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Can a school give their nursery children priority for reception places?

(48 Posts)
Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 12:00:25

DD is 3 years old and we'll be applying for a reception place to start in Sept 2010.

We have just missed out on a nursery place for her at our closest school.

A little boy who lives further away from us got a nursery place because he was born 2 weeks earlier and applied in a different term and that term wasn't so heavily subscribed.

I'm told now that this boy will get a reception place over DD because he currently attends nursery. The council admissions have confirmed this.

All a bit complicated but is this allowed? I thought schools weren't allowed to count nursery attendance when doing the reception places but maybe I'm wrong? The council say the school is voluntary aided and set their own admissions criteria so ultimately up to them. Does anyone know about this?

weblette Mon 06-Jul-09 12:03:18

If it were a straight state school rather than VA I'd say it wouldn't happen but you really need to check their entry criteria. Your county council website should have the details.

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:03:27

just check their admissions criteria. it will tell you. if the council have confirmed it, i'd say it was pretty definite! grin if a school is VC not VA then they can't. VA can pretty much do what they like i think...

throckenholt Mon 06-Jul-09 12:13:54

VA schools can set their own admission criteria.

The best thing you can do is go and talk to the head at the school and register your interest now. Are you likely to get a nursery place sometime between then and now ?

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 12:21:00

Thanks everyone.

Sorry bit new to all this, can you explain the difference between VA and VC?

It's a church school but they do 50% church places and 50% open places.

Just blinking annoying that if she'd been born 2 days earlier she would have applied for Spring term admissions and would have got a nursery place ... grr!

Here's the criteria

1. Looked after children
2. Children with an exceptional medical or social need
3. Applicants for whom this is the nearest primary school.
4. Proximity of home to school**
In the event of any one of the above categories being oversubscribed, places will be allocated ccording to the following criteria, in order of priority:
a. Applicants who will have a sibling in the main school on the date of admission*
b. Applicants who currently attend the nursery
c.. Proximity of home to school**

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:23:00

then you don't have an issue - your child will be higher priority than your friends ds because you live closer, despite the fact he has a nursery place and you don't. (3 v 4b)
tis not an issue.

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:23:58

* assuming it is your nearest primary school?

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:24:19

* you did say 'closest school'?

weblette Mon 06-Jul-09 12:31:26

Agree with mad woman, if it's your nearest school you should be getting priority.

Have you spoken to the school to clarify it?

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 12:32:10

Yes it is our closest school, as well as his closest school.

But the admissions lady and the council guy said that if category 3 (closest school) is oversubscribed, which it will be, then the siblings and nursery kids will get priority.

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:36:41

oh, yes, ok. i see. will it def be oversubscribed though?
generally speaking there is usually a 'catchment' line (even if not called that) where it changes over to being another school that is closer...
can't you keep her on the waiting list for the nursery and move him in when someone leaves/ moves?

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:36:58

lol her not him...

madwomanintheattic Mon 06-Jul-09 12:39:47

if they are oversubscribed on 'catchment' (ie closest school), then that's your only option, or assuming you have no ethics (lol) get thee to church for one of the other 50% of places. hmm there will be those that do this is preference to running the admissions gauntlet - won't do it myself, but people do.

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 12:52:07

Thanks again.

Pretty sure they'll be oversubscribed on closest school - can't say for sure.

Too late for the church stuff, you have to be going every week for 3 years prior to applying!

So you reckon that VA schools can set their own criteria on this then?

She is actually no.1 on the nursery waiting list so I'm pretty hopeful she'll get a place eventually. But just a little worried in case no one drops out!

throckenholt Mon 06-Jul-09 13:04:34

voluntary aided are their own admissions authority (they also employ the staff) - they are under the control of the diocese and the local authority but have more autonomy than other schools.

voluntary controlled are also associated with the diocese but have less autonomy.

You normally don't notice much difference - the only other major issue is the consitution of the governing body which in a VA school has a higher proportion of foundation governors, whereas a VC school has community governors (I think).

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 18:41:17

Thanks throckenholt, for explaining it.

BetsyBoop Mon 06-Jul-09 18:57:15

could be possible grounds for appeal under the shool admissions code

o) use oversubscription criteria that give
priority to children according to the
alphabetical order of their first name or
surname or their date of birth.

2.67 Admission authorities that propose to give priority to children who attend the nursery or the co-located children’s centre for nursery provision should ensure that families that live nearer the school, those who choose to take up other nursery options or the free entitlement at an alternative local provider, or those who have recently moved to the area, are not unfairly disadvantaged compared to other families.

throckenholt Mon 06-Jul-09 19:20:20

in a VA school definitely go talk to the head. They can explain how it works with their school, and you can get your name on any waiting list that might exist.

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 19:48:24

That's interesting Betsyboop, you see, that was always my understanding.

But are VA schools exempt fom the admissions code?

Throckenholt, DD is no.1 on the waiting list for nursery so fingers crossed.

BetsyBoop Mon 06-Jul-09 20:24:23

No admissions code applies to VA schools too, the only area they have a bit of lea-way is in setting any "faith" criteria (so long they don't breach the code in other ways, for example demanding a huge donation to the church )

BetsyBoop Mon 06-Jul-09 20:29:58


I know our local VA school (that I'm hoping DD will go to on sep 10) removed the priority for ex-nursery kids from its criteria a couple of years ago for this very reason

(but they get round it by giving priority to children who attend church activities & all the nursery kids go to their own special service once a month, so where there's a will...)

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 21:00:44

Thanks for info, Betsy, so do you think that our school is technically breaking the code?

I'm so confused, the council admissions guy assured me school are within the guidelines. He said if I have an issue with it though that I need to approach the school now rather than try and appeal after the fact as very few appeals are successful.

BetsyBoop Mon 06-Jul-09 21:18:09

Not totally black & white, but a nice shade of grey hmm

looking at 2.16 o)

as your DD (and all other younger children) are less likely to get a nursery place than older kids & therefore less likely to get a place as a result due to priority for kids at the nursery then you could make a reasoned claim that their over subscription criteria discriminates on age & therefore have grounds for appeal as this is a mandatory requirement.

looking at 2.67, its a "should ensure" not a "must ensure" so that could be their get out of jail card, however I can't see how they can claim "that families that live nearer the school, those who choose to take up other nursery options or the free entitlement at an alternative local provider, or those who have recently moved to the area, are not unfairly disadvantaged compared to other families" when they give priority to those from nursery over proximity of home to school, so they are certainly not following the spirit of the code, so again could be grounds for appeal.

BetsyBoop Mon 06-Jul-09 21:22:28

I would speak to the council guy again, referencing the particular sections of the code I mentioned & ask him to clarify how exactly they are compliant.

I agree that it's better to sort it now rather than have to appeal after the fact, but if you approach the school yourself then you are marking your card as a "trouble-maker" before you even start hmm

Let the council guy be the one to take it up with the school

Doozle Mon 06-Jul-09 21:25:55

Betsy, you're fab, thanks for posting all this, almost like making a legal case eh?

I will think on it over night and talk to the guy again, that's good advice. Could they really discriminate against me for bringing this up?!

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