this!)

In the end, we opted to put the school closest to us down as our first choice and we were offered a place.

According to Simpson Millar though, each year around 5% of children do not get offered their first choice. However, there is the option to appeal the decision but parents often find this process daunting and for this reason choose not to appeal.

This article on How to deal with the appeal process shows us that help is available should you choose to appeal and you are guided by education specialists every step of the way.

Luckily for me, my son settled in well at his school and has made some great friends and thankfully he’s also paved the way to make the process even easier for my youngest son who is due to start school in September 2017.

* This is a collaborative post


  1. Glad you got your first choice honey. We are going through the process at the moment (although as you know its a bit different for Oscar). I know people who haven’t got their first, second or even third choice, but no one who appealed. Maybe the system is too confusing? Good post!

  2. Choosing schools can be difficult, we chose a school not in our catchment for my eldest and luckily the year he started the intake was far lower than the places they had available and then it meant my younger two were virtually guaranteed a place. Secondary school places are even more stressful as you want the best for them but ultimately they need to choose the school they feel comfortable with as they are the ones who will be going each day.

  3. It doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you go through it, and no matter what age anyone is! Great article.

  4. Marie Barber

    We wont have this problem as we will be home educating our 2 little ones but when my oldest first went to school (shes 19 now) there wasnt any of the lengthy applications that theres is now, i just went and spoke to the school they put her name down and done. How stressful it is now! Glad you got your first choice!

  5. Chilling with Lucas

    It is such a difficult choice, I’m glad you got the one you wanted x

  6. I am lucky that we have a school just yards from our house which is excellent. I am waiting to see if Sebby gets in but it should be a given really ash is siblings are there

  7. Hannah Clarke

    Schools are at the forefront of my mind as we look to move house, Toby’s only 20 months old but being a summer baby he’ll barely have turned 4 when he starts so I want to know he’ll be well supported. It’s such a minefield, I’m dreading it!xx

  8. Finding a good school and going through the application process is just very stressful. In our case we were lucky to be offered our first choice too but we then ended up putting Bella in a small, very close to us, independent school. This was and still is the best option for her. The problem will be when Sienna starts school as that means that we will need to pay for 2. Let’s hope we have a solution for when that moment comes. xx

  9. We got our fourth choice nursery but first choice now that it’s time to go to school. It’s such a relief when it’s something that goes your way 🙂

  10. oh I had this 3 times in 3 years as my youngest are aged 5,6,7, such a headache

  11. I do hear some nightmare tales of people being given really awkward school miles away from their homes eek so I am glad this was all years ago for me. Just one secondary school application to fill in at the end of this year ish and then that’s it no school panics….. til college ha 😉 Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie xx

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