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Where and how to find out about primary schools?

(22 Posts)
Ixel Mon 02-Aug-04 13:09:03

I know this topic has probably been covered a million times, but I've just had a scout round with no luck.Basically, I need to know

1. How to find out which are the best schools. I dont know anyone with school age kids to get word of mouth from.
2. How to find out about catchment areas. We live in one borough, but have the postcode of the neighbouring one. Will this matter? It caused all sorts of probs for my post natal care!!
3. Do I put ds's name down for several incase anything goes wrong? Or just one?
4.By what age does he need to be on the nursery list attached to the school?

Ive emailed the children's info service for our area, but no reply as yet.I'd really appreciate a bit of advice!! It seems like such a daunting decision to make for ds and his future.

Hulababy Mon 02-Aug-04 13:12:19

Your LEA's website should tell you a lot of the information.

For example, on our LEA site (Sheffield) you type in your postcode and it tells you which primary and secondary school(s) is your catchment one.

League tables (found in various places, also on BBC site) and OFSTED reports (www.ofsted.gov.uk) can tell you about the actual schools int he area, as well as the school's own individual sites.


Which is your LEA and I will see if I can find it for you if you like?

Ixel Mon 02-Aug-04 13:15:58

I guess we'd be Barnet, as our council tax goes there, even though we live in a Haringey postcode! I found a Good Schools Guide website, which listed our closest 4, but you can't always tell alot from figures and percentages. Except that our local one seems incredibly low.

marialuisa Mon 02-Aug-04 13:37:25

Make a shortlist of schools within what you feel is a reasonable distance. Then telephone the schools and ask for prospectuses, have a walk past at play-time/picking-up time. Visit the schoools. if you're out of arae ask what the entrance criteria are usually distance!) and ask whether they are over-subscribed.

Up here they advise you to put the child's name down for the nursery class in the september the year before they would start (e.g. for a September 2004 start, names should have been in september 2003) but there's a lot of flexibility and, of course, depends on how "in demand" the school is. Sometimes late applications can be a good thing-e.g. you get offered a space someone else has declined.

For LEA controlled and VC schools there's usually a limit on how many you can apply to. however you can also apply for VA schools without affecting the other admissions.

Ixel Mon 02-Aug-04 13:49:08

Is 'up here' quite far north? just asking as I'm paranoid about ds ending up with no place. We're in north london, and there always seems to be some crisis or other about places. My friend is putting her kids name down at a yr old.

marialuisa Mon 02-Aug-04 14:27:19

Yep,but the rules are the same for state nursery classes everywhere. They can keep "waiting lists" but LEA controlled nurseries cannot allocate places until the year before kids are due to start and must then allocate them according to their published admissions criteria. Siblings/proximity to the school usually come first.

marialuisa Mon 02-Aug-04 14:28:14

putting their name down early just guarantees they will contact you when the time comes to apply-by which time you may have moved away/changed your mind any way.

Ixel Mon 02-Aug-04 14:36:19

So if his name is down, that will mean he is considered eligible eg proximity wise? So when we actually apply, its just a case of who is more eligble than others? Sorry if I sound a bit uneducated about this! How many lists should he be on to be on the safe side? looking through my booklet, there only seem to be 4 real options, one of which is good, 2 bad, and one unknown!!

donnie Mon 02-Aug-04 14:55:39

Ixel, have you tried upmystreet.com ? you type in your postcode and it will tell you about local schools etc. It might help.BTW most nurseries have their own policy so they won;t all be the same by any means re: waiting lists etc.

marialuisa Mon 02-Aug-04 14:59:43

No, if his name is down on a waiting list it means that the school knows you are interested in him going there and will send out the application forms to you at the right time. The problem with distance is that if you have 40 kids for 30 places, all 40 kids could be within 500m of the school but the 10/40 who are furthest away will not get a place, even if it's their nearest school (confused yet?)

don't know how old your DS is but if he's 2+ you could look around schoools from September without them thinking you're mad.

BTW, if you believe the league tables i'm spoiled for choice in terms of achievement etc. in primary schools. Unfortunately when we looked round we had a nasty shock. You really can't tell until you look round the schools.

august24 Mon 02-Aug-04 15:08:21

Ixel, I think we met at Giraffe? I would just say really go and look at the schools that are your options. We moved to our house as it was in the catchment area for the "beacon" school(the best school) they were never able to offer us a spot as it is oversubscribed. The only school that had any spots had a very bad repution, so I put my daughter in a a fee paying school which we ended up hating, finally gave the "bad" school a shot in Febuary, and I can't tell you how very happy we are, we have made so many good friends and really love the staff and everything else. It is a little infant school and the class sizes are small and the student body very diverse in race and class as oppossed to the beacon school which as I said oversubcribed and, rich and very white. Where I come from in the States we have learned to "read" test scores and base on our choices on how many English as a second language children go to a school etc instead of looking at test scores blindly, but that doesn't seem to be something that happens in London so schools with bad test scores are labeled "bad". My daughter's school cares for the social and emotional health of the students and that is so important to me for early childhood education. But then again I plan on being back in the states by the time my kids reach secondary school so I am not so worried about tests!

Ixel Mon 02-Aug-04 16:52:13

Hi Aug24. i suppose your daughter's school is too far from me to consider as a recommendation? Is it right in Crouch end? Thanks alot everyone else too. I'm starting to think I should've begun thinking about this whilst pregnant!!

august24 Mon 02-Aug-04 19:26:19

No, my daughter goes to Campsbourne which is on Nightingale Lane near Priory Park at the foot of Alexandra Palace(the other side from Muswell hill). It may be far for you, and honestly as long as you are live close to the school you want by the time your son(?) is 4 you will get a spot. You run into problems if 1) you live far from the school in your catchement area or else 2) if you move after your child is 3 or 4. My younger daughter did get a spot for nursery at Coleridge(the beacon school) but we turned it down as I want them both at the same school. We are actually going to move closer to Campsbourne as housing is cheaper and then I won't have the commute


By the way, the Stonecroft center for under fives, which is right down the hill from Muswell hill is a place that you want to get your child on the waiting list while pregnant, or as soon afterward as possible from what I understand it is a great program especially for working parents. Not sure if you it would work for you but FYI.

I found the harringey people to be very helpful, I had e-mailed them from the states and they answered all my questions, do a google search and I am sure they will be able to tell you what your catchement area is, if it is indeed in Harringey.

Ixel Tue 03-Aug-04 08:20:13

Thanks Aug24. ~We are indeed in Barnet, not Harringay. After poking around, I'm now adamant that I dont want ds going to our closest 2 schools, as he will certainly grow up an uneducated hooligan!! So I guess I have to keep my fingers crossed for catchment areas of the next two. Barnet children's info sent me their pack, which is ok, but at the end of the day all the info I need can only be got from the schools directly! Why dont they just have one admin system like going to uni?!

donnie Tue 03-Aug-04 13:53:58

I'm in Barnet too.Which are your nearest schools? dd will start nurseryin Whetstone in Jan then automatically proceed to the infant school at age 5. What are your choices?I know a bit about various schools in the borough if that's any use.

Ixel Tue 03-Aug-04 19:46:33

Oh, that'd be great. Our nearest are hollickwood and Coppets Wood, neither of which seem very good to me. I'm thinking of Coldfall and Rhodes Ave, but both are in Haringay. Or Holly Park, but I hear its very over subscribed, and as we're about a 20 min walk away, we'd prob be ruled out through distance. so Whetstone is a bit far too!! If you have any insight, I'd really appreciate it!

donnie Wed 04-Aug-04 14:11:37

you are quite near the other side of the borough then! sorry but I don't really know the schools around there to be honest.But we are a good 20 min walk from the nursery/infant school my dd has been accepted into so don't automatically discount it.Sorry can't be more helpful.

Ixel Wed 04-Aug-04 17:15:11

thanks alot anyway! i think I'm going to try a couple of Haringay ones as first choices, and hope the border thing wont be an issue!

bundle Wed 04-Aug-04 18:02:16

ixel, we live in hackney - on the islington/haringey/hackney border, N4. we have a place at at local church school (1st choice) but also got a place at the Islington school which was our second choice.

bundle Wed 04-Aug-04 18:03:58

(didn't apply to any hackney schools)

Ixel Thu 05-Aug-04 12:05:48

Maybe I'm just over panicking! Thanks alot Bundle; that's made me feel a bit more hopeful!

bulimbabean Fri 06-Aug-04 07:26:57

Hi you need to contact barnet and haringay LEA, you should get a nursery application sent to you automatically, you will need to ask Haringay to send you one. You usually apply 1 year in advance ie: 2/3years old for a place for the following year 3/4 for nursery for LEA nursery/primary schools forms are sent in sept 04 to be returned by oct 04 for a place for sept 05. Also check the admission rules as they are two different authorities they may differ ie: one may have catchment areas the other may have distance rules. VA schools you need to apply direct they do their own admissions, you will get a copy of the admission rules and depending on how you meet them, you will be allocated a place. Be aware that a placement in a nursery does NOT guarentee you a place at primary school, and that most nurseries run morning or afternoon sessions only, up to 5 free sessions. I hope that helps I used to work in a LEA admissions.

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