School admissions – the who, what, where, when, and how…

If you’re a parent, there are so many things that remind you that time is flying by and your little ones are getting older and not-so-little.

Reaching the point where you need to think about which secondary school to apply for is one such moment – and it is amongst the most important choices parents can help make for, and with, their children. It can also be one of the most fraught, as every school is different, every child is different and everyone has an opinion on where is ‘best’ and where to avoid, complete with supporting anecdotes and horror stories.

The good news is that schools in England are generally better than ever, and certainly very different to how we remember them from our own days there. Funding is higher and what and how pupils are taught is taken much more seriously. In the vast majority of schools behaviour is a long way from the ‘Grange Hill’ stereotypes that the press might have you believe exist. And parents overwhelmingly get their child into a school that they have expressed a preference for. Our school system isn’t perfect, but by-and-large it serves most families really well.

However, picking a school that will suit your child is important as it can make a big difference to their lives now and into the future. As such, taking some time to consider the available options early in the process is well worth the effort, even if you have only a couple of institutions nearby or you already have a strong preference.

There are quite a few things to ponder to help you draw up a shortlist of places. In addition, whilst the timeline for applying is the same across the country, Local Authorities differ slightly in the way they run their application processes.

Over the next few weeks PTE will be publishing a series of articles to guide parents through the process. These will focus on key aspects to help you whittle down your options to a viable shortlist.

We’ll also suggest key questions you can ask people when you visit schools, so you can get a good sense of how things really are day in, day out. Whilst league tables and Ofsted can give a flavour of how things were in the past, the people who know a school best right now, and can give a sense of what it will likely be like in the future, are the current Head, teachers, and pupils and their families.

Picking a school for your child can be stressful but it needn’t be complicated. Here at PTE we can draw upon the advice and guidance of experts to help you make your choice and smooth your way through the process.

We’ll start off next week with an overview, including some all important dates to stick to, and go from there.