CHOOSING a school is one of the most important decisions you will make for your child.

To have the best chance of getting your child into the primary or secondary school of your choice, you must apply well in advance.

Planning and preparing 

The process of choosing a school for your child can seem daunting, but starting your preparation and planning early can help you to make a well informed choice.

Remember that all parents need to make an application – even if your child’s current primary or nursery school is linked to the school you want them to go to next, you won’t be considered for a place unless you apply.

Making an early start will mean that you'll be less likely to miss key deadlines.

Finding a school for your child

Search for schools near you. Start by looking online for schools in your area. Go online to yopur local education authority 'Find schools and Sure Start Children's Centre' , and then type in your postcode to find all the schools near your home.

You can also contact your local authority and ask for a list of schools in your area.
Once you know which schools are near you, get as much information as you can about them.

This will give you a better idea of which schools might suit your child most. For example, you might like to:

•visit the schools especially on their set open days
•read the schools' most recent Ofsted reports
•read the local authority's and schools' prospectuses

Once you have narrowed down your list of preferred schools, it's time to apply for a place. 

Admissions criteria

Before submitting your application, it's very important to read the school's admission criteria; different schools have different criteria. If the school you're interested in is popular, the admissions criteria will give you a realistic idea of your child's chances of getting a place there.

Applying for a school place: admissions criteriaapply in the autumn term a year before your child is due to start Don't miss the deadline

There are important dates by which you need to submit your application.

The dates vary between local authorities so it's best to check with your own local authority and send off your form or apply online in plenty of time.

It's important to remember that you may jeopardise your application if you miss the deadline. For more information go to