If your child turns 5 between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 then it’s time to start seriously thinking about school.
Applications for a state school place in the 2016/17 academic year are now open. You may have already received a letter from the Government in relation to this – if not you should receive one in the coming weeks.
Choosing a primary school is the first major decision in your child’s life and you need to be confident you’ve got it right. A child starting school is a big adjustment for the whole family and the last thing you want is doubts or regrets (and potential stressful and unsettling changes).
To help make your decision you can:
- Use the council’s Northamptonshire schools directory
- Speak to friends, family or neighbours with school children to obtain feedback on your local schools (and their teachers) from the horses mouth
- Visit the school’s website for a prospectus and other helpful information
- Check for open days at prospective schools to help get a feel for each place
- Take your child to the schools, let them have their say and value their opinion
- Speak to us at Wellingborough Day Nursery. We have strong links with all schools in the area and will invite the reception teacher to meet your child during the term before they start school.
So what exactly are you looking for in a primary school? Contributing factors may include:
- Performance: Ofsted ratings, league tables and other achievements.
- Location: Close proximity to your home or work.
- Facilities: Good outside space, after school and holiday clubs, free transport.
- Staff: Plenty of staff for the size of the school, low staff turnover, SEN support.
- Reputation: Word of mouth can be just as persuading as league tables.
- Familiarity: Your family and friends already attend or work at a school.
Of course in an ideal world your child’s school will tick all these boxes, but in reality you may need to compromise on something. Decide which factors are most important to you. Can you put up with a trickier school run for a higher achieving school? Or is a practical location more important to you than performance at this early education stage?
Ofsted’s assessment of a school includes performance based on numeracy and literacy results. Although outstandig SATs results are impressive and reassuring, delivery, support, discipline and a balanced curriculum can be as important when it comes to the learning side of things.
Your preferred school may be an easy or obvious choice that you made before your child was even born. Whether it be the closest to home, the highest achieving, where your other children attend/ed or the most state of the art facilities. However, the admissions criteria means that it may not be a straightforward application process.
School places in the Northamptonshire area can be very sought after, and places are offered using a prioritised criteria format. In case your first choice school is oversubscribed and your child isn’t fortunate enough to be offered a place, you need to make sure you have satisfactory fall back options by listing a second and third preference on your application. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you will automatically be allocated a place (for example, because an older sibling attends). No place is guaranteed; if you don’t list additional choices you risk having no say at all.
Also, make sure you understand the Northamptonshire admissions arrangements for 2016 and which schools are linked to your area to avoid wasting an application on a school at which you have only a small chance of being offered a place
To minimise errors and delays, it is strongly recommended that you allow plenty of time and read the following information before completing an application:
Applying for a primary school place in Northamptonshire
Once you have made a firm decision on your chosen schools and feel ready to complete an application you can apply online or download an application form here.
If you don’t have access to a computer or need assistance with your application, you can attend a School Admissions Application Event.
Applications for a primary school place are open from 14 September 2015 until 15 January 2016 at 5pm. Places are offered in mid April to those who applied on time. You will be contacted once a decision has been made on your child’s school – there is no need to contact the council or the schools directly.