Parents weigh up their options as primary places deadline nears

Ofsted has released its annual report today. PICTURE: Library

Ofsted has released its annual report today. PICTURE: Library - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

There has never been more choice when deciding where to send children to school.

The evolving education system –changing to accommodate free schools, academies and, down the line, more grammar schools – can, and will, make the all-important choice somewhat daunting.

Today, parents and carers around the region will need to have applied for primary or junior schools they hope to see their youngsters attend in September.

And while Ofsted ratings and league tables might be traditional measures of a school's performance, parents having gone through the process have urged others to take more factors into account.

Emily Haines, a mother-of-two from Norwich, said she had initially picked an outstanding-rated school for her daughter, who is now eight.


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'It just didn't work for us,' she said. 'The teachers were great, but I didn't feel like they really understood what my daughter needed and how she learned best. She would come home upset, so in the end we decided to move her elsewhere.'

The second school, which had a lower Ofsted rating, ended up being a much better fit. For parents making their minds up, I'd say to go with your gut. It's better to go with somewhere that you think will suit your child, rather than going with somewhere because you think you should.'

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Of the 40 parents we spoke to, just five said Ofsted was the most important factor, while 18, the majority, said a good reputation came top.

Others were split between location and how it felt during a visit, with a handful saying league tables mattered most. Meanwhile, just one person said they decided on a school before making any visits, with 21 saying their mind was changed after they visited a school.

One of the parents urged others to 'do their research', while another said: 'I knew which school I wanted my daughters to go to when on the first day back after holidays I saw the kids in the playground run up to the headmaster and hug him and say they were glad to be back. And I'm talking about Year 5 and 6 boys. Made me certain this was the school for us.'

Today marks the deadline for children who:

Were born between September 1, 2012, and August 31, 2013, who are hoping to go primary school in September.

Were born between September 1, 2009, and August 31, 2010, who are at infant school and are moving on to junior school in autumn.

Parents, who will find out where their child has been offered a place on national offer day on April 18, are advised to state three preferences and include their catchment school as one.

For more information or to enrol, visit Norfolk or Suffolk County Council's websites.

Do you have a story about your school? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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