Catchment if You Can (What Lengths Would You Go To, To Live By the Right School?)

(28 Posts)
wholesomemum Mon 03-Feb-14 09:49:22

I'm a new mum...but I'm already thinking about this. And it's making me very aware of how different the middle classes were when I was growing up...(or were they?) In that there wasn't this widespread panic about buying into catchment. We always just went to the local schools no questions asked with the implication that we had to get on with it and that it was what we made of it. However, I feel like the league tables have changed all this forever. What do the rest of you think? And experiences with this? Any of you secretly feel you've sold out by moving near a grammar school or a top state when deep down you believe in a meritocratic society? Any good stories to tell?!

motherinferior Mon 03-Feb-14 09:52:33

It's a myth that it's all recent: there were worries about catchment/secondaries back in Norwich when I was a kid in the 1970s.

In answer to your question, though, no, I send my daughters to a comprehensive that would make some MNers run screaming for the hills but is actually educating them very well, quite near to our home.

AuntieStella Mon 03-Feb-14 09:59:00

Are you sure you're comparing like with like?

When I was growing up, the preference system was totally different (non-existent in some places) and there was no shortfall of places or black holes where you can be too far away from any school to be sure of a place.

How old is your DC, OP?

peppersaunt Mon 03-Feb-14 10:34:43

My parents bought a home in the "right" catchment area in the early 70's

my2bundles Mon 03-Feb-14 10:38:46

I dont think there is such a thing as the right catchment area. Schools change all the time, some schools go from special measures to outstanding in a few years and the reverse can also happen.

itsahen Mon 03-Feb-14 12:36:26

Schools vary massively. Schools change quickly. Diff schools suit diff 3-4year olds Catchments change where based on distance. League tables are only a small part of the picture. 'Reputations' can change and be lots of myths. By all means start doing your homework, but visiting all local schools in a couple of years would be my recommendation.

redskyatnight Mon 03-Feb-14 14:39:18

I think it depends where you live. "Everyone" goes to their catchment school in my town and we will be doing likewise (very mixed ability, bog standard comp).

secondChoccyBar Mon 03-Feb-14 14:47:36

It's way too expensive to move to the "right" catchment area around here now.

For those who can't bring themselves to change their religious preferences, there's only one option left ... a marriage of convenience to someone who's already got an elder child at the school .... so you can get in via the sibling route.

I don't know if it's happened yet, but it wouldn't surprise me!

I don't think it is league tables that have changed it, I think it is the changes in how the system works. In the past, you only had to buy a house in a middle-class sort of area to get your children into the local middle-class sort of school. So people didn't really think about it in detail - it followed naturally that you bought the 'nicest' house you could afford, which would be in a nice sort of area, and have a catchment school largely filled by children of the other families who could buy into the nice area.

It was still happening, but at a more subconscious level.

Now, you get to express a preference, and there are lists of rules, and it all feels a lot more complicated.

Plus, of course, far less parenting now happens in that vague subconscious way that I grew up with in the 70s - practically everything you do, every choice you make, is up for analysis in books and websites. And therefore you are neglecting your duty as a parent by not doing everything you possibly can to improve their choices in life.

So, if you care, you want to be seen to care, so you fret about everything you do. Visibly.

itsahen Mon 03-Feb-14 15:22:04

And the obsession is fuelled by chronic shortages of places in many areas: ours included. Move closer to your 'perfect' choice but one street or house too far and you have just spent a fortune to gain zilch... Agree with others: so much info, less choice than you think and everyone feeling guilty if they don't get the best lol!

averyyoungkitten Mon 03-Feb-14 15:32:43

I realised that the area we live ( OH has a job here) has no "good catchement" to move into. So no point in trying to spend money on that

LoveMyKidsLoads Mon 03-Feb-14 18:14:40

We're buying a house close to the preferred school. Historically, looking at the data, we're close enough to get in, but we couldn't afford to live in the actual catchment area - or compromise on space. 2 bed inside the catchment area or 4 bed just outside it.

Am taking my chances I know, but 1st child not born in a baby boom year and 2nd child is guarenteed a place if 1st gets in.

itsahen Mon 03-Feb-14 18:28:47

So much depend on area. Within 10 mike radius of us there had been baby boom rise every year for the past 3 and still rising at a rate unseen before

secondChoccyBar Mon 03-Feb-14 19:16:03

My prediction is for a surge in adoption rates for older children who might be eligible to get into choice schools under the looked-after criteria. Sibling links for the little ones are then secure! grin

Sorry, being facetious.

Teddingtonmum1 Mon 03-Feb-14 19:17:42

Bought a flat instead of a house within 250 meters of an outstanding primary , must admit saw where the flat was and had already made up my mind before I set foot in the flat. now DS is y6 will be moving out of London and renting it out which will subsidise the rent on my next flat until I'm ready to sell my neighbours flat went in 2 days for over the asking I'm thinking of errecting barriers to contain the queue of buyers with 3/4 year olds in tow. I've noticed in the last 5 years the flats I live in are full of people who move in for the year and then leave school place in hand . I've been here 7 years so time to move . Not saying its right but when the school is located on a road with houses costing over a million with swimming pools its the only way to get close enough.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 04-Feb-14 13:52:18

In this area catchments for primaries are down to 250m for some primary schools. For decades now hundreds find themselves not allocated a primary school place in the borough at initial allocation. The council pride themselves on saving money by planning to fill every last schools place, and claim that waiting lists move until by the first day of term everyone is accommodated but that is denying that many, faced with no place for their child or no place they can access (they often fulfil their legal obligation by offering places at the only two undersubscribed schools in the borough , which are logistically impossible to access for parents of 4 year olds from many parts of the borough), are deterred into moving house or going private ( and for many of the private schools you need to have your baby in the first half of the school year to be sure of a reception place when you put their name down at birth. The Borough has a 30% rate of parents going private. Even so in recent years some parents have had no offer of a place at all come September (and not just late applicants). A couple of years an extra reception class was scraped up in a church hall 300m from the main school at Christmas for all the children without places (presumably the courts beckoned)

In those circumstances it is hardly surprising that you get parents queuing to buy flats in catchment, or given a third of the places are at faith schools, with in even some C of E schools 100% of places going to those who meet the faith criteria (and for Catholic Schools that is baptism by 6 months and regular attendance at church for years), that the pews are filled with the parents of 3 /4 year olds as well.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 04-Feb-14 13:58:34

wholesomemum Are you the same wholesomemum who posted on a Boarding School thread on Friday 31 Jan 08.41.08? You didn't sound much like a new mum then. Are you fishing?

Schmedz Tue 04-Feb-14 18:35:27

It was going to cost more than 13 years school fees for two children on top of the sale value of our current property to move within a desirable catchment to a home that would be suitable and still with no guarantee of getting a place at our preferred state school. So both DCs go private, we choose where we live, we chose their school and save lots of money in the meantime.
Sad but true.

Blu Wed 05-Feb-14 08:19:37

I remember my Mum spending hours on the phone to our LEA to fight for my sister to get in to a comp that did a full curriculum rather than the catchment converted secondary modern that didn't offer a full science or MFL curriculum.

But maybe the difference was that it was not fuelled by any mc peer pressure or competition Possibly because there was no MN wink

clam Wed 05-Feb-14 08:33:33

Are you writing some sort of article? If so, then you should be posting in 'media requests.'

wholesomemum Wed 05-Feb-14 08:46:01

I'm sorry to have to post this here ladies but I need to apologise to shooting pigeons because she was being rather superior to another poster and it got my hackles up and apparently she's now chasing me online which BTW is against the mumsnet rules. Shooting pigeons I am a new mum and a former teacher who was a state school child who went to as very, very top tier uni with all the elite kids. And then I worked at two state and two elite private schools before settling down to motherhood. I am really sorry the way I expressed it was probably shocking to you and I really am sorry if it felt that way but you were not bevhaving perfectly either (you continue mpt yo be by chasing me in this manner) and the bottom line is that this is an imperfect society. I was mpot , as you implied, saying disgusting things about teenage girls but expressing my out and out GRIEF and sorry at the behaviours I saw at my posh uni amongst the ADULTS (aged 18) and at that time my peers, who had attended top tier schools. As a child from a leafy nook somewhere where we treated everyone (even the working class kids) as equals (at least most of us did) I was horrified to see what the privileged considered right behaviour. Yes I am talking Bullingdon Club burning fifty pound notes in front of tramps and some of the most terrifyingly misogynistic womanising I have ever witnessed. And yes YES thee girls from the top tier schools were in the firing line. They are often so naive that they really don't know how type handle what's about to ensue. And yes, from working inside two of them they are no longer what they were even though academically and facilities wise they are often indisputably superior. One top flight locals girls school is known by staff and indeed the local population in the smart town I lived in to have the highest incidence of drug use out of all local schools. I thought it was just a rumour and yes-- one of the reasons I wanted to work there as because I grew up reading Malory Towers but also one branch of my FAM was also well-heeled and went to such schools. I assumed the were better. But once I was inside one the drugs issue was so clear- on my first day there two girls were openly talking about drug use in front of me and didn't bat an eyelid when I explained I had to report it. It went from there. Statistically, also, the rate of eating disorders and bullying are higher at girls schools. I as,m certain you will find the stats with a quick Google. As soon as I was at posh uni the number of girtls vomiting after our during formal dinner was extremely high. The reasons for this are myriad but a lot has to do with the way girls pressurise each other and compare, not to mention that compet king for boyfriends amongst top flight schools often involves also competing with girls who already are models and actresses and ones who have even danced with the Bolshoi (all of these were in attendance at the schools I taught at). Of course these issues aren't exclusive to top girls schools and the extreme misogyny I witnessed from Eyonians, Harrovians etc. Neither is exclusive to top boys schools. It's a big issue at the moment but the arrogance of privilege plus the far less contact time you get with the opposite sex in single sex schools appears to exacerbate it. I'm not suggesting that there aren't children in both who are grounded and respectful but I am suggesting that it is far harder to remain so in these environments. And just in case after this'd message that you are convinced that going around suggesting other mumsnetters are "jealous" of you just because you cans afford a top school. That's deeply uncool. So yes, I was too passionate in my response but all I saw was disrepect sand damage in these circles when I was in them and thus I felt the need to ask you to stop and question your attitudes and really look hard at your choice of schools because these schools have changed. If it was jolly hockey sticks in terms of societal responsibility and having one's head screwed on I would be absolutely behind our private schools.

clam Wed 05-Feb-14 08:51:25

Wow. Hope you're not a professional writer! Paragraphs would help!

wholesomemum Wed 05-Feb-14 08:55:25

Well actually I am but I am typing on an iPad which is quite frankly impossible do write nicely on in a hurry.

clam Wed 05-Feb-14 08:57:48

Hmm, well, sorry but I didn't understand a word of your last post. Might be worth taking it back to the thread it's actually referring to.

ChasedByBees Wed 05-Feb-14 08:58:45

What the hell? I second clam, as you were a teacher and someone who went to an elite university, you really should know how to use paragraphs.

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