Advanced search

Correct procedure for getting into right school?

(29 Posts)
Goddard Wed 30-Jul-03 18:28:37

Having lived in Germany for more than 5 years, I'm a little out of touch as to how the system works when it's time for your little darling to start school. If things were simple and we were based in the "right" area in the UK, I assume we would put ds's name down for the schools in our catchment area. But how does this work? Does the local LEA send you a form x months in advance of when ds would go to school and one then fills in the no.1, 2, 3 choice and then they let us know which school has awarded him a place x months in advance of him starting or how does this work? Really important to know how far in advance one can put ds's name down for a place (I think he will be really young for his year and start Sept 2004, he'll be 4 beginning of that August)and how late or soon they let you know if you have a place.........Then to make it more complicated, how does it work if one is only moving to the area a couple of months before the school year starts? I read somewhere that you cannot apply for a place before house contracts have been exchanged or you have rented a house in that area, is this right? So the chances presumably of getting ds into a good school if we only move in July next year would be extremely slim? Any way around this? Help gratefully received!

ScummyMummy Wed 30-Jul-03 18:52:26

Hi Goddard. Call your local authority and ask them to send you their "Starting School" booklet. It'll tell you what to do and when to do it by.

codswallop Wed 30-Jul-03 19:03:48

I dont thin that in state scools "putting down nmaes for a place" works. Its not like Eton!

You all start at the year before they are 5 or whenever.

My ds1 was 4 on Aug 8th and started that Sept but only did half days - you can keep them off school altogether till (maybe am not sure) the term before they are 5 and some local authorities have Eater entry too.

I would find the school then ring the Head as they would help you if you had to appeal if you still hadnt moved and werent given a place

codswallop Wed 30-Jul-03 19:04:19

Bum crap typing. Someone will be more precise on the facts.

janh Wed 30-Jul-03 19:21:57

Hi, Goddard. As far as I can remember (and it might have changed now - last child started 6 years ago - or be different in different LEAs) primary schools open the list for the following Sept in the previous Sept, or even earlier. (I seem to remember getting a letter from school saying apply now - having older children there already.) The LEA does not dish out a general form as they do for secondary schools, you need to go round the schools, make your choice and then apply. I don't think you can apply to more than one either, although you used to be able to.

There is a cut-off date for applications and they then make up their entry list in early Spring (March?) based on whatever criteria they use eg siblings, closeness to school etc. If you are not on that list then you can appeal. I don't think catchment areas as such exist any more, but obviously for over-subscribed schools it should help if you live close.

If you will not be moving to the area until July then I think you will just have to tell the chosen school ASAP what your circumstances are and hope that they can make allowances for your lack of an appropriate address at the time of application. If the school you want has enough places then you shouldn't have a problem.

Good luck! But remember, especially as he will be so young next Sept, if you can't find a place for him right away it's not the end of the world, you will have most of the rest of the year to do it (although obviously he would miss most of the Reception year, but a lot of mumsnetters think kids have to start school far too early in this country anyway.) (I take it you're not coming back purely so that he can start school at 4? )

Jimjams Wed 30-Jul-03 19:23:13

They have to be educated in school or otherwise by the term after they are 5- although in practice if you miss the reception year you may not get a place.

LEA's differ- some you apply centrally, some to each school separately.

If you move into an area and you local school is full you will be at the top of the waiting list depending on distance from that school (so say there are 10 people on the list and you are second closest you will be second on list). However you will not be able to move in front of anyone who has already accepted a place, even if they haven't started yet or live further away.


LIZS Wed 30-Jul-03 19:23:24

Varies in terms of procedures and timings by LEA. You can apply for a place from abroad but a local contact address (even that of a relative) would help. We contacted both the LEA and the schools we were interested in and ended up with 3 copies of the application booklet.(Local libraries sometimes have them too.) Putting his name down with the schools didn't automatically give us a place ,it just meant we were included in the mailing list and perhaps it was recognised when our application was made. However we could argue the case more easily because we have a permanent address, be it currently rented out, in the area. As it happens we didn't take the place up but the school have said that they would probably have a place later on.

Of course this all assumes that you are planning to enter at the usual time into Reception (year beginning Sept after they turn 4). Some schools still operate a Xmas and Easter intake and most will do part time for younger ones. If you wish to delay further(you are not legally required to send them until the term after they turn 5) then it may be more at the school's discretion.


Jimjams Wed 30-Jul-03 19:23:54

You can also apply to schools in different LEAs and ones well outside the catchment area (although you won't stand a chance of geting in if they are oversubscribed)

janh Wed 30-Jul-03 19:51:59

Jimjams, Lancashire operates a very odd policy re closeness to school - actually I think this is only at secondary level but still - what matters is not how close you are to first choice school, but how close you are to second choice school, compared to someone else some distance away who is further from first choice school than you are from second choice school. Honestly!

So sometimes kids from our town, who could walk to the local school, are supposed to catch buses to a distant school, so that kids from an even more distant town (but still in the same education area) can be bussed into ours. Some child makes the local papers most years having missed out on its first choice school and then been told it has to catch a bus at 6.30am to travel 14 miles, while another child 15 miles away, in a different direction, gets another bus to travel to ours. (It is a semi-rural area but still.)

Sorry, muddying the waters here but it is so stupid it makes me mad!

Oakmaiden Wed 30-Jul-03 19:55:34

If you wish to keep them out of school beyond the September after they turn 4 then it is simply a matter of going around the local schools, finding out which ones have spaces and then applying for one of their spaces. At this point if they have a space they are obliged to take you, and if they don't they will not be able to at all. So it is a risk. However, children do move in and out of schools, and so a school which is over subscribed in the September may have a space by the time December comes around.

I have just done it this way myself *sob* - my ds started a few weeks before the holidays began, in the first school I asked for a place.

Bozza Thu 31-Jul-03 09:34:27

As I understand it where we live (Kirklees in West Yorks) they have two intakes - Sept for Sept-Feb birthdays and Jan for Mar-Aug birthdays so your DS would be starting after Christmas here. Also was told that our village counts as the catchment area for our local school. Am going to get onto LEA though for some substantiation of what I've been told.

badjelly Fri 01-Aug-03 16:48:46

I have recently enroled my 7 month (yes that's right!) dd into the local school.

All we had to do was ring the school secretary and give her details, they put her name on the books and that's it - she's in. At the moment they start school the beginning of the term they are 4 but by the time dd starts (in 2007) it will be the term after they are 4, afternoons the first 2 weeks then morning plus lunch the second 2 weeks then, as long as they are o.k, they go full time.

It's a good job we did it now to as her year is already half full and they are very strict on numbers!

GillW Sat 02-Aug-03 22:06:52

badjelly - where do you live that they start the term they are four? Here it's the September of the school year when they're 5. Which for ds, a start of September baby, effectively means he will BE 5. The policies for starting school seem to vary so much across the country - anyone for a quick poll on what's done where? (Or anyone know of a published source with that info?)

LIZS Sun 03-Aug-03 20:58:37


By the sounds of it it is not just variable by LEA but schools individual policy, especially opted out schools who can apply their own criteria. At the moment they tend to be going for younger kids, rising 4's or even less, as a Nursery class because the schools can claim vouchers. Playgroups are struggling to survive in some areas as a result.

badjelly Mon 04-Aug-03 09:40:51


Powys and it's a reception class - It was the same 23 years ago when I started school in Shropshire, I was in the infants for 3 years!

As far as I know it's done up and down the country.

SoupDragon Mon 04-Aug-03 09:49:43

GillW, here (Surrey/S London) they start in the September of the school year they turn 5 too. You can (I believe) defer your child's entry until January, regardless of when they are born. Entry is staggered according to age but (for DS1s school) all children are full time by the first half term.

You can't put your child's name down at 7 months old though, that's for sure!! Applications are made in the January of the calender year your child is to start. At least not for bog standard state schools.

LIZS Mon 04-Aug-03 10:05:33

Just to confuse the issue we also applied for a school in Surrey and it differed to Soupie's experience. Entry is year (September) after they turn 4. Pre Xmas birthdays go full time almost straight away. Post Christmas birthdays full time in January although some schools would also give you the option of after Easter if birthday is later than this. Applications must be in by end of October of preceding year(ie this October for Sept 2004 entry)and places are allocated by Christmas.

There is at least one school in the area which insists you take the place as soon as your child turns 4 or you could jeopardise later entry (oversubscribed and opted out), especially if you live outside the immediate area. I don't know how often they do this though as once the place is formally accepted for Reception I don't think they can withdraw it. Early entry into a nursery class is no guarantee of a place later on but I think in practice few children lose out.


aloha Mon 04-Aug-03 10:32:58

I don't want my son going to school before five. Ideally I'd like him to stay in part time nursery for a year after that, but the law seems to disagree with me and all the evidence that this would be far better for him I think this unofficial policy of forcing four year olds into formal school (esp boys) is quite wicked, actually.

LIZS Mon 04-Aug-03 11:29:07


Actually I thought that legally you do not have to send him until the term after he is five. Agree that the system is not set up to do this though and you may struggle to find a school that flexible. It flies in the face of all the research which suggests boys in particular may suffer because of it and also a parent's right to choose.

You could apply for the place in Reception, accept it and then simply try to defer it. You would need to check with LEA but I don't think they can withdraw the offer unless it would put him into the following year's intake - so may depend on when his birthday falls.

FWIW ds went full time last August aged 4 1/2, having been 1/2 days for the previous year. He was only 5 in March but actually coped ok although he was tired after school for the first half of the year. I suspect much depends on the school and style of teaching as to how demanding the kids find it. The emphasis at ds's school is very much play orientated learning with few formal sessions.


badjelly Mon 04-Aug-03 14:13:20


I aint no posh bird! It's just the only school in the area (what with it being wales an all that) and a damn good one too

cazzybabs Mon 04-Aug-03 14:34:05

Certinally in Sandwell (where my mum is a head teahcer) they have to hold a reception place open you for is you don't wish your child to start when he is still 4. Basically they have to start in the term they will 5. I would phone up your LEA to confirm this, but my mum reakons its the same everywhere.

aloha Mon 04-Aug-03 14:44:53

Fortunately he was born in September and I was so relieved that he would be older when starting school. He's only two but I'm already dreading it! I would prefer him to go as late as possible. Well, if they won't let him in at five, he'll just have to stay off, then. How can it be illegal for me not to send him to school if there are no places?

misdee Mon 04-Aug-03 15:11:32

its all so confusing. i got my daughter into first choice nursery place just by foning up and asking about what age they take them. she'll be starting nursery in sept, she'll be 3 1/2 and will be going every afternoon. she is actually looking forward to it. but schools, thats a whole other issue. she has really bad skin, and i'm dreading the bullying that comes when kids get older. there is only one school in the area i'm living atm (new one should be built by 2005) and its a fair old trek away, fortunatly its also one of the best schools in the area. i guess in sept i should fone up there and ask about a place for her next sept/jan. nightmare. and by then i'll be trying to get my baby who was born on the 1st sept (lol) into a good nursey again.

august24 Sat 16-Aug-03 13:46:10

I don't mean to hijack this thread but we are in the same boat. We are moving to London in October and have a five year old, and are very unsure where we should even start. I only want to live in an area that has okay schools, but won't be able to apply to schools unless we have a flat. We have lived in London before, and really like North London, but have no idea where the "good" schools are and how likely we will be to get a child in mid term, at 5?! And another question would be is there a better time to arrive? For example I imagine to show up the first week in September would be terrible because schools are still sorting out waitlists etc. Where I am from in the states there is a period(in January) where they wipe out the waiting lists in preperation for the next years lottery. Any advice would be appreciated! :0

SuperNonna Tue 09-Aug-11 06:19:03

Living in West Bridgford, Nottingham we are in the Jesse Grey catchment but have just become aware that this is heavily oversubscribed every year I am concerned that our eldest, now 2, will not get a place. As the LEA operates a policy of giving siblings priority I believe that recently over 50 of the 60 available places went automatically to siblings, leaving less than 10 for all others. These remaining places were then allocated in order of proximity to the school within the catchment area. On this basis my eldest is not likely to get a place. As our second and third preference schools are also oversubscribed it is unlikely that any of our 3 choices will be granted. It would be great to have any extra info , advice etc at this stage.

Join the discussion

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

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: