in catchment for worst state primary in the area - WWYD??

(91 Posts)
elephantsdung Thu 03-Jan-13 16:40:35

I haven't started a topic on here before so here goes (pls be gentle):

We live in a nice'ish house but have an estate behind us which also has the local primary school in the middle of it. This is obviously our closest primary school but also has the worst reputation and OFSTED report in the area. It has an above average no. of children who have free school meals and, 'whilst the majority are White British there are a large number of Travellers from Irish heritage' (Quoted from OFSTED report). Whilst I really don't want to offend anyone I am looking for some advice:
DS is nearly 3 so will be starting primary school in 2014, so I will need to apply this time next year. Originally I was set on moving but, having estimated moving costs this will cost us around £18-£20K to move to a similar house to the one we have now. We have also considered private school but this would make it really tight for us (and we have no.2 on the way)
This school has been closed down a few years ago and started again as it got so bad, the thing is all the other schools in the area are really good but I know there is a real push to send people to this school (as no-one wants to go?) so there's no guarantee we could get him into another school.
So my dilemma is - should we
a) stay where we are and fork out for private school (although we probably wouldn't be able to afford it for no.2 as well)
b) stay where we are and apply for all other schools except for this one and just keep fingers crossed
c) Fork out the money to move so we are close to a good school

Pootles2010 Thu 03-Jan-13 16:45:13

Right first things first (and ignoring casual racism hmm) - is the school really that bad, especially since being re-opened?

If you're quite sure it is, I would say option a) isn't really an option as you can't afford it for both, and surely you wouldn't just send one?

I suppose b) depends on how likely this is to work, and c) if you can afford it might be well worth looking at - can you? It would be nicer for you to live closer to the school I would have thought.

Pancakeflipper Thu 03-Jan-13 16:46:43

Check out the stats on your local council website on what has happened in the last 5 yrs at the other schools you would like. Do they always reach their quota from their catchment or do they have a number of pupils out of catchment who haven't siblings already there.

Speak to some schools, visit them and ask if the birthdate is high for The intake your child is in.

Do visit the school you are unsure of to either confirm or change your opinion.

Moving would be cheaper than private.

almapudden Thu 03-Jan-13 16:48:07

Move house.

Clary Thu 03-Jan-13 16:51:30

Have you had a look round the school? What was your impression of staff and students?

Ofsted is relevant though can be deceptive, based on a number of factors. What rating did Ofsted give it and why? I would always look carefully at teaching, leadership, SEN and behaviour, but be less concerned about some other aspects.

Local reputation can also be deceptive.

The thing is, though you don't list sending your son to the nearest school as an option, it may end up being your option; how likely are you (based on previous years/distance from school of places offered) to get into other schools? Your other two options involve considerable expense - is that something you have as a feasible option? If yes then go for that I guess.

MerryMarigold Thu 03-Jan-13 16:53:44

Pancake's advice first. You may get in somewhere else. They will not MAKE you go to nearest school IF a further one has a place available. However its a big IF. My dsis is in a similar position. She has put 2 other schools (apart from her local one) as first and second choice - and is likely to get one of them as they are both under-subscribed village schools. The downside is having to drive to them. It is nice to walk to a school, but possibly you could move to the area where the school is later on in time, and save up a bit in the meantime.

If it's really that bad, I'd choose c) even if it's downsizing. You can't choose a) unless you can afford private for both.

Dromedary Thu 03-Jan-13 16:56:58

Is the Reception class at your nearest school reasonably ok? If so, put your DC down for better schools, but accept they may end up at the bad school. If so, put them down on the waiting list of all other decent schools that are reasonably close, and cross fingers and wait for a place to come up - children do move.

If the Reception class is awful, either move or send DC to private school while at the same time putting them down on the waiting lists of all nearby decent schools.

That's assuming you can afford c) with the downsizing. If not, your only choice is b) and pray. Go to the primary school board for advice. I believe you must put in your closest school as one of your three choices, or you can end up with something that's equally bad but on the other side of town. There is no advantage for not putting your closest school.

lunar1 Thu 03-Jan-13 16:57:03

We were offered the worst school in our area. I looked round and quite honestly it made Jeremy Kyle guests look like the epitome of sophistication. We couldn't get another option as we could not apply on faith criteria.

We have gone private, we have 2 boys. We will have to make plenty of sacrifices but it feels worth it to us.

If its been shut and now re-opened then you need to take a look around because it could very well have changed, but to be fair it might take a couple of years to up its reputation.

If you really hate it after that then move, downsize if needs be.

CarlingBlackMabel Thu 03-Jan-13 17:05:40

a) Visit the school. See for yourself what it is like. In my area the demographic break down gives very high FSM and EAL levels, and the schools are lovely. Friendly, inclusive, well run and with good teaching. Results are generally v good. You have to go and see for yourself. Improving schools are often fantastic.
b) Check the stats on your Local Authority website for the 'last place awarded in distance' for all other schools in the area you like, having visited them.
c) See if there are any other schools you would have a chance at on faith grounds, for example. Nearby faith schools might have a quota for non-faith places. Check last distance for those.
d) If the nearby schools you prefer are quite big (2 or 3 form entry schools) there is a greater chance of places becoming available very quickly, within the first couple of years, or maybe even in the first few weeks.
e) If you really hate your local school and see no chance of getting a place at one you prfer, move. But make sure you move to well within the 'last distace' catchent, and be aware that the catchments for popular schools shrink every year.

elephantsdung Thu 03-Jan-13 17:08:32

Thanks for all your advice (and for not shooting me down in flames), it's very useful and is helping me to see things more clearly. I agree I should have a look at the school but I have a feeling it won't change my mind..
Lunar - I feel the school the describe is very similar... and like Clary says I'm worried that if we try and do (b) this school may end up being our only option
I think we have decided to go with moving, as, although it will cost a lot initially its probably more of an investment (especially with no.2 coming along)

GrumpySod Thu 03-Jan-13 17:12:23

I guess I'd like to know what you mean by Bad Ofsted for the catchment school: I assume it has abysmal KS2 SAT results (like 29%) and chronic unsatisfactory gradings from Ofsted?

If I felt that bad about it I would move house.

Haberdashery Thu 03-Jan-13 17:21:36

Honestly, go and look at it - you might be surprised. I sent DD to the worst-rated local school because I liked it. It was rated Satisfactory. All the other local schools were Outstanding or Good but I just didn't feel the same about them. Since then, her school has been inspected and found to be Good and two of the Outstanding schools have been downgraded to Good - so all the same level now. And her school is still the friendliest of the bunch.

NamingOfParts Thu 03-Jan-13 17:24:54

If it is any comfort we ended up with a Hobson's choice of one (in special measures) primary school. This school also had a very high (over 30%) FSM entitlement and was in a very deprived area with lots of social problems which impacted the school as child protection issues.

Things we found:

- they didnt eat my children!
- they had excellent skills at handling emotional problems as they occured, basically it was a very warm and caring environment
- it is what you as parents do which matters the most

Good luck with your decision.

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 03-Jan-13 17:33:16

You could very easily be describing my children's school, including the bit about it having been shut down and reopened and including the Irish travellers. We have been part of the school community for nearly seven years and have never had any concerns about our children's education, friendships or anything else. Yes, there is a very wide social mix (including several travellers) but it's very "real" and the school is fantastic at treating every child as an individual and meeting their educational needs.

When I read the Ofsted report, I hardly recognise the school they are describing. I think they exist on a different planet from me sad.

Now, your local school may be nothing like this and you may be entirely justified in running a mile. But please do go and make your own mind up before spending ££££££ on uprooting the whole family!

tiggytape Thu 03-Jan-13 18:03:01

Agree with everyone else. You'd be mad to pay ££££ to move house without even having looked at the local school. Ofsted reports are only as good as the year they cover and even then they can give an odd perception of a school (eg just because many children have English as a second language doesn't mean they aren't fluent in English. More often than not, it means they are billingual and have no extra needs at all). If, having met the Head and looked around, you really hate it then that's a different matter but you just cannot tell what a school will be like third hand.

If you do decide you don't like the school at all ,research your next nearest options. What was the last distance they offered places to last year? Would you qualify (no guarantee they will offer as far in your year but it gives you an idea)? Also, do you qualify for any other schools eg on faith grounds?

If you go to the local school and hate it and find out all other options are closed to you because of distance criteria then that would be the time to think about shelling out lots of money for private schools or a new house perhaps.

mysteryfairy Thu 03-Jan-13 18:11:23

Agree with all the other posters that you need to look at the school before you write it off.

However I'm bemused you baulk at £18-£20K on moving, but are willing to consider using independent schools from 3+ or 4+. I live in a very cheap part of the country school fees wise and I spend 18K pa on two sets of school fees (one primary, one secondary) plus pay for more expensive transport options, more expensive uniform etc so probably costs us about £20K more pa than sending the DCs locally. In our case we are happy with the school fees bill and the decisions we have made, but I do think it would be complete madness to opt for that kind of annual expense just to avoid a one off spend of £18K to get you into a state catchment that would provide a school you were happy to use.

LIZS Thu 03-Jan-13 18:14:14

Don't commit to private schooling if it is not long term option for both your dc. You may be able to offset some of the initial cost in Reception with EY funding but it quickly becomes £££

nancerama Thu 03-Jan-13 19:10:46

Echoing what everyone else has said - visit the school and also speak to other people with children there.

We moved house recently. The house we were selling was in a poor school catchment, but we were moving to gain space primarily.

We found a beautiful house, but it was in the same catchment as our old property. Identical houses in the next street go for £60k more simply because of the school catchments.

We spoke with neighbours at our old house who send their children to the "bad" school and they were all overwhelmingly positive about it. A couple of families had actually been offered waiting list places at the oversubscribed outstanding school and had turned them down as their children were thriving at the other school.

We ended up buying the house in the less favoured catchment as we couldn't actually find any parent with children there with a bad word to say about it. In fact the only people who bad mouth it are the local estate agents.

narmada Thu 03-Jan-13 21:33:01

I definitely wouldn't go only on ofsted reports, like others have said. They are not always brilliantly accurate IME.

The Irish traveller population is large at my DD's school - with a smaller English Traveller presence too; don't be small-minded and write it off your nearest school because of that! Attendance is an issue at DD's school and some of the cultural attitudes of traveller parents and children are quite different to my own but it's good that children mix with people from all different backgrounds.

Honestly, honestly, I would worry more about secondary schools - unless you are planning to go private at that stage. It matters more I think. If you Do move, make sure you stand a fair chance of your kids getting into a decentish secondary.

narmada Thu 03-Jan-13 21:35:22

Also, high FSM uptake is not an indicator of much - additional money is attached to children/ school places for every child on FSM (the so-called pupil premium), and lots of schools with high numbers of children on FSM provide excellent teaching and pastoral support.

SocietyClowns Thu 03-Jan-13 21:37:33

I'd move because you have time to do so. Hindsight is a wonderful thing... we ended up going private for dd1 which was the right choice at the time for her (and time was not on our side to move before applying for reception), but we are now wondering how on earth to pay for two children once dd2 reaches reception age. It will probably mean moving and sending both children to a new school, which will unsettle dd1 and somehow seem unfair to both sad.
Or maybe I'll win the lottery.

admission Thu 03-Jan-13 22:14:19

I think that the first thing to do is forget about going private. You can't afford it for both off-spring and is therefore a non starter.
The first thing I would do is look at the admission arrangements for the local school. Is the admission criteria based on distance to the school or on catchment zone.If it is the later then check that you are definitely in the catchment zone for the local school - there is no guarantee, catchment zones are sometimes very peculiar shapes.
You do need to look at the local school and I would suggest a visit ASAP, with an open mind to get a feel for the school. Then go to one of the other "more favoured " schools and see how they compare and contrast. I would suggest that you then go back to the local school again and make a final decision.
You can do that all by half term and be in a position to decide whether you would accept the local school or would definitely be looking for a school farther afield.
If you are looking further afield then you can get your house on the market by easter, which is the start of the busier time for selling houses and also be then having a very good, careful look at all the schools in areas that you can afford to move to. Apart from deciding which school suits you and your child best, the important thing is to find out how oversubscribed it is and what was the distance measurement to the last child offered a place. if you then use half that distance as a circle around the school, then that is probably the area that you need to find a house in, to be reasonably sure of getting a place providing that you are talking about a reasonable intake like 30 pupils or more. A smaller school is obviously much more of a lottery and could well depend on how many siblings there are in the cohort of children.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 03-Jan-13 22:31:18

If you do decide to move, I would echo prevous posters about looking to the future as well, and make sure you are in the catchment of a secondary school you are happy with.

marlboroughlts Fri 04-Jan-13 01:04:00

Have you thought about looking at the statistics from last year (ours are on the local council website) and seeing if there are any other schools where you're likely to get a place? I know several people round here have gone for a village school 8 miles away. It's a bit of a drive but they share lifts with other families.

Having said that we have a similar school near us. It was given a new head a few years ago (and closed and reopened under a new name). The SATs results have just come out and they've done really well. I think it takes a few years for the results to come through but maybe have a look at the school and see what action has been taken?

CloudsAndTrees Fri 04-Jan-13 01:28:48

You really really need to do more than read the OFSTED report. OFSTED are really not very good judges of a school, although they are capable of reporting on basic facts.

Look round the school, go for walks near the school around pick up time, walk past the playground at lunchtime.

If you are still sure that you don't like it, move.

GateGipsy Fri 04-Jan-13 07:22:27

Go look around, and there are some questions to ask that won't be covered in the ofsted report. Since it was reopened how much of the staff was replaced? Is it a new head teacher? What changes have they bought in?

My son's school has a high percentage of FSM, above average English as a second language, and higher than national average SEN. Its catchment takes in a local counsil estate and is in one of the wards in the borough with high levels of child poverty. It went from failing to outstanding thanks to an inspirational head teacher. It took a couple of years after he took over for the changes to happen, and I know that parents who sent their children to the school then felt really nervous about it especially as the changes weren't reflected in the ofsted report yet.

By the time their children were at year six the school was running at 100% level SATs, and had lots of other really positive aspects. It is now hugely oversubscribed.

All this is a long winded way of saying that you need to go look at the school and talk to other parents because this could be that 'holy grail' people talk about when talking about school admissions - the school no-one wants to go to at the moment so you get in, but is about to become the area's top rated school!

What I did when trying to decide was, in the local playground, go up and talk to parents with children in school uniform of the schools that we were considering.

Megan74 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:43:33

Go and see the school and then decide. Also look at where else you are likely to get a place based on previous years admissions - your council will have this info.

£20k moving is cheaper than private so I think moving is a no brainer if that is the only school you can get into and you don't like it.

sashh Sat 05-Jan-13 05:16:47

How would the school support your child? How would your child be in that school?

That is all you need to ask.

IME schools that have an intake of 'less desirables' have to work harder to get those children to the standard of the local child who has books at home, is read to and already knows how to count. They also, as others have said, are adept at dealing with diverse emmotional needs.

tricot39 Sat 05-Jan-13 08:04:24

By all means visit (you can make an appointment at any time) but also check out secondary options. If you might be happy at that stage then staying put might be a sensible option. If both primary and secondary options are troubling then make a move to resolve both. Good luck.

kerrygrey Sat 05-Jan-13 08:06:17

Don't know if this is relevant but my DSis chose a school for her YR son to start last September. She had a choice of 3, all Ofsted Outstanding and chose the one she thought most nurturing even tho' (or maybe because) it was in a 'rough' area. Her DS became very quiet at home, then bad-tempered. He is a self-contained child but eventually said he didn't want to go to school any more because he didn't like being punched, slapped and pushed in the mud. She spoke to the teacher, who said there were some 'difficult' children in the latest intake. Nothing changed. After a couple of weeks she spoke to the teacher again. In spite of assurances still nothing changed.
Just before the end of term she got him into another school about 2 miles away, again Ofsted Outstanding, but in a 'naicer' area. He's only done a couple of weeks there so it's early days but he seems so much happier. Next term will tell I suppose. She is just very lucky to live where there is no shortage of school places.

tiggytape Sat 05-Jan-13 10:13:26

kerry- being slapped, punched and pushed in the mud isn't something that just happens at 'rough' schools. Any school can have a 'difficult' intake - be that parents who think their children are angels and can do no wrong to lots of undiagnosed and unsupported additional needs (not uncommon in YR where diagnosis may not have been made so support isn't in place).

Any school can be effective or ineffective in dealing with bullying. In fact, more often than not 'naice' schools are more likely to be the ones to deny they have a problem and blame the child or the parents instead. They have their reputation to think of and won't admit there's anything wrong.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 05-Jan-13 14:00:07

Just in response to kerry's comments, there is a child in DD2's class who has moved from the highly-desirable, Ofsted-outstanding school in a very naice area indeed, to our "rough" school, because she was being bullied in the playground at the "nice" school and the teachers were entirely unable to deal with it. Her mum is now evangelical about recommending the "rough" school (which she originally avoided like the plague).

Bullying and bad behaviour happens everywhere. It looks different among different groups of children, but it still happens. The key question is how well the school deal with it. Our "rough" school has a lot of children with behavioural problems, but the staff are very competent in dealing with it and absolutely intolerant of bullying. As far as I can tell, my children have never felt unsafe at school, despite the occasional hair-raising incident involving individual trouble-makers.

losingtrust Sat 05-Jan-13 14:12:08

A new head can change a school dramatically. My dd also attends a school with a lot of traveller children and whilst this may be construed as racist there are behavioural issues arising from some (not all) of these children and the language used is choice so the school needs to be able to deal with this. Personally I would check to see what has changed since school reopened and recent ofsted updates. Book an appointment with the head to discuss (ours is more than happy to do this). Apply to out of catchment schools as you may be in a low birth year.

RiversideMum Sat 05-Jan-13 18:49:50

Agree with what everyone says about visiting the school. Schools such as this are currently, and will continue to be given Govt policy, very "cash rich" and able to offer excellent opportunities to their children. There is a similar school in the town where I work which has made marvellous progress. With a good management team in place schools with "problems" can be transformed into wonderful places.

However, you need to balance this with the fact it's not possible to change what the extended families are like. The school I know is doing well, but regularly has to sanction parents for swearing/fighting/being drunk/being high/being in pyjamas on school grounds.

PS: I've also taught traveller children and found them all to be delightful and very respectful.

Good luck with your choice. It's a tough one.

seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 18:58:20

What is wrong with the school? I'm assuming that the presence of traveller children is not the reason you don't want your child to go there- what are the issues that bother you?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 05-Jan-13 19:01:31

Go and see it. But do watch out for the Irish travellers, obviously hmm

seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 19:09:59

It's the spontaneous jigs that would worry me. And the tinkering, obviously.

What's the OFSTED rating?
I'd be inclined to go with the second option. Surely they can't force you to go to a school with a lousy reputation if you don't even put it on your list?

DeafLeopard Sat 05-Jan-13 19:46:54

bringback - no they can't force you, but if they offer a place that the parent does not take up they are not obliged to offer another school IIRC.

Blu Sun 06-Jan-13 17:07:51

Surely they can't force you to go to a school with a lousy reputation if you don't even put it on your list?

They can't FORCE you to, no, but the LA process is to offer you the school highest on your list of preferences which is able to offer you a place.

So if you put NO school which is likely to offer you a place on your list they then look for the nearest available school which has a place after all the other places are filled. That could be the school you have left off the list, or if that is full it could be an equally undesirable or even worse school at the far end of the LA.

Many people every year fall foul following advice like yours, Sideburns!

The schools have no idea where on the list a family have placed them, or how many schools are on your list. Each school makes it's offers according to it's own admission criteria. The LA then offers you the highest school making an offer on your list. If none of your preferred schools make you an offer the LA offers you a place oin any school which has one left. And if you turn it down it has no further obligation to you because they have fulfilled their obligation in offering a place.

Tgger Sun 06-Jan-13 17:16:24

I wouldn't decide to move before getting some more facts. Look at the stats on admissions on the council website. Depends on the area but sometimes you can get into schools further afield if they are not oversubscribed. Look at how far away the closest to school rule was and if you are that far away. Also look round the school and make your own judgement. Look round the other schools that you are thinking of moving closer to as well. A new head can make a huge difference and it's how well the school is run rather than the personnel per se.

NamingOfParts Sun 06-Jan-13 19:44:36

bringbacksideburns - not force as in come to your house and drag your children to the school but you get offered one place at one school and that is your lot. Moving house can also be a lottery. Surprise, surprise the schools with spaces are the less favoured ones with poor reputations. For both primary and secondary the only schools available to us were in special measures.

"Add message | Report | Message poster seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 19:09:59
It's the spontaneous jigs that would worry me. And the tinkering, obviously."

Please don't startle me with hilarity in the middle of a serious thread, I startled myself laughing!

FarrahFawcettsFlick Sun 06-Jan-13 19:55:11

Get an appointment with the HT. Ask for a breakdown and explination of the OFSTED report. Unfortunately the way the reports are devised, they have very narrow fields of questions and answers available. You could ask the HT how travellers and statemented children skew the results (if they even do). OFSTED is not the end all and be all.

pinkdelight Mon 07-Jan-13 09:16:59

We moved. Downsized but the area is nicer and the school is great so no regrets. Interestingly, the ofsted for the old catchment school was the same as the new one 'good'. But based on the old one's rep wee researched and looked around it twice and just couldn't bring ourselves to go with it. There was just this atmosphere of chaos and it was like the head was oblivious. When we looked around the new school,, it was completely different and we couldn't find any reason not to go with it. So we forked out the money to move and it was worth every penny.

Go and see the school. Be open minded. You'll know the answer.

JuliaScurr Mon 07-Jan-13 09:33:01

dd was a school refuser at 2 'naice' schools which couldn't cope with her anxiety. Changed to crap Ofsted school, she was cured of anxiety probs in a few months. About 35% of her year went on to grammar schools, some (inc dd) on FSM/SEN list. Value added is more important than raw results. That school was brilliant for special needs, which was great for individual kids but brought average grades down. Have a look, ask other parents, get Value added info

I agree with those who suggest visiting the school and deciding for yourself whether it is an option for you. Don't just go by local reputation; the rumour mill is often wildly inaccurate. And, anyway, just because a school has been right for someone else's kids, it doesn't mean it's right for yours.

My DS1's experience of 4 different primary schools indicates that there is no necessary relationship between the affluence of catchment area and how well the school will support your child. He's been in hugely over-subscribed schools with very affluent catchments (both were dire actually, one dangerously so), a school with the most deprived catchment (going on FSM percentages) in the city in which we lived (which was great because of the commitment of the staff and the leadership of the HT) and one with a very mixed catchment that isn't popular locally (which has been brilliant for him, and has helped him to recover from the dangerously dire school, academically at least).

There's no way of knowing what a school will actually be like based on FSM percentages, local reputation or even ofsted ratings (the dangerously dire school DS1 attended has an 'outstanding' rating, presumably because the HT is very good at paperwork). You can only go on your impression of the school and HT when you visit it, and even then it's still a bit of a crap shoot.

DS2 will start school in September, so I've visited all the local first schools we can get in to. After doing so we've rejected the 'so middle class we've veered into parody' school that's closest to our house. It's incredibly popular but it just isn't right for DS2 (or my sanity). But it's hard to choose between the others because you really can't tell that much from a short visit. And you can't really tell whether a school that seems right for your 3 year old (who will just have turned 4 when he starts reception) will still be the right place for him when he's 8 (or 10 if you're looking at primary schools, or 16 if your choice of first school will almost inevitably determine where he sits his GCSEs due to the local feeder admissions system).

The whole schools choice thing is a cruel trick played on us by successive governments really.

If its really bad move. We were in the same boat a while back. We chose three schools and got none and were allocated the catchment school which is the worst school in the town. It was in special
Measures at the time and although the last report I read stated it was improving rumor has it that it's in trouble again. We were lucky and wangled a spot at a village school a few miles away on second round of applications. However the price of this is spending alot of time at bus stops and as a result dd2 doesn't get to do anythin sad its home bus bus school bus bus home twice a day.

If u can move do it. They get one shot at their education!!

Also meant to say that it's highly possible that if it's in trouble that the LEA will dump whoever they can in the school in order to be able to get numbers and funding up im
Pretty sure that's what happened with us only we can't prove it.

hammyimo Mon 07-Jan-13 12:34:00

Surely they can't force you to go to a school with a lousy reputation if you don't even put it on your list?

Our local school in special measures (we moved to avoid it) has around 40% of intake "diverted" according to the statistics. i.e. they were offered none of their three choices, but given this one as it's their catchment school.

If spaces r not available in the choices you put down you will be given a place at the next school that has places available whether you are catchment or not. Each school allocates spaces in a certain order for example , looked after children, siblings, catchment, church etc and any spaces left can be allocated to children outside of catchment. My catchment school was never an option for me or many others. After first round out of An intake of 60 there were still 14 spaces left. That's how many turned it down. All of us from
The nursery school who were allocated the school turned it down. Not one put it on the list. Catchment or not of that's the nearest school with spaces that's what u will get given even if u don't pick It sad

Ilovesunflowers Mon 07-Jan-13 12:56:23

It disgusts me that someone sees the words free school meals and travellers and immediately judges based on this.

I used to work at a school that had a very high percentage of children on fsm, 30% had English as an additional language and 15% Roma travellers. The children were absolutely fantastic. The area was severely deprived but the school had turned around from being in special measures to being a strong 'good'.

Go and visit the school and stop being judgemental.

It's stated I believe in reports so parents are aware that there is alot of upheaval sometimes. Many embrace the diversity and the potential to make new friends more often than many people would normally get to.Those children are very lucky and have a fab time. Some children just do not cope with the constant change and and for that reason a parent may choose another school.

I agree with you, ilovesunflowers. It's really depressing that people read FSM like it's the plague ('cos, you know, they might catch 'the poor') and think that casual racism is something that can be overlooked because we're talking about their children. It's also depressing when it's dressed up as their children being unable to cope with 'upheaval'. There is loads of upheaval in primary schools that serve university populations (because students and academics tend to move around), but people are usually clamouring to get into those schools. Upheaval doesn't seem to be a problem when it's an opportunity to make friends with lots of so-called 'nice' kids (because you can tell that from their parents' job titles, bank balances or ethnic background).

SunflowersSmile Mon 07-Jan-13 17:13:10

Well said Ilovesunflowers and caffienedrip.
I come across these revolting attitudes all the time.
My children are loving their school with a diverse mix of children including many traveller children.
It is a great school but the fanning and swooning from some in the community when they realise they are in its catchment.

SunflowersSmile Mon 07-Jan-13 17:14:07

Sorry not well said caffienedrip but well said Arbitraryusername.

happynewmind Mon 07-Jan-13 17:27:30

Please do not give up on this school without checking it out properly.

We have a school such as this near us AND an outstanding ofsted "middle class" one.

The "poor area poor ofsted" school has the best facilities, loads of afterschool activities and enrichment clubs, they have excellent SEN support and a TA in every class from R to Year 6.

My dc outstanding ofsted school does bugger all and has poor sen support and no TA in class about Year 2.

I turned my local school down not because of the people who went there. I couldnt give a crap if aliens were walking the halls. I turned it down as the resuls are that bad the school has been threatened with closure for years, spent three or four years in special
Measures where improvement wasn't sufficient and that by end of year six the children were two years behind. I am friends with people who have removed their kids due to
Poor safe guarding and a disturbing lack of progress to the point they were sugnificany behind after just two years there. Even if the ofsted read outstanding tomorrow there will not be enough evidence of the ability to sustain that for me to consider moving my child there. Until the school remains satisfactory for long enough for progress in Sats in yr six to be in line with national averages then the answer will be no.

My decision was nothing to do with my attitude towards the pupils!!

Blu Mon 07-Jan-13 17:48:18

they were offered none of their three choices, but given this one as it's their catchment school.

You don't make a choice, though, you express a preference. If the schools they had put down on their lists had had places then they would have been offered those. Since they put down schools which were not able to make an offer, they got a place at the nearest school with a place. And it is the schools that no-one wants that get all the kids whose parents put down 'impossible' preferences.

That's how it works, it isn't a consiracy!

One would like to believe its not a conspiracy but when people who live further away with no siblings or any other reason that would bump them
Before u on the list, get in over those who are one or two houses from
Catchment line it sure feels like it sad

Blu Mon 07-Jan-13 18:08:28

That would make very strong grounds for appeal, though, as the Admissions Code would not have been correctly applied!

Did the applicants from further away cite any social and medical reasons? Or.... use a temporary rented address???

We dropped appeal when got given the school we wanted second tw round. A few did appeal though and didnt win

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 18:19:46

If they didn't win their appeal then those other people must have had some grounds for admission to the school- SEN for example. The is no way that anyone would lose an appeal based on simple proximity. That would be grounds for a judicial review.

gazzalw Mon 07-Jan-13 18:20:51

Several of these posts make me wonder whether any of you live near us as Happynewmind's post could have been written by us!

Have to say that we were lucky in that DS was school age before the great baby boom which is currently choking primary school provision in a lot of places. We too had OP's dilemma but held out for a good school much further away which he got into. DD got in to the same school through the sibling policy but wouldn't have done (on distance) had she not had an older sibling already at our preferred choice school.

We still consider we made the right decision and the close-by school continues to be at the bottom of Borough league tables. Furthermore we know several families who have taken their children out of the failing school and sent them to the outstanding Ofsted primary nearby....

It's a difficult one....but DS got into grammar school from his primary school (although they did not actively support him doing the selective school exams) and although I know that our parental involvement has helped our DS to achieve his secondary school outcome, I do think that had he attended the local (failing) school with 35% of children statemented, he probably wouldn't have got in...

If you really don't like it or feel positive about it when you visit, try for others and just hope and pray. You can always stay on waiting lists and if you're in London there's a lot of population movement which can free up school places at short-notice....

tiggytape Mon 07-Jan-13 18:42:35

Wheresmycaffeine - it depends how distance is measured (crow flies, shortest approved walking route or pre-defined catchment area). In all cases it is possible that someone who appears to live further away by one measurement actually lives closer by the only measurement that counts i.e. the one the school chooses to use.

It is also possible for people genuinely much further away to get in due to a statement of special needs naming the school. Not all special needs are visible ones - it is perfectly possible you wouldn't know they had a statment.

But if for any reason school places were allocated not in accordance with the admission criteria and this was demonstrated at appeal, the appeal would be won. It isn't the case that schools are picking and choosing who they take but you may feel their chosen method of measuring distance is unfair (eg one school last year deliberately chose one method over another to exclude a council estate from being close enough). If that is the case then the Schools Adjudicator can rule on this and make them change it.

There is no way that u can get to this area that would be nearer than where we r. Also others living in same area were turned down. No idea why kid got in he seemed ok as in didn't appear to have trouble speaking or coordinating himself seemed perfectly happy and healthy but obviously I'm
Not an expert or haven't spent time with the child so can't judge. It just felt very unfair given the areas me and several families went through to find alternative schools. Everyone previous year got in and everyone since got in.

Stress not areas blush

PolterGoose Mon 07-Jan-13 20:49:44

gazzalw you say I do think that had he attended the local (failing) school with 35% of children statemented, he probably wouldn't have got in... I have to take issue with this sweeping assertion.

It is highly unlikely that such a high proportion of pupils will actually have a statement hmm, more likely that the figure relates to number of children with SENs. As parent to a child with SENs can I just stress that my child is considered an asset to his class, despite being one of the youngest in year he is academically exceptionally able and contributes greatly to the learning of all the children. I find it deeply offensive for my child (and other with SENs and disabilities) to be considered as something to avoid sad

TreadOnTheCracks Mon 07-Jan-13 20:54:11

I wonder if the schools results are bad because traveller children often have low attendance at school, so won't do too well in SATs, hence bad statistics. The school itself could be great. The ofsted report rarely tells the whole story. Visit the school and ask some questions.

Our catchment school was in special measures when I was making my choices. I went in and asked the head to explain, she did, it's a great school.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 21:16:10

The op doesn't actually say anything about results- she only talks about FSM and traveller children.

seeker Mon 07-Jan-13 21:18:14

"No idea why kid got in he seemed ok as in didn't appear to have trouble speaking or coordinating himself seemed perfectly happy and healthy"

So OBVIOUSLY no special educational need then.

If u are gonna quote me at least include what I go on to say which is that obviously I don't know the child or that i haven't spent time with them and can't judge.

seeker the parents also expressed extreme surprise at getting in as they had heard that alot hadn't and was also worried that they had made a mistake as the school was a long shot, they never expected to get in.

Amongst those turned away were people who lived nearer and two or three who had Sen.

tiggytape Mon 07-Jan-13 22:11:19

It is possible to have a special educational need and / or disability and not be statemented but still require additional help. Equally it is possible to be statemented for a totally invisible condition which would not be at all obvious from observing or conversing with the child briefly.

And again distance is only important if you are sure you are using the same definition as the school. Lots of people get cross when they are refused a school that is down a short alley way from their house or just across the park because as far as they're concerned, the school is very close. But if the council uses approved walking routes, then the council often don't allow shortcuts and use 'proper roads' that might add metres or miles to a journey. You can only decide if you've been unfairly treated if you know for certain that someone further away from you who had no greater priority (faith, sibling, statement, adoption etc) got a place and you didn't. And if you go to appeal and point this out, you will win. There is really no option for schools to secretly select students by ignoring the admission criteria. And if you think the criteria is fixed to deliberately exclude some (eg a catchment area weirdly shaped to miss out the council estate) then you can complain and get that corrected too.

I can't prove anythin but it was clear that they were desperate to get people into the failing school. To the point that some were even told on the phone after they turned down the school, that the results weren't through for the next round but they can offer them a place right now at the school they just turned down.

tiggytape Mon 07-Jan-13 22:43:20

Well that bit makes sense. If a child doesn't qualify for a place at any of the schools their parents have listed on their preference form then the LA will be desperate to get them into any local school that has places free.
And in many parts of the country, the only schools with places free are poor ones or unpopular ones.

Even in areas where there isn’t an actual shortage of places, there still aren’t enough places in the ‘good’ schools for everyone who wants one and some people have to be offered and coerced into going to the ‘poorer’ school - because there's no alternative if all the others are full.

Places for the next round usually take a longer time to collate because offers go out to all parents on offers day and then they have 2 weeks to reply. This is followed by at least another 2 weeks of chasing up stragglers (and even then they get more final warnings after that) followed by an assessment of who has declined what, followed by a look at how many places this frees up and where, followed by new offers to the people at the top of the waiting list, followed by a reasonable amount of time for them to accept or decline, followed by chasing up the stragglers............. and so it goes on. In some cases it takes the whole Summer or longer for the waiting list movements to stop.

If a desperate parent rings the council the week after offers day demanding a place or an alternative place, all the council can offer is schools with existing vacant places since waiting list places take much longer to be sorted out. It isn’t that the council are pushing parents in to a failing school whilst secretly reserving spaces at much nicer schools. It is simply a case that if you don’t have a school place you are happy with after the first offers are made, all that is usually left is schools that nobody else listed.

gazzalw Tue 08-Jan-13 07:58:38

Poltergoose I did not mean to cause offence. I am merely considering the school in my own locality and what I've been told about it.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 08:36:50

Wheresmecaffeinedrip- what happened when you challenged the LEA on this one? Presumably you went down the Judicial Review path because the LEA was so obviously not following guidelines?

I started appeal process but due to dd being in and out of hospital and the fact that we were allocated a school we were happy with before appeal date came through we dropped it. Given the fact I had no evidence aside from what I'd been told and couldn't back it up and others lost their appeals it seemed pointless to continue. I also wouldn't have felt right winning and leaving a class over legal numbers which in itself could be detrimental to both my child and the others in the class.

seeker Tue 08-Jan-13 10:04:05

So maybe not a good idea to make baseless allegations, then?

Well if it all worked out for you then that's great unfortunately some people are left in shitty situations through a process that's meant to
Be fair but at times so clearly isn't. People pull fast ones all the time and places have been withdrawn unfairly it happens. Unless you are clued up enough or have inside information then there's not alot you can do. if I lost out honestly then fair enough but only the LEA know what went on. Surely you can at least sympathize with how stressful it is and how hard it can be to leave your child's future in
The hands of complete strangers. Everyone just wants the best for their children. And whether it's fair or not when you are left with one of the worst schools in the county then it's hard not to feel screwed over no matter how fair it was done.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 10:32:27

a process that's meant to Be fair but at times so clearly isn't

You admit yourself you have no evidence that this is the case.
Yes it is true that some people end up at schools they don't want.
In most cases the allocation laws are followed 100% but you will always get a lot of people who end up being sent to a poor school or left in 'shitty situations'

The reason for this is that there are a limited number of places at the 'good' schools that virtually everyone wants to go to.
There has to be a way of choosing who won't get a place near their home or at a good school. As long as that system is 100% in accordance with admission laws and is applied to every single applicant then that is as 'fair' as it can be.

It may not be morally fair that some kids are allocated poor schools tor schools 4 miles from home but, as long as more people want good schools than there are places to take them, there has to be a legally fair system for choosing who gets what.

I take your point that it is morally unfair but nothing you have said indicates it was legally unfair.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 10:42:48

Also to add - the LA have nothing to hide. There is no big mystery about allocations are made for anyone who wants to find out.

Every LA will tell parents (sometimes you have to ask, sometimes its on the website): what the admission criteria for every school is (i.e. will faith or siblings or distance be the key factor) and the last distance offered to a person in your category last year. So for example they will tell you that all siblings got a place plus everyone without a sibling who lived less than 500m away. This information is available in advance of applications being made.

So, just as the OP has done, you can look online and see that, whilst there is a fantastic school say 725m from your front door, for the last 3 years nobody without a sibling living further than 231m away got a place there. Basically you would know staright away that you have no hope of a place there.

And you can do this for every school. If it turns out that you wouldn't have qualified in previous years for a single school you like the look of, you can (if you find out in time and can afford it) move house as the OP is considering or you can accept that the result of this will be waiting list stress and probably being offered the unpopular school with free spaces.

Ok I admit that. But still didn't stop things that came out afterwards from sounding a little odd. Especially as there hasn't been the same problem before or since. Perhaps I just was unlucky. Even the head master said they never usually turn people away and that we shouldn't have a problem.

And all the schools I applied for were schools that had in previous years taken children in from
Distances greater than ours.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 12:46:24

It is possible Wheresmycaffeine that a genuine mistake occurred eg someone at the council inputted your address as 21 Station Close instead of 21 Station Way or got one letter of your postcode wrong. It is very rare especially now that they double check address evidence so carefully but it does happen and in those cases going to appeal sorts it out - you would win and get your place. More usually mistakes happen when the council used shortest walking route and doesn’t know about a particular road as it is unregistered on their system. Again, if you show at appeal a mistake was made that cost you a place then you would win.

Or (more likely) it can happen that you were unlucky with a high sibling year group
So lots of children already at the school had siblings applying in the same year as you who got priority plus people living slightly closer to the school than you applying for twins (some reception years can have 2 or 3 sets of twins!). Or a bulge class further up the school suddenly creates far more siblings applying than ever before.
If that happens it leads to a ‘blip year’ i.e. you would have got a place the year before and every subsequent year after but just for one year you were unlucky and more people applied who qualified for a place more highly than you did.

If you were the victim of an error it is a shame that you didn’t appeal as it would have been uncovered and remedied (some people win appeals because of mistakes they don’t even know happened until the appeal day). It is more likely though you were the victim of a blip year when for some reason far more people than normal applied who qualified more highly than you did eg a huge sibling year.

Blu Tue 08-Jan-13 13:26:17

It's wholly possible that people rented an address! When poeple do this they then move miles away and get all the siblings in, and the rented address gets used by another family who get child number ne in and then move away while all the siblings get hugely increases the number of siblings.

But I think that is quite differrent to suggesting that the LA deliberately and fraudulently kept local people out of a popular school in order to divert them into a less popular school, which is what I thought you were saying.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 14:50:52

Blu - you are right. Luckily though most councils are now cracking down on this. Some rented addresses used multiple times in the past are black listed, routine checks of council tax history are made (especially on applicants to popular schools where places are in high demand) and anybody who moves very close to the applications date might be subject to extra checks to make sure they don't own a home elsewhere and are living at the address properly as a permanent home not as a temp measure just to get a place.

Of course, people probably do slip through the net and not all councils are as as hot on this as others but it is something that has improved in the last 2 or 3 years.

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