If you have school-age children, one of the most difficult parts of moving can often be finding the right place to continue their education. Getting used to a new house is disruptive enough for children, but having to start over at a new school can be really hard, especially if the change happens part-way through the year. Picking the right school and successfully getting your child a place there is a time consuming and often confusing process, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide to finding your child the perfect new school.
Contact your local council
If you’re moving part way through a school year, you should contact the local council in the area where you will be living. All councils have a team whose job it is to advise you about getting your child or children into school. If you don’t know who your new local council is, you can find out using the government’s local council directory search tool. The council should be able to tell you about all the local schools, their admissions criteria and how to apply.
Alternatively, you can use the government’s schools finder to search a database of every primary, secondary and special needs school in England (this includes both state and private institutions). As well as giving you details about the schools exact location and travel options, this will give you access to an overview of the school, plus its performance data and Ofsted reports.
For Scottish schools you can use the Scottish Schools Online database, for Wales you will need the Schools in Wales website (available in both English and Welsh) and for Northern Ireland check the Schools Database Northern Ireland
How to Pick the Right School
The Good Schools Guide offer an interactive catchment area map allowing you to quickly find all the schools your child will be eligible for. You can then check out the websites of any schools you like the look of. By law every school’s website must include a range of information that should help you make a decision. This includes the amount of money the schools receive for taking underprivileged children (the ‘pupil premium’) as well as how this is spent and the results it has produced, details of the curriculum they offer, their admissions criteria and links to their Ofsted reports and performance data.
You can also go to the Ofsted website to find a school’s most recent report and the Department for Education’s school performance table tool for information about how the school has been performing recently.
Once you have created a shortlist of possible schools, it’s really important to go for an open day so you can get a feel for the various schools and make up your own mind. You can find out dates for open days by contacting the schools directly, or, if you are moving part way through a year when no open days are available, schools may be willing to arrange a private tour.
If possible, it’s always worth getting in touch with parents of children at any schools you are interested in (or at least from the local area) for a first-hand opinion. Parents’ sites like Mumsnet can be a great place to start with this.
There is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to, though you will have to list them in the order of your preference. This order of preference is confidential, so the schools will not know whether they were your first choice or not when considering your application.
However many schools you apply to, if they all offer your child a place, you will automatically be granted your first choice school and your other applications will be cancelled. If some of the schools reject your application, your child will be placed with the highest of your choices to offer a place, so if your top choice says no, but all the others says yes, your child will be given a place at your second choice school. It is therefore vitally important to put your schools in the exact order of your preference.
Generally speaking, if you move into a new area part-way through a school year, your child will be given a place at the school of your choice as long as they are eligible and the school in question has a space for them.
If your child is refused the place of your choice, you have the right to appeal under the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 (Section 94) as amended by the Education Act 2002. A good place to start is with the government’s Appeal a School Decision tool which allows you to type in your postcode and find the relevant appeals procedure for your local authority. It is worth noting, however, that according to the Good Schools Guide around 70% of appeals fail.
To give yourself the best chance of a strong appeal, you will need to think of solid reasons why your first choice school is a significantly better choice for your child than the alternatives. It’s also worth getting in touch with the head of your preferred school, its board of governors, your local MP and anyone else who may be able to advise you, or help you influence the final decision.
You can find out more about the appeals process and hearings on the government’s own schools admissions appeals page.
Finding new schools is just one of the many stresses you have to deal with when moving home. Make life easier on yourself, and keep the move itself as stress-free as possible by using an experienced, professional removals company. Intransit have been helping people move for over 17 years, so if you’re looking for a removal company in Bath or the surrounding area, send us an email or give us a call on 01225 759200 today.