Pls help figuring out in-year school admission when moving from abroad

(49 Posts)
frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 00:24:16

Hello mumsandpals
We're moving from Canada to Clapham and I need help figuring out how to navigate the Wandsworth council admissions process. They say the children need to be physically in London or the UK before we can apply for a school. But then the kids will go through 3 schools in a 3-4 months period. They're in a school in Canada now, I pull them out mid-term, we go to London, place them in a somewhat local school which doesn't have a waiting list... until we place them in the school we really want which is oversubscribed but right next to our new house.

A bit more detail: 2 kids in Year 1 and 2. My husband is in London and is about to sign a lease within spitting distance of Belleville. Is it possible to keep the kids in Canada while the husband applies for schools in Wandsworth? We'd give our new address on the form. But then when they offer schools we don't want to go to, we decline and then the Council would say, You are legally obligated to put them in school so choose one until the school you want has a spot... (correct?)

What I'm wondering is, Is there any way around these requirements? I see that Belleville has just converted to academy status. I read they want to keep their old admission procedures, but would they have flexibility to have us on their list, waiting for "our turn" from Canada rather than from a local school?

Sorry so long!! If anyone has experience with in-year admissions from abroad, I would really appreciate it.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 06:13:54

First, yes you usually can't apply for a school until you are in the country.
Second, there may be no school locally which has any space.
For years R, 1 and 2, often shortened to KS1 (year R isn't officially Key Stage 1 but...), there is a maximum class size of 30! This is government imposed and applies to all state schools regardless of: academy, free, voluntary controlled, foundation or any other label.

Third, in London and the South East; there is not enough school places. There has been a huge population increase, and there is very little land (and until recently less money) to build new schools. New schools are now being built (crammed in) and existing schools are increasing in size.
This is important because:
A) you can be on waiting lists for years, even if you are at the top.
B) the LA may have to invoke Fair access protocol just to get you a place anywhere, and this place could be in another borough/LA. this is where an LA can make a school add children over 30 to its classes.
C) if a school has over 30 in its class, they are supposed to drop back below 30 before another student is taken.

In other words you are concerned about the wrong thing. You will not move here and be moving your children into any school within a week (unless you are very very lucky). You will probably have a wait of 4 to 6 weeks before you are offered any school.
It could be years before you are offered Belleville, if you ever are.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 06:15:44

Oh BTW if the council offer you a school and you turn it down they don't have to offer you another school.

Their legal obligation is to offer you a school.
You legal obligation is to have your children educated, in school or otherwise.

Am sure an admissions expert will be able to advise but our school required evidence of your residence at the address and the child's residence there. This for us was child benefit letter or registration with a Gp - you could try being on waiting lists with your dh here but you would need some evidence by the time you accept a place. If they are willing to tell you you can find out where on the list you would be - although it won't necessarily help as there could be 2 people who would definitely take the place or 20 who decide to stay put.

You can quite easily (well in terms of legally - reality might be harder) home educate here though, there are groups of local parents who get together too so they can meet other children. It will be a mixture of those who would always have chosen that option and those like you who haven't got a school they are happy with. Hope the move goes well.

meditrina Fri 20-Sep-13 07:28:41

No, you're not obliged to put them in school, you can educate your DC at home until you secure a place you like.

IIRC, Belleville and Honeywell are extremely close to each other, and ridiculously oversubscribed. They will be full.

But it's an area with quite a lot of churn. It doesn't matter when you join the waiting list, your ranking on it will depend on how well you fit the entrance criteria. So if you really are moving 'right next door', then you should be near the top of the list (inverted commas, because initial round applications can be a matter of a few streets, and so a metaphorical 'next door' if you're used to Canadian attitude to distance mit be utterly useless in London population density terms).

keepsmiling12345 Fri 20-Sep-13 08:09:47

Out of interest OP, why do you think your DC should be allowed to circumvent the rules so they can get into the outstanding school that you like and which, presumably, quite a few parents who already live locally and missed out on the school in initial allocations also want?

The rules are written in an attempt to be fair to all, including people moving from abroad, moving from within the UK and already living locally.

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 08:24:16

But then the kids will go through 3 schools in a 3-4 months period.

It is not automatic that you children will ever get into the oversubscribed school near your new house let alone within a few months.

unlike other countries, the UK does not have a pokicy whereby children have the right to attend their most local (or even any local) school.

When you have moved to London, you can apply to the council for the schools you want but the council cannot allocate you a school which is full.
If all of your choices are oversubscribed school, it will allocate you a school that has places. This may not be very local and it may not be possible to allocate the same school for all the children.

You will automatically be placed on the waiting lists of any schools that you chose but that were full. As and when people leave those schools, the children at the top of the waiting list will be offered their places. This can happen quickly, in a few months or sometimes it doesn't happen at all (if the school is popular and in an area that people don't move out of).

You cannot wait your turn from Canada. The children need to be physically in the UK to be part of the admissions process and there is no way around this (unless you are a forces family).

BranchingOut Fri 20-Sep-13 08:34:35

Are you able to consider independent schooling?

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 08:40:13

But then when they offer schools we don't want to go to, we decline and then the Council would say, You are legally obligated to put them in school so choose one until the school you want has a spot... (correct?)

No - this isn't really correct either. The council won't offer you a series of schools. You will get one offer. It will be either 1 school that has a space in Year 1 and a space in Year 2 or it will be 2 separate schools (if no school has a vacancy in both year groups - vacancies cannot be created since the class size is restricted by law).

If you turn down your offer then the council will not offer you anymore. You can still stay on the waiting lists for the oversubscribed school but if nobody leaves for months (or ever) then they won't offer you places either.
The council won't insist you send your children to school. If you turn down the place you are offered, they will assume you are Home Educating or going private.

The most realistic outcome is that you will move to London, apply for schools and get offered one as close to home as possible but not a super popular one.
Getting one child let alone both into Belleville after this is just luck. It requires a child currently in Year 1 and Year 2 at Belleville leaving the school and creating a vacancy for you at the exact same time that you are number 1 on the wait list. Some lists move fast. Some never move. And a space for one child doesn't guarantee a space for their sibling.

bonjourlondon Fri 20-Sep-13 10:10:41

Hello all,

Thanks for your posts, very interesting indeed, and very complicated to understand from abroad...I'm french and my husband english, we're living in the south of france but are planning to move back to London or Hove with our son who's 5years old (and 6 months!) at the end of the year. So this whole conversation is very helpful indeed....

My concerns are :
- where best to go, Hove or London (probably Beckenham)
- where do i find help to start home educating our son who is in the french schooling system which doesn't start reading, writing etc...until next year (therefore our son is late for the British education system) so that when we arrive he's ok to catch up
- In year application : is it best to apply (and therefore have moved) before Xmas or after the break in the new year? I'm thinking of the long delays that one of you has mentionned before applying and getting a place...when do we stand the best chance to get a space?

Any feedback or comments will be great, thanks a lot in advance.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 10:28:40

Bonjour- you may want to start your own thread. But on area - I would start by looking into schooling and base your decision of where to live on that. You want somewhere with lots of good schools which are ok to travel to (so that you up your odds of one you like having a place, or a place coming free) and you want an area where there isn't a massive shortfall in school places. Ideally you want an area where some ok schools are not fully subscribed and might actually have places available straight away. London is bad for this at the moment, no idea about Hove.

Regarding timing, once you have missed the standard admission round for reception (deadline of January, with children starting school in the September in the academic year in which they turn 5) it doesn't make much difference when you move. If all the schools are full, it's generally about which schools happen to have a place because someone has left. I guess more children change schools/move house etc at the end of a term, so if a place was going to come up and you were going to be top of the waiting list for it, you might stand a better chance just before the start of a school term than just after. But that isn't a given.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 11:38:00

Bonjour I would also suggest you don't worry too much about HE to catch up. Just work on his English, and read to him a lot. Schools actually quite used to children coming in from other systems, and often with little/no English, so they should have systems in place to help him "catch up".

Apply as soon as you arrive! As soon as a vacancy arises it can be filled, if there is an applicant.

Jenny70 Fri 20-Sep-13 12:09:56

OP, I can't quite grasp the timing of your move, but in my experience you get offered a place within 1-2 weeks of applying for an in year place - not nec at the school you want or indeed the same school for 2 children, but an offer. If you refuse you need to prove what ed choice you,'re making - I had to register as a home educator, it wasn't assumed.

Going on waiting list earlier may get an offer sooner, but most likely as it is done on distance (after other criteria, like sibling) it won't changw your timing on preferred school.

Applying whilst not being here sounds a poor choice, you may be offered something you can't take because you aren't here and won't get you up the list either. I know how uncertain it all feels, but you have to cope andmanage as best you can.

bonjourlondon Fri 20-Sep-13 12:53:41

Thanks for your feedback all. Much appreciate it.
We're planning to move over the Xmas holiday as the dates are similar in France than in the UK, starting school for early 2014. So I was thinking that we might apply for a school place just before end of term, if we have all the relevant documents and proofs of address etc...
I'm under the impression that Beckenham has good reputation for schools and i like the area. What do you think if you know? I spoke to the Bromley LA Admission team last spring as we initially intended to move last summer, and they told me all schools in the Borough were oversubscribed, but they will find a space for our son as they have to. I got quite scared when they told me that a reasonnable distance from home to school could be 45mn away from home...any experience of that?
I want to have a chance to work later on once we've settled down so Penge/Beckenham appears good for transport to central london as I've got a media background and would probably work around the westend.
Thanks for your messages, it helps to read feedback as I feel a bit lost and obviously remote since I'm in the south of France.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 13:00:58

Bonjour if your son is offered a school over 2 miles, the LA will have to offer him school transport. In London this can be just the free transport on buses (most other places it is a minibus or taxis with CRBed drivers).
I think the top on travel time is 1 hour, unfortunately.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 13:56:22

Thanks very much for all your helpful comments and suggestions. There was delay in responding because of time diff.

From what I've heard and read, there is movement in the waiting list throughout the year at Belleville. Notably because kids leave for private schools. There is no guarantee of a place of course until the following year, but I am hopeful to get at least one kid in during this school year.

I do want to minimise the stress of this move for my kids. My son in particular has behaviour problems and has a lot of difficulty dealing with change. For my kids to be in the same school while they wait for a place in the local school would be easier on them.
I wonder if I should consider independent schools for a semester, as suggested... I thought they too were oversubscribed and impossible to get into? I would really appreciate any suggestions of places we should try in Clapham or Balham?

One thing I don't understand is that Mummytime you say that
Oh BTW if the council offer you a school and you turn it down they don't have to offer you another school.
But then if they keep us on the waiting list for another school and a place comes up, then they do have to offer it to those on the waiting lists...?

Also, I wonder, if a parent turns down the first offer. Then asks for another offer, wouldn't the Council offer something else if they have a place elsewhere? I'm sure they are not vindictive in wanting to punish parents who didn't want to accept a school say 40mn away.

meditrina Fri 20-Sep-13 14:09:41

The under of children leaving Belleville may change a bit because there is a new secondary state school just up the road, so parents may well not feel the need to go private in good time to secure a competitive private secondary.

From your user name, I was wondering if you'd also considered the bilingual stream at Wix?

The LA only has to come up with one offer, and you can expect that to be at the closest school with a vacancy. If you turn that down, you can still enter a state school but it will be up to you to find one with a vacancy then you can reapply for that school and (unless someone else who fits the criteria better applies at the same time) you will be offered it. And you can be on as many waiting lists as you like.

Also, if one DC is offered and takes up a place at the school you want, it is likely that the other sibling then jumps up the criteria to the sibling category and wil probably be at/near the top of the waiting list for that year group.

Once an offer is made, btw, you have to take it up in a timely fashion, or the offer will be forfeit. So if you do decide to come later than DH, be aware of this so you don't get caught out by how long it takes you to actually move with the DC.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:17:08

Hi meditrina. Thanks for explanations. But I haven't really got it yet!
How do I find out where there are vacancies? The schools don't want to tell you where you are on the list or whether kids are leaving shortly... I imagined the council would notify people on the list that there is a vacancy. Does the school notify the parents of kid at the top of the list?

I would love to go to Wix! but that's very hard to get in - even as French citizen because oversubscribed too.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:24:34

Here's the list of independent schools in the area. Any comments on them are most appreciated. For one semester or so, I don't think a selective school is what we want, since we'd have to run through hoops and put DC through tests to get in (if I understand what selective means). I would like one that is likely to have two places and is welcoming, friendly environment. (We are catholic and french speaking, but not fussed about being in CoE or catholic school). Hopefully this thread can be useful to other mums too.
- Ecole du Parc (till 6 yrs old)
- Parkgate House School
- Eaton House the Manor (selective)
- Thomas's Clapham (selective)
- Bromwood Hall School
- Oliver House School (catholic, seems selective)
- Hornsby House School
- Wandsworth Prep School (small, seems nice, non selective at reception... after that?)

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 14:31:07

Someone calls you if you are at the top of the list and a place comes up -- I forget whether that's the school or the council. But then they want you to take it right away (one of DS's friends had a place come up at a school closer to his home (that he'd been on the waiting list for for a year) on a Thursday afternoon and they wanted him to start by the next Monday.

They can't tell you whether kids are leaving shortly because until they actually leave and are deregistered they can opt to stay. And people can jump over you on the waiting list if they are higher on the admissions criteria (e.g. live closer to the school, are siblings, are current or former looked-after children) so that's a bit of a moveable feast too. If you can get one child into a school you want then that will normally put their sibling higher up the list but you still have to wait for a place to come up.

What age are your children/what year groups are they going into? The bulk of children moving into private leave at the end of Y2 or the end of Y3, although there may be a few doing 10+ entry leaving at the end of Y5.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:38:00

Thanks Pachacuti. Really helpful. I think I got it!

It makes sense not to inform the parents too much about where they are on the list if they can drop down. That must be wrenching!

DC are Year 1 and 2.

Another independent school to add to my list
- Dolphin School (looks nice and welcoming!)

yetanotherworry Fri 20-Sep-13 14:39:16

We moved from overseas. A couple of weeks beforehand, I contacted all the schools in the area we were moving to in order to find out if there were any spaces. As soon as we arrived in the UK, I contacted the admissions dept in our area. I then spoke regularly to both. We actually rented in an area first and managed to get ds in to a school there, then moved to another area about 20 min drive away. Our local schools were over-subscribed. The LEA offered us a school 10 min away but we kept ds at the school he was already at, but stayed on the waiting list for our local school. I phoned admissions dept about once a term just to find out where we were on the list - we had to wait about 18m for a space. When this space became available I actually found out from the school head mistress, and was contacted a couple of days later by the LEA.
hth

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 14:47:30

Can I just pick up on this:

"From what I've heard and read, there is movement in the waiting list throughout the year at Belleville. Notably because kids leave for private schools. There is no guarantee of a place of course until the following year, but I am hopeful to get at least one kid in during this school year."

I think you may have misunderstood what happens at the start of each school year. Once the school is full (i.e. has done its admissions for reception) the only way places open up is if someone leaves (or, very, very rarely, if bulge classes are added part way up a school). Your chances of getting into a school at the start of the next academic year are, unfortunately, no higher than getting in part way through a year. Though, as you say, if people leave for private schools they will normally do so at the end of a year, so more movement at that time of year.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 15:02:38

Yes, good point, AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters
I had not thought of that.

yetanotherworry Thanks for explaining the process.
One problem I'm having is that the council won't give live info on the spaces in schools or where we'd be on waiting lists in different schools. They are overwhelmed and ask we email the question, which they respond to in 20 school days!!! We sent our email Sept 2. and still waiting.

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 15:04:46

If you're moving close enough to a school that has pupils leaving to go private then there's a good chance (though no guarantee) your DC1 would get offered a place for Y3 in September 2014. Then that would probably put your DC2 at or near the top of the list for the first place that came up.

Bear in mind private schools' notice periods -- you generally require one full term's notice if you are withdrawing your child. So say you put your DCs into a private school now and then one of them gets offered a place at the state school in mid-January because a family has moved away and given up their place at the school. You'd have to take up the state school place immediately or lose it, but you'd already have paid your private school fees through to Easter and you would still be liable to pay the fees for the summer term as well because you hadn't given notice right at the start of January. (You could put them into private now and give notice that your DC1 would be leaving at the end of this academic year, then wait until the summer to apply for a state place for him/her, gambling on the idea that the children moving to private will free up a place for him/her from September 2014... but then if a state place doesn't come up you'd risk being without a school place for DC1 at all next academic year and you'd still have the notice/fees issue with DC2).

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 15:06:08

How close are you going to be moving to the school(s) you are interested in?

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 16:30:27

Holy cow. This is a minefield!
Would an independent school that has 2 places accept them for one term only?
The new term starts in Nov. So we take places for one term and if we don't get places in the state school, beg the independent school to keep u on for the Spring term... Am I delusional?
(imagining these schools want the fees if they have a free space)

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 16:32:56

Pachacuti
We are 115m from the state school we want. 375m from the next closest one. We signed the lease today.

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 17:30:55

You could certainly ask. Realistically, a private school that has places right now is unlikely to become full later in the academic year, so a policy of giving notice and then saying "oh, can we stay for an extra term after all?" might well work. That might be less successful if you still need the place(s) into the next academic year, though.

115m is pretty good. It seems fairly likely that your DC1 would get a Y3 place for next September (when some current Y2 pupils move to private) if not before; harder to predict for DC2.

LIZS Fri 20-Sep-13 17:37:47

A full term would be one starting Sept, January or April. So if you join in November you can't give notice until Jan so are committed to attending/ paying until Easter.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 17:41:50

115m is pretty good.

As you probably known most (non church) schools have admissions criteria that start with special categories (like children with a statement of special needs that names the school), then siblings, then some form of distance criteria.

The parents who move to private often do it at the end of year 2 (to go to prep schools - there is a horrid phrase 'state til 8' that some people use). If this happens a lot at the school you want, you might well find some places open up. At 115m you'd have a fair chance of being towards the top or at the top of the distance group. If you get DC1 in, DC2 is probably going to be top of the list for siblings when a space next opens up in that year.

The bit that is harder to predict is when a space will open up for DC2. Worth finding out how much movement there is pre year 3. The school office probably has a vague idea if you ask them - ask a specific question that makes it clear you are not looking for reassurance that you will get in (as, rightly, they are careful about that). Something like 'Could you tell me how many places became available in year X during the year this year and last? I realise it is no indication of what will happen in the future, but it gives me an idea of past patterns'.

Odd as it sounds, 375m could be quite far from the next closest school to stand a chance of getting in... Particularly if it is a church school and bumps church children above siblings and any distance criteria.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 17:43:17

Yes, the language of terms is a mess in this country. Terms used to be Christmas, Spring and Summer - 3 per year. Now officially state schools have six terms, but for some purposes we still talk about three.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 17:55:20

Thanks everyone. Very helpful.
AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters I like the way you suggest asking the state school about movement on the list...

Re. terms, we'll need to arrive at Christmas then and hope to find 2 places in independent schools for 1-2 terms. I've contacted a few, but from the websites it sounds like these schools have people registering at birth!

LIZS Fri 20-Sep-13 18:08:00

You can join mid way through a term assuming there is space, just not issue notice until just before the next one starts . Yes some may have registered at birth and independent waiting lists may not be subject to strict rules - some will be first come , first served , others give sibling priority, some may even squeeze the odd extra child into a class if that means 2 sets of fees. However bear in mind if you say you are just tiding yourselves over until a better state offer comes up, some independent schools may think you are wasting their time.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 18:36:48

Understood, LIZS. I would think the same in their place.

Jenny70 Sat 21-Sep-13 07:28:17

For clarification on the turning down of LEA places, we were offered 2 diff schools for yr1 and yr3 children - one our closest "best" school, other an underperforming school 1.5 miles away. Was impossible to do logistics and had younger child in tow, so we turrned furtherest one down, registered as home educators with second child on wait list. She jumped from 1-3 on waiting list, that year group had 7 siblings waiting for a place at one stage ! Noone left for 2 ac years, and 2 places were given above us, but she did get in after 2 yrs of waiting.

After 1yr of HE we approached a faith school and was given a place - I am still not sure how, I think they have more discretion about list management? But essentially, we refused aschool place, then got onto new waiting list after 12m, then accepted preferred school after 2yr.

mummytime Sat 21-Sep-13 09:31:49

The LA is not being obstructive in not telling you about "vacancies". If a school has a vacancy it has to be offered to the top of the waiting list, first applicant immediately. So there is no point in telling someone who doesn't even qualify to apply, because that vacancy will have gone by the time they can.

Also be wary of advice from people who are talking about "what usually happens". There has always been a pressure on places in London and the SE, but this has accelerated massively in the last few years. Schools are getting bigger and new ones opened, but there is still a lot of pressure on places.

Finally, in England unlike the USA and I think Canada, once you have a school place it is yours, you do not lose it even if you move away. In fact you could apply to a school at the other end of the country and if they had a vacancy they would have to give it to you, it would then be your responsibility to get your child there.
So there is little difference in applying for a school place now, or at the end of term or the end of the school holidays.

BTW some areas have 3 terms a year, others call them 6; private schools pretty much always work on 3 terms (like the law courts and the church).

bonjourlondon Sat 21-Sep-13 15:07:56

Hello all,
This is just to thank you all for your time and feedback, very helpful indeed.
We think we'll go towards Bromley, specially as the Bromley Bilingual school is opening next year.
Thanks again and best of luck frenchcanadianmom with your move.

frenchcanadianmom Sat 21-Sep-13 22:02:11

Merci bonjourlondon! Toi aussi!

Jenny70 That's a terrible thing to happen. It must have been stressful!
(Hopefully that wasn't in Clapham?)

Jenny70 Sun 22-Sep-13 09:07:21

It was stressful, but I now look back with rose coloured glasses... not Clapham, but not far from it either ;)

Mutley77 Mon 23-Sep-13 09:06:02

jenny70 thanks for sharing - you have given me some hope as we will be in a similar position potentially - 1 junior, 1 infant and a younger child in tow (plus ideally I will also be working p/t and DH will def be working f/t!!)

I am kind of hoping that eventually DC2 will get a place at the school and I have some confidence of getting DC1 in fairly quickly, even if by appeal. I think we would have to take the non-preferred school in the meantime though as DS and I would drive each other mad if home edding plus ideally I will be working. I have visions of getting a school miles away and him being offered a taxi sad - 1.5k doesn't sound absolutely awful although I appreciate it is far from straightforward esp with traffic taken into account.

frenchcanadianmom Mon 23-Sep-13 19:38:50

I just read the council's manual for choosing a primary:
www.wandsworth.gov.uk/downloads/file/4967/choose_a_wandsworth_primary_school_2013/200086
Everything is fully explained in it. And it specifies the catchment for each school and any specific admission processes. Very helpful!

LIZS Mon 23-Sep-13 20:06:12

But do bear in mind that is really aimed at those applying for a Reception place for next September. You are having to use In-year procedures which will differ. The council can only allocate you places at schools with vacancies on your arrival so you do not have the same choice and catchments will only give you an order to be placed on the waiting lists.

Pachacuti Mon 23-Sep-13 20:20:51

It's not the catchment for each school as such, though -- it tells you how many pupils were admitted into reception last year in each priority category, and how far away the furthest pupil who was admitted into reception last year lived. In some/many cases (depending on school's admissions criteria) siblings will have been admitted from further away than that (it's not unheard of to move near to a school, get your first child in on distance, then move further away and get your younger children in on sibling priority). And the exact distances will vary from year to year (and it's more useful when applying for Reception than for in-year admissions -- but it does at least tell you which schools your DCs would probably have got into had you been living at your address at the relevant point.

It is instructive, though -- for example one of the church schools near me makes a big deal out of having some "community" places for non-churchgoers, but looking at the figures shows that there was precisely one non-sibling community place last year, which went to someone who lived virtually on top of the school.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Mon 23-Sep-13 20:37:56

I agree. Effective catchment areas will be of limited use to you - because you aren't applying in the normal reception admission process, you are waiting for a space to come up at a school. It does, however, give you a vague idea how long the waiting list is likely to be and how close you need to move to the school to be at a decent point in the list. If the effective catchment is 0.2 miles, moving 1.5 miles away will be likely to put you waaaaay down the distance criteria group on the waiting list. If the school (probably a village school for this example) regularly goes out 5 miles, moving 1.5 miles away might not put many people ahead of you.

Also do bear in mind that effective catchments can vary wildly, even if you are applying in time. One school near me was 0.7 miles one year, and 0.2 the year after. Lots of siblings and some new houses.

Saracen Tue 24-Sep-13 09:21:24

Hi frenchcanadianmum,

If minimising change for your kids is a high priority (especially for the child who finds change particularly stressful), then you might want to consider home educating while waiting for a place at a school you want. Your chances of getting into your desired school while home educating are just the same as if your children were in another school.

Obviously places might never come up at your preferred school. If you get fed up of waiting then you might eventually decide to accept another school. But you won't have lost anything. You might be better able to assess the situation once you are living here and can check schools out more thoroughly. If you remove the urgency from finding a school, you'll have more time to look around and make the right decision. Your son's behaviour problems make it particularly important to find a school which will work for him.

Home ed would also give you a chance to settle your children into their new environment gradually. They could adapt first to the new house and new country, and then later to a new school. Meanwhile, if you and your children enjoy going out and about then you could learn quite a lot about your new country that way!

frenchcanadianmom Wed 25-Sep-13 14:39:02

Thanks all. You are quite right to point out all that useful data was for reception. Though it is helpful for figuring out what criteria puts you on top of the list while you wait for a child to leave the school.

Saracen Thanks for your thoughtful suggestion. I was hesitant about home schooling because my son acts out at home, not at school. He may be very resistant to sitting down and learning with me. On the other hand kids thrive with parental attention. And I think it would be a nice way to transition to a new country. Probably the right solution if the 'right' school for him isn't available.

Saracen Wed 25-Sep-13 14:51:30

Well, there are lots of ways of approaching education. I don't know many home ed families who do much formal sit-down work at all with young children. One-to-one attention at exactly the right level gives so much benefit that it takes far less time than whole-class instruction with a standard curriculum.

In my family, we don't do any formal work at all unless the kids ask for it - which they very rarely do! Their learning is more hands-on and is directed by their interests. You can choose any method that seems right to you.

Many kids act out at home but not at school. It may be that there are aspects of the school environment which work well for them. Alternatively, it may be that school is stressful for them but that they only feel able to express this in the safe environment of home. Tales abound in the home ed community of children whose behaviour at home improved dramatically upon leaving school. On the other hand, some parents find that it's helpful to replicate some features of the school at home, such as having a timetable.

Here's a good email list for parents home educating children with special needs: he-special.org.uk

See what you think after you have found out what the school options are.

frenchcanadianmom Wed 25-Sep-13 15:26:45

Interesting. Thanks for that. Not quite what I imagined... I would need to prepare! I will look at the resources on that website.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now