Can someone please explain the UK schooling system to me(18 Posts)
Assuming you will use state schools, then you can only apply to schools in your county, and they start the year they are 5 (year is Sept 1st to August 31st) and you apply through the local education authority the year before.
No waiting lists for these schools, and attending their nursey makes no difference, nor does being christened.
There are some state schools which are funded by churches, and these have their own admission rules like church attendance etc
You can look on your local govt website for details
State schools - as explained by CMOT - are funded from the taxes we all pay and are free to attend. You also have the option of private schools where you would pay a termly fee.
If you live in the area where you are likely to be living when your child turns 5 you can start investigating what schools there are and what their entrance criteria are.
Look on the website of your local Council (city or county) and read the section on starting primary school.
There are 'community school's and faith schools. When it comes to applications there are different rules - community schools usually prioritise kids with SN, then kids with siblings in the school, then those who live closer. If the school is very popular that can mean very close.
Faith schools can give priority for church attendance etc...
You apply when your child is 3-4 and they start at 4-5. If the school has a nursery you apply separately and have to reapply again for Reception (first year of school).
If you are interested in private schools, you will have to research your local schools and their admissions requirements individually.
For the state sector, children (who are not home educated) normally start in Reception class in a primary (sometimes called infants) school in the September when they are 4. It is possible to defer their entry - the legally required age is the term following the child's 5th birthday. But as places are allocated for a September start (you secure one, then defer if you wish), that's the date you need to aim for.
Schools admissions must conform to the Admissions Code, and entry criteria must be clear and published. You should be able to find them on-line on your council website, or that of the school.
Generally: first priority goes to children with special needs, then to looked after children (eg those in care), and those with other exceptional needs. After that, a priority is often given for siblings of children already in the school, and then it goes on distance from the school gates. There may be a specific catchment area, and priority will be given to those within in - though if there are a lot of them, shortest distance to school will be the tie breaker.
Faith schools within the state system may operate a faith-based system for all or some of their places. This again will be set out in the entrance criteria so you can see if you are lily to qualify. Typically, evidence of belonging to that religion is required, and priority can be given for whether baptised, how regular a churchgoer and which parish, then other religions until all faith places are allocated. Distance would be the usual tie breaker if oversubscribed.
Attendance at the nursery attached to the school is not a criteria, though those children who fit nursery entrance requirements are usually a good fit for the criteria for reception.
There is no advantage to early applications. All applications must be submitted during a specified window, and all received by the closing date will be considered equally shortly after that. The timetable for applications will also be on the website. As will useful stuff like dates of open days, when you can go to look around.
You aren't limited to applying only for schools in your own county if you live near county borders - but you do have to make separate applications to each county you apply to. The county forms are sent out at a particular time (about a year before the child is due to go to school) and you can't put your child's name down on a county application form before then. There is then a deadline for submission of the relevant forms. You can normally put down up to 3 schools you would be happy for your child to go to - in order of preference. I have had friends who forgot a school was in a different county, put the school on the wrong county application form and therefore had their first choice rejected...
NB read the county's rules on how children are allocated schools very carefully just in case this differs subtly between counties (and then faith schools each have their own rules and application forms and timings for submission of forms, too, so you have to contact them direct, although you still have to put the faith schools you are applying for down on the county application forms....). I have no idea what effect free schools are going to have on the application process...
All the above relates to the state sector. Private schools are a whole different kettle of fish and might have selective entrance criteria (but probably not geographical ones).
Scotland has a different education to England. If you live north of the border I'd suggest that you look at the local authority's website re primary admissions. Kids here go to school slightly older than in England and the only faith schools tend to be catholic ones.
rabbitstew, that's not true any more (it changed in the 2010/2011 applications, ie the children that just started). Now you apply to your own borough / county even for school places out of that borough.
Also the number of choices must vary because I got 6 choices available.
Which means, in conclusion, that Kiki84 should ask for advice from her local authority, because the rules don't remain static and every county does it differently!!!!!
Lots of good advice here already, so just a few points from me.
Actually the variation between councils in the overall process isn't that great. You always apply to your LA even if you are applying for a school in a different LA's area. You may receive an application form automatically, particularly if your child attends nursery, but you should not rely on it. Unless the government changes the dates, you must apply by January 15th for a place in Reception that September. Your child can start school in the September following his 4th birthday. You can defer entry until the start of term following his 5th birthday but you should apply as if he is starting in September even if you plan to defer. You will be able to apply for at least 3 schools but your LA may allow you to apply for more. You are only specifying a preference. There is no guarantee you will get into one of your preferred schools.
You do not have to have your child christened. Some schools are church schools. Those who attend church regularly generally get priority for places at church schools. Some give priority to children who have been christened into the faith. However, whether or not you attend church or your child has been christened makes no difference at non-church schools.
Many parents seem to believe they can reserve a place at a state school by putting their name down early. That simply isn't true. Unfortunately some schools play along with this belief simply because it is easier than trying to explain to parents that this is a myth.
Generally speaking attendance at a school's nursery does not give any priority for admission to the school but check carefully as there are a few areas where priority is given to children attending the nursery.
Do not assume you will automatically be sent a registration pack. You may well not be!!!!! In Surrey you would not!
They often are given out by nurseries/playgroups, are available at Libraries and you can apply on line.
Sorry cat 64 but that is the most wrong advice I have read for ages.
Our council has a poster campaign to highlight the applications window. It typically starts some time in the autumn term of the year before admission (so if your DC is 8 months now, you'll be looking for a place starting in 4 years time - Sept 2015, and should therefore apply autumn 14). Cut off will be mid-Jan, as noted above. If you miss the deadline, you can still apply, but the application will be treated as "late" and you will only have the choice of what is left after on-time allocations have been made. In practice, this may not mean any choice at all. The LA will still have to find you a place (and provide transport if the only remaining places are over 2 miles from your home), but this may well not be a school (or location) you would yourself have chosen.
There is a waiting list system, under which places are reallocated. This runs very much like the initial applications round - the lists are prioritised according to how well you fit the main entrance requirements.
This table under 'school years' sums it up quite nicely.
Again no automatic sending out of forms here in Berkshire.
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