Care and
Education

Preparing For School

A Guide to Choosing a School

Choosing a school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make for them.

To have the best possible chance of getting your child into the primary school of your choice, we recommend you be prepared well in advance.

The process may seem daunting but early preparation is vital to make an informed choice and ensuring you don’t miss any key deadlines.

School Visits

Once you have narrowed down your choice of schools, it is perhaps time to visit the schools on your shortlist.

Most schools offer open days/evenings where you can tour the school and meet the staff and children. Visiting a school can be a great way to get a real feel for a schools ethos and discover more about how the school can meet the needs of your child.

Information relating to links with schools, their open days and prospectuses can be found in partner schools and on the calendar.

Types of School

All children between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a place at a state school, which the majority of children attend.

The first choice you will have to make is which type of school you wish for your child to attend. There are many different types of state and independent schools available; there are four types of state school, which all receive funding form the local authority and all follow the National Curriculum.

Community Schools

A community school is run by the local authority, which:

Employs the staff

Owns the land and buildings

Decides which ‘admissions criteria’ to use (these are used to allocate places if the school has more applicants than places)

Community schools look to develop strong links with the local community, sometimes offering use of their facilities and providing services like childcare and adult learning classes.

Foundation schools are run by their own governing body, which employs the staff and sets the admissions criteria. Land and buildings are usually owned by the governing body or a charitable foundation.

A Trust school is a type of foundation school which forms a charitable trust with an outside partner - for example, a business or educational charity - aiming to raise standards and explore new ways of working.

Voluntary-aided schools

Voluntary-aided schools are mainly religious or 'faith' schools, although anyone can apply for a place. As with foundation schools, the governing body:

Employs the staff

Sets the admissions criteria

School buildings and land are normally owned by a charitable foundation, often a religious organisation. The governing body contributes to building and maintenance costs.

Voluntary-controlled schools

Voluntary-controlled schools are similar to voluntary aided schools, but are run by the local authority. As with community schools, the local authority:

Employs the school's staff

Sets the admissions criteria

School land and buildings are normally owned by a charity, often a religious organisation, which also appoints some of the members of the governing body.

Independent Schools

Independent Schools operate independently form the local authority. They set out their own curriculum and admissions policy.

They are funded by fees paid by parents and just over half of the 2,600 independent schools have charitable status. Every independent school must be registered with the Department for Education. Standards are regularly monitored by either Ofsted or an inspectorate approved by the Secretary of State, ensuring that the school maintains the standards set out in its registration document.

Home Schooling

Home Schooling has become more popular in recent years.

Whilst it is a requirement that your child receives a full time education form the age of five, you are entitled to do this at home.

Although there is no legal obligation to inform the local authority of your intention to educate your child at home, it is advisable if you do so to avoid any complications.