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can anybody help me on how to pick a school, first time mum dont no where to start

(16 Posts)
lisamay78 Fri 22-Jul-11 20:22:37

their is only two primary schools in my area that i no about one being a catholic school in nice part of the area, has good reviews ect other is not a catholic school but in a very bad part of the area you wouldnt want to live never mind send your child to school their
my questions are how do you find out what schools are in your area, how do you know what schools u should be applying for i no u need to live within a certain distance to be entitled to a place or be in for a chance of a place

also if you were not a catholic would you ever consider having your child baptised in order to get a place in the better school
thank you

prh47bridge Fri 22-Jul-11 21:24:02

Your local council will have a booklet for parents applying for primary school. That will list all the schools in the area and tell you how they decide which children to admit. As for how you decide which ones to apply for, that is really up to you. Visit the schools and decide which ones you think are best for your child. The council will allow you to apply to at least 3 schools, possibly more. Use all your choices and make sure that at least one of your choices is a school where you are very likely to get a place.

lisamay78 Fri 22-Jul-11 21:30:27

thank you i got a list of all school in my local area then googled them to see distance so have narrowed it down, will for sure go have a look and see what their like
thanks for the advice

Saracen Fri 22-Jul-11 23:53:46

I didn't really know what I wanted in a school until I started visiting. As soon as I had seen some differences between schools, I was much clearer about what I wanted and why it was important to me. One school which was very highly regarded by Ofsted and by other parents gave me a very negative feeling. As soon as I understood why I disliked it so much, it became easier for me to hunt for schools which I might like better.

If you aren't too pressed for time, visiting a few extra schools might help you figure out what matters to you too.

MigratingCoconuts Sat 23-Jul-11 08:32:12

saracen is absolutely right. Visiting the schools and guaging how they feel to you is the best measure of a school.

Bunnyjo Sat 23-Jul-11 09:23:57

Once the school term starts up again, I would phone your local schools to arrange visits. As Saracen said, I wouldn't go with the Ofsted inspection reports alone when choosing a school - you may find that the 'outstanding' schools don't feel right when you visit and you may be happier overall with a 'good' or 'satisfactory' school. You may need to contact your LA Education Dept and obtain the application pack and booklet which outlines the schools in your LA and their admission numbers (PAN) and admission criteria etc - although many schools give these out when you visit, or your preschool may have access to them. Most LA's allow parents to make 3 preferences and, in my opinion, it is important use all 3 preferences. As prh47bridge said, one of your preferences really ought to be a school where you are very likely to be offered a place. Your LA will give you information such as your catchment school and previous years admissions (whether the school was under/ oversubscribed and, if oversubscribed, how far down the admissions criteria the offers went to - many schools are so oversubscribed that offers are filled by sibling and catchment applications, meaning that those without sibling in catchment, or those with sibling out of catchment do not get offered a place) and that information will help you determine how likely you are to be offered a place at that school.

Finally, good luck and I hope you get into a school you and your child like.

lisamay78 Sat 23-Jul-11 17:54:26

thank you so much for your advice will definetly go visit them ive actualy found over last day or so theirs about 5 schools in my area 2 that are actualy closer to me than the only one i knew about in the really bad area so feeling alot better about it now
also Bunnyjo whats LA

AdelaofBlois Sat 23-Jul-11 20:03:27

My advice too would be not to go on distance alone. Draw a sensible line somewhere where you could, with other commitments, get to and from then speak to all schools in that 'zone' to see if you might have a chance. We found that schools 3 miles away had admitted from where we were in previous years, and ones 200 yards away had not. We had four choices-we picked three in order (there is no advantage to preference) and a final school that we knew we would get into even though it wasn't great (because it was better than alternatives we might otherwise be offered).

We became aware of what we were looking for but it will differ for you as you might want different stuff. We liked schools with work on the walls, space that seemed to allow kids to move around and choose, with kids in lessons that worked happily on their own or would talk to you, and with heads that knew kids by name and were proud of their school and where it was going. It is also worth asking whether the Head intends to stay put and what staff turnover has been like.

Ofsted wasn't that helpful, and attainment less so (very catchment determined). But the scores for pastoral care did tally broadly with our experience. In some ways, though, gut reaction seemed later confirmed by Ofsted-of the three 'good' schools we chose two were upgraded to 'outstanding' this year-a small mercy since we would not have stood a chance at either with that rating.

Hope you find a place for your child, and that you and she enjoy working with the school you find.

lisamay78 Sun 24-Jul-11 21:14:05

thanks adelaofblois
very useful advice i honestly never had a clue were to start but think research is key and to be realistic about where i will get a place for him
one of the school websites i was looking at stated that from august 2011 p1s will be in full time from the very first day, is this the way all schools are now?

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 24-Jul-11 21:16:57

Don't forget, you don't have the right to choose your kids school, only the right to express a preference. You might be lucky and get this, but it is not guaranteed. It's no good selecting a school that is wonderful but which you have no chance of getting into because you don't come high enough up the list of criteria.

lisamay78 Sun 24-Jul-11 21:39:27

list of critera what is this, i thought it was just a case of being local enough? and i no your not guarenteed your prefered school because of numbers and schools only having so many places but surely if you select 3 local schools on your applications your not going to be refused a place at all 3 then be given a place at one miles away are u?

exoticfruits Sun 24-Jul-11 22:00:48

Get a list of criteria from the education department and a map of catchment areas.

CardyMow Tue 26-Jul-11 00:38:42

Um, my guess is if you are talking about P1, you are in Scotland, rather than England? I don't know if the admissions are the same in Scotland as they are in England?

AdelaofBlois Tue 26-Jul-11 14:36:04

Things are different in Scotland, but in England it is not a case of being 'local' enough even if distance is the main criterion. If your three schools are all 'local' and all have thirty places, for example, and there are thirty children living closer than you to each, you may not get a place. This is why 'catchment' is such a confusing (in fact, actively misleading) term for primary schools. Schools can also have other criteria-priority given to faith or siblings of children there-that trump distance. The criteria should be clear, but may differ from school to school.

I suspect Scotland is better, but in England you should definitely ring two or three weeks before the deadline (even if you have already chosen a preference) to get a better idea of the admissions situation. One school close to us admitted an average of 26 kids a year on faith/siblings grounds (the figure we got when asking in November) but admitted 54/60 this year (the figure we got in January). Clearly knowing that helped us avoid wasting a preference.

Again, best of luck, if you are in Scotland I envy you the simplicity of a sensible system not dominated by huge differences in schooling and parental pressure.

AdelaofBlois Tue 26-Jul-11 14:38:20

And, yes, schools are legally required to provide full-time education from day one for all kids admitted (although many skirt this with a 'settling in' period of half days). You, however, are not required to send the child full-time until his/her 5th birthday. Negotiating that particular clash source of many threads here.

ninani Tue 26-Jul-11 16:10:18

If you do live in Scotland it might be different. Otherwise don't think you will be guaranteed a place. We thought the same. If you were here a few months ago you would have seen so many people crying because their next door school was too full. Where all 3 or 6 choices of nearest schools were not close enough because of immigration/emigration, building new flats without building new schools etc.

Our Local Authority give a booklet which shows how far the last child admitted lived, how many were admitted because of siblings (they have priosity most of the time) etc. They were not very clear about their catchments though!

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