It is very important that you find the right school for your children It is very important that you find the right school for your children

There is a lot to consider when selecting a school for your child to attend and you should be aware of the issues and concerns. 

State Schools are the main school system and are open to the public. It is free up to the age of 17 years old and is compulsory for children ages 5 – 17 years old. State schools are divided into three types:

  • Nursery School (for children aged 3 – 5 years)
  • Primary School (for children aged 5 – 11 years)
  • Secondary School (for children aged 11 – 16 years)

Your child will be allocated a place in a school near to where you live, so it is important that you know where your accommodation will be before applying to a school, and may want to take this into consideration when finding a place to live. Not all state schools are of the same standard and you should check the school in person before applying. 

If you and your child/ children are staying for more than 6 months, by law they must attend school full time from the age of 5 to 17. Children over the age of 17 and adults can attend further education classes at a college, but a fee must be paid.

There are different types of schools available, so if you are interested in your child attending a certain type of school it is worth doing some research.  

Independent or Private or Public schools – all of these charge a fee and a full list of the schools can be on The Independent Schools Council website.

How to find a school

Norfolk County Council has a School Finder website to search for school in your area. You can also ask friends, neighbours and other students if they know anything about the schools in your area. 

Once you have found a couple of schools it is best to visit them in person to make sure you find the right school for your child. Call several schools and arrange to visit and meet the head teacher. Ask for a prospectus and tour around the school.

Things you should consider

  • How welcoming the school feels, and whether you are impressed by the children's work on display
  • Is the school well equipped - find out where pupils do sport, and what computer facilities are available
  • How your child will get to school – think about safe routes, transport and the length of the journey (it's worth remembering that children can get tired on long journeys, and winter mornings and evenings can be dark and cold)
  • Whether the school has a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) – the PTA may be able to give you more information about the school and advice on admissions.

Things to look out for when visiting a school

  • Do the children behave well?
  • Are the children attending to their work?
  • Do children and teachers have a good relationship?
  • Is children's work displayed?
  • What is the standard of that work?

Some things to ask when visiting a school

  • How much homework are children given?
  • What help can I give at home?
  • Is there a reward system for good behaviour?
  • What is the punishment/discipline system in the school?
  • Is there any extra support for children whose first language is not English?
  • Are there any other children from our country?
  • Will my children need to wear a uniform or special clothes?
  • How much will the uniform or special clothes cost?

How to support your child once they start attending school

  • Read the prospectus
  • Make sure your child has all the equipment they need
  • Give encouragement and help if needed with homework, especially reading in English
  • Find out the name of your child's form teacher and how to contact them if there is a problem
  • Make sure your child attends school everyday
  • Make sure your child arrives to school on time
  • Make sure the school knows how to contact you if there is a problem or accident during the school day
  • Get involved in the life of the school: attend concerts, sports days, volunteer to help in special events, such as school trips or celebrations

You may need to look into out of school care for after school, please visit our Childcare page.

For more information about schools and how you can help your child please visit these websites for a wide range of information, advice and services available to you and your children. 


GOV.UK has a huge range of information for parents about schools, childcare, your family and children's development, and much much more.

Norfolk County Council Children's Services

A wide range of services and advice to help with childcare, schools, finances, and support.


Transport for Children and Young People

Home Education