Moving to Kent and seeking advice on primary intake policies

(5 Posts)
luxcat Sat 29-Mar-14 10:52:56


Like many on these threads over the years, we're moving back to UK shortly after almost a decade away. Two Boys aged 3.5 and 7.5, so looking to place them primary schools. Looking at Kent - ideally village east or south east of TB within commute to TB/ Tonbridge for grammar potential down the line…yadda yadda the usual.

I've spent years lurking on these kind of boards and I see over and over again people jumping in with 'that school is oversubscribed', this one you need to be a paid up member of the Church, the other one you have to live on the doorstep etc etc. I am really aware that we're in for a bit of a headache trying to work out where to settle and that the primary school situation will be the deciding factor - though i'm cognisant that the secondary will need to a consideration this early too as we're settling for good.

I guess what i really need to understand now, from those with first hand experience, is what does actually happen if we were to move into a village - i mean actually move and are paying rent - in the next month or so and we're told the local school is 'full'. What happens in those instances? I mean, surely the local authority is legally obliged to school your children somewhere within a reasonable distance, regardless of any religious affiliation? I'm aware i'd need to check places prior to moving but if they all say 'full' then that's going to stop us living in all but the less desirable of areas with so so schools. If we were there they would HAVE to school my kids by law so i'm feeling we need to bite the bullet somewhat.

You see, from what i can ascertain, to further complicate matters for parents, is that almost all schools outside of TB appear to be C0fE. What happens if there are places but, as an atheist, i don't tick the 'religious' box? If the next nearest school is 8-10 miles away and that one is CofE too , how on earth does this not fall into discriminatory territory? Where do children go to school if they aren't ticking these boxes and the few decent non-denominational schools in the region are all far too 'oversubscribed' to get into as well??

If all schools are as oversubscribed and impossible to get into as it would appear from reading the responses on these boards, just what happens in a village like say, Goudhurst if you aren't religious but want your children to attend the local school? There literally is NO other choice is there unless, they go to school in a neighbouring village like Horsmonden and that school doesn't have great results and is languishing at around 11,000 out of the entire UK's 14000 primaries. And by excluding them on religious grounds, they would also therefore be excluding them to a large degree from the immediate community, which, surely, is more important than if the parents are affiliated to an organised religious body? It seems utter madness…

My youngest will be entering reception in september, and we will have missed the application cut off by a long way (back in Jan i believe?) so i'm really concerned we'll be at the very bottom of any pile as far as he's concerned and being heathens won't help the cause. Oldest will be going into year 3 in sep….

Would it make sense to just bite the bullet and force a move asap i.e. with a month or so, to force local authority to accept oldest as an 'in year' app now in year 2, thus bumping up youngest for sibling priority for next september's reception intake, despite us missing any application deadline? But then that crazy heavy religious bias in the region again.

I'm at a loss where to start, it's a real headache. We are in the fortunate position of being able to 'cherry pick' any area within reason - so naturally i want this to be a really nice one - but this still seems like a minefield thanks to all the religious schools (btw i'm not anti religion or religious schools - i am just not a believer myself and i see this as a real hinderance as i'd still prefer my child to go to a smaller village school given my kids have been used to this kind of environment up till now).

Apologies - long post, but after years of lurking, i'm none the wiser as to how it pans out in reality for the children of non-religious parents trying to get kids into decent village schools at critical points in the education process (i.e. beginning of reception and year 3) and only further compounded by having missed any application deadline for reception intake!!

Is it hopeless?

VerityLocalEdKent Mon 31-Mar-14 21:08:09

Tweeted for you and KCC responded with their phone number: 03000 41 21 21 and email address

Hopefully a local parent will be over soon to relay their experiences!

Chocolatebrowniequeen Thu 03-Apr-14 22:41:16

I can't give you a response to all your questions but I was moving house during the application for my DS admission to primary. Can highly recommend talking to KCC as I got excellent, helpful and constructive advice that really helped me decide what to do.

I wanted to query though if you have an issue with your children going to a CoE school? You don't have to tick the religious box to be awarded a CoE school. It would just give you greater priority - I believe...

I also believe that if all local or chosen schools are over subscribed then you will be allocated another school within a reasonable distance. What they might interpret as a reasonable distance, I am not sure.

Sorry I can't be more help. Best of luck

FrazzledInCranbrook Fri 04-Apr-14 00:02:42

Hi luxcat
Totally sympathise with the church school thing. Not sure it's any consolation but ALL our local primary schools are church schools and we, as atheists, had real misgivings about that but have found with our boys that it's simply led to some interesting discussions about beliefs and how mummy and daddy don't believe in x,y,z but lots of people do and isn't that interesting?

If it really bothers you, you can insist that your child is withdrawn from religious instruction / church services etc but I actually think they get a lot out of learning about all that stuff, and they just see it in much the same way as their topic on, eg, Hinduism - an interesting thing to learn about rather than FACT. I've always said that mummy and daddy don't believe but they can make up their own minds.

FrazzledInCranbrook Fri 04-Apr-14 00:06:19

PS It's always worth contacting individual schools directly to get onto waiting lists / check out if spare places might be available.
PPS We moved to Cranbrook a couple of years ago and I love it here. If you are going to need to commute to London for work, think carefully about distance from train stations - a few miles can make a big difference!

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