How could people be made more aware of reception admissions?

(147 Posts)
Pyrrah Tue 07-May-13 17:14:31

Judging by the number of people on MN who turn up having made a balls up of the application process (which will be a fraction of those who have) surely there must be a way of alerting parents and of warning them of the possible issues.

Could the BBC do a party political broadcast type thing once a week from when applications open?

Could CBeebies do a basic guide?

I can see why sending letters out everywhere isn't practical, but it must cost a fortune for councils to sort out the mess each year.

Many people don't send their child to nursery, don't visit libraries etc and so really have no idea of when to apply or how it works - or more importantly the consequences of rejecting an offer or of only listing options they don't stand a hope of getting.

Clay that sounds like a good idea.

Putting idents on cbeebies/milkshake/etc is a fantastic idea. Also possibly on the cbeebies website - ads at the side of games or similar reminding people of the deadline.

Kittens it's all very well saying to include schools close to your home to maximise chances of being admitted - but in some areas (mine included) there are many cases where people who do this still don't get a place at a preferred school.

We listed the 6 schools closest to our home address, and would not have been given a place at any of them if our social/medical criteria hadn't been accepted. It's because of where we live (London) but by no means unique. I don't know that there's anything to be done about it though.

ihearsounds Tue 07-May-13 20:08:50

It's really not standard, even for people in the system.

Gp's send out letters about pre-school boosters? Gosh, this area is really failing in several areas.

Springforward wow, that's impressive! We get nothing. If you don't have your child in preschool/nursery then you wouldn't get any reminders or notice of the application process. It's difficult to even get hold of paper application packs - you have to call the council and request one be sent to you. They are strongly encouraging people to apply online.

Nope, not standard. We knew because DH was we were particularly interested in the process, but if DH weren't such a geek not for that, the only reminder we had was a single poster in the window of the office of the school in whose grounds preschool is located.

Particularly if you have a summer child, researching and applying when they are only just three seems vastly premature. It would be very easy to get to late January, early February, do the sums and think "huh, he starts school in six months, I'd better find something out."

I suggested Disney Jr etc as not everyone watches CBeebies. I was thinking more of a programme or a link that said "if you're turning four this year you need to apply for school by the end of January" hint hint, to get the idea in people's heads at least.

nextphase Tue 07-May-13 20:15:14

Its too late to catch the people who just don't apply, but a plea on the bottom of each form to read MN primary threads could sort out a lot of problems.

I too know people who only put down one school, to "force" a decision, and then got told no place offered (tho there are places in town, just not at the schools they would have chosen as 2nd or 3rd choice). One parent is a primary teacher.

I think standarding things across England could also help - I've seen lots of posts about 6 choices - we only got 3.

yes yes yes to explaining when appeals can be used - and that isn't because you did something silly.

But then, I owe MN wine and flowers because without you lot, I'd have known very little. I guess I also owe flowers to my friend that told me about you all! Never found her tho!

ClayDavis Tue 07-May-13 20:15:38

ihear, do you live in an area with a very transient population? If lots of people move in and out of the area they might have trouble knowing where people are. Although I've never heard of any where that doesn't send reminders for vaccinations.

Machli Tue 07-May-13 20:16:59

I didn't even know how to apply. I assumed you rang up the school you wanted them to go to the term before to register them blush. Most people I know thought this to. Awareness of when and how definitely needs stepping up.

BikeRunSki Tue 07-May-13 20:23:55

My eldest will be starting school this year, and I have been through the application procedure correctly and we've got a place at no.1 school. i've only known what to do, when to do it etc because a friend with older children has told me. No notification from nursery, HV or anything. I was surprised that there was no guidance from anyone in authority. I can easily see how people have not followed the process. in fact, one of our schools has two families appealing because they already have one child there, but didn't realise that they had to do any paperwork for the second child.

Springforward Tue 07-May-13 20:27:10

I guess I assumed they use the same lists they use to call DCs in for vaccinations, if so that would catch anyone registered with a GP I suppose?

PoppyT Tue 07-May-13 20:29:44

In the last month I've been told by numerous parents to get my DD's name down on school list now or I won't get in! They all tell me the application process means nothing & the only way to get in my preferred school is to be on the school list now. My DD will start school in 2016.

They are all adamant that they got their chosen school by reserving a place when their DC were babies.

I'm fed up of being told this now. I haven't got DD's name on any waiting list & was planning on completing the application form when the time comes. Am I missing something? Should I be contacting local schools to get her name on these lists to get preference?

kilmuir Tue 07-May-13 20:37:06

what do people imagine will happen when their child is old enough to go to school? someone will knock on their door and fill out necessary forms for them?
Surely you would start asking about the admission procedure?
Was very well stated in our forms to not put down just one choice.
Some people want it all handed to them

Springforward Tue 07-May-13 20:41:46

Around here the LA tells you that putting your name down with a school is meaningless for application purposes, it just gives the school an idea of demand and they might use it to send out information on open days.

I feel really lucky now - we were househunting during the application process (made it in time!) and I got the LA admissions team's contact details from the web. They answered approximately 1,000,000 questions from me about catchment areas, over and undersubscribed schools near houses we were interested in, planned changes to the secondary school system where feeder schools existed etc without a murmur. I really think this should be standard practice everywhere.

Thingiebob Tue 07-May-13 20:42:11

I have no idea about any of this and I have a three and half yr old. Should I be doing something now?

Poppy some schools (faith schools for example) will require you to fill in a supplementary application form. This will be in addition to the common application form that is submitted to the LEA.

You can hand this form in on the day your child is born or on the last day for applications in the January before they are due to start school in September. All forms will be considered equally when places are allocated regardless of when they were submitted.

Thingiebob assuming DC will be 4 after 1 September this year, they are due to start reception in September 2014. Applications will open in September (ish) and close in January 2014. Your local council website should have information about what you need to do to apply for places.

Springforward we don't get letters about vaccinations, either (hence why DD didn't have her preschool booster until she started reception... blush). We are expected to go through the red book and look for the standard schedule, then phone up and book appointments for them ourselves.

Thingiebob is your LO's 4th birthday on or after 1st September 2013?

If so you will be applying to start school in September 2014. The application process opens in the autumn and closes in January 2014 (it was 15th this tear - I don't know if that applies every year but it is approximately that date).

If your LO will be 4 before 31st August 2013 then you should have applied for this year and you will need to contact your LA to discuss late applications.

Thingiebob Tue 07-May-13 20:53:13

Ok thanks. Have looked on council website and a bit more clued up. Thank you!

Springforward Tue 07-May-13 21:01:05

Blimey, no vaccination letters? shock

GibberTheMonkey Tue 07-May-13 21:03:41

We got sent nothing and I saw nothing. Lucky for me he's dc4 so knew to look. Someone I've met since was on dc1 and realised earlier this year that as their child should start in September then surely she should be applying for school places. She applied by the skin of her teeth. If that realisation had come a week later it would have been too late. She wasn't being stupid, she just hadn't realised the process started so early on. I'm sure there are others who were caught out. A few short adverts on tv would be all that was needed surely

GibberTheMonkey Tue 07-May-13 21:06:03

And though I got nagged about 1st mmr even after telling them they had been done I have never had a reminder about preschool boosters for any of my four (more than one area of same county)

ICantFindAFreeNickName Tue 07-May-13 21:06:13

I believe that when the Reception admissions process was taken away from schools and done centrally by the LEA's, it was originally planned that they would use the Health authorities list of children born in the required date range to contact parents, however the LEA's & health authorities could not come to an agreement and it never happened.

PoppyT Tue 07-May-13 21:08:14

Thanks TheWoollyBacksWife that's really useful. I'm pleased to know there's no preference to people who appear to have put their kids names down from birth.

PanelChair Tue 07-May-13 21:12:44

I agree with many of the suggestions here, but have an inkling that, however much publicity there is, it still won't reach some people or (as another poster pointed out) they will feel it doesn't apply to them. The myth about 'putting one's name down' for a school place when a child is tiny may be a case in point.

I agree too that the existence of the appeals system perhaps encourages people to make rash choices - or, to be more accurate, to express rash or unfulfillable preferences - as there is a commonly-held view that arguing "I really, really want my child to attend this school" will be enough to win an appeal. The appeal panel will take it as read that they really, really want their child to attend that school (that's why they made it their first preference and that's why they are appealing) but the demands of the appeal code mean that there have to be stronger reasons for allowing an appeal than that, and for ICS appeals the threshold is even higher.

DontmindifIdo Tue 07-May-13 21:14:08

Poppy - do any of those people use private schools? I called round a few when DS was 18 months when we were toying with the idea, we were too late to get his name down for a couple of them shock

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 21:25:38

GP registration is used in some areas to send reminder letters and an info pack. Not in London though (or at least not our part) - the population is just far too transient.
We don't get vaccine reminders either - we have to rely on the schedule printed in the red book and remember to book vaccines at the correct time.

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