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Primary School in Guildford - advice needed please!!!

(11 Posts)
MrandMrsP Wed 27-Jul-11 14:04:00

Dear all

We are moving to Guildford during the summer holiday due to recent job transfer (very recent - previous employers business sold) and are buying a house in the Epsom Road area. We have applied through the LEA for school places for my son (into Yr4) and have been offered places at Guildford Grove and Tillingbourne Primary. None of our three choices (St Thomas, Boxgrove and Holy Trinity) have spaces despite being geographically much closer, so it doesn't look like we have much chance of getting into them. Also none of the other 10 schools closer to our house have spaces either.

The schools we have been offered are between 5 - 6km away from our new house and have no after-school clubs (whereas my three choices do). I will be working north of Guildford (full time) and not only will I struggle to get them there (Tillingbourne will be practically impossible) but as I won't finish work 'til 5pm I wont be able to get back to pick my son up at the end of the school day. My son is only 8 so also too young to get a bus on his own (although the CC has suggested free bus!!)

I have also heard some not so great stories about Guildford Grove area and so I am saddened having spent so much on a house to get into catchment areas of good schools (so can't afford private schooling) to be left in a position where I cannot logistically get my son to and fro school (particularly from) and with one in an area I would otherwise not wish to send him.

Any advice at all as to what we can do to appeal, or any advice about any other good schools which we should try our luck at, will be greatly appreciated. (I have thought about home schooling and refusing to send my son to school at all, which i might do if I didn't have to work sad ...)

Thank you so much!

GoneAnonForThis Wed 27-Jul-11 14:08:16

I'm confused...... What would your appeal be based on?! It isn't Surrey CC fault that you moved into the area late & missed the admission deadline back in January.

I'm not based in Guildford so not qualified to comment on the schools that you've mentioned. But I would just choose a school for Sept and ask to be added to the waiting list of your preferred choice.

Good luck!

LIZS Wed 27-Jul-11 14:12:57

Agree if you opt to go on the waiting list of your preferred schools you may find that having a house close by puts you near the top. Not sure what you expect Surrey CC to do as they are not obliged to sort out childcare for you. Accept whichever you feel is the best of the bunch and use a cm for wrap around care.

mummytime Wed 27-Jul-11 14:35:03

Have you looked at Bushy Hill? Its much closer.
Travel is not a good enough reason for an appeal. However look at what the schools you do want offer, and argue why this is so crucial for your son. (Choir, French, existing friends).
However Guildford is getting increasingly hard pressed for school places. I would also look at just how over full the schools are, for instance HT has over 30 in all its classes I believe. However there is movement, and places may still become available.

LawrieMarlow Wed 27-Jul-11 14:59:41

Did you find out whether there were spaces available before buying your house? I think that Guildford does have a difficulty with school places in that there are more children than places in sone areas and so moving into the area can mean you get a place a way from where you live.

LIZS Wed 27-Jul-11 15:03:58

btw Surrey CC doesn't use catchment areas afaik, it prioritises on distance after siblings etc

MrandMrsP Wed 27-Jul-11 15:34:07

Thanks all for the prompt replies.

My current business was sold 2 weeks ago and I was offered a new contract (in Guildford) so we have literally found a new house we can move straight into, but unfortunately coinciding with the end of the previous school year so timescales have really been against us. I did however ring round the schools before the end of term and before committing to the purchase to check places and availability and was pretty much universally told that this had to be coordinated via the LEA and there might be a chance he'd get in based on distance from home and any kids leaving at end of term (so I applied to the LEA the same day). Usually Surrey LEA won’t consider application until exchange contracts but as we have progressed our purchase such that we move next month, they have looked into it earlier than they usually would.

My main concern is the fact that there are no after-school facilities at either school offered although the 5 nearest to our house do have clubs (these are the ones I have pushed for with the coordinator) so although they are a distance away and I could get my son to school, there is no-way for him to get home at 3.20 (as I work til 5pm) so the distance and the choice of school makes it v difficult (he can’t get the bus on his own!)

A CM might work as last resort for a temporaray measure and I'll appeal on basis that wehave been offered 2 of the furthest away primary schools from the list of 13! (away from friends etc) and ask to get added to the waiting lists. I guess appealing on the basis of less than favourable area and so really not wanting my son to go there (Guildford Grove) wouldn't count as appeal criteria.

Thanks again

LIZS Wed 27-Jul-11 15:40:32

I think you'll find you have to appeal for a place at a specific school and state why only that school meets your child's needs rather than negatively against what has been offered - or do you not mean a formal appeal ? Not sure where foirneds come into it if you are coming from out of the area - lots of kids will travel to school for a variety of reasons. Rejecting what is formally offered in the meantime may be counterproductive.

mummytime Wed 27-Jul-11 16:07:05

If you are appealing you have to argue why that school (and each school is dealt with individually) is so much better for your child, that it overcomes the disadvantage to other children of having an extra child in their class. You might want to buy "How to win your School appeal".

I also suggest you find out how overcrowded the schools are, as you have to argue less hard to get an extra child into a class with 30 than to get an extra one into a class of 31. Also some of the appeals might not be held at County Hall in Kingston, as Holy Trinity is C of E and St Thomas's is RC, I think their appeals are held by the relevant diocese.

I am also surprised you haven't been offered Sandfield or Queen Eleanors, they might be other schools worth looking at.

admission Wed 27-Jul-11 16:12:10

As your child is in year4 the infant class size regulations do not apply, which improves your situation.
What you need to do is consider accepting one of the two schools offered as your fall back position. The reason Surey mentioned free bus is that they are obliged to offer free transport if the school offered is more than 2 miles away from the home.
You should then formally ask in writing for a place at the three preferred schools and then when Surrey say no places available, ask to appeal for all three schools. Being realistic the LA has 30 school days to organise these appeals so they are not going to happen much before the end of September at the earliest. Hence my comments on getting a school place as a fall back position.
When you get the appeal documents all you need to say on them initially is that you want a school place within walking distance of your house. what you then need to do is construct the best possible case for admission to each respective school. You can certainly start with within walking distance, then the before and after school clubs and then as it was a rapid house move that there is a need for your child to have stability and that would be best gained by having a local school where he could form a new cohort of local friends, that is not possible in the school allocated. Anything else like school clubs which your child would enjoy and also useful. You also need to be open with the panel about the circumstances of the rapid move and hope to gain as much sympathy as possible for your enforced predicament.
It would be wrong of me to say that this is a strong case to take to an admission panel and therefore a lot will depend on exactly how full the school already is. If there is only 30 in the class then there is a chance, if there are 34 or 35 then your chances are severely diminshed.
It would pay to also look at all the other schools that you consider within sensible distance and see how full they are. Many schools have websites which may tell you the numbers in each class. If there others that have 30 in the class, they may also be worth appealing for.

Chestnutx3 Wed 27-Jul-11 19:10:51

You must have realised that the schools are very full and places in any of the schools are hard to come by in that area, moving into an area doesn't entitle your child a school place at a school near your home with an afternoon club as you have realised. Bushy Hill have had over 30 pupils I've heard but on appeal.

You need to employ a CM its that simple unless you find a private school place. I would choose Tillingbourne out of those two and find a CM near there, you can only hope that closer to term starting a free place may appear and you need to hold your nerve.

When you contact the council I don't think that you will win sympathy about the afternoon club, what will you do in the holidays?

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