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How to find a school with places?

(18 Posts)
LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 10:46:00

We're relocating to somewhere a few hours away from our current address. We have no set place to move to, basically we'll move wherever we can get a school place! I have 2 children already at primary school at the moment so we're expecting it to be quite hard to find a school with places for both.
So I emailed the local authority to ask if they had a list of schools with current places. And the response was that they do, but they couldn't possibly tell me because it changes by the MINUTE and by the time the email was written it could already have changed!!
Am I alone in thinking that this is a teeeny bit of a jobsworth reaction? I made it clear I wouldn't expect to get offered places and that I know it could have changed in the couple of months before we move, but really, I don't think the turnover from schools is quite that dramatic! It's more that if a school has no places now, it's highly unlikely to have two places in the right years in a couple of months time so we could cross those off our list. Is there any other way to find out, short of contacting every school in the LA individually?

overthemill Mon 31-Mar-14 10:47:12

I had much better response when we moved. LEA told me over phone what schools had places then but warned it changed daily. Phone call?

overthemill Mon 31-Mar-14 10:48:01

And schools places do change a lot, in some areas lots of movement for jobs behaviour etc

mummytime Mon 31-Mar-14 10:56:08

Well if you are moving to London/SE then I think that is highly believable.

You will just have to move and take the best school places you can get. It is hard for families to move at present, but in a lot of places there are not enough school places for all the children.

I would recommend moving somewhere with more rural schools, and maybe with new free schools or other expansion happening, as these events could create extra school places.

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 10:58:18

I expect some changes, but really, by the MINUTE?!
Did you get the list before you'd moved and if so, can I ask how far in advance? It just seems crazy to me, she said we can just put the schools we want down as preferences when we apply, but you can't apply until you are within a month of your move date, but then we wouldn't choose to move somewhere where we had no chance of getting into a local school if they dont have places, which we can't find out because the LA won't tell us!! Arrrrrgh!

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 11:00:04

Mummytime, no it will be to a fairly rural area which is why the school is so important as there is likely to be only one local school.
Maybe I'm just too used to our current (fairly tiny) school which does have some turnover but maybe like one child per term starts/leaves.

mummytime Mon 31-Mar-14 11:29:35

You can actually apply now, from your present address. But the drawback is that if a place comes up you need to take it pretty quickly.
You can then notify of your change of address when you move.

You could contact schools you are interested in and find out: if they are full, how full they are, what their PAN is, if they have any years where they have over their admissions number.
Are your children in KS1 or 2, if 2 it is easier to appeal and get them into a school.

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 11:41:28

Oh, according to LA's website they will only take applications when you have an address to move to and proof of a likely moving date. Maybe it varies round the country? I know it has to be taken up quickly, within 10 school days I think, which would not be feasible for us yet.
What's a PAN? Something admissions number? I have one child in yr1 and one in yr3.

nlondondad Mon 31-Mar-14 11:47:09

Its an in year application. Admissions staff have learnt to be very cagey regarding conversations on the phone. What you need to do is not ask a hypothetical question (if I applied for x school would I get a place?), which (if they have any sense) they will not answer, (and it seems, they will not) but actually put in an application, from your current address (but do explain you are moving) to your preferred school or schools for both your children. You will then either get an offer, in which case try to negotiate start date, or be put on a waiting list.

The bad news is that vacancies in year are rarish, the good news is that not many people (comparitively) want to move mid year, so the supply not large but nether is the demand.

I know of a well regarded, sought after, oversubscribed primary which had an in year vacancy in January, in reception. The place had to be offered three places down the waiting list inherited from the autumn as two out of the three no longer wished to/needed to move. And that is quite usual.

Also, in general, (but check admission criteria) once you got one into a school you trigger sibling preference for the other.

If (and when) a school has a vacancy, for funding reasons you will be VERY welcome!

smorticus Mon 31-Mar-14 11:52:33

We are moving soon and I phoned the lea of new area to ask if there was a place. Told them we're moving in 4 weeks and needed to know before putting my application into current lea. They were very helpful told me there was space available.
We put in mid year application last week and should hear for definite end of this week. We also visited the local school last week and they confirmed there were spaces so it's been relatively simple for us.

Have you tried contacting local schools direct?

SavoyCabbage Mon 31-Mar-14 11:55:26

When I phoned the LEA they were really helpful and there were spaces in lots of schools. Obviously there is huge pressure on some areas but not all.

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 12:00:12

Hmm, maybe I got a bit of a snotty lea then? Or am I asking the wrong questions.
It just seems such a catch 22, we'll move to whatever area has a space, but they won't tell us who has spaces until we've picked an area!

Driveway Mon 31-Mar-14 12:18:25

I was in your position and I spoke to three LEAs. Two were really helpful and one wouldn't say a thing.

They can say "this school often had a lot of movement so even though there's no space in year two now we would imagine a couple of children may leave over the year" or "children never tend to leave this school as the population is usually completely static", or "these two schools nearby both have two places free so if you move between them you'd probably get one of those spots even though it'll be in a couple of months" - we did that!

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 12:36:05

I take it all back, a different lady from the LEA just called me and was very helpful so I now have a (very short!) shortlist of schools with current places. smile

smorticus Mon 31-Mar-14 13:14:15

So pleased someone useful got in touch!
They really don't make it easy for people do they?!
Good luck with your move

magichamster Mon 31-Mar-14 13:20:01

When we moved areas a few years ago I didn't really bother with the LEA. I just contacted the school I fancied and they were really helpful and told me what I needed to do. We didn't have an address then, but it was really easy.
I would contact the school directly, explaining the situation. They should be able to give you some indication whether they are likely to have space, even if you have to go through the LEA to properly apply.

magichamster Mon 31-Mar-14 13:21:02

Sorry crossed post! Glad you've had some help

LizzieMint Mon 31-Mar-14 13:45:42

We're looking in quite a large area, so don't have preferred schools as yet, trying to narrow them a bit so we can concentrate on smaller range. Feels like we can start to make progress a bit now.

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