Now this is all over for us (thank goodness) I thought it might be helpful to have a thread where we discussed what were the key influences in our decision making processes (with regards to choosing schools to sit for and accepting a place).
In retrospect we hadn't really thought too much about which school was our preferred, until the offers came in. Then it all felt a bit rushed. I think this was a self preservation strategy- didn't want to get too attached in case then rejected.
We chose schools to sit based on how we found them on visits and where we felt our child would best 'fit', ease of travel and having local friends, what would suit our child best, breadth of interests offered, and lastly academics. I thought the league tables would factor higher in our decision making but as we went through the process we saw it was (for our schools, who were all selective) largely reflective of how selective the schools were in weeding out children after prep, pre and post GCSE. So that mattered less.
I was quite shocked to hear at interviews (and on an offer holders day!) that some families hadn't visited in advance. I could not make sense of that at all. Nor the fact so many hadn't considered the practicalities of journeys in their decision making.
In the end it was a 'gut' decision more than anything, which surprised me as am a logical type.
How sensible and normal your decision-making process sounds - even down to the 'gut feeling' bit
. Your child has to feel happy at the school and you have your way of trying to make sure that they will be, but if you spend much more time perusing the forum you will probably come to the conclusion, as I have, that there is a sub-section of parents whose children apparently will be happiest knowing that they have got a place at the most 'prestigious' school, seen or unseen, logistically sensible or not
. One can only hope, for the children's sake, that their belief is confirmed by reality.
(I would add, that for each of our three we did the sounds of all the local - all but one of them state - schools which we felt would be suitable, but DD ended up at one of the ones we hadn't looked at. However, had we visited it, it probably would have been one of our preferences