Our primary school application tips

It’s that time, your child will be starting Reception and you need to pick your schools by the January deadline. Read on for our primary school application tips…

Find your closest schools

Find your closest schools on the Hertfordshire County Council website. It will list your nearest school and then the others that are closest to you. Then have a look at the admission policies, Ofsted reports, school comparison data and high-level application statistics (from the last couple of years) on the Hertfordshire County Council school finder; for example, you can find out the number of children allocated places under the ‘Not nearest school’ rule and the distance of the furthest successful application – useful if you want to consider schools further afield that are under-subscribed.

Admission rules

Most schools admit in the following priority order:

  1. Looked-after children
  2. Medical or social need
  3. Linked school (for linked infant and junior schools)
  4. Sibling (on roll in the school in question or its linked school)
  5. Nearest school
  6. Distance

If the schools you are interested in have the standard Hertfordshire council admissions’ policy and you’re applying under ‘Rule 6 – Distance’, i.e. the ‘Not your nearest’ school category,  whether your child gets a place is all down to the following:

  • whether there are any places left after the first five rules have been taken into account
  • the straight-line distance from your house to the school
  • how far away the other people live who have listed the school in question in their top four ranking.

For the last point, it doesn’t matter if they’ve ranked the school lower than you have. If they haven’t got a place at their higher ranked schools and the distance they live from the school is closer than yours, they will be offered the place.

If you want to dig deeper into the data e.g. for the number of people who listed the schools you are interested in as their first preference, second preference etc in previous years, check out the allocation and application reports on the Hertfordshire County Council website.

School visits

Visit the schools on your long list. Tours take place from September, pretty much up to the day applications close, so get in touch, check online etc and sign up to have a look around. Some schools are better at advertising their tours than others so it’s worth ringing the ones you’re interested in, if you can’t find anything online about when their tours are happening.  School fairs are also useful to get a feel for the vibe.

Wrap around care

If you need wrap around care e.g. before and after school care, check those out too. Some have clubs happening on site run by staff, some are on site run by a separate company and some are run a short walk away. If having a childminder is your preference, check out the number of childminders active in the area, as some areas have more than others.

Rank your schools

Then whittle your long list down to your top four (Hertfordshire) schools. If you’re not absolutely certain you’re going to get into your favourite schools, make sure you list at least one that you are sure you’ll get a place at. If you don’t, the council will automatically try to place your child at your nearest school which might not be in your top four. For more information about how places are allocated, read the ‘How the system works’ guide on the Hertfordshire County Council website.

Allocation day

Once allocation day comes round, you will be able to accept your allocated place online. If you’re unhappy with the one you’ve been allocated, the council advise you to still accept it. You will be able to see where you are on the continued interest lists at the first and second rounds online too.

And finally, good luck!

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