Getting in to the Local Primary Schools of Your Choice

You may already know which local primary school you want your child to go to, you may have no idea. You may have only just started looking or you may be on the verge of making a choice. Wherever you are at, it is important to ensure you have all the knowledge at your disposal to make the right decision.

So how do you go about choosing and what criteria are local primary schools using to make decisions as to who to offer places to?

1. Decision makers – Local primary schools themselves do not decide who does and does not come to their school. This decision is taken at local authority level, so the school will have no influence in their intake save for trying to attract local children through open days and parent meetings.

2. Religion – many local primary schools are denominational. That is, they follow a faith, usually because they are next to a church or in the parish of a church. As a result, these local primary schools will use faith as a key part of their entry requirements – usually in fact the number one item on the list for a faith school is acceptance into that faith. So if you have a Catholic school on your doorstep and you want your child to go there, then there is a good chance they will want your child to have been baptised into the Catholic faith.

3. Locality – it may seem obvious, but local primary schools want local children. Next on the agenda for local authorities making decisions is their home address. If two children are vying for the same school place with identical backgrounds, then the one that lives in the school’s catchment area will get the place before one that does not. This is important to local primary schools because they are concentrated in residential areas in order to serve the needs of a community, unlike secondary schools which are less concentrated and serve a wider community as the children are much older and have the ability to travel there independently.

4. Siblings – local primary schools, as the centres of the communities in which they exist, will always favour family members over non-family members. So if an applicant has an older brother or sister in a school, then they are more likely to be accepted in a school than an applicant without a sibling at the school. This doesn’t mean that children without brothers or sisters will not get into the school of your choice, but it is worth considering in smaller communities where the primary schools are often quite small.

So whichever local primary schools you are considering for your child, it is always important to remember the chances of them getting accepted to go there will be influenced by many different factors, not just whether or not it is down the road from your house. It is always worth speaking to the school first and getting some input into how their selection criteria works. Every school will have a list of criteria which you can see to help you make the right choice.