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school admissions from abroad

(18 Posts)
pawre Tue 19-Apr-16 05:41:01

Hi there,

Looking for advice and wanting to rant.

My goodness! applying for schools in the UK seems to be so stressful and soul destroying!

We are moving back next September in 2017. We can basically live anyway even! Of course all the school I have looked at are oversubscribed (in the North).

It's a catch 22, the local authority wants an address and for us to be in the UK which I can't give them till I know which schools my kids will get into. How else can we decide on the house to buy?

How have you sorted out the "address" issue while being abroad?

Many thanks in advance for any responses.

btw we are not in the forces.

RosieTheQueenOfCorona Tue 19-Apr-16 05:54:35

I don't have a solution for you, but thought I'd post as we're in the same boat. We are moving back to the UK in June and the school situation is causing me sleepless nights. My plan of action is as follows:
- I'm doing as much research as possible from here on which schools are good, which may have in-year places (there is a list on the local government website of which schools have places but it is not kept up to date)
- take temporary hotel/B&B accommodation when we move back, visit shortlisted schools to ask about school places, likelihood of getting in
- try to find a house to rent near a school where they have a chance of getting in
- get rental contract
- apply for school through local council
- pray.
It all seems very tenuous, the area we need to be in is oversubscribed for schools. Its likely that even after the above we will end up shipping them to schools some distance away. My worst nightmare is that each child will be allocated a place in a different school, which would be a logistical impossibility.

FishWithABicycle Tue 19-Apr-16 06:48:31

I think (and this isn't from direct experience, just from reading similar threads) that Rosie's plan is about the size of it. Hopefully you can select a general area where overall there seem to be quite a few OK schools and no really dreadful schools and rent there, not buying until you have a school.

How many children do you have and what age will they be on 1st September?

t4gnut Tue 19-Apr-16 11:29:53

If your kids are of ages where the application will be for an in year place rather than a normal transition round then its likely all the 'good' schools will be full as they will have filled up on the normal transition rounds and only places becoming available will be from people leaving.

meditrina Tue 19-Apr-16 11:50:40

Basically, you can't sort it out from abroad (sorry, nit what you wanted to hear).

I would suggest that you need to look for an area where there are several schools within reach and make your move initially to a rented house. Then you can apply for schools and see which have vacancies, cross your fingers and hope you get something do-able for the short term at least.

You'll find out much more about local schools and all sorts of things about the local community once you are actually living in it, and can research where you buy (or rent long term) far more when you're nearby, and of course depending on the age of your DC can factor in things like proximity to secondary schools too.

chuilc Tue 19-Apr-16 22:44:32

Pawre - we are in the same boat. It is a ridiculous system and so unecessarily painful. If only areas could be zoned for schools like in other civilised countries...

teacherwith2kids Wed 20-Apr-16 07:31:26


It would be really interesting to know how other very densely populated countries manage the overcrowding issue. The problem with 'zoning' - ie, move into area x, you get into school x - is that it can very quickly lead to very large classes. So it starts off with a class of 30 in September 1st ... then a family moves across town because the school is good ... so that's another child. then a family moves from abroad - another child in the class. Twins are fostered by a family in the area - another two children.

The only other option is to 'keep places open just in case - so only to admit at the beginning the 'minimum' number that experience shows will leave enough gaps for incomers. The school I work in has appeals every week for children who have moved into the area (honeypot secondary attracting families). So we would literally have to start reception with 5 children per class, maybe even -0, to accommodate the 390 children who will move into the area by Y6.... and knowing that they would ba accommodated would actually exacerbate the problem, with more families moving in.

So instead there is a system that attempts very hard to spread 'incoming' children evenly between all schools, even if some have to travel further.

teacherwith2kids Wed 20-Apr-16 07:31:53

[Oops, 30 not 390, but it does feel like that at times!]

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 09:12:17

I think the answer is that England is pretty unique in terms of overcrowding and the demand for school places.
There isn't anywhere else that I can find that is as crowded as us, sees the vast majority of people use state education and where zoning is employed.

People compare school allocations in Scotland and England for example and complain that if Scotland can manage a zoned school system then so should England.
But Scotland averages 68 people per square km.
The figure for England is 413.

And that's just the average over the whole of England.
In cities like London there are 5491 people per square km

And that's just the average for the whole of London.
In boroughs like Tower Hamlets there are 14735 people per square km which is 284,000 people in total and 20% of those are school children.
So that's just under 57,000 school children in one tiny London borough that measures around 19km square. Other countries and school systems just aren't that squashed!

Not only that but school aged populations can increase by 17% year on year in places like London. Land is expensive and many schools are on enclosed sites with absolutely no physical room to build or expand.

So unless people accept class sizes of 40+ or school days which run in two shifts (the morning pupils doing 8am-1pm and the afternoon pupils doing 1pm-6pm for example to make double use of the same building) then people have to be slotted in wherever there happens to be a space and cannot have a school allocation guaranteed in advance.

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 09:25:35

(although, as it happens, Tower Hamlets does have a catchment school system to try to ease the problem).
Each address is inside the catchment are for one school. This gives the child priority for a place above children not in catchment.
However it isn't a guarantee of a place. If the school is full, even people in catchment won't get in.
It was introduced because some people in the borough live near 2 or 3 schools and some don't live close enough to any to qualify unless they are given an artificial boost in the admissions system.

Nothing the council can do though means any child is guaranteed a certain school because, when there are more people living inside a catchment area than there are corresponding school places, class sizes of 30 have to be preserved and people have to be slotted in wherever a spare place can be found.

Vietnammark Wed 20-Apr-16 19:53:41

A few years back I was looking at either relocating to New Zealand or back to the UK.

I visited a top decile primary school in North Auckland and they said that if I moved in to the area they were obliged to give my child a place. When I was about to leave they requested that before my child started please could I give them at least 24 hours' notice. I was utterly gobsmacked, knowing how different the situation was in the UK.

It was not my original plan to, but after looking in to the process for getting my chink in to the state sector in the UK, I decided to put DC in a private school.

Vietnammark Wed 20-Apr-16 22:19:20

Hmm.... chink obviously means child.

Turbinaria Thu 28-Apr-16 20:27:37

There is a massive shortage of school places in Most UK cities and commuter towns due to massive immigration rates. You need to get a temporary address by renting in an area you want to live in and then look at the schools nearby. There is no guarantee your dcs will get places in those schools and yes 3 dcs in 3 different schools is quite common as happened to a friend of mine who moved from one city to another as the LA can offer you any school places available including those out of borough and a long way away.

whatwouldrondo Fri 29-Apr-16 02:21:44

Been there, done that, got the badge. I am afraid that as we are fortunate enough to be able to afford private schools we gave up on our hope of them being state educated at our local school (we had rented our house out whilst we were away but our application would not be considered until we were back resident)

However the pressure on places in good schools is so extreme in our borough of London plenty of parents face that decision even when they have been living here for decades, and many move or go private to secure a place (hundreds of parents are not offered a school place in Reception or Year 7 in the initial allocations and have to languish on waiting lists in the hope of a place coming up as other parents move or go private). I do think the local state schools were a little blinkered in terms of their attitude to accepting our children, the contrast with private schools who valued the opportunity to welcome into their community pupils with experience of living in another culture was marked. However I do think that it is a perfectly fair system though stressful, given the pressure on places.

The only possible card you can play to gain advantage is if you can satisfy the criteria for admissions to a faith school which vary in hat is required in terms of church attendance, baptism etc.

catslife Fri 29-Apr-16 17:06:02

The only possible card you can play to gain advantage is if you can satisfy the criteria for admissions to a faith school which vary in hat is required in terms of church attendance, baptism etc.
Most faith schools do not take into account church attendance abroad. I know of Christian missionaries returning from serving overseas who have not been accepted into local faith schools for this reason.

whatwouldrondo Fri 29-Apr-16 19:52:31

catslife As it happens we have been discussing on a local thread a local priest who had very strong views on the relevance of the country you came from to his ability to sign you off as a practising Catholic (the admissions criteria for the school concerned does not define "practising" Catholic other than as supported by the Priest). You therefore had the situation where an American missionary's niece was denied his support whereas families moving from countries like Poland and Italy were rather bemused to find (since neither has state funded faith schools in common with most of the rest of the world) that they could get his signature on the form, and secure a state school place. Obviously they were lucky no parent ever challenged them officially as I presume such partisan practise would attract the ire of the schools adjudicator but as I say the admissions criteria for faith schools will vary in terms of both the letter and the implementation.

MarthaCliff Sat 30-Apr-16 14:37:50

We had this issue. It was incredibly unhelpful when some admission dept's wouldn't even speak to you unless you lived in the area even if it was just for general advice. We literally couldn't ask anything unless we lived in the area.

Fortunately, the area where we most wanted to live were more helpful and suggested if we rent a house close to the school we should be ok.
We were not officially moving until August but the admissions dept still accepted our application beforehand after we had shown them all our paperwork. I think this isn't really allowed though. I like to think they appreciated our honesty.

It wasn't a hugely oversubscribed school but we rented very close to it and our children were not going into popular incoming years i.e. Year 7. It all worked out in the end but it was a bit stressful.

CAB07 Fri 06-May-16 13:58:45

seems like you've had lots of good advice already and it's definitely true that some local authorities will be really helpful and others less so. They all have to tell you certain information however so press for it! If you are looking for in year applications (which applies to any application made not at the start of the school) they should be able to tell you about mobility in the area. There is little point setting your heart on a school where there is no movement at all. Also if you are flexible on area you can find pockets that aren't so massively over subscribed as others. I've got a bit more information on it so do message me if you'd like to know more. I've just done a research article on applying in year. It doesn't solve the problem but does give some hopefully helpful info!

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