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When did you start visiting primary schools?

(18 Posts)
headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 19:27:50

ds is due to start reception in Sept 2012... I think I'm allowed to apply from Sept 2011, so can I ask when you all started visiting schools? Or did you not bother visiting any? I know which school I'd like to be my first choice, the primary school attached to ds's pre-school, but I assume I have to put some other choices down and I ought to go and see those first.

osd Mon 13-Jun-11 19:44:21

At our council we had to apply I think by the end of January this year and my dd starts in September, i think applications opened in October we live on the border of two councils so it gets very confusing, also very rural so class sizes are very small. I started viewing in November, went to the December Christmas parties of each school and made the decision based on school appearance and ofsted report and of course suitability to my dd. But as I said the pushing point was class size she will be on of six in her new school, 3 boys 3 girls. Next nearest 2 girls and than the cross council school is 3 tier and that wasn't right. So easy decision but vital to view as soon as possible I think and check ofsted report online. Goodluck it is another big scary decision we as parents must make.

ShowOfHands Mon 13-Jun-11 19:48:58

Here applications are open from the end of Sept to the middle of January. Most schools encouraged visits (with some having open days) some time in October.

If you email the schools you'll be interested in looking round, they'll put you on mailing lists for opening days and can let you know how they prefer to do things.

headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 19:57:09

thanks for the replies, I suddenly had a panic that they'd be doing open days before the end of term... but if they do them in October that'll give me time to have a think. I'm very fortunate that the school ds's nursery is attached to is rated outstanding on it's most recent Ofsted report, so is the next nearest school (but they have a tiny catchment area as it's very popular) and there are a couple of other schools that I know are meant to be very good. Obviously I cant' put them all down so I need to visit to choose a couple.

sunnyday123 Mon 13-Jun-11 20:04:00

hi, i'm also looking for reception 2012 place. Schools near me open admissions in October and end January - open days are coming up this term - private ones can be arranged from sept onwards. Most people i know apply straight away tbh though it makes so difference. Check individual schools incase they have supplementary forms - in lancs they do, esp for faith schools and you will be highly disadvantaged if you don't complete one.

headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 20:33:03

thanks for that sunnyday... I'm starting to get really bloody freaked out about this. I'm going to spend the 3 hours ds is at preschool tomorrow calling round schools to find out if they've got open days coming up and what I need to do to apply.

Of course the school ds currently goes to for preschool is not my nearest but I really want him to go there. It's only 900m but last year their catchment was 800m. Bloody typical. So I've really got to give some serious thoughts to the other school choices I pick because chances our we won't get our first preference.

sunnyday123 Mon 13-Jun-11 20:46:52

does the school operate a sibling priority? (if you have/are planning other kids that is!?). Only because not all schools do and my DD1 is currently in reception of an out of catchment school and DD2 who is due to start next year wont get in because of increased numbers applying - even after 12 month in the adjoining preschool. The whole process is so stressful i know! I would consider each admission policy very carefully so the school you choose now still works if you have more children (especially if you only just get in like we did). I would definitely visit the schools as i've heard a lot of ofsted in more 'box ticking' and we dismissed a few good schools because of ofsted which i regret. If you are looking at church schools contact them asap as some stipulate church attendance so you may have to give up some sundays!

FrogmellaMoonbeam Mon 13-Jun-11 21:10:19

DS is also due to start in Sept 2012 and I have already been to 2 schools over a month ago and the other 2 I want to look at wont let me look yet although I am wanting to get the application in ASAP xXx

headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 21:12:41

yes, I think all the schools nearest to us do operate a sibling priority policy. Last year the school I like had 17 siblings out of an intake of 30. I have no idea if that's above average or not. I love dd to be able to go to the same school as ds too. They're only 2 years apart so they'd be in the school at the same time.

One of the best schools near us only runs up to year 3 (I think, that's age 7 right?) so that puts me off, but it gets all 1s on it's Ofsted report and competition to get in is ridiculously high. This year they've decided to add another class because there is so much competition to get in.

headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 21:13:17

frogmella, does getting the application in early make any difference or do they not even start looking at applications until after the closing date?

LawrieMarlow Mon 13-Jun-11 21:17:41

With DS I didn't look round officially - it was the school in our village and I had been to a Christmas fair there. Just applied for that one.

With DD I originally applied to DSs school then we moved house 160 miles north. We moved in June and I made two lightning visits up here looking at schools with places for both DS in year 1 at rhe time and DD going to be reception. I wanted to find the school and theb get a house v close by. After 13 schools I found the right one and here we are smile

Although schools will have open days, the majority of schools will be happy for you to look round at another time and o would actually feel wary of one that didn't let you visit at a time convenient to you. To me that says a lot about a school.

LawrieMarlow Mon 13-Jun-11 21:22:31

It doesn't matter when you submit it as long as it is by rhe closing date.

Is it definitely year 3 it goes up to? There are generally infant schools up to year 2 (with a junior school nearby), primary schools through to year 6 or first schools up to year 4, with middle schools from year 5 to year 8.

LawrieMarlow Mon 13-Jun-11 21:24:04

If you look on your councils website there will be a document telling you when applications open and close and when you find out. These can be very different in different parts of the country.

headfairy Mon 13-Jun-11 21:39:30

Lawrie, the other school goes from ages 4-7.. not sure what that equates to in years... there are a couple of middle schools around so I guess everyone from that primary go on to a middle school. Feels like it would be much less hassle for me to find a school for ds that'll take him to age 11 <lazy mother>

southofthethames Mon 13-Jun-11 22:23:41

Best to visit all the ones you're planning to list as your preferences. Sep to Nov is good time to visit, but some will also let you visit just before the deadline. Don't forget you can't visit during half term and school holidays generally. Your LEA will also have info (either online or printed) about distance of furthest pupil from the school admitted last year, PANs, etc so that you can make as realistic a choice as possible (as possible meaning you can't always second guess whether there's going to be a population boom in your area!)

mummytime Tue 14-Jun-11 06:15:41

I started visiting when my eldest was 2! Visit and trust your gut instinct.
BTW I wouldn't call a school from 7-11 a middle school but a Junior school, it is still just teaching the primary curriculum (or KS2), if it goes to 12 or 13 it is a middle school and teaches some of the secondary (KS3) curriculum.
For a 4-7 school find out which junior they normally go onto and visit that as well. Do also be very aware that just because your child is in the pre-school does not mean they will get into reception.
I would actually want to visit in the next 2 weeks, to see the school operating something like normal, before the summer wind down (sports days, celebrations etc.).

Are you sure you are a Mumsnetter because you do sound rather laid back smile

madwomanintheattic Tue 14-Jun-11 06:45:24

i didn't visit any for dd1. she just went to the nearest one that wasn't catholic. then she went to the nearest one when we moved (didn't visit that either until her first day). then i did visit for ds1 yr r and dd2 yr2 (in may when he was due to start in september - we managed to pick up a place in the last 6 weeks of the summer term in june because we needed a place for dd1 in y2 as well, we'd moved again.) and then dd2 just went to the same school as ds1 and dd1 went off to juniors in a different county. i only looked round the one school for juniors. when we moved again i had to drag the kids out to visit because dd2 has some sn and the school weren't too excited about taking her. so we had to visit. but it's the only school here, so they are all finally at the same school.

we are moving again in the summer. i have visited both schools. grin so have the kids. first time ever.

so dd1 will be moving to her 6th school (yr7), ds1 his 3rd school (yr5) and dd2 her third school (yr3). grin

honestly, visit whenever you like. or don't. education will work itself out one way or another. grin and so far, even if we haven't had a choice, it's all been fine. dd1 and dd2 are registered on the regional gifted programme, and the current teacher thinks ds1 is einstein. hmm i think he's a lazy pita, but she's convinced he's conserving his brilliance. we'll see what the new school says...

are you looking for something in particular from a primary school?

southofthethames Wed 15-Jun-11 14:07:21

headfairy - sending it in any earlier than the deadline doesn't make any difference. It only makes a difference if you send it in after the deadline. Distance alone counts (unless you are in a high priority category - eg child is sibling of an existing pupil, disability/mobility/health issues, child is fostered, etc); it is not a first-come-first-served system. And for Anglican and Catholic schools there is another system based on church attendance, etc.

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