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Advice re school places in England

(11 Posts)
Amibiggly Wed 08-Mar-17 05:45:06

Hi,

Our move to England has been confirmed. DH will be working at Birmingham Airport. We have no experience of schools in England and I was wondering if you could answer some questions I have.

My children would need to start new schools in term 3 (May). One child is in year 6 and and the other in year 3. They are both currently in a British International school. Neither of them are particularly academic. They try hard enough and put in the required effort but both are sportier than academic.

We've narrowed down our property searches to 3 areas. This is mainly based on schools as this is the most important factor to us. However, in these areas, a lot of the schools are grammar schools which I don't believe my children will get in to and the remaining schools are oversubscribed (or Catholic, and we are not Catholic).

So considering we need to enter the school mid-year and that all schools in the catchment areas are oversubscribed, can you tell me how this might work? Will we initially be given school places at the closest school which is not oversubscribed and out of catchment area?

Thank you

samlovesdilys Wed 08-Mar-17 06:03:13

You need to contact the local education authority who will tell you which schools have places for in-school transfers (may is end of term 5 here...). You also need a secondary school for your yr6 child to start in September. I would be tempted to also contact any schools you WANT directly. Look at location, look at offers grades, what is said about them locally, if they offer wrap around care...go see them and get a feel for them. The yr6 may be tricky due to SATS but local education authority (county hall??) should be able to help. Good luck.

Littlefish Wed 08-Mar-17 06:08:16

Would you like to tell us which areas you are looking at? We may be able to give you some more pertinent information about schools.

Amibiggly Wed 08-Mar-17 06:38:12

Thank you for your replies.

samlovesdilys
I've had a look at the 2 local council's websites. It seems they will only consider "in-year" applications 6 weeks before start date. We are about 8 weeks away. However, I will contact them and, as you suggest, the actual schools we are interested in. I'm concerned that they will want to know where we'll be living. We can only look for accommodation after we arrive in May.

Thanks for the heads up on SATS. Although my children attend a "British" school, they don't do the tests here.
I've just looked up when the 2017 SATS will be written and it is the week that we arrive in England. I will ask the local authority about that too.

Littlefish
Bearing in mind that we are looking at areas on the internet and have not been to this part of the country, we've shortlisted Solihull, Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield.

There won't be time to do a visit before the move so we need to find a place to live and schools asap after arriving.

velocitygir1 Wed 08-Mar-17 06:58:37

All 3 places are some of the nicer areas. All involve a commute to the airport (but of course you know that)

Lichfield is lovely, a quaint place with lots of character and I'd live there if I could.

Sutton Coldfield is where all the local footballers live and the price of things there-everything from houses, meals out etc is slightly more elevated than surrounding areas. It's a nice enough place, but in my opinion not a patch on Lichfield.

Solihull is ok too...more Suburban than Lichfield but ample amenities etc.

I live fairly local to them all but have no experience of the schools there. I would contact the LEA and just see what they suggest.

Personally I'd rather live in Lichfield, they have the best of both worlds- countryside near, rail connections, history, pretty cathedral and river in the centre. Lovely shops...

Good luck with your move. I hope you will all be really happy, wherever you end up.

prh47bridge Wed 08-Mar-17 08:46:53

Once you have a confirmed address the local authority will have to come up with places for your children somewhere even if all the schools are full. That may not be at a school you would prefer and it could be some distance from home. There is no guarantee that they will both end up in the same school so you may have to cope with getting to two schools every day.

Note that the Catholic schools cannot refuse to admit your children just because you are not Catholic. If there is already a waiting list you are unlikely to be near the head of the list. However, if the school has a place available and there is no waiting list it must be offered to anyone who applies. If you have concerns about the religious aspect I would recommend visiting the schools before making any decision. Some Catholic schools are less religious than some non-faith schools.

If the school allocated is over 3 miles (2 miles for your younger child) from home by the shortest safe walking route you will be entitled to free transport to get the child to and from school. Note that the free transport is only for the child - the LA does not have to pay for you to accompany your child.

If you don't get a school you want you will be able to appeal. It is unlikely that there will have been any mistakes but you can still argue that your child will be disadvantaged if they are not admitted to the preferred school. You will win your appeal if you can convince the appeal panel that the disadvantage to your child outweighs the problems the school will face through having to cope with an additional pupil.

KingsHeathen Wed 08-Mar-17 09:00:00

Your Y6 child has already missed the allocations for Y7. As soon as you have an address here you need to contact the LA you're resident in and make a late application. You won't have any choice of schools. If you get a house close to the school you want, at least you'll be high up on the waiting list, but tbh for some schools (Arthur Terry, Arden etc) you'd have to live extremely close to guarantee top end of waiting list. I'm afraid I don't know about Lichfield at all (but it looks lovely, and there are definitely MNers in Lichfield that could advise).

Some primary schools may have places for your youngest, but you may find they're out of school for a while, particularly if you discount some schools (because they're deemed as not good).

No school will admit your Y6 during SATs week!

If they're in an international school now, would you be looking at independent here? Your Y6 has missed all the assessments and grammar entrance exams, but your Y3 might gain a place, but tbh with the way the population has increased, most independent schools have a waiting list as long as your arm too. Their waiting lists won't be tied to distance from school, however, so a place may come up sooner.

KingsHeathen Wed 08-Mar-17 09:04:48

And I don't know for sure, as I don't live there, but you may find there's less pressure on school places if you're a little further out, e.g. Warwickshire, or Staffordshire, rural county rather than the city authorities.
But I'm sure some local MNers will disabuse me of that notion! grin

BackforGood Wed 08-Mar-17 22:34:07

As velocity says, you are looking in some of the most popular areas of the City, and there are some excellent schools.
Keep in mind that Birmingham is the largest LA in Europe - any place(s) they might find you might involve considerable travel times. It is unlikely your dc will be able to slot into school places in the Sutton Area where schools tend to have waiting lists.

Amibiggly Thu 09-Mar-17 05:40:02

Thanks so much for your replies. There is a lot of very useful info in them.

Considering that my children will most likely enter schools after SATS week, would they still be required to take these tests? (Not a problem if they do, but I've had a brief look at 2016 sample papers for Y6 and my child would definitely have to do additional work - mainly the grammar test).

Is anyone able to provide opinions on The Friary Secondary School and Nether Stowe Secondary?

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 09-Mar-17 12:07:41

If you are moving here after SATS are taken then he won't have to take them. They aren't compulsory and they are all sat at the same time. There would be no requirement for him to have them to move on to secondary schools. they are a measure of judging the school rather than the individual.

The school he goes up to may ask him to do some individual testing to ascertain where to set him but then I would say not to "study" as such for that as it is to judge where and how best to teach him.

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