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