Moving house for school: have you, would you?

(21 Posts)
Swishyswashy Sat 07-Sep-13 18:51:48

I know this is controversial. We live within a mile of three excellent primary schools, but have not got into any of them. The school we have got into is really not great- on paper it looks ok, has a good ofsted but has a high number of kids on free school meals, a high level of absence during term time (most kids are from bangladeshi and Pakistani families and a lot of parents take their kids out to visit family outside holidays). Neither of those things matter at all if the school has a good feeling, but it just seems really, really chaotic and I've looked round a couple I times and been to the school fair and I really felt it had a neglected feel in terms of the building, the staff and the atmosphere. It seemed so different from other schools I have seen with similar or better ofsteds and results.

We have used some savings to send our son to private school temporarily in the hope that a place comes up at one of the schools we thought would suit him better, but they are massively over subscribed and I think that because we live in a sort of black hole for primary places we are just never going to get a place. I feel really stressed out about it- we can never afford to send our younger two to a private school and cannot keep sending DS there in the longer term. I also have to drive quite a long way to get there.
Has anyone moved house to get into a school? Did you sell/ rent? I love our home and really don't want to, and i know I sound like a bit of an idiot in this message, but I just want to try and do the very best we can for our children (as we all do, I know!). Please be kind...

Barbabeau Sat 07-Sep-13 20:35:08

We moved. We were renting and were growing to hate our then flat as there were loads of noise issues that were slowly driving us around the bend. We were less than thrilled with the school that would have been our 'choice' but we were not close enough or religious enough for the other ones.

So we moved a couple of neighbourhoods over (cheaper houses) and finally took the plunge and bought a house. We only looked at houses that were close enough to a school to ensure a reception place. DD got into our first choice school in the new neighbourhood. It was the best thing we ever could have done.

Bit of a different scenario than you, as we had fallen out of love with our rented flat. Rental prices had soared in our then neighbourhood so we couldn't have afforded to move to another rental nearby. Buying a house in the old neighbourhood was even further out of our reach.

I think if you move then you need to do it properly. Temporarily renting a place in catchment to get kids in and then moving back into the proper house seems unfair.

I do feel quite hypocritical saying that as we purposely moved into the catchment of a particular school, but we are planning to stay in this house for a long, long time.

hermioneweasley Sat 07-Sep-13 21:15:18

I'm confused. Provided it is a genuine move into the catchment area, why wouldn't you do this?

tiggytape Sat 07-Sep-13 23:33:02

If you mean a genuine house move then no problem
It might seem drastic but if you feel more strongly about wanting a particular school than about loving your current house (and if the finances stack up - stamp duty and moving to a potentially more expensive area can be as much as many years' school fees) then it is an option.
You may still not get a place off the waiting list though but your younger children are more likely to get a place when they come to apply and this will put the older child higher up the list too.

If you mean renting out your current home and renting a house a bit nearer to the good school and then movig back to your real home again getting a place then this is not allowed. You cannot use a temporary address to get a school place or boost your position on the waiting list. Until quite recently, people did get away with it but with the school place shortages now, councils have to be careful and they do checks. Most councils define it as you cannot use a rented address if you still own a property that was ever lived in as your family home. They check council tax records to see if you still own any property nearby.

BrianTheMole Sat 07-Sep-13 23:35:14

Yes of course I would move to get dc into an ok school.

Snoot Sat 07-Sep-13 23:52:01

If you want to do this you need to move properly and be sincere in honing the school community. We moved across the country, factoring in schools, commute, house prices, quality of life etc. We let out our house and rented in order to move within a controlled timescale rather than with any intention of returning. Where we live there a lot of families who have moved here for the schools, people who would traditionally have bought into the private sector and partly because of this the schools are excellent.

Chewbecca Sun 08-Sep-13 12:07:01

Yes, I certainly would, without question. Catchment schools (primary and secondary) is a key factor in our choice of home location.

I think you have 3 choices:
1 pay private
2 put up with local school
3 move

You say 1 is not an option and you are not happy with 2 so 3 it is then. Get the estate agents round!

Good luck!

Biscuitsneeded Sun 08-Sep-13 13:46:52

Yes I would. It isn't cheating. If you look at the expense of moving as the equivalent of a year's school fees and weigh up how many years you save by getting all 3 children into a school of your choice, it's a no-brainer! If you can get DC 2 into reception in a school you like, won't DC 1 move higher up the waiting list, as a sibling?

Adikia Sun 08-Sep-13 16:26:35

My parents did for me and my siblings. So long as you plan to move properly not just rent long enough to get a place then go for it.

Inclusionist Sun 08-Sep-13 18:24:05

We are moving to be closer to the prep school we have chosen so you are less bonkers than us!

edwinbear Sun 08-Sep-13 19:58:53

Yes, we moved. We had to move anyway to buy a bigger house because we were expecting dc2, but the area we were in also had crap schools. The over riding criteria when we were looking was that it needed to be in catchment for an OFSTED 1 or 2 rated school, the house we bought had three in close vicinity and dc1 was offered our first choice so it all worked out well for us.

MogTheForgetfulCat Sun 08-Sep-13 21:13:41

Yes, I would. Will probably have to for secondary, as not at all keen on our nearest school and not sure that we are quite close enough for the one that I think I want. So we will move, if necessary.

BlackMogul Sun 08-Sep-13 22:07:09

What on earth are you going to do if DS really loves his private school and makes friends? This seems unkind to me! Loads of people move to get the school they want, they just do it a bit earlier to make certain they get the school they want, assuming they work on catchment areas. Difficult and expensive though.

MillionPramMiles Mon 09-Sep-13 12:49:29

tiggytape: I hadn't realised that ("Most councils define it as you cannot use a rented address if you still own a property that was ever lived in as your family home. They check council tax records to see if you still own any property nearby").

That seems really harsh, there might be many reasons to move without selling your property first (job moves, family moves etc requiring a quick move before you have time to sell your property and meaning you have to rent it out in the meantime).

We were considering doing it but only to avoid the risks of being in a long chain and trying to coincide the sale/purchase. I hadn't realised it meant we'd be banned from applying for a school place in the borough we were moving to.

I can understand why councils do it but I do wish they'd be more specific about what is/isn't allowed (I looked at Surrey and Sutton council websites and they didn't mention this. Simply said a signed tenancy agreement was sufficient).

CrispyFB Mon 09-Sep-13 13:03:35

It's only if you own a property nearby. We moved last year straight into rented and it took six months to sell our house 50 miles away. There were no issues whatsoever with either our in-year admission for DC1 (aside from sitting on the waiting list for six months!) or our regular reception application for DC2.

I did, this was while ago now, we moved from one suburb of a large town to another, which happened to be in the borough of a different council and the schools are significantly better than the neighbouring borough.

We did this so that dc1 could attend a better school we had no other reason to move other than that.

In the long term it hasn't mattered as dc now attend a fee paying school, but if that had not been an option (a large inheritance whereby it was stipulated that part of it could only be used for school and university fees and its enough to cover schooling for the rest of their school years and all the extras, thank you grandma and granddad)

tiggytape Mon 09-Sep-13 13:19:43

If you apply using a rented address when you still own a house nearby, the council is entitled to decide that the original house is still your "real" address for admission purposes. The council is entitled to decide the only reason for renting in the same area as you own a house is that you wish to get advantage on school places.

If this isn't the case (if your "real" home is uninhabitable or you have unique financial/family/work circumstances that explain you needing to rent) then tell the council upfront and they will then know your application is not fraudulent.

The councils will clarify if you ask but their booklets do normally set out the rules about any kind of temporary address eg Sutton says:
"The address on the application must be your child's permanent place of residence. It should not be a business, relative or carer/childminder’s address. Nor is it permitted for you to use a temporarily rented address to secure a school place for your child."

..so if you were renting, you'd have to explain how it wasn't a temporary measure. If you were genuinely selling up and using the rented address as a stepping stone to a new home then that would be fine but it wouldn't be fine to just rent for 6 months then move back home again having gained a school place that your real address didn't qualify for.

muminlondon Mon 09-Sep-13 15:07:18

If you are buying into a new property I don't think anyone should criticise you for paying all that stamp duty and moving into area which happens to have schools that you like. Similarly, if you sell up and move into rented accommodation in the interim, you're taking a financial risk.

And if you are moving from one rental property to another, you probably have very little capital, or there are downsides to moving frequently, so good luck.

If you can afford to own a house and rent somewhere else, fair enough that the council would ask you to justify how you can pay a mortgage/afford an empty home and pay the rent somewhere else - of course councils should check this.

I would otherwise see no reason why families should be resented for moving home. All the problems we have with middle class vs. deprived intakes in local schools could have been tackled on a wider level by better housing, banding tests or lotteries, etc. Most of those polices introduce a degree of uncertainty that makes them unpopular. And for the last 20 years councils haven't been able to refuse places to children near their boundaries so distance is the easiest policy to apply. Unfortunately, as more schools become academies LAs have no control left any more. The problem wasn't caused by parents, however.

crazymum53 Mon 09-Sep-13 15:45:59

Apologies if this sounds negative, but in my city the excellent schools are so oversubscribed that even if you move next door to one you are not guaranteed a place if you apply late or outside the main admissions round.

On a more positive note, are you aware of any other parents locally in a similar position and could you join them to campaign for more school places in your area? This has been tried by several groups of parents in my city who have found themselves in this position and has been successful. Have you written to your local councillor to find out if any local schools are planning on creating "bulge" classes in future years.

FairyPenguin Tue 10-Sep-13 17:10:04

Yes we moved. Situation sounds similar to yours re black hole, so we sold and bought in the next village, got into their school. Best thing we ever did, didn't think so at the time as so stressed, but definitely worth it.

MilkRunningOutAgain Tue 10-Sep-13 20:27:54

We moved last year to get into the catchment for a good secondary we really like. Where we lived before the secondary was poor. We are now renting and will buy when we find a place we like. Moving is cheaper than putting 2 kids through private school.

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