Reception class is usually a child’s first year at primary school when they’re aged between 4 and 5. It’s the final part of the Early Years Foundation Stage and comes before Year 1. It’s not compulsory to attend the reception year but many parents choose to send their children to introduce them to school life, build their confidence and nurture their curiosity.
How to Choose a Primary School
Choosing a primary school is an important decision for parents. So much so, that parents often move house to be closer to a good primary school that meets their requirements. Some things to think about when choosing a primary school include:
- What are the school’s values?
- Can the school cater to your child’s individual needs?
- Does the school generally have a good reputation among parents?
- Does the school have a Parent Teachers Association (PTA)?
- What do Ofsted reports say?
The first step to finding a primary school in any given area is to visit the local council website. Once you have a list of schools, you should visit the individual school websites to learn more about what they can offer and their admissions criteria. Every primary school is required to provide information on their website about their behaviour policy, special educational needs policy, the curriculum it follows, and its performance data.
After researching the school online, you should make an appointment to visit the school in-person with your child, or attend one of its open days. Visiting the school will give you the chance to speak with the headteacher, staff members, and current pupils.
For more information on how to choose a school, take a look at this useful video from Learning and Development Consultant, Ilona Brannen:
Where to Find Ofsted Reports and Ratings
OFSTED is the Office for Standards in Education. It is the regulatory body for schools in the UK, and other services that care for children and young people. Ofsted carries out regular inspections on primary schools to ensure that children’s needs are being met. ‘Outstanding’ schools are generally exempt from inspections, and ‘good’ schools are inspected at least once every five years.
When Ofsted inspectors visit a school, they look at four main areas:
- Pupil achievement
- Pupil safety and behaviour
- Quality of teaching
- Quality of management
You can access the Ofsted reports for any primary school in the UK on the Ofsted website.
Admission to Primary School Reception Class
All primary schools are required to have an admission policy that outlines the process for allocating places. Admission policies are usually set by the local authorities, or the school themselves. The admission criteria varies from school to school, but typically, primary schools consider factors like:
- Whether the pupil is in looked after care
- Whether the child has special educational needs
- If they have a sibling who already attends the school
- How they perform in the entrance exam (if there is one)
- How close the student lives to the school
- Whether they are eligible for pupil premium
For more information on the admissions criteria of your preferred school, you should contact them directly.
How to Apply for Primary School Reception Class
All parents in England and Wales are required to apply for a primary school place, even if your child’s nursery is linked to your preferred school. You can apply for a place at any state primary school using a local council application form, or online at the GovUK website.
Applications open on different days depending on the local authority, although forms are usually accepted at the start of the autumn term, the year before your child will attend.
On the application form, you need to choose three schools in order of preference. Confirmation of places are usually sent out around mid-April for primary schools.
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