How to change your child's school (2024)

How to change your child's school (1)

Not all children stay at the same primary school from Reception until Year 6. We look at the ins and outs of transferring your child to a new school.

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Many children face moving from one primary school to another at some stage of their journey through education. It can be a positive step, but also a challenging one, and every parent facing the change wants to make sure it’s as stress-free as possible.

So how do you know if it’s right for your child to move to a new school, and how do you go about arranging it?

How to change your child's school (2)

How to change your child's school (3)

A Step-By-Step Guide To Changing Schools

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Why move your child to a new school?

There are many reasons why you might want – or need – to move your child to a different primary school. Sometimes, there’s a practical reason: perhaps you’re moving house, or have a family member in the armed forces who’s being deployed to a different area. You might have children in different schools and want to have them all in the same place, or be taking advantage of a place at a new school that has just opened in your area. You may have been forced to accept a place at a school that you didn’t want your child to attend, but been offered a space at your preferred school later in the year, having remained on the waiting list.

Often, there’s an emotional reason for moving your child to a new school. Sadly, unresolved bullying is one of the most common causes of children changing schools. Sometimes, parents simply feel that the school isn’t meeting their child’s needs – whether these are academic, social, physical or behavioural – and think another school would be a better match.

The decision can sometimes be motivated by finances, too – for instance, if your circumstances change and you need to move your child from a private school to a state school, or vice versa.

Is it right to change your child’s school?

Sometimes, moving school is inevitable – if you’re moving a long way away, for example. But if you’re considering a move because of a problem at the current school, it’s important to try to resolve it first. ‘Although schools have their differences, they are broadly similar, and often, children who move schools face similar problems in their new school,’ says child psychologist Claire Halsey.

If you’re having problems with the current school – whether that’s bullying or concerns about your child’s progress – trying to deal with them could help to avoid a potentially unsettling move. ‘If the issues can’t be resolved by speaking to the class teacher, you can escalate it to the headteacher, governors and, if you’re still not satisfied, the local authority,’ Claire says.

If your child has special needs that you think are being overlooked, you can get support from Information Advice Support Services (IASS: formerly known as Parent Partnership). There’s an IASS in every local authority, offering free, confidential advice.

Involving your child in the decision to move schools

In some cases, such as if you’re moving house, the decision to move schools is non-negotiable – but it’s still important to make your child feel involved, in an age-appropriate way. ‘In this case, being straightforward is best, without giving your child any impression that there’s a choice,’ Claire advises. ‘Set out all the things you’ve planned to make it a smooth transition, and be open about the positives of moving, such as new friendships. Don’t skirt away from discussing what might worry them, but make plenty of time to listen and understand their viewpoint.’

If your child is the one who’s keen to move schools, for instance if they’re being bullied, taking their opinion into account is important, but you need to make sure they understand that changing school isn’t necessarily the easier option. ‘Talk to them about the problems they’re having and about what has been, and could be, done to resolve them,’ says Claire. ‘It may be that your child is convinced that moving is the right thing, but it’s a big decision: integrating into a new social and educational setting is usually more difficult than children imagine, particularly mid-year when friendship groups are established.’

Ultimately, you have the final say in whether your child should change schools, but you can involve their teachers and other people such as the headteacher, support staff and the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) to help you decide. Make sure your child knows that chopping and changing is not an option: they won’t necessarily be able to move back if they don’t like their new school.

Choosing the right new school

When you’re looking at new schools for your child, you’ll need to go through a similar process to when you were applying for Reception places. However, you won’t have the benefit of organised school tours or open days, so you’ll need to contact the headteacher and arrange a time to visit.

First things first: make sure the school has a place available in the year group that your child will be joining. Looking at schools that are full and have long waiting lists is likely to be a waste of time.

You can use the schools’ websites and Ofsted reports to help inform your decision, but it’s also useful to speak to the teachers, headteacher and other parents of children at the school, and to visit in person to get a sense of the atmosphere and ethos.

If your child is moving because of a problem at their current school, make sure you find out how a similar situation would be handled by the potential new school. ‘Look at relevant policies and check in person how they are applied – especially the bullying policy, if this has been an issue for your child,’ Claire says.

You can also look at whether there are opportunities for your child to develop their strengths and interests. For example, if they’re keen on music and drama, you might look for a school that has a strong interest in performing arts, with the curriculum and after-school clubs reflecting this.

In-year admission: how to make the move

Moving your child from one school to another is known as an in-year admission. You’ll need to contact the local authority to find out about their in-year admission arrangements. Often, this can be done online through the local authority’s website, particularly for maintained schools. However, you may have to apply direct to the school if it’s a free school, academy, voluntary-aided or voluntary-controlled school.

You’ll have to provide information that confirms you’re living in the school’s catchment area: usually two pieces of documentation showing your full address. Bear in mind that some schools have additional admission requirements, such as church attendance. If you’ve been attending a church in another area, you might be asked for evidence such as a letter from the vicar.

Having been allocated a place at the new school, you’ll need to make arrangements with the new headteacher about when your child will start. Once this has been confirmed, you can officially deregister your child from their current school by writing to the headteacher. You can then begin the process of settling your child into their new school.

More like this

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  • Reading primary school Ofsted reports: teacher tips for parents

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How to change your child's school (2024)


How do I transition my child to a new school? ›

Talk with your child: Let your child know what to expect and that it won't be easy. Give them time to express their concerns and hopes. Get involved: Ask teachers, counselors or coaches what groups or activities your child can get involved with to help them with the transition.

What are some good things to change about school? ›

15 Things that Need to Change in Education According to Teachers
  • Implement higher wages for all educators now. ...
  • Respect for the profession should be a given. ...
  • Parents should enable their kids less and hold them accountable more. ...
  • Teach life skills. ...
  • The administration needs to be more hands-on and proactive.
Sep 16, 2022

How to answer if there were one thing you could change about your current school what would it be? ›

“If I could change one thing about our schools, I would make it mandatory for all school teachers to teach social and emotional skills. These skills are invaluable to students' education. While academics are important for students, social and emotional skills will help them succeed in life.

How do I get over changing schools? ›

How to Help Kids Adapt to a New School
  1. Start the conversation early. Give your child as much time as you can to process the upcoming change. ...
  2. Keep a positive attitude. ...
  3. Give kids some control over the situation. ...
  4. Go for a sneak peek. ...
  5. Create a routine together. ...
  6. Get involved. ...
  7. Talk to the school's staff. ...
  8. Schedule a playdate.
Oct 22, 2018

How long does it take a child to adjust to a new school? ›

While every child is different, some kids can feel comfortable in a new school within a few weeks while others may take several months to adjust. The adjustment period will depend largely on your child's personality and temperament as well as the support that they receive.

Is changing schools hard on kids? ›

Changing Schools

Research has found that moving schools can be particularly difficult for children in the elementary and middle school years. If your child has previously fallen behind academically, moving to a more advanced curriculum may overwhelm them—or even cause them to fall further behind.

What are 3 things that would make school better? ›

Top 10 Ways to Make School Better
  • #4: Make School Hours Shorter.
  • #5: Eliminate Bullying. ...
  • #6: Make Cafeteria Food Better & Healthier. ...
  • #7: Get Rid of Group Projects. ...
  • #8: Give Students More Time Outside. ...
  • #9: Fire Bad Teachers. ...
  • #10: Make Class Length Dependent On Subject Matter. ...
  • Top 10 Ways to Make School Better. ...

What do you learn from changing schools? ›

Changing schools exposes you to a wide range of new ideas and attitudes. Every school is different. Each group of students comes with its own challenges and strengths. Every community has its own unique cultural qualities.

How do you deal with a disobedient student? ›

Ten Classroom Management Strategies For Dealing With Angry And Defiant Students
  1. Strategy 1: Remain detached and calm. ...
  2. Strategy 2: Offer help or support. ...
  3. Strategy 3: Ask for their help or advice. ...
  4. Strategy 4: Give them a classroom responsibility. ...
  5. Strategy 5: Remove audience pressure.
Jan 14, 2020

How would you improve this school? ›

14 Tips To Improve Schools and Overall Student Performance
  1. Technology Usage. ...
  2. Teacher Training. ...
  3. Cultural Activities. ...
  4. Student Counseling. ...
  5. School Maintenance. ...
  6. Parent-teacher Communication. ...
  7. Activities Outside Classrooms. ...
  8. Sports Activities and Clubs.
Jul 27, 2022

What are three different things you could change in your classroom that could make a positive change in children's health? ›

Creating a Healthy Classroom Environment
  • Set clear behavior expectations from the first day of school and stick to them throughout the year.
  • Have a no-bullying tolerance policy with clear consequences.
  • Spend time building the classroom community and discussing how students are more alike than different.

What are your ways to be a better student this year? ›

How to Be a Better Student
  • Set goals. Goals, both short and long-term, are a great way to measure your success. ...
  • Adopt and stick to a study schedule. ...
  • Stay well-rested. ...
  • Take advantage of educator resources. ...
  • Healthy study techniques for proper exam preparation. ...
  • Develop note-taking skills. ...
  • Extracurricular activities. ...
  • Study buddies.

What do you do if you don't like your child's school? ›

You may be able to solve the problem by just talking with his teacher. Start by arranging to spend an hour or two in your child's classroom. This will give you a lot of information about your child's teacher, school, and classroom environment. Then schedule a private conference with the teacher.

Why is changing schools hard? ›

Difficulties with school work. School curricula can vary widely, and students within one school may learn at different paces. This means that a child may move from a school that is ahead of them in the year's material, or it might mean that a child moves from a school that has not yet covered certain material.

How can you change your school? ›

Most schools will require a minimum of proof of address, transcripts, and vaccine records. Some may require report cards, letters from teachers, and evidence of a move. Find out what the new school requires early on, and gather the necessary paperwork, keeping it in an easily-accessible area.

How does moving to a new school affect a child? ›

It can cause young students to manifest anxiety, sadness, frustration, and loneliness. Stress and anxiety are inevitable for children who struggle to adapt to a new environment. Children may feel nervous or worried about starting at a new school, making new friends, and adjusting to new routines.

How do I change my new school year? ›

11 Changes to Make When You Go Back to School This Year
  1. Get up earlier. ...
  2. Revise as you go along. ...
  3. Make your notes more organised. ...
  4. Use your lunch breaks productively. ...
  5. Set aside an hour or two a week for extra reading. ...
  6. Get started on homework as soon as you're set it. ...
  7. Ban procrastination. ...
  8. Take up a new hobby.

How do I help my child transition to a new preschool? ›

How to prepare your child for preschool
  1. 8 playful ways to ease the transition. By UNICEF. ...
  2. Visit together. ...
  3. Make new friends. ...
  4. Play school together at home. ...
  5. Turn getting-ready skills into a game. ...
  6. Share your experience. ...
  7. Create a new routine. ...
  8. Listen to your child.

How long does it take a child to adjust to kindergarten? ›

It varies from child to child, but it typically takes a few weeks to a few months for a child to fully adjust to kindergarten. It's important to be patient and supportive during this time and to celebrate your child's progress along the way.


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