Choosing a school in the UK

Choosing a school in the UK

Home Education Children's Education Choosing a school in the UK
Last update on December 10, 2018

If you’re living in the UK, here’s a guide on how to choose a school in the UK for your child(ren).

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 an UK school for your child

Start by looking online for schools in your area. Go to the school finder online, and then type in your postcode to find all the schools near your home. You can also contact your local authority in in the UK and ask for a list of schools in your area.

Find schools, childcare services and Sure Start Children’s Centres in the UK

The schools, childcare and nurseries finder can be used to:

  • Find a new school.
  • Find more information about schools, such as contact details, Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) reports, maps, achievement tables, and whether or not they provide extended services.
  • Find Sure Start Children’s Centres.
  • Find childcare options, such as childminders, creches, nurseries, out of school care, holiday care and preschool care.

Find out more

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.
  • Read the schools’ most recent Ofsted reports.
  • Read the local authority’s and schools’ prospectuses.

Applying for a school place

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.

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.

When you’ll find out the results of your application

For Secondary schools, admissions authorities send out offer letters on 1 March. Primary school offer dates vary, so it’s best to check with you local authority.

Appealing against a school place decision

Sometimes schools do not have enough places for the number of children who have applied. If your child does not get a place at the school you prefer, you have a legal right to appeal. Find out how the appeal process works and what happens once a decision has been reached.