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The Best Methods of Ensuring a School Place

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 3 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Nursery Primary Secondary Grammar

When trying to ensure your child gets the place at the school you think he or she would be best suited there are certain things that can be done that work better than others.

Here we look at some of the best methods that can applied to this process and also offer perhaps some additional ways that you may not have considered.

Make a List

Of course, the most important thing to do to begin with is to make a detailed list of the schools you have in mind for your child. There may be one school in particular that stands out as being the preferred choice but, as we have already touched upon throughout the course of this website, it is not always best to select just one.

In selecting just one school you are instantly limiting your child’s chances of placement success, so a list of alternatives is vital. Look in detail at your local education authority’s catchment area. You can do this either online at the local education authority’s website or by looking at the websites of the schools you have chosen to include on your list.

Visit the Schools

Simply just making a list of schools in your catchment area that may suit your child is not enough: indeed it is only the tip of the iceberg. Once your have made your list and refined it to include such things as distance and resources you should then make appointments to visit the schools in question.

All schools are happy to receive visitors and head teachers will be more than happy to spend time discussing your child’s requirements and giving you an overview of how the school operates. Open days are also useful as a tool to meet both existing pupils’ parents and also parents, like yourself, who are taking the first tentative steps on the road to securing your child’s place.

Parent/Teachers Associations and Other Bodies

Nearly all schools now have a parent and teacher association or board of governors who again will be happy to meet with you and share information on statistics and how the schools are run. These meetings are normally once a month or bi-monthly depending on the school’s locale and the commitments of those involved.

Your Local Education Authority

This will always be the best port of call in your quest to secure that place for your child. Your LEA will be happy to provide you with as much information as is possible so that the application process is as painless as possible – for them as much as for you.

Remember that you will always have to go through your LEA during the application process so getting an understanding as to how the work and who is your best point of contact is crucial to making sure all runs smoothly.

Talk to Your Child

And finally – and by no means least – is what many people might think is the simplest method of all. Indeed it can be but it is one of the most important; and that is talking to your child. If they are making the move from primary school to secondary school – or indeed grammar school – it is worthwhile sitting down with them and asking their thoughts on what school they think might be best for them. Remember that although you may a particular school ranks as an excellent choice your child may not agree and it is they who have to spend a great deal of time there.


Even if it amounts to nothing more than a checklist of questions to ask, write them down and ask them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because without asking questions there will doubtlessly be something you will have overlooked. Don’t be afraid to ask the same question more than once, especially if you are unsure of the answer you have received. Sometimes LEA’s tend to muddy with the water with jargon and abbreviations, ask them to explain everything and anything you are unsure of.

After all it is for the benefit of your child and no parent wants to think they have placed their child at the wrong school.

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