Residential criteria for primary schools in wandsworth

(24 Posts)
MrsC09 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:13:44

My son is getting closer to school age and I am stating to panic about the primary school situation. After viewing several schools in the area, both state and private, we have found that Honeywell is the best fit for us. It is our nearest state school however because of its popularity we are outside of the catchment area as we live 500m from the school. Therefore we will need to move in order to get him into our nearest school (which I find infuriating!!) it turns out that our home is in a black hole when it comes to getting into any state school, let alone a good one.

So, my question is, how long before the application do we need to be living at the new address? Do we just need to be in by the 15th Jan application deadline? I read somewhere tha you need to be living at the address for a year before you submit the application but I haven't heard that before. Any advice appreciated!

prh47bridge Thu 07-Mar-13 14:01:58

In theory you only need to be there by the application deadline. However, some LAs look suspiciously at people moving just before the deadline, particularly if they are moving closer to a popular school. I would therefore recommend moving as soon as possible.

scaevola Thu 07-Mar-13 14:09:34

Wandsworth does look very carefully/suspiciously at applications round Honeywell and Belleville, so definitely as early as possible.

MrsC09 Thu 07-Mar-13 16:41:11

Thanks for your responses. Even if they do look suspiciously at recent moves, if we really are living at the property (which we intend to) can they disregard the application if they feel like it? Surly if we can prove that we are living there then they cant really do anything about it? Would the fact that we are renting out our house and renting another house nearby work against us? In that case we would consider selling & buying instead but its even more stressful. Also, how long do you need to be living at that address for? I'm guessing you need to be living there when the child starts school in September?

It's just such an annoying situation as it is by far our nearest school yet we are having to move and "cheat the system" to get in!

Thanks for your help!

SavoirFaire Thu 07-Mar-13 17:33:20

If you're so close to Honeywell, wouldn't you get in to Belleville OP? Remember that the published distances are first offers in April (and will vary year to year anyway because of siblings etc) so people do get in from further away by September (although granted not many, because of the one form entry). It might be worth speaking to the admissions people at WBC and asking what the distances of final offers were. You may well find if you take a place nearby but go on the Honeywell wait list you would have a place before the start of Y1 (I have heard that this is doable for those who are persistent but can't speak from experience unfortunately).

FrankWippery Thu 07-Mar-13 17:40:59

Remind me in a month and a bit and I'll let you know whether DD3 gets Belleville or Honeywell for this September. I'm in exactly the same position as you are. My older three were at Honeywell from '98 - '07, but the criteria wasn't quite so strict then, although living on the chimney stack helped by the time my DS started in '01.

PatriciaHolm Thu 07-Mar-13 18:20:12

Renting your old home and moving a little way away to be nearer Honeywell will be looked on highly suspiciously. They will suspect, rightly, you have simply temporarily rented to secure the place and will be moving out as soon as the place is yours - you haven't fully moved. If they suspect that, then your place will be removed (and can be even if your child has started, I believe). You need to move properly e.g. sell and buy, in this situation I'm afraid.

LegoIsMyFriend Thu 07-Mar-13 19:36:41

I have to agree with patriciaHolm. Where I live, there is a similar black hole in which a few streets are about 600 metres from two great primary schools. Unfortunately, they are not quite near enough either school to feel confident about getting in to the schools. But the prices of houses in these streets reflect their position, you get a lot more house for your money than you do if you live within the 300metres distance which almost guarantees you a place at each of the schools. If you temporarily rent a property nearer the school, but keep your (probably bigger) house further away which you move back into after securing a place, this would be seen as cheating the system and the place could be removed. Frustrating I agree but I think you would have to sell and buy to avoid accusations of cheating and risk the place beng removed.

MrsC09 Thu 07-Mar-13 19:48:15

@SavoirFaire, unfortunately we are on the south side of Broomwood rd so even further from Belleville. There really is no state school close to us that we would get in to (good or bad.) Obviously should have thought of that before buying our house but I honestly thought we would be close enough as google maps gives a different distance to wandsworth and the whole school thing just wasn't really on our radar back then anyway. We could, at a stretch, consider the private route but it would be a huge sacrifice financially and in all honesty I preferred Honeywells ethos to that of the private schools we have looked at. I love that they are more creative in their teaching and let kids be kids for a little bit longer without all the exam pressures. It also felt like a 'proper' school with a playground and assembly hall. Something not all of the smaller schools have.

@FrankWippery. Thanks, I will. Good luck to you!

@PatriciaHolm. Thanks for your input. I still don't understand how they can "prove" that we would move as soon as we got the place. Yes, we'll be moving to get a better chance of getting into the school but most people living within 200m of the school are living there purely to get in. And my understanding is that this is done quite a lot (probably the reason we cant get in in the first place!) I would quite happily move permanently but finding houses to buy around there can be difficult. I understand that they would be suspicious of people who rent a small one bed flat & don't actually move in but if we are intending on living there as a family I would have thought that is sufficient? Sorry, I know I'm rambling but trying to find a way to work this out.

MrsC09 Thu 07-Mar-13 19:50:38

@legoismyfriend - annoyingly house prices are actually higher where we live as we're closer to the common/slightly nicer roads!

tiggytape Thu 07-Mar-13 20:05:08

Would the fact that we are renting out our house and renting another house nearby work against us?

Yes - it won't be counted at your permanent address and Wandsworth (like a lot of London) are strict on this:

In their primary school booklet the council say "The address you give must be your child's only permanent address" The word permanent is highlighted many times in the admissions booklet.
It also says "Evidence of disposal of the previous property" can be asked for to check this is the case.

They will check your council tax history too and see you have another house nearby that you have not 'disposed' of. The council can then decide to disregard your rented house because they will say it is not your permanent home - which of course it isn't and that you are cheating for admission purposes - which you would be.

If you really want that school, you will have to sell and buy or dispose of the family house in another way that satisfies the council that you are not moving back to it again (eg where houses are converted into flats and rented to students).

tiggytape Thu 07-Mar-13 20:14:19

I still don't understand how they can "prove" that we would move as soon as we got the place.

The clause where they ask to prove you've disposed of your previous property covers this.
But, contrary to what parents think - councils don't have to 'prove' anything. If they don't believe your rented house is your permanent home (eg because you haven't disposed of your previous property) they can simply refuse your application or ignore what you write on the form and use what they regard as your 'real' address instead.

You will then get turned down (if your real house is too far from the school) and have to go to appeal. If you can convince the appeal panel that the council was totally wrong to use your ‘real’ house for admission purposes and should have used your rented house then you will win and get a place. But you won’t be able to prove this unless you can prove that you won’t be returning to your former home (eg because you’ve sold it).

Other parts of the country aren't so strict on all of this and don't do so many background checks and ask for extra proof but London councils have to. The demand is so high that they have to be really strict to stop people cheating. Where demand is less high, the checks aren't always so rigid.

FrankWippery Thu 07-Mar-13 20:26:35

MrsC - I've also got DD3 down for two brand new primaries, along with a couple of others, Ravenstone being one. I'm a just the other side of Thurleigh, but fairly sure that I will get one of my 6 choices.

Tbh I'll be happy with any of them - I've been there done that with primaries three times over, so I'm well aware that places will always come up by Y3 at Belleville and Honeywell. My older lot have either finished or are close to finishing secondary now, but the schools concerned have remained consistently good for the past 15 years since DD1 started in Reception.

We are incredibly fortunate to live in such an area where the primaries are excellent, and it's not just one or two, but well over 50%. My advice is simple really - no need to get stressed about it, you will get into a school of your choice, but it may mean you'll have to wait a couple of years if it's not immediately.

SavoirFaire Thu 07-Mar-13 21:07:44

Good advice Frank.

dinosaurinmybelly Fri 08-Mar-13 00:37:10

I second what Frank says - it is honestly not worth the upheaval. You are living close enough to the school to get a place eventually. I know someone on Calbourne who was offered a reception place at Belleville last year in January (so they attended somewhere else (Alderbrook in their case) for the first term and then moved). Children are very resilient, so please don't worry about settling them in and then moving - it will all work out in the end. You are probably right that you will not get a place in the first round, however there is alot of movement in the list in the initial 2 weeks, then again in the Summer, and a huge amount in the first few weeks of term when believe it or not, people simply don't show up. There is so much movement in and out of the area, I'd be willing to give you good odds you'd have your place at Honeywell sometime in the reception year and you'd have tried out another school in the meantime. Frank is right - Alderbrook, Ravenstone, High View, Alfarthing, Swaffield etc are all becoming great schools and wouldn't be bad places to spend some time while you wait.

MrsC09 Fri 08-Mar-13 14:18:38

It gives me hope if someone on Calbourne rd got in! I appreciate what you are saying about them getting a place eventually but we really need him to get in by year 1 as my little one will be starting the year after so really don't want the hassle of them going to different schools, even short term. I'm also a firm believer in not having to drive to school so don't want to end up on the other side of wandsworth.

Unfortunately the new "as the crow flies" measurement works against us but I guess I'll hold fire until the admission results are out in April to see what the new distances are for the various schools.

FrankWippery Fri 08-Mar-13 14:52:48

I shall try and remember to let you know where DD3 ends up, but please do remind me if I forget.

MGMidget Mon 11-Mar-13 10:46:22

At that distance you could well get a place in reception year so is it worth the upheaval? We were offered in reception year. Will try PMing you.

Piranha1981 Mon 11-Mar-13 13:12:44

I'm confused about this po

Piranha1981 Mon 11-Mar-13 13:16:51

Sorry, hit reply too soon. I'm confused about this point about 'disposing of the property.' We live in a one bed flat and are planning to move in the next couple of years before DD starts primary. Plan is to rent a two bed in catchment area of good school (prob in Wandsworth, it's where we live now). We weren't going to sell our one bed flat though... We can afford to rent in much better area than buy, we wouldn't just be moving to get into a good school as getting the extra bedroom is also a consideration of course! But I don't understand this point about disposing of your property properly- we'd be renting it out, then renting somewhere else. People who rent as permanent arrangement must also be able to apply to local state schools right?!

tiggytape Mon 11-Mar-13 13:35:35

Piranha - if you live slightly outside catchment for a good London school but then rent an identical or smaller property nearer to that school without selling your original home, alarm bells will ring at the council. They will (rightly) suspect that your plan is to rent for just long enough to get a fantastic school offer and then move back to your real house again. In such cases they may refuse to believe the rented flat is your permanent home and use your 'real' home for admission purposes.

In your case, you aren't doing that. I assume you will be moving more than a few metres away from your current home and you will also be moving with an easily proven motive (a family currently living in a 1 bed flat is not sustainable if you have options to rent somewhere bigger). Also you won't be moving back to your 1 bed flat at any point. If it happens that your move looks suspicious (eg you leave your 1 bed flat that is narrowly outside a decent catchment and move 300m up the road into a 2 bed flat that is within catchment), you may be investigated and asked questions. You will then be able to explain the move out of your old home is permanent and prove both the money / too small accommodation side of your case. This is reasonable and should be accepted.
If however you were currently living in a 3 bed house outside catchment and moved 300m up the road to a 1 bed flat in-catchment without selling your 3 bed house, you would be very hard pushed to explain that move in a believable way to the council. It may seem quite intrusive but there have been problems in the past with people renting for a short time just to secure a good school place which isn’t fair, isn’t allowed and causes chaos with lack of places. Tehrefore councils will take a hard look at any suspicious cases, ask more questions to see if a move is genuine and then make a judgement call.

What OP was planning was to rent out her home, rent a new home a few hundred metres away just for the purposes of getting a school place that she wouldn't be able to get living where she does now and then moving back to her 'real' home having secured that place. This is what councils are clamping down on.

Piranha1981 Mon 11-Mar-13 21:34:42

Ah I see, thanks tiggytape, that clarifies things a lot.

tillyvanilli Thu 11-Apr-13 14:21:40

Hello.We are in the same position as you MrsC09, by the sound of it we are very close neighbours. We also are about 500m from Honeywell and currently seem to be out of the catchment for any primary in a reasonable walking distance. I have spoken to our local MP about this and the issue of people renting then moving out around Honeywell. She acknowledged it was an issue but not something that was easy to resolve. The Council had apparently looked to putting in place priorty areas but Honeywell as a Foundation school decided not even to consult on the matter. From what she said, the attitude within the school is very much along the lines of pulling up the drawbridge once in (which is understandable I suppose). As so many people have played the system (rightly or wrongly) it will never be in the Governors / current parents' interests to seek to change the admissions policy. It was all rather disheartening really. I saw some FOI figures from the Council which showed the number of children offered reception places from outside the catchment on the basis of sibling priority and there is no doubt this must impact on the size of the catchment. We are now also considering renting ourselves, but I really do not want the upheaval or the expense. I also feel morally it is not the right thing to do, but ultimatly I need him to be in a school I can easily get him to in the morning as my husband and I both work full time. I would be really interested in any information from anyone who has been offered places mid-year as this was not something I had considered. I am hoping when the new distances come out it will be plain to see that the South of Broomwood area is a blackhole for schools and give us some ammunition to do something about it.

savoirfaire Sun 12-May-13 21:48:40

Frankwhippery just wondering how you got on?

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