How to find the right primary school for your child

It's important to start identifying the schools you may be interested in at least a year before your child will start school. Here are our top tips to help you...


First, you need to find out what borough or county you can apply in…

If you live in a city, you might be on the cusp of several boroughs, giving yourself lots of choice. Technically, you are entitled to apply where you like, but factors such as distance to the school will come in play, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you live on the borders of two education authorities. 


You can identify likely schools within your area by checking our Neighbourhood section. When you log in to your account on the website you can select your neighbourhood by putting in your postcode. Then feel free to browse all the various venues, classes, groups and activities in your area.

Make sure you check Ofsted reports…

You can read Ofsted reports online. Bear in mind that these are the opinions of one inspector on one day, so might not show the whole picture.

Visiting the school…

Book in for school open days. You usually have to call the school direct and speak to the school secretary. Check out the school’s website, which may have details.

Visiting policies vary – some schools organise a few open days between autumn and spring while others are very happy to show you around on an ad-hoc basis. Do be sure to check with your local schools well in advance, as they can get booked up.

” One popular school had only three open days, and only allowed for one, not two, parents of each child to go. We never applied there in the end!” John, from South East London, said.

Don’t be tempted to only look at the school you are interested in. First, there’s no guarantee your child will get in there. Second, you get a great feel for a place when visiting, and a school that you may not have considered may wow you with its atmosphere, facilities, relationships between staff and pupils and so on.

Also, bear in mind that in the state system, you will usually have to apply to four schools in order of preference, so you want to make an informed decision.


Talking to other parents…

Talking to other parents and children about their school experiences can provide a great insight when school searching. Forums, such as ours on Made for Mums, is an easy way to get in touch with other local parents to ask their advice and tips.

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