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What order would you put these schools in

(30 Posts)
benetint Fri 03-Aug-12 22:21:04

I think we've just about got our list, we just need to decide on our order of preference!

School 1 - our closest school although not actually catchment. Was in special measures, now new head and completely turned around sat and ofstee wise. New head has reputation of being a bit arrogant and big for his boots. He doesn't meet prospective parents himself so when I visited secretary showed me round and I didn't meet any teachers or see any classrooms. So hard to get a good idea.

School 2 - catholic school (i'm catholic), in an affluent area, excellent sat results, good ofstee, excellent local reputation. Again hard to get a good impression when I went round as shown round by secretary who although was really nice she couldn't answer my questions.

School 3 - catholic school, serves deprived area, gets even better results than school 2, lovely lovely teachers, great impression on looking round. My favourite but dh concerned its in a dodgy area so dd wouldn't make the kind of friends he'd approve od

benetint Fri 03-Aug-12 22:24:20

School 4 - cofe village school (dh cofe) excellent results, reputation again but 15 minutes drive away (others 5 minute drive)

benetint Fri 03-Aug-12 22:27:30

We don't mind whether the school is c of e or catholic as we see ourself as a Christian household in general, we'd be supportive of either school but likewise we wouldn't mind secular as we can talk to dcs about religion at home. What order would you go for?

Prarieflower Fri 03-Aug-12 22:35:55

Hmm I'd look at the teaching and progress on all 4 and go for the best ifthey were recent reports.If any are old reports I'd rely more on SATS results and gut instinct on visiting them all sadly as you'll have not much else to go in(old reports are pretty useless imvho particularly if there has been a change of head/staff).

I'd be wary about putting too much stock in all the fluff(clubs etc)as teaching quality and progress are after all the things a parent cares about most(along with behaviour) at the end of the day.Other stuff is lovely but lessons being taught good or above(ditto progress) are way more important imvho.

Do visit them all.

benetint Fri 03-Aug-12 22:48:36

Thanks prairie flower, do you mean theres a teaching and progress on the ofsted report? I have looked at Sats but I do worry it's sometimes more of a reflection on the intake of pupils rather than the school itself if that makes sense?

Prarieflower Fri 03-Aug-12 23:01:47

There should be somewhere. You really need to read the reports and visit them all.The journey is nothing if it's the right school.Catholic would worry me but we're not religious.

You're right about SATs as if a school had a strong intake some schools can get away with doing very little towards good SATS results.If they come in good I as a parent would still want good teaching with good progress and even higher SATS results iykwim. It can work the other way too.They could come in below average and make fantastic progress with great teaching but get slightly lower SATS(I'd prefer that school).

Skimty Fri 03-Aug-12 23:21:17

I really think you should think about day to day logistics. Can you walk to any of them? Is there a playground on the way home? Do you have other dcs and if so what is there sibling admis sion policy? What are the drop and pick up times? Will there be any children your DC knows to help settling in and equally what sort of catchment area for play dates? If you can walk to and from school and friends I think your day to day life would be nicer.

VoldemortsOlympicNippleRings Fri 03-Aug-12 23:29:45

My dcs school would have been school 3 on your list. It's in one of the most deprived areas in the UK. It was the closest school to us when DD started their 13 years ago. We live in one of the nicest parts of the city now but ds2 is still there. It takes us about 50 minutes using public transport.

This is my experience.
Children playing out or in the community, you could almost always tell the St Sebs kids because their behaviour and manners where usually better than other children from local schools.

My DCs lives have been enriched by sharing different cultures of their friends. This includes friends who have sought asylum or whose parents have come from eastern Europe to work.

They have had a fantastic education with many extra curriculum activitys.

There are children in the school who have a lot of baggage for one reason or another, but the school are very aware of this and problems seem to be picked up quickly.

My dcs have only ever gone to one primary school so my opinions are limited. But please don't be put off by an area, as a good school is a strong stand alone community of its own, which can only enrich the wider community.

tiggytape Fri 03-Aug-12 23:30:40

How many preferences are you allowed to list?
Have you read the admission criteria for each school (often they all vary)?

Just because, for example you say 'I am Catholic' or 'we are a CofE household' doesn't mean you will meet the criteria they set. Some Catholic schools insist on baptism before 6 months and weekly mass. Some just expect you to turn up now and again. You need to read each school's admission details to find what degree of attendance and proof is needed.

The order you should list the schools is the order of your true preference. So if the impossible-to-get-into-school is the one you love, put it first. You never know, you could get lucky. And if you don't get lucky, putting a school as 2nd or 3rd doesn't in anyway harm your chances of getting in. The schools don't know where you've listed them. All that matters is how well you meet their crietria.

It works a bit like a sorting system:
- So school number 1 on your list is the one you love but you don't live close enough so the council then looks at school number 2.
- School number 2 is your second favourite but you just miss out to people with siblings so the council then looks at school number 3 on your list
- School number 3 is catholic and you meet their criteria well enough to be offered a place. Any schools lower on your list are instantly dismissed (even if you also meet their criteria) and you get one offer though the post - school number 3.

You would get school number 3 even if it was someone else's first choice if you met the criteria better than they did (eg if you were in a higher faith criteria than them or lived fractionally closer).
That's why the admission criteria should be your starting point.
Simply wanting a school doesn't count. You have to be able to qualify for it to get in - that's why they call it preferences not choices.

And it is also why you must list a dead cert as your last option even if you don't want it. If you only list schools that you like but don't qualify for, you will be allocated a school with places still available after everyone else's preferences have been met which in all likelihood will be a long way away or a poor school. For that reason a poor local school is most often a better option than a failing school 3 miles away. If you have a catchment school that you definitely meet the criteria to get a place at, you really should list it on the form even if it is your last choice.

crazymum53 Sat 04-Aug-12 11:31:10

I would double check whether living in catchment or closest distance from home to school is more important. I would also look at the LEA website and see if they have information about over-subscription criteria for each school for this year. For example if distance from home to school is more important - do you live close enough?
Finally, you haven't mentioned what your catchment school is like - sometimes it may be an idea to have this as your final preference, if schools in your area are all oversubscribed. In my area, parents who omit their catchment school from the form can end up with no school place / being offered a school more than 2 miles away.

cece Sat 04-Aug-12 11:35:08

Performance tables

sancerreity Sat 04-Aug-12 12:10:10

school 2 first , school 4 second would be my choice based on the meagre information you have supplied

AngelEyes46 Tue 07-Aug-12 21:01:53

School 3, then 2, then 1, then 4

teacherwith2kids Tue 07-Aug-12 22:05:17

Which ones do you have a realistic chance of getting into, based on last offered distances / criteria from the last couple of years?

You may find that the answer is 'none of them', in which case you can put them in any order you like, as you won't get into any of them...

(Very few people have 4 schools they have a realistic chance of getting into. I realise that the Catholic aspect may add an extra chance to your list but I would still study the oversubscription criteria very carefully and look at the data as to who actually go in over the last couple of years to make sure)

exoticfruits Tue 07-Aug-12 22:40:35

I wouldn't send to any school where I hadn't seen all the classrooms on a normal school day and gone into them and talked to the DCs. I would want to be shown around by the Head or DCs -the DCs are very good, but I would want to see the Head afterwards to answer my questions.
Firstly-which are the most likely?
School 1 -phone them up and explain that you didn't see it properly so would want a second tour with the Head-if they refuse -cross them off.
School 2-make another appointment to talk to the Head.
School 3 -inclined to go for it at the moment.
School 4-again visit it-never go by performance, reputation or Ofsted except as a very rough guide.

In short-insist on a proper look to your satisfaction and don't get fobbed off! It they won't have it, then it isn't the school to send them to IMO.

RedWhiteAndBlu Tue 07-Aug-12 22:52:42

Visiting is essential, but seeing the school in action is the important thing - we didn't meet the Head - they would never get anything done if they show 100 sets of parents round every term. (though some do group tours). Atmosphere, happy children, focus, good displays of work, lots of projects on the walls, attention to detail, etc.

We have have found that the quality of ours and DS's life has been enhanced hugely by being within easy walking distance of the school and all his friends.

Catholic schools often take children from a wide area because of the admissions code so the locality may not tell you all that much. (If it does, anyway).

If school 3 was your favourite, I would go with that - and tell your DH to visit, too. Can you get into the catholic school without regular mass attendance?

exoticfruits Wed 08-Aug-12 07:39:02

If the Head is too important or too busy to see me personally then I wouldn't choose the school - you will have the same problem when the DC is in the school. I can appreciate that they might show groups but they still need to be available for individual questions. If they are too busy to show you around then I would make a different date to see them.
Schools where pupils show you around are better than the secretary IMO.
The Head makes or breaks a school- you need to see them.

sittinginthesun Wed 08-Aug-12 08:07:52

3, 2, 4, and then 1.

CouthyMow Wed 08-Aug-12 10:31:48

School 2, School 3, then School 1.

School 2 sounds like you and your partner agree on, then School 3 has the best results, then School 1, which you don't sound keen on, but is a good 'back up' choice, as even if you don't get offered the first two, you will be then offered a place on distance to your local school.

School 4 is a no-go, if it is popular and oversubscribed, you stand no chance of getting a place as you are too far away on distance, it would be a wasted choice.

benetint Wed 15-Aug-12 23:39:32

Thanks lots for the advice everyone. Yeah I'm obsessed with admissions criteria and I've studied them all closely. Strangely enough we actually stand the best chance of getting into school 4 as its undersubscribed and dh attends church regularly. We'd stand a good chance with the catholic ones as little ones are baptised (attendance not required) and although they're oversubscribed they do take some non Catholics after all the Catholics have places each year. We have the least chance of getting into school 1 as although it's closest we're not in catchment and it's oversubscribed. So far the most part of it it is about choice.

benetint Wed 15-Aug-12 23:40:42

I looked round school 4 and it too was really lovely. But school 3 g
Has an amazing linked secondary which you're guaranteed entry into if you attend the primary.

CouthyMow Thu 16-Aug-12 00:53:00

In that case, I'd amend that to School 2, School 3, then School 4.

CouthyMow Thu 16-Aug-12 00:55:34

Benetint - that could change long before your DC gets to Secondary Application. Guaranteed entry for the current Y6's, not necessarily for 8 year's time, lots can change.

I really wouldn't pick a Primary school based on future Secondary school.

Elibean Thu 16-Aug-12 09:39:20

3, 2/1 in no particular order smile

Oh - not sure about school 4, you need to go see what its like on the inside I think!

We went to see 4 schools, and chose the one with the biggest social mix (aka 'dodgy' area, by reputation that is) as the Head was lovely, showed us around, teachers lovely, kids excited about their work and clearly very happy and well supported. No regrets at all.

PrideOfChanur Thu 16-Aug-12 10:03:04

3,2,1 - 4 sounds like a good option schoolwise,but I'd think very carefully about the fact that you won't be living in the community the school is part of.

My dc's primary was 10-15 minutes drive away in a nearby village,and that was perfectly doable,it was a lovely school ,it suited them...but the vast majority of the families lived in the village,they were all part of the same community and we weren't.With hindsight I'm not sure the nearer school we weren't so keen on when DD was 3 wouldn't have been the better long term option.

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