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Parents missing out on National Offer Day due to high demand for ‘outstanding’ primary schools

PUBLISHED: 17:16 19 April 2017

Kelly Cooper, head of subject for health and early childhood at London Metropolitan University, believes demand for 'outstanding' primary school places means families are missing out on their preferred choices.

Kelly Cooper, head of subject for health and early childhood at London Metropolitan University, believes demand for 'outstanding' primary school places means families are missing out on their preferred choices.

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We spoke to London Metropolitan University’s head of subject for health and childhood Kelly Cooper about her experience of National Offer Day...

As a parent you take the decision of who cares for and educates your child very seriously. It is a choice that you have the right to make and a choice that you want to get right.

In the early years, parents are encouraged to make informed choices about accessing high quality childcare through policies. This changes somewhat when it comes to your child starting school as the choice you make isn’t always the one you get, as we saw yesterday for some families.

All young children deserve to access care and education that is outstanding and it is often the case that families miss out on their first choice because of the high demand for schools judged as “outstanding” by OFSTED or in other words the lack of schools in their area judged as being outstanding, this is particularly true for poorer areas.

A very obvious solution is for more schools to gain “outstanding”. This is not necessarily easy given the increased demands and rapid policy changes placed on teachers and schools.

My advice for parents making their choice next year is to not only consider OFSTED ratings but to visit a number of schools before making their choices.

I decided not to look at OFSTED reports when preparing to make the choice of school for my daughter who will be starting school in September. Instead I went to visit the schools and read the reports afterwards. These visits told me far more than the reports did. I walked out of one school and briefly contemplated home-schooling following the cold reception we had received - they might have been graded “outstanding” by OFSTED but the visit told me that the school did not value the things we, as a family, hold dear and therefore would not be one of our choices. Through visiting schools I felt better about the prospect that we might not be allocated our first choice because I also liked our second and third choice.

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