Putting the wheels in motion for your child’s education.

When you have to consider for the first time which school to send your child to, the choices and considerations can be overwhelming, particularly if the area you now live in is not the same area as you went to school yourself. How far in advance should you contact the school? Is there a waiting list? When should you visit the school? All are very relevant questions.

When should you start applying to primary schools?

In the UK, there are three school terms throughout the year, the first of which begins in September. The deadline dates for each school can vary and can change year on year, so always check with the school the date of their submission deadline. However, as a rough guide, for a child starting in the September term, many schools will be looking to receive the application early – possibly, mid-January.

For a small number of schools, you may need to apply two or more years in advance, whereas with others, it can be just a few weeks prior to the intended start date. 

What are school open days and when do they take place?

As the name suggests, school open days are days on which the school opens its gates to prospective students and parents. This gives you and your child the opportunity to look around the facilities and to speak to teachers and, quite often, other students. You should start thinking about visiting a school about a year prior to your child starting. Most schools offer an official open day around September/October, with others offering an additional day in the Spring. Again; the dates vary from school to school. If you’re unable to attend the school’s ‘official’ open day, you are quite likely to be able to schedule an independent visit.

How many schools can I apply to?

In the same way that you are selecting a school that you consider is right for your child, schools are also selecting students that they consider are right for them, so it is worth having a few options available. Although there is no limit to the number of schools to which you can apply, most private schools will charge a ‘registration fee’ to process an application, so it is worth keeping this in mind.

What if your application is successful, but you change your mind?

It is completely normal to have an application accepted, but to choose another school. Usually, schools will issue an offer letter and they will give you a period of time to decide whether or not to accept their offer. 

Do private schools reject applications?

In short, yes they do. There are a number of reasons why an application might be rejected and schools have their own criteria. For example, some schools may reject applications if they are received after their application deadline; if the demand is greater than the number of places available; if you live outside the catchment area; perhaps if a child requires particular support they are unable to provide and so on. However, if your application is rejected, don’t panic. Hopefully, you will have an offer from one of your other preferred schools. If not, you might be able to appeal against the rejection, or you might be able to submit new applications to schools with later deadline dates. You might also consider reapplying when you child is older, e.g. aged 11 years rather than 7 years, or aged 13 years rather than 11 years. Many parents also choose to send their child to private school just for their A-levels.

Choosing a school for your child can be both exciting and stressful, but don’t forget it will be your child that is attending the school, so it is essential to include them in the process. Be sure to do plenty of research and, ideally, give yourself a few options to avoid disappointment. 

Miss K. (former pupil, The Maynard School, Exeter)

2560 1707 Secta Finance