Trading places


Is your child poised to start school in September? As parents, we all want our child to get a place at the school we deem best. But how can you secure your top choice primary school places? Birmingham City University’s Suzanne Swan, a senior lecturer at the School of Education and Social Work, offers some advice.

Can you appeal should you not get the place you wanted?

‘If a school receives more applications than it has places available, oversubscription criteria are used to prioritise applications. This may involve giving priority to children with certain needs or circumstances, such as those living closest to the school.

‘If a child is not offered a place at their preferred school, parents have the right to appeal the decision. An independent appeals panel will consider the case and decide based on the individual circumstances.

‘Location plays a significant role in the allocation of primary school places in England. Other factors, such as admissions criteria also influence the process. Each local authority and school may have slightly different procedures. The goal is to ensure fair and transparent allocation of school places for all children, which is why there is an appeal process.

‘If your child is not offered a place at your preferred school, consider appealing the decision if you believe there are valid grounds to do so. Follow the appeals process outlined by the local authority and present your case clearly and professionally.’

What should parents look for when choosing a school?

‘Familiarise yourself with the primary school admissions process in your area. Look again at the catchment areas, admissions criteria, application deadlines, and the appeals process. Understanding how the system works will help you navigate it more effectively.

‘Most importantly, consider your child's needs, interests and abilities when choosing a primary school. Consider factors such as class size, teaching style, support for special educational needs and access to additional resources or programmes. Some primary schools excel as specialists in particular areas of need.’

What impact do primary schools have on a child’s future?

‘A good primary school experience can instil a love of learning, develop essential literacy and numeracy skills and foster critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

‘Primary school places have a profound impact on children's future educational, social, emotional and career outcomes. Access to high-quality primary education is essential for ensuring that all children can thrive and reach their full potential in life. But if you are having problems accessing your preferred choice, stay positive. There are many good primary schools out there, and your child will likely thrive wherever they end up.’