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to be completely baffled by Primary School admissions

(43 Posts)
PrincessScrumpy Fri 07-Oct-11 12:57:05

Our catchment school is a 30 minute walk (with a 4yo) at least but closer school is over subscribed. It's done as the crow flies - well I'm not a crow so cannot fly over the secure airfield to get dd to school. Anyway, I've accepted that we will have to keep our 2 cars (financially I had hoped to be a 1 car family). However, the catchment school is also over subscribed so I looked at others.

I have been advised to put a safe option down - well, even the local less good primary is over subscribed so what can I do? It looks like they need a new school in the area!

witherhills Fri 07-Oct-11 13:00:05

It's a minefield!
I don't understand it.
Our nearest school is about 500m away, but looking at the stats the closest child to get in was 300m away. confused

PomBearAtTheGatesOfDawn Fri 07-Oct-11 13:19:24

We live about 300 yards ----> that way from one school, but when the forms came for my three youngest (by turns, they aren't triplets!) "our" school is apparently the one that's two miles <-- that way.
As it is, they go to a church school halfway between the two, but quite why the council think we're in the area for a school two miles away, rather than one 300 yards away is anybody's guess :-S It's definitely strange.

CustardCake Fri 07-Oct-11 13:49:20

You can live 500m (or 300m) from a school and still not be close enough to get in.
If the school has 30 spaces and 12 of those get given to siblings, the remaining 18 spaces get given to those living closest to the school. In a town or city with lots of houses and flats in every road, these spaces cut run out easily within a 300 or 500m radius of the school.

Normally the schools and council are quite good at telling parents (if you ask!) where the last place was offered to last year and in previous years so if its never gone out past 300m and you live 550m away you know you're not in with much of a chance.

You can still put it as your first choice though just in case its less over subscribed this year but make sure you also put down a school that has accepted people living as far away as you do in previous years. Which is how you get the mad situation of people living 500m from their nearest school getting given a place at a school 1 mile away.

witherhills Fri 07-Oct-11 14:28:19

I'm just looking at this application now
we have more classes being provided for next year, but nothing confirmed yet, so on the application it says that all the schools that have been in talks with LA have asterisks. Our local school doesn't have an asterisk, but on the schools website they say they have been in talks, and might have another class
How the bloody hell are you supposed to know
I'm just going to have to phone them

CustardCake Fri 07-Oct-11 15:05:01

witherhalls - nobody ever knows for definite
If you're unlucky there are 3 year old triplets living 100m from the school you like right now and 22 kids already in the school with siblings eligible to join them in 2012 leaving only 5 places for everyone else.
If you're really lucky, it is a low birth-rate year with hardly any siblings applying for 2012 and everybody who lives closer than you do deciding to apply to a different school altogether leaving you in with a good chance of getting in.

There is no way to know for certain. Nobody ever knows for certain but I agree it would help a bit to know if there will be an extra class for 2012 just so you can get an idea of whether tlast year’s figures are helpful or not.

In terms of filling out the form, use your first two choices to state the schools that you really like best and that, if you're lucky on distance, you stand a possible chance of getting into
Use the last preference for a school you might be less keen on but that you are definitely close enough to get a place at.
If you don’t put a safe option on your form then you run the risk of not getting any of your choices and being allocated an undersubscribed (so probably not good) school a long way away.
Come March, if you can't have the school you like, you might be happier to get a less good school near home than a less good school 2 miles away. Obviously everybody wants their first choice but a lot of people aren’t able to be given that so you have to hedge your bets for the least bad option just in case.

witherhills Fri 07-Oct-11 15:12:49

thank Custardcake,that makes sense, very helpful

I have just called them, the woman was lovely, but not very knowledgeable and apparently there are 8 schools who could have another class, but only one confirmed, which is our local one.
Our local one is the worst one in the area, but they have improved significantly since last year

PrincessScrumpy Fri 07-Oct-11 20:19:23

Not sure what a "safe" option is when all schools are over-subscribed!?

ladyintheradiator Fri 07-Oct-11 20:24:44

Hi PrincessScrumpy, I know you posted on the other thread but I'm pasting prh47bridge's reply about over-subscription if this helps?

prh47bridge Fri 07-Oct-11 13:20:29

Let me clarify something about oversubscribed schools as I think it is misleading some people.

Let us imagine that the council has only 3 schools. Each school has an admission number of 30. This year 90 children want admission to reception, so we have exactly the right number of places. The parents of all 90 children name their nearest school as their first preference and the other two schools as their second and third preferences.

All three schools are now oversubscribed. They all have 90 children applying for 30 places. But every one of those 90 children will get a place at one or other of the schools. And since everyone has named their nearest school as first choice there is a good chance that everyone is going to end up with their first choice.

If the LA has exactly the right number of places available and all parents name three preferences you would expect all the schools to have three times as many applicants as places. In that scenario the schools that get four or five times as many applicants as places are the popular ones where it will be difficult to get a place. A school that has twice as many applicants as places or less is unpopular and it will usually be easy to get a place.

lilyliz Fri 07-Oct-11 20:28:19

must say we sound really lucky here,there are 2 schools one at each side of the town.The main road cuts straight through the middle of town so which school you go to depends which side of the road you live on,simples

ljny Fri 07-Oct-11 20:43:13

Can anyone offer any advice for over-subscribed areas like London? Where do you find this mythical "safe option" that you're sure to get in? My GD will be in reception next year. My DD and her DP like the closest school well enough, but she's now unlikely to get in as distances are shrinking - a few years ago, their street would have been "safe" but not in the last couple of years. They're even further away from any other local school so they can list them, but she won't get it in. The borough has two very unpopular schools, miles away - those are the only ones that ever have places left. Help!!!

CardyMow Fri 07-Oct-11 21:20:24

Reception year in my DS's primary this September - 60 pupil intake...45 siblings!!! I know of at least 8 children that haven't got into this school, OR the other 4 primaries in this end of the very large (city-sized) town...they are having to travel 7 miles to school...which exploits an LEA loophole in the transport to school scheme in our LEA. The loophole is that for a child in YR - Y2, they get free transport if their school is between 2 and 6 miles away from their house. Therefore, the dc that have been placed in a school 7 miles away DO NOT get free transport!!!

Their parents are having to drive them to a school in special measures even though they live within less than half a mile of an outstanding school - and have bought their houses with this school in mind - a school which EVERY OTHER YEAR for the last 10 years has had a 'furthest distance admitted' of 3 miles away, but because of the HUGE amount of siblings this year, only had 15 places available. The usual amount admitted per yr group of 60 dc as sibling is 10. This year 45!!

PrincessScrumpy Sat 08-Oct-11 19:51:36

the school we love takes 30 pupils and had 22 siblings this year - hoping it'll be less next year!

IndigoBell Sat 08-Oct-11 21:01:01

Honestly put the school you want the most down as 1st.

You never know whether that will be the school that will be forced to have a bump year and take an extra 30 kids.

And the council don't know yet - they don't even know how many kids are going to apply for places in the borough until all the admissions are in.

PomBearAtTheGatesOfDawn Sat 08-Oct-11 21:10:44

Just to muddy the waters even further - it was in our local paper this week that a child with an older brother in a particular school has been refused a place there, and has had an appeal refused too, and has to go to a different school. This is the second case like that recently, the other famiy had three siblings already at the school and the youngest one has been refused. It must be an absolute nightmare for the families sad

AMML Sat 08-Oct-11 22:52:02

I think the English system is very confusing. Whilst it's not perfect here in Scotland, it definitely does seem easier & dare I say it, fairer to get your kids into the local school.

Here (Scotland), every school non-denominational (ND) & catholic (RC) has a catchment area. In effect, this means every household has 2 catchment schools.

Priority is given to kids in the catchment area with sibblings at the school followed by catchment kids without sibblings. Next it's kids outwith the catchment area with sibblings already at the school & last is outwith catchment with no sibblings. Distance from house to school would come into effect if the school was over subscribed.

For the RC schools baptised catholics within the catchment area are the first priority and then it's the same priority system as ND schools.

To summarise, catholic kids are more or less guaranteed a place at their catchment RC school, as are non-catholic with sibblings. Often, non-catholics without sibblings are refused entry to RC schools if there is high demand. However, as far as I'm aware, all kids within the catchment area are guaranteed a place at their local ND school.

If parents do their homework before buying / renting a house, ensuring their home is in the catchment area of their desired school, they're unlikely to be disappointed when it's time to enroll their child into primary education. The main problem here is when parents try to place their kids in schools outwith their catchment area, especially if it's an over subscribed school.

CustardCake Sat 08-Oct-11 23:21:00

AMML - I agree. From what I understand of the Scottish system, it is much more like Australia and other places where you roll on up to your nearest school once your child is the correct age and announce that they'll be going there ......well not quite - but basically, unlike England, the schools have an expectation that they must take all the local children and children have an expectation that they will definitely get into their local school if they want it. In England you can be 300m from a nice school and yet be allocated one a mile away in the opposite direction (if you are unlucky with sibling numbers and a lot of flats and houses being closer to the school than you are).

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 07:28:23

But how do they ensure they don't have more than 30 kids in a class if they take everyone in the catchment?

Minus273 Sun 09-Oct-11 07:42:17

They have to create other classes, or even jiggle it using conposite classes. I think it is disgusting children not getting free transport to school when the parents have been forced to send them to one so far away. What if they had no car or no money?

nooka Sun 09-Oct-11 07:43:11

We have the everyone is in system where I live (in Canada). What happens is that until the first day of term no one knows how many children are going to turn up, or quite how many teachers they will need. The first week is spent figuring it out. Last year they had so many unexpected children that they had to have an extra two teachers and it took a week to find out which class everyone had been allocated. The other way they cope is to have lots of mixed year group classes so they have more flexibility. It's a bit weird but it's nice having the guarantee of your local school.

When I applied for reception in the UK (several years ago now) I put in applications for all the schools I could cycle to in fifteen minutes (eight excluding the faith schools). Thus I was not surprised when they all said they were over subscribed. It seemed a fairly meaningless term.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 07:49:41

You do get free transport to school if you've been offered one over 2 miles away.

See I think I'd be more unhappy with a school having to cope with however many kids turn up. That doesn't sound at all great.

Minus273 Sun 09-Oct-11 07:52:58

I commented as someone said their LEA didn't provide transport for schools 7 or more miles away.

Llanarth Sun 09-Oct-11 07:59:28

*In terms of filling out the form, use your first two choices to state the schools that you really like best and that, if you're lucky on distance, you stand a possible chance of getting into
Use the last preference for a school you might be less keen on but that you are definitely close enough to get a place at.
If you don’t put a safe option on your form then you run the risk of not getting any of your choices and being allocated an undersubscribed (so probably not good) school a long way away.*

__________________________________________________________

A slight caveat to that advice. There are two schools in our village, and a school in the next village. We have been advised categorically not to use our third choice at all (i.e. NOT put down the school in the next village) because if we do, and our first two schools are oversubscribed, we will automatically get allocated the school in the next village and our local authority will be very happy with that, as we get a tick on their statistics to say we were allocated a school we 'chose' to go to. There's also a suggestion that by putting down a third choice, we are more likely to not end up in one of our first and second choice schools (think about it, if you were administering the admissions and two forms come in from two children living next door to each other, and there is only one place available in the local school, you wouldn't give the local school place to the child who had given an alternative school as one of their choices, would you?).

The headteacher of our local school told us last week that there had NEVER been a case where a child who didn't get into either of the village schools but had put a third choice down, had ever been successful on appeal, whereas ALL children who only put two schools down, but had been 'allocated' the other school, had eventually got into one of the local schools on appeal.

Sorry to complicate things further!

DottyandSpottyWot Sun 09-Oct-11 08:39:41

I think the Scottish system is a lot easier to understand, as each Local Authority divides their areas into catchments, and thats the school you go to! Of course, parents have a right to apply for a school outwith their catchment (including a school in another authority). Our council area has had a lot of PPP funding, so one school in a popular area was re-built and can hold 3 classes at each stage, so all catchment kids get in and it has 25% of its roll as placing requests, the next nearest school didnt get a rebuilt or extension, and was oversubscribed for catchment places, but they are all getting in as they will have 40 kids in a class with 2 teachers!!

CustardCake Sun 09-Oct-11 09:16:48

Llanarth - if you will get your 3rd choice school regardless of whether you list it or not (assuming you can't have your first two preferences) then yes, it would be 'teach the council' a lesson not to list it as then they would have low statistics for offering people one of their choices. You would get that school but they wouldn't be able to brag about meeting parental choices. However, I'd feel happier having a safe choice than getting one over on the council.

Your other point I am afraid is wrong (unless your local authority is acting illegally).
You are assuming discretion where there is none. If I put down 3 choices (A, B, and C) and you put down two choices (A & B) and there is only one space left at school B, if I live closer than you I will get it.
It doesn't matter in the tiniest bit that you apparently want it more than I do because you have put no other options on your form and I have.
It is one of those myths that lots of people believe but there is no discretion or emotion in the system:
The computer sees that we both of us can't have school A and both of us like school B next.
It sees that I qualify more than you because I live 45m closer than you do so I get the place.
There is none of this passing around forms and saying "well CustardCake has listed a third one but Llanarth hasn't so its only fair we give it to Llanarth because she's more serious about school B and CustardCake doesn't care so much"

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