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Applying for primary school for Reception and Yr 2 child- what if placed in different schools?

(26 Posts)
JackyJax Fri 09-Sep-11 05:07:37

Hi Everyone,

We're emigrating to UK from Oz next year in May/June but realise applications need to be in by Jan next year.

We will be living in a small country village with a popular village school. Most kids are in area but some come from surrounding areas. I'm assuming that my youngest child (due to start school Sep 2012) will be accepted into village school as he'll have address in area (hubbie will be over in UK by Jan, kids and I will still be in Oz). So all good there.

My huge concern is that my oldest child- due to start Yr 2 in 2012 will not get a place in the same school. This would be a nightmare as both kids will need to start school at 9am and I can't possibly send the then 7 year old off by himself. I won't know anyone in England when I come over so no one could help. Besides, I want them to go to the same school.

I'm really scared about this and don't know what people in my position do?

Also, what if husband isn't over there in January- depends on if he gets a job really- and we miss deadline. Does that mean both children will miss out on place in village. Is there special consideration for those coming from abroad?

Any help much appreciated as I am really stressing about this. Aussie system is done really on school by school basis so Headteacher has flexibility on who he admits (we do have criteria, it's not a free for all- but schools quite happy to 'trade' kids to help parents) but I know in UK it's centrally run.

Thanks in advance.

CustardCake Fri 09-Sep-11 08:29:48

There isn't special consideration for those coming from abroad or from other towns in the UK. No places are saved for late arrivals. There are rules that say the local authority have to find you a place somewhere but, as you already know, not necessarily at the school you prefer or the same school for both children.

If you are in place by January though you will have an extra advantage. Siblings normally get priority for places so, if there isn't a space for your Year 2 child initially, then he or she will at least be near bumped up the waiting list for any spaces that do become available.

Have you spoken to the school at all? Although you are right in saying they have no discretion in these matters, they are normally a very good source of information on how likely you would be to get 2 places, if there are spaces further up the school, if most local children get a place etc. You might be worrying over nothing if the school isn't oversubscribed. And even if it is, at least you can look at other options (waiting lists or applying to a school further away that does have 2 spaces free)

RunningAllDay Fri 09-Sep-11 08:43:11

Hi there

I posted about this recently to someone else with a similar issue. See www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/1289930-Registering-late-for-primary-school. There is not a lot you can do if they are put in diff schools (other than appeal, but full is full), but the LA should provide transport for the older child if placed elsewhere and if over 2 miles. As I chose the not-next-nearest school, I got no transport help and had the nightmare of having to be in 2 places at once twice a day for a year. I managed it by having the older one wait in the school playground whilst racing back to drop off the younger, then when she was settled, v.v. End of the day was slightly easier as they finished at slightly diff times but I was often late. The local school were sympathetic and said they would look after DD2 as long as it took me to get there, and assigned an older child to look after her in the playground when I had to drop her ealier. By buying a house very close to local school, we got a (very rare) opening late last term and now life is easy-peasy! I also made friends locally and had people offering to help - didn't rely on them but occasionally it was a godsend.

So buy/rent as close as you can to your preferred school, explain the situation to both schools, talk to the LA about transport if req, and make local friends!! And best of luck!

PS. The upside of having kids in diff schools is you can compare them... and you can make two lots of friends!

IndigoBell Fri 09-Sep-11 15:00:57

Well if the Y2 kid doesn't get a place there, then don't send the R kid there.

The Y2 kid will start when you arrive in May/June won't he? So then apply for that school for your R kid.....

An0therName Fri 09-Sep-11 20:38:41

you need to contact the local authority and see if the school is full first - and get idea about admissions

admission Fri 09-Sep-11 20:53:04

You need to look very carefully at the admission arrangements of the Local Authority when it comes to the reception child. There will be a cut off date by which you need to apply so that you child will be considered with all others. That will probably for primary be sometime in January. However the potential problem is what they say about when they have to be living there. I suspect that they will not accept the address until as such time as you are there with the child. Until that time your current address where the reception age child lives is in Oz land.
If the answer is not obvious in the LA booklet on school admissions, which should be readily available from the LA and also on line, then ask the LA.
Your year 2 child will be an in-year admission and it will really depend on current numbers as to whether you get a place at the school you prefer or allocated another one.

JackyJax Sat 10-Sep-11 12:04:21

Thanks everyone for your advice and thanks also to Runningallday (great name!) for the link.

I don't think I'll wait until May and apply for Yr 2 child because if I do that, Reception child could miss out on village school place because my application for him would be late.

I guess I need to move over in Jan with children- husband won't have job by this time and there's no way we could have sold the house- and apply for both children then.

Runningall day- I know you managed to survive a year with two children in different schools but I don't think I could. I'm obsessed with punctuality (15 years of being a teacher will do that to you!) and would find it enormously stressful. I think you almost earn status of 'uber mum' for that effort!

If I rent somewhere in January (couldn't really afford to do it before then and want oldest child to finish schoo at end of Dec in Oz) what proof do I need on my application of residence? If you rent do you pay council tax? Is this proof or an electricity bill or a rent book? Also do you submit this proof via post even if you apply to the school online?

Sorry to be so ignorant: everyone's replies much appreciated.

CustardCake Sat 10-Sep-11 13:06:47

Proof is your council tax bill normally. If you apply online you give them your council tax customer / reference number and they can look you up on the system to double check you live there. A signed lease is the additional proof they may ask for if you are new to an area. I am guessing that would need to be posted to them (a copy of)

Clary Sat 10-Sep-11 14:32:52

Have you checked the January admission date btw - I only ask because it varies and in our LA it is December for primary (from memory!).

RunningAllDay Sat 10-Sep-11 15:03:05

Ooo, "uber mum"... thanks, you made my day! grin However, lots of people do have kids in different schools (special needs, choice, lack of choice...) and it is usually manageable (afterschool clubs, transport provided, car-sharing, local bus, different pick-up times, walking bus...). You really need to check all those details with the schools that you are considering and with the LA (regarding likelihood of it happening). Not adding anything new to what the others said, so will shut up now! All the best.

firstgreatholswiththree Sat 10-Sep-11 19:41:41

We moved from Australia to UK. Arrived in September and basically took the nearest and best school we could get with 2 places. The authority were as helpful as possible but we couldn't do anything until we had a place to live. I kept trying to work out places and everything changed and we lost our preference although the school the kids are in seems very good. Check out the rules with the local authority. If you miss being here in time for applications for the reception child you will still be treated as in year application as you have moved into the area. I would call the school and find out how if they are full for your year 2 child. We knew that one of the years we were looking for was a low birth year so it was a case of going for the reception place first. Not sure I'm make sense but just trying to start bedtime routine.... good luck with the move.

firstgreatholswiththree Sat 10-Sep-11 19:43:11

p.s the friendly school admin staff gave me more info than the local authority at times but it was the LA that decided on places in the end....

JackyJax Sun 11-Sep-11 04:22:33

Thanks again everyone for replies. I understand now what I need for proof of address.

Firstgreatholswiththree- the area to which we want to move has:
2 Offsted grade 1 schools,
1 Offsted grade 2
and one failing (miserably) school.

Both Offsted grade 1 and 2 schools are heavily oversubscribed.
The failing one is undersubscribed so it's obvious that if we don't make Jan cut off then we would end up at a failing school. I just couldn't send my kids to that school. The Offsted report was shocking- really poor discipline, virtually no planning, heavy turnover of staff and students, plus bullying.

To rent from eg Dec in England will cost us a fortune: we're really not able to move over until June but having learnt what I have on here, I know we need to just find the money and move over (me and 2 lively boys- gulp!) in December ourselves. I just couldn't send them to a school that is failing sooooo badly.

May move over in Dec and send kids to Runningallday- am beginning to think there's nothing she can't cope with! thanks guys.

CustardCake Sun 11-Sep-11 09:00:21

JackyJax - you sound pretty realistic about the situation and about which school you will get if you are a late applicant.
Perhaps it is worth adding into the equation what you will do if you don't move over early enough and get given the failing school. Will you home educate? Will you pay private school fees? Will you ask to apply to school miles from where you live that are better and have spaces? All of these options costs money (or in the case of Home Ed prevent you from making so much money) so it might be worth factoring this in against the cost of extra month's rent or an earlier move.
It is very difficult and is something that people face even if they aren't new to an area - all the people that live in that village right now but not quite near enough to get one of the good schools are probably going through the same dilemma of what to do and feeling despondent about getting allocated a school they don't want.

JackyJax Sun 11-Sep-11 10:18:41

Thanks CustardCake. The UK is more densely populated than Oz so schools seem to face being very oversubscribed. In Oz, the Headteacher has some flexibility eg if you lived over the road from a school and had missed out on a place it's likely the Head would listen sympathetically to your case. For example, in Oz reception classes can only have 20 children but there are 21 kids in my son's reception class which works fine. I can see, however, that it wouldn't work if 10 extra children pleaded their case...

Jenny70 Sun 11-Sep-11 22:44:47

Fellow Oz Expat here!

If you know the local area and schools, phone the LA admissions and ask what the waiting lists are like. Hope that you get someone open to discussion about it. Once one is in, the other gets to the top of the list, but no guarentee of a spot, there has to be a vacancy first.

We moved in Dec, but moved into rental in Jan, so couldn't put names on until we had council tax etc (which comes a week or so after moving in). When we decided on the rental in Dec there was a place at the local (good) school for both our school aged children. In between renting and getting formal application in (because of paperwork, not slackness on our behalf) the younger place was allocated elsewhere.

Eldest got a place no problem, but middle child has just waited 9 months for a place at any school within reasonable distance, even as a sibling and top of the list. I had to home school her this past year, which wasn't too hideous. Even as a sibling she couldn't get a place at the school where her brother is, as it was literally full. Even this new school year noone left that class, so even at #1 on the waiting list she didn't get a spot. We are doing 3 kids at 3 schools this year, JOY.

It is a nightmare, it comes down to luck... unless you can find a school that isn't oversubscribed that you like, it is going to be difficult. You may need to consider living in different village/area if schools aren't manageable. But then everyone wants schools in good area, easy commute to London, blah blah - basically everyone is wanting the same things, so anywhere you think of is full.

Best of luck
JennyH

CustardCake Mon 12-Sep-11 08:10:16

Jacky - in the UK the class size for that age is limited by law to 30 per class (30 children per qualified teacher). That's why its so tricky and there is no flexibility.

Oversubscribed schools reach this figure very quickly - in some areas siblings alone might account for half of the places allocated.
There is no way around this like in Oz - no way of pleading your case (well you can go to appeal but you won;t win if the class already has 30 in). Basically, unless the local authority has made some enormous error handling your application, there is no way to get an additional child into a class that already has 30 children and that's why the situation is so hard and why some years more people lose out than others (in high sibling years there are less places left over for everyone else).

JackyJax Mon 12-Sep-11 12:34:24

Jenny 70- don't think anyone can trump you: 3 kids in 3 schools. Aaaaaagh.
Whole thing seems a bit of a nightmare doesn't it? One of thr reasons we're coming back to England is to do the whole country village thing- live in nice village, become part of community, send kidlets to village school.

This year 18 out of 20 of the spots in the village school were taken by siblings- yikes!

This isn't an Aus is better than UK comment (I love both countries and have taught in both countries) but in Australia, if you live in area then your local school has to accept you. If it's a bumper year then the school has to lay on more teachers. This means if you move into an area specifically for school then you will get into it.

Hubbie still hasn't secured job in UK but realise that we'll have to be over there by Dec at latest really in order to sort out council tax in time for January primary school applications.

Once again thanks all for your stories and for taking the time to advise me- it's really helped me be more realistic about the whole thing.

JackyJax Mon 12-Sep-11 12:37:20

Sorry, one last question. Youngest child will come over to UK with his dad in December hopefully whilst I remain in Oz with older child until we sell house, etc. If oldest child and I arrive in eg February 2012 and apply to local village school do they have to take us if they have 20 in a class. I know that KS2 can have maximum of 30 children but wonder how many a Year 1 class can legally have? TIA.

Or would I be better off applying in September 2012 for oldest child hoping that because they accept 30 in a class there might be some room for an extra child? (Am aware school does composite classes though...)

welliesandpyjamas Mon 12-Sep-11 12:49:14

Argh so many of you living the nightmare I am dreading when ds2 starts school sad I have ds1 in our nearest school (a walkable mile away but not catchment as the further-away catchment school had no space in it for him when we returned to UK mid autumn term) but there will probably be no space for ds2 next year if current patterns are anything to go by (massive influx in to the area, schools all full) so assuming there will even be a space for him in the catchment school I will need to be in two places at once twice a day at pick up and drop off...too young to leave unattended in yard...two miles apart...with no car! Sob sad

OP do you have to live in that village? Could you consider somewhere else in the areas where schools are not as full?

CustardCake Mon 12-Sep-11 14:16:50

The legal maximum is 30 until the children reach Year 3 so delaying doesn't really help unless you have a child about to enter Year 3 in which case you have more of a chance of winning an appeal to get them to take an extra child in that class. For Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, the 30 rules is rigid.

If by composite classes you mean they mix year groups eg Year 1 and Year 2 taught together or Year 3 and Year 4 for example then the number they admit per year group won't necessarily be 30 of the same aged children.
For example some schools have an admission number of 45 which means that they have a Reception class of 30 and then 15 Reception aged children will join the 15 Year 1 children. They cannot admit 46 Reception children that year as it would mean that one infant aged class went above the limit.

Clary Mon 12-Sep-11 22:38:26

Jackyjax to follow custardcake's good post - your last post makes me concerned you might be getting confused. 30 is the class limit for Foundation Stage 2 (FS2) and Key Stage 1 (KS1), commonly called Reception and year 1 and 2 (ie infants).

Key Stage 2 is years 3, 4, 5 and 6, ie juniors, and has no upper class limit (tho in practice most schools prefer not to have more than about 35 in a class!).

HTH

JackyJax Tue 13-Sep-11 01:06:14

Thanks for this especially info re Key stages Clary.

I spoke to the village school and in Reception there are 20 kids (56 applied) and in Year 1 there are 20 kids. Based on my understanding that you can have 30 children in a class, could I use that as a bargaining tool ie if you accept my child then there will only be 21 in the class? I don't really understand though why they only accepted 20 kids in Reception? Surely they could have accepted 30? Would it have been that only 20 were in area?

The school were lovely and said that from their point of view if you live in the village then you'll attend their school. Just as I was getting excited though, they then conceded that they aren't in charge of who goes there!

CustardCake Tue 13-Sep-11 07:49:08

If 56 applied but only 20 got in then somewhere along the line numbers are being limited. There could be a reason that 30 are not admitted. Perhaps the classrooms are very small and for health and safety reasons it is physically impossible to have more than 20 per class? 30 is the maximum allowed but if other concerns come up, the admission number might be smaller.

The other option is that they have are splitting the Year Ones (so Reception class has 20 Reception aged children plus 10 Year 1's and Year 2 has 20 Year 2 aged children plus 10 Year 1's all taught together - ie 3 year groups with 20 in each taught in 2 classes of 30 per class)

If there are genuinely only 20 per class then you do have stronger grounds to win an appeal but I would do a bit more digging. Why not ask them how come they quote 20 per class when 30 is the norm? If the school is that over subscribed you would have expected other people to appeal this if there was a case based on the numbers. I would call them and ask about the 20 figure that they quote.

Clary Wed 14-Sep-11 23:03:33

20 may be their PAN figure - Pupil Admission Number. This can vary from school to school but is not always a multiple of 30.

In my DCs' school the PAN is 80 - this can be 3 classes of 26/27 but can also mean a mixed class if all years in the school (infants) are 80 pupils, totalling 240 (= 8 classes of 30 IYSWIM).

Another school I know well has a PAN of 45 - they split FS2 into two classes of 22/23, but after that do I think one yr 1 class of 30 and one yr1/2 class of 30, etc.

I imagine a village school that takes 20 in a year when 56 applied will have a PAN of 20 and will have mixed-age classes, eg 20 Yr 1 with 10 yr 2, 10 yr 2 with 20 yr 3 etc.

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