The school you select for your child is arguably one of the most important and influential aspects of their future success. As competition increases the pressure on parents to choose a reputable establishment is immense – and this pressure naturally increases as you prepare to up sticks and move to a completely new area. Whether your children are pre-school age and you want to ensure they are well provided for in the future, or you’re relocating your family from one school straight into another, we’ve compiled some handy tips to help you to make a sound decision about local education provision.
Decide whether you’re choosing a school based on your property and location – or the other way around
Your priority and present personal circumstances will determine your approach. You may already have decided on a property or area – and therefore your mission is to find schools within that catchment. Alternatively, your move may be motivated by schools – and therefore a wider search awaits. In either case it’s best to consider the fact that you haven’t yet moved, and therefore aren’t sure of what is on offer and how your daily routine may be affected by your decisions. For example, how far away is each school? Is rush hour traffic impossible? Could your children walk each day? Are the ‘best schools’ short on placements, which will therefore likely be filled by existing residents? Research the area (or areas) thoroughly before making a shortlist.
Make a ‘wish list’
What matters the most to you and your child? A ‘wish list’ containing criteria that you are comfortable with will help you to make a decision when you are assessing schools from afar, perhaps without being able to visit them first before you put in an application. Good grades matter – but other issues are also important, such as behaviour, discipline, enrichment programmes and external opportunities. Some schools now specialise in certain subjects – so if your child excels at Art and Drama, they may be better placed at a school with facilities geared towards this than a Science and Mathematics centre. This has to be a process that you conduct with your child – sitting down together and checking out websites one by one so that they can get a feel for each school and contribute to the wish list themselves.
Ask other parents for advice
Other parents who currently reside in the area you are moving to will provide a reliable and useful source of information and advice. Find a way to get in touch with someone in the vicinity who has children of a similar age – they’ll likely be more than happy to help and can provide an honest opinion of the schools you’re considering based on your concerns and requirements. A ‘good school’ on paper may not be the right fit for your child, so knowing the culture of the place via first-hand feedback will help you to make the right decision.
Make a shortlist containing your first choice – and backups
Once you’ve considered and pinned down a location and compiled a wish list, it’s time to select a number of schools that fit your criteria. To avoid disappointment, it’s important to list up to five or six different placements, each with positive points you and your child are happy with. Before making the shortlist, call the admissions department at each school to check how existing demand could affect your application.
Unable to apply?
If you’re in between properties and have no fixed address, you may find that you are unable to apply for a place for your child at your chosen local school. This is because proof of residence is required – and until your property sale is complete, you are unlikely to have this information. In this instance, it’s best to apply for schools within the area you do have proof of residence for, then arrange for what is known as an ‘in-year’ application once the school term has started. It’s also a good idea to call the admissions teams at both schools and explain your situation to obtain further more specific advice regarding availability at your chosen establishment.
Did you know Rightmove have a handy school checker to help you find the right home near the right school? Click here to find out more.
Want more handy tips to help you as you move to a new home? Our blog and resources area contain articles on common issues and more specific topics. If you’re looking for a reputable removal company to help you to relocate, get in touch with Johnsons today for a free, no-obligation quote.
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