My daughters application pack is due in next couple of months, I have about 5 schools within a mile and don't know which to put where. I know we get three choices (suposedly)
Not keen on the actual catchment one but have several within same distance and all children on my road go to different bloody schools!
I have looked at the ofsteds, acheivement tables pretty much the same,
There is a large primary school with almost 500 pupils and large playing fields etc and another with just over 200 pupils in very old buildings no playing fields etc, another very popular one quite close where some of her nursery friends will go but its not the feed school for our catchment secondary which is very good. ?????????
Phone the school and ask for an appointment. At our school the head shows parents around and gives plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Take your child, and see how they are treated - included/ignored. Open days/evenings too, these are useful, but no substitute for seeing the school on a normal day.
Read the ofsteds, look at the league tables. Gut feeling is important.
Any good school will be more than happy to show you round. Go in during the school day so you can see the children at work and play. You may be shown round by the head, the SENCO or even some of the older children!
Ask about the usual but also things like clubs, activities during the lunch hour, school productions, the pta etc. This will give you a far wider picture of the school as a community as well as the academic achievements of the children.
If you look at League Tables look at 3 years worth for each school as they can vary widely given the differing abilities of each group of children.
definitely take dd with you, her reaction to different schools may surprise you!
try to walk past the schools at arriving/leaving time and I think you get a good idea of whether you can imagine yourself as one of the crowd. Although its your child's education, you need to feel you'll fit in as a family too as she will enjoy herself if you are happy.