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School Applications: Don’t Panic!


I’m so pleased I didn’t have to go through the wait to find out what school my little one was going to this year! Last year was so nerve-wracking and caused me so much stress. Being in Surrey, we were one of the last to find out as they don’t send out the details until 5pm, so they can leave the office and deal with the calls in the morning. Shocking, if you ask me!

I found that the whole school thing crept up on me, and I was less than prepared. I had missed most of the first round of open days and some I’d missed completely! Applications were meant to be in by the beginning of January and I was already in November. That might still sound like there’s lots of time to visit schools, but in reality, some schools will only allow tours on open days, as I found out.

It’s a difficult and stressful thing to deal with so, here are my top tips on making a school application:

1. Research schools as early as you can. Look into when their open days are and make note of the ones where you can have personal tours. I found they were the ones I learned the most from as you’re able to ask the questions you want without feeling under pressure to move on in a group.

2. If you have friends with children in the school you’re interested in, speak to them and find out how their experience has been. It’s always good to find out first hand how the school works from a current parent. They will probably be able to give you a deeper insight into how the school works on a day to day basis, than if you were at an open day.

3. Look into Ofsted reports for general information, but take them with a pinch of salt. They’re great for general information, but you can only really get a real feel for whether a school is right for your child by visiting them. If you can visit the school with your child, that would be even better. Seeing them in their potential setting is the best test there is.

4. If you didn’t get all of your answers on the school visit, DO call up the school and speak to someone who can answer them for you. You need to be proper equipped to make your decision.

5. Make a list of pros and cons. Sit down with your significant other or someone close to you and discuss the good and bad. It will make things clearer and when the time comes to fill out the application, you will have a better idea of what order to choose.

6. When filling out your form, if you have a strong preference on school, it’s a good idea to write a supporting statement as to why you would like this school. It may be a waste of time, but it also might be the one thing that swings it.

7. Fill out all spaces. For us, there was a local school that we didn’t want our child to go to and so we made sure we filled the spaces with the other schools in the area to avoid being allocated this school. Along with our supporting statement, I would like to think this made a difference. Whether it did, we’ll never know, however, luckily we were allocated our first choice school.

8. Don’t try to second guess what the county council are going to do. List your choices in your preference as if you don’t get your first choice, it may affect your placing on the waiting list for the other schools.

Finally, don’t stress. Easier said than done and I was a bag of nerves, but what’s done is done. So long as you have done everything you can, then it’s out of your hands and there’s nothing you can do until you find out the result. I wasn’t at all prepared and spent months worrying and stressing over what school my son was going to get. If only I knew the basics.

I really hope this is helpful to some of you as I found there was very little out there when we were going through this with my little boy. No one reminds you about schools and in our case we did it as a result of chatting to a friend. Be organised and if you don’t get the school you want, then at least if you follow the pointers above, you’ll have done everything you can.

If anyone from a school is reading this, what swung it for us was being taken around by a couple of year 6 pupils (P7 in Scotland and Northern Ireland). It was nice to see them take responsibility and it showed the school was proud of what it had achieved through its pupils.

Published inEducationFamilyLifeMy Organised Mess


  1. This is really useful as I’m already starting to panic about putting Mia’s name down for school this year! We are not in catchment for the really popular school we want so we are moving very soon but the area is really expensive and the school is always oversubscribed! There isn’t another school we want so I’m worrying already! Like you say, all you can do is your best and then its out of your hands! 🙂


  2. Like you I know exactly how parents were feeling, I’ve gone through it a few times now. I’m gearing up for my middle child’s secondary school application this October, will find out next April!

  3. MMT MMT

    We had our school news this week, and thankfully we were given our third choice. Thankful, because choices 1 & 2 were ‘long shots’ but #3 was the realistic option. My advice is to make sure you are realistic in at least one of your choices!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub – this is great advice I wish I had read last autumn.

    • swanny swanny

      I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for the comment x

  4. I’m a teacher, so it’s really interesting to read this from a parent’s perspective. I teach secondary, not primary, but a lot of my tips would be the same. I agree that you can only really get a feel for the school by visiting, and speaking to other parents with children at the school is useful, but every child (and school!) is different so what’s right for their child may not be for yours, and vice versa. I am also impressed when i visit a school and see the pupils taking responsibility and leading parents around. You can learn quite a lot about a school from them, I think. Oh, and just have to say I love your hair by the way! Thanks for linking up to #StayClassy

    • swanny swanny

      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I do still think it’s helpful to speak to other parents to get a general feel. It goes without saying that every child is different. The most important thing is visiting the school with your child in my opinion. My son has pretty much chosen his nursery and schools x

  5. Great advice! I still have a little ways to go until my son is old enough for school, but I will be bookmarking this. : ) It sounds very stressful and I want to be prepared, I can imagine what it must feel like missing all the deadlines for the open days! Thanks so much for sharing with #StayClassy.

  6. It’s crazy how organized you need to be to get your child into kindergarten! Luckily we don’t have this issue in Ireland. It seems very stressful. You have some fab tips here to help parents with the process! Thank you for sharing with #bloggerclubuk x

  7. Oh we had a real stress getting my eldest daughter into school last year! We moved house at exactly the wrong time (just AFTER the closing date for applications) and, because we live in an area with limited school places, she ended up doing a term at a school that was miles away. We ended up having to go to a panel to review our case and thankfully she was moved to our local school in time for term 2, but it was awful!

    I think it’s great that you’re making parents aware of all this stuff. I was totally clueless and would have definitly planned the move better if I had known what a farce it would be. #BrillBlogPosts

  8. I commented on this post 7months ago and I’m no further on from then! Its crept up on me which is silly but we are moving in Jan and that’s all I’m focused on (haven’t even thought about xmas!). I’m now panicking as applications opened today! Need to get in to see some schools I think! 🙂
    Thanks for a really great post, again!


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