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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 29th June 2018

How to Choose a Primary School

If your child was born between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015, you will already be thinking about primary schools.

So how do you decide which school is right for your child? It seems the topic can be a minefield and there’s a lot of ‘snob value’ which you need to try to discount.

Some people have paid around 18% more for a property in order to live within a ‘preferred catchment area’ but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘outstanding’ school is better for their children than the ‘good’ school that they dismissed.

An outstanding school isn’t necessarily what Ofsted suggests, but it is often the only criteria by which some parents judge a school. It does, however, show whether the achievements of children are where they are expected to be in terms of numbers, yet it doesn’t necessarily give the whole picture of a broad and balanced curriculum designed to bring out the best in every child.

Perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself when visiting a school is whether or not you feel comfortable and could imagine your child being happy there. Every school has its own atmosphere and it’s vital to look around to see if there is plenty of evidence of things outside the topics of maths and literacy. You’re looking for the feel-good factor and if you get it, then is the time to look at the figures.

Where to start? There are many websites giving information about schools and www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk allows you to search via postcode to find the schools near you. They provide latest Ofsted results and basic information – but the rest is up to you.The website provides a guide which takes into account 44 different data points including KS2 results, absence rates and progress. In Kent it has rated Barnsole Primary School, Gillingham, as top, followed by Great Chart Primary School in Ashford. Seal Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School in Sevenoaks comes fourth.

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