moving house and moving school - getting head round admissions system??

(12 Posts)
runningLou Mon 04-Nov-13 20:52:31

We're in the process of selling our house in Coventry (sold STC) and are looking to rent locally then move up to Manchester at the end of the school year. Moving mid-year not on the cards as DH is a teacher and wants to change jobs in Sept.
My absolute priority with moving is getting DD - currently in Y1 - into a decent school close to our new house, but the school admissions system seems to be a nightmare!!
You can't apply more than 2 months in advance of moving (so apply July for Sept), and you have to have a contract of sale / tenancy agreement as proof of address.
Also, as schools close during the summer hols, if the application in July isn't processed quickly nothing will be done until September (this from the secretary in the council admissions office). Aaaargh!!
Can't decide whether to rent somewhere in Manchester from May, and apply then, or wait, as places are probably more likely to come free at the end of the school year ...
Also, really hard to know where to rent / buy as the council has no data on which schools have vacancies, so it sounds like I'd have to ring round all the schools in a 2-3 mile radius of possible address, then pick 3 choices, knowing full well we might be allocated a random school miles away if these are full ...
The move has been planned for a while, and we are re-locating to be closer to family which will be fab for DC, but oh my goodness this school thing is really getting to me sad Totally losing sleep over it.
We have to move now before DS starts school as my mind boggles at the thought of finding school places for 2 of them!!!

You will probably have to resign yourself to an early September panic. That's what it was like for us. And lots of phoning schools. But it was still a bit of a panic (and we ended up living quite a long way from the school Ds1 got).

If you arrange to rent somewhere starting end august/early September but have the contract done by early July, you might be able to secure a place before the summer holidays start. But I've always found that you don't get that kind of luxurious planning with rental properties. Or you could move just before the start of the summer holidays and have a week or two overlap in rental properties, to give you a chance to secure a school while your DH finishes the school year where he is now. You'd have to be super pushy with them though.

With in-year admissions there isn't so much a system as a 'where are there spaces in the relevant year groups?' question, and then choosing the best of the available options. The schools will be able to tell you if they have a place or not, so it isn't really like normal admissions. I'm not sure the timing makes all that much difference, as you can't really second guess what other people will do.

tiggytape Mon 04-Nov-13 22:20:09

It is a bit chicken and egg with in year admissions. You don't want to move until you have a good school but you cannot apply for schools until you have a local address sorted out.

Unfortunately, it often boils down to moving and then being allocated a school that has a spare place. If you are lucky there may be a choice but it won't be a free choice of all schools - just ones that have a space in Year 1 and this is pretty much set in stone since the law restricts Year 1 class sizes to 30 so an appeal for example would be hugely difficult to win in that situation.

Once in school, you can ask to go on the waiting lists of any schools you prefer that don't currently have a space. Or you can research in advance to see if there are any undersubscribed schools you'd be happy with and target those (perhaps they had a bad Ofsted but have turned around or are in a tricky location or just the least popular out of several good schools)

When you later apply for your DS to go to school, you will have the free choice of schools to apply to and the added bonus that the sibling link should push DD to the top of her brother's school waiting list (assuming the school she gets isn't the one you'd ideally choose).

admission Mon 04-Nov-13 22:37:06

Despite what the Council officer says I would definitely not leave applying for a place till July for a September start, especially if you think you will need to go to appeal. If you leave it till July there is every chance that you will get nothing organised for September. I would start at the beginning of June. If that means that DS does a couple of weeks at the new school at the end of term then so be it. He has a chance of finding some new friends and a school place!

tiggytape Mon 04-Nov-13 23:07:44

I may have misread the OP - I assumed the council were being lenient by letting OP apply for a school place even before she had even moved to the area but that she was holding off moving on purpose so her DH could finish out the whole school year?

If however runningLou the council are saying you cannot apply for a new school at all before July then this is incorrect. As admission says, you can apply as soon as you move - so if you move in May then you can apply and expect to get a new Reception place that term. This will then automatically lead into a Year 1 place in the September. Admission is right that this gives you time to get things organised and has the bonus of having already made some friends to move up to Year 1 with.

If you meant that you deliberately wish to avoid applying before the end of the school year (so that DD doesn't get offered a new place too soon and can finish Reception at her current school and DH can stay at his school until the end of term) then that's when it could get tricky in terms of trying to get everything sorted out in just a few weeks and with the Summer holidays in the middle. Would you and DD be abel to move home and school in the summer and have DH follow later or commute for a few weeks?

Apologies though if I have missed what you meant.

Isn't your husband making it all a bit awkward by wanting to move in September? He's a teacher so should know better how fraught an In Year Admission process is. Can you not just buy a place up there now and move in, then he commutes until he secures work up there?

I waited a year for an in year place in Year 1 in a totally nondescript midlands town,but what the head did explain to me when we sat down for a chat, was that in year placements are encouraged at the start of a new term, in fact the LEA pushes for them. They didn't even have a space for my child so she's 31 out of the legally designated class maximum of 30, but she still got it. I don't know if this is hopeful/helpful.

I really recommend talking to school heads in person if you can, they can tell you more in 10 minutes than a year of phone calls to the LEA in year admissions team can, in my experience.

Mosman Tue 05-Nov-13 05:25:03

I rented a room in my chosen schools catchment area to give me an address £50 a week, job done.

runningLou Tue 05-Nov-13 06:25:38

Mosman, I hadn't thought about renting a room - I'd been thinking we would rent a house from late May / early July so that we could get everything under-way. That might be a cheaper option though!
Just to be clear, DD is in Y1 now, so looking for a place in Y2 in September. I really want to minimise disruption for her, so would hate to have her in a school we didn't choose for a year ... but, I know this may be what happens. Also I don't drive, so the thought of a long school run with a 6 year-old on the bus is scaring me somewhat!
Interesting what you say about in-year places being at the start of a new term, shares ... I need to check if that is the case in Manchester / Stockport. I had been thinking of applying end of May for a July place but this may not be possible if they work by that rule ...

tiggytape Tue 05-Nov-13 08:25:36

If a child is admitted as number 31 with no appeal, it means the area you moved to shares had no school places free at all and they had to use the emergency procedures to find (create) one for you. This is only done when there is literally no school with a vacancy for miles and miles. If there had been a school within a few miles that had a space, they would have allocated that instead. The decision to take 31 in a YR, Y1 or Y2 class is very serious because it goes against the law on class sizes.

The timing of the move doesn't actually make much difference to whether you get a place at a chosen school or not. That is down to luck. It depends on:
1. Whether a child in the current Year 1 is leaving the school you want (and not everyone leaves at the end of terms of course). If there is a space in May and someone on the list, they will get an offer there and then.
2. Whether you live in the area at the time that child leaves
3. Whether you live closer to the school (or meet the criteria of the school more) than any other child that happens to be on the waiting list or asks for a place

Obviously moving earlier gives you more time to sort things out before the holidays start but even if you rented a room right nextdoor to the school you want, they will not give you a place unless they happen to have one. And that can change on a week by week basis. They won't save a place for example for a month whilst you quickly move nearby. If a place comes free they have to offer it straight away and the person being offered cannot delay accepting beyond a week or two.

Unless you are very lucky, some disruption is likely but hopefully short lived. Either DD will get a quick offer which means she has to spend the end of Year 1 in a new school but with the advantage of a guaranteed Year 2 place. Or she might have to start at a school you didn't choose and wait on several waiting lists to move schools later on.

tiggytape

I've name changed and would be grateful not to be outed, but it definatately wasn't down to lack of space elsewhere, I'd already declined one school and knew from ringing around there were spaces at other schools.

The head sat me down and told me they do make exceptions,regardless of the law. Possibly my situation warranted this, but to be honest, I have seen identical situations across forums.

I strongly believe going on what the head said, that it was ultimately her choice to take my child or not, once School Admissions has suggested she should.

But I will never know the background machinations behind my child's in year admission placement. I have never come across such rigid red tape in my whole life as I have with this process, yet ultimately, it was perseverance, meticulously clearly defined reasoning and getting as many personal face to face discussions with various people from this process as I could - including the heads at both outgoing and potential incoming schools - that may have paid off in the end,I believe.

movingaway Tue 05-Nov-13 20:22:00

Can the admissions dept really not give you a list of the schools with vacancies? We moved recently and this was exactly what we were given- there were 5 schools in the whole city we were moving to with a place so we made our choice from them. We were also allowed to apply before we moved to the area.

Do you work? Would you be able to move with the kids earlier and stay with relatives maybe? From my experience, having just moved, once you've made the decision to move it's best to do it sooner rather than later- DD was very unsettled once she knew we were moving (told her 6 weeks before we left).

runningLou Tue 05-Nov-13 21:39:30

Admissions dept have said they don't hold the data, only the schools do, so it really is a case of ringing round and finding out which schools might have places sad
Thanks tiggytape, you've helped clarify things in my head. I think I was desperately hoping there was a good strategy that I could come up with to somehow get the best outcome for DD, but in reality luck and the postcode lottery have a lot to do with it and I have to live with that.
Shades you were obviously super lucky with your situation but I do take your point about meeting the head and talking face to face, definitely. I plan to do that at the start of the summer term next year, when we have a moving date, so I can sound organised and confident of my plans.

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