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When will I need to out DS's name down for a school?

(19 Posts)
lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 18:15:20

DS will be 2 this Dec. When will we need to put his name down for school?

Do they still do staggered entry in England (Sept & Jan)? If so, does that mean my DS will start in January (when he's only just turned 4) or Sept when he's 4y 9 months?

Or, to put it another way, if we need to move to get him into a decent school, when do we need to be moved by? We've only just moved to a new area to study, and we're renting while we get to know the area. We're probably going to move anyway in a bit, so it might as well be to an area with a good school.

Any advice would be much appreciated. I thought this was straightforward, but now I'm starting to think about it I'm confused!

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 18:15:58

To put his name down even. blush

Lydwatt Sat 06-Nov-10 18:19:01

are you looking state or private?

If state, you can register an interest with the school but you cannot apply until the LEA send out the application forms. For us, that is the october before he is due to start.

You need to have moved by then.

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 18:20:40

Sorry I should have said - I mean state school.

Thanks for the reply. Do you know if he would start in Sept or Jan?

tvaerialmagpiebin Sat 06-Nov-10 18:26:33

depends on the area. Most LEAs only do one intake now, in September.
Do some research in the areas you might buy in, look at Ofsted website. You can search by postcode

onimolap Sat 06-Nov-10 18:27:15

Children start Reception in the September after their 4th birthday. January starting dates may be available to the younger children in the year. I'd expect your DS to be in the September intake, though you can defer his entry to any point up to the statutory date (term after 5th birthday).

Schools typically operate an "applications window" - normally during the autum term of the year before entry. Some areas and some schools (eg VA schools) who run their own entries may accept earlier applications, but an early application makes no difference at all in the state system - they will all be considered together, against the published entry criteria, shortly after the closing date.

Lydwatt Sat 06-Nov-10 18:27:20

they do not start any earlier than the september of the academic year that they will turn 5 in.

They then stagger the start times for the ages of the children born within this time.

Check with your main choices to find out how they choose to organise start times in their school

Sitdownandstopwhining Sat 06-Nov-10 18:28:42

They start school in the academic year in which they turn 5 - so i think that means ypur DS would start reception in September 2013. AFAIK, January starts (if your area has them - ours doesn't ) are for spring/ summer born children, but your local council should be able to tell you.

I think you usually apply in the autumn term, the academic year before your child will go - so for you, sometime between Sep and Dec 2012. Again, council can help. And dont forget, you might want preschool the year before .

MrsVincentPrice Sat 06-Nov-10 18:37:22

There are two exceptions to these timings: if you want to get religion in order to get into a particular school you may need up to 2 years attendance records at a relevant church and a few schools give priority to their own nursery attendees.

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 20:01:22

Thanks everyone, it makes sense now. Looks like we need to be settled for the summer of 2012 then. I'd like to leave the best part of a year for house hunting and moving, so we need to have a good idea which school(s) we want to apply to by this time next year I reckon.

I definitely don't want to get religion to get DS into a school! I know a lot of people do it but we're definitely atheist. We'll actually be avoiding any school with religious overtones (or undertones even!)

Pre-school is sorted already. I'm at uni as a mature student and DS is going to go to the - lovely, and OFSTED outstanding - nursery at the uni. However I didn't think nursery attendance gave you any guarantee of a place at primary school, I'll have to look into that locally.

That OFSTED link is a good place for me to start, thanks for that smile

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 20:08:39

Had a quick look at the OFSTED link and the primary school nearest to where we are now is rated as outstanding. That's an encouraging start! smile

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 20:10:34

And it's a non-religious state school, brilliant! It's got a uniform which I'm not keen on but you can't have everything! (DP likes them anyway).

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 20:19:26

OK, next stupid question ...

On a closer look, while that great school is in the same post code as us, two others are actually much nearer. How do I find out what the catchment areas are (what does this actually mean anyway?) and how likely we are to get in to a particular school from where we are now? (Or how near we need to move to be pretty much guaranteed a place)

StarkAndWitchesWillFindYou Sat 06-Nov-10 20:24:23

Ring admissions and ask. Often there isn't a catchment, the closest 30 get in. This can sometimes mean you're not in the closest 30 of any of your local schools and so have to travel far to one under-subscribed.

It does depend on your LA though. Generally, it's a shambles.

lowrib Sat 06-Nov-10 20:27:18

Thanks, I will.

DP is amazed at all this. He's Scottish and says it's not at all like this north of the border.

prh47bridge Sat 06-Nov-10 23:55:54

To correct a couple of points in this thread...

Lankyalto is wrong about LAs doing a September intake only. They are required to allow you to defer entry until later in the academic year if you want, although your son must start school by the beginning of term following his 5th birthday. So in your case you could defer until the January if you want. You still apply for the place as if he is starting in September.

Onimolap is also a little misleading. You will apply to your LA, not to the school, regardless of whether it is an LA-controlled school, VA school or whatever. So there is no question of some schools accepting earlier applications.

StarkAndWithchesWillFindYou is correct about catchments. Many parents talk about catchment areas even where the LA doesn't actually work that way. For most state schools the admission criteria are something like:

- Looked after children
- Special medical or social needs
- Siblings of children already at the school
- Distance

You should be able to find the admission criteria used by the schools in your LA on your council's website, usually in the form of a booklet about admissions to primary schools.

Lydwatt Sun 07-Nov-10 14:30:27

It is also worth saying that, when choosing a school, OFSTED is all very well but you cannot beat your own gut feeling when going round on a visit. It might be worth finding out when open days/visiting times are to help inform your choice...

lowrib Sun 07-Nov-10 23:34:00

That's useful info, thanks prh47bridge.

Lydwatt "It is also worth saying that, when choosing a school, OFSTED is all very well but you cannot beat your own gut feeling when going round on a visit." I agree, absolutely. The three near us now are

- an infants which is outstanding across the board
- a huge primary school which gets mainly 2s, some 1s and 3s.
- an infants which gets mainly 2s and 3s.

I'd like to look at all of them. Particularly as some of the reports were done a few years back, and they may have changed since then - and will probably change even more by the time DS starts. My first question will be if they have the same head as when they were last inspected. From experience of working in schools, I reckon a good head can make all the difference. And previously great schools can suffer when the brilliant head moves on.

I wonder if they'd think I'm a bit nuts if I go look round when DS isn't even 2 yet though?! I think I'll leave the visits for a while yet! I imagine most people look at schools when their DCs are 3?

Lydwatt Mon 08-Nov-10 20:00:10

To be honest, i went round when dd was a baby and i was on maternity leave, as i knew I would be back at work and wouldn't have the chance (being ateacher you, ironically, cannot take time off for this sort of thing!)

Stuff anyone else, go round when it suits you grin

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