Before you choose which schools to apply to, find out as much as you can so that you can make an informed decision. Ask yourself what you and your child need from a school and start gathering information early.
Getting information about schools
Once you know which schools are near you, get as much information as you can about them. This will give you a better idea of which schools might suit your child most.
For example, you might like to:
visit the schools
read the schools’ prospectuses and study their admissions criteria
read the schools’ most recent inspection reports
Inspection Reports (external link opens in a new window / tab)
Guide for parents
If you want your child to go to a certain school, you can read what is needed for them to be admitted to the school such as:
application process and deadlines
number of pupils at the school and how popular the school was in recent years
how places will be allocated if too many children apply – the admissions criteria
You should also read the leaflet “The Transfer Process to post-primary school: Advice for Parents of Children in Primary Six”. This explains the post-primary transfer process.
Parents of children in Year 6 will receive the Advice for Parents leaflet in January. The Advice for Parents leaflet explains:
what you can do to help your child transfer to post-primary school
what things you can think about in choosing a school for your child
how to complete your child’s application (the Transfer Form) to post-primary school
Information about individual schools can change from year to year. You should make sure you get up-to-date information about your preferred schools.
Parents can get information about admissions from the Transfer Officer in their region.
Different types of schools
Once you have found some local schools that might suit your child, draw up a shortlist. Before you apply, think about your child’s personality and their needs. It’s important to talk about where they would like to go. Starting a new school can be daunting. Having one or two close friends there can help your child adjust.
Types of school
If your child needs special attention
If your child is very bright, shows particular patterns of behaviour or has special needs, it’s important to find a school that will be able to give them the right support.
Supporting gifted and talented children
Special educational needs
If your child has specific interests
If they are keen on sport or a subject such as maths, languages, art or music, you may want to consider how the school can help to develop their interests.
Some schools offer services outside normal school hours, such as breakfast clubs or after-school activities.
Check school brochures for information about extended services.
Visit the school
If you think a school may suit your child, visit the school. Most schools have open days or evenings providing a good opportunity to see around, meet staff and have a look at children’s work. You can get dates and times in local newspapers or from schools.
While you are there ask yourself:
how welcoming the school feels and whether you are impressed by the children’s work on display
if the school is well equipped – find out where pupils do sport and what IT facilities are available
how your child will get to school – think about safe routes, transport and the length of the journey
whether the school has a Parent Teacher Association – this may be able to give you more information
Every post-primary school has a prospectus.
This is a booklet that:
provides details about the school and
the education opportunities it can provide
for your child
has information about the subject choices available
at the school, public examination results, the numbers
of applications received and the number of places
granted in past years
Prospectuses are normally published on schools’
websites and are also available free from schools.
You should get prospectuses from all the schools you
are considering by checking their websites or by
contacting those schools directly.
School Inspection Reports
You might also like to read the latest individual school
inspection reports which can be found on the Ofsted website.
Home to school transport
How to transport your child to school may be a
reason for you choose certain schools.
When choosing a school, make sure you understand the
rules about home to school transport, as some children may be able
to get help with travel costs.
Your child will only be able to get transport support
go to a school which is further than two miles
from their home
(three miles for post-primary schools)
were unsuccessful in getting a place at all schools of the
same category within that two mile limit
(three miles for post-primary schools)
The category of school your child
goes to also affects if your child will be
able to get home to school transport support.
The types of suitable schools are:
controlled or other voluntary
integrated (including controlled
denominational (Catholic) grammar
The grammar stream of a school recognised
by the Department of Education as bi-lateral
shall be treated as a grammar school and
the secondary stream as a post primary
(secondary) school when getting transport
It may be helpful for you to talk to the EA
about how the possible outcomes of your
application to schools may affect whether your
child can get help with home to school transport.
The EA rules governing home to school
transport support may change during your
child’s time at any particular school and this should
be taken into consideration when choosing schools to
list as preferences on the Transfer Form.
Other information about a school
When you’re choosing a school for your child, you
should also consider:
whether a school uses a system of streaming (placing
children in classes based on their ability) and how this
operates within the school
public examinations taken at schools – for example
GCSEs and success levels
schools’ policies on homework, uniform, discipline
school fees if relevant, and other extra costs for
example uniforms, sports equipment
school support to pupils who can’t keep up with their
class in specific subjects
This information was taken from www.nidirect.gov.uk