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London mums. Are you stressed about getting into schools?

(25 Posts)
cheapandchic Thu 15-Nov-12 13:34:36

I cant help but be stressed out. I am only applying for nursery but already discouraged. We attend church and I was hoping for a religious school. But recently a mother from our church said they didnt get into the school. 130 applications for 30 places!

My two back up of them told me already that I would not get in unless I started going to THEIR church, at least fortnightly and another parent told me my second back up school was also impossible to get into and that I am not close enough in distance. I am too far from any of the good schools in my area. The only school I have a chance getting into is the worst in the council, and I have had at least 3 parents tell me they took their kids out. Is any one else stressed? What can I do?
What did you do if you didnt get anywhere of your choice?

merrymonsters Thu 15-Nov-12 13:55:54

When you say 130 applications for 30 places, the situation isn't as bad as it sounds. These aren't first choice applications. Anyone who puts a school down on the form gets considered for a place there no matter where they put it on their list of preferences. For example, when we've applied for schools my third choice school is a good school, but we live too far away from it to have any chance of a place, but we'd still be counted as applying for that school.

Does your church grade their churchgoers by how involved they are? I guess you could get more involved - help at Sunday school, become a warden etc - so that you'll be in their top grade. Some people start attending church a month before the forms are due in. They're not going to get much of a reference from the vicar.

afussyphase Thu 15-Nov-12 14:59:23

You can call the council and ask about the distances at least for the non-church state schools; this can be much more reliable than parents' word of mouth for how hard a school is to get into. Word of mouth or calling the school might help you figure out how many siblings there are likely to be. Actually 130 is "good" - with everyone putting 6 schools down, there are 6 times as many 'applications' as there are places needed. 30 x 6 = 180. But that's not really the point because it doesn't help you predict what you'll get. Also, how are the waiting lists for the two schools you're not close enough to?There's a lot of movement so you might get in to one of those relatively soon after starting...
We got the 4th school on our list, it isn't that popular among the local parents (but we didn't know any local parents at the time!). It's rated "good" with various typically London comments about challenging circumstances etc etc. We're on the waiting list for 2 other schools that are quite popular. But actually so far, we couldn't be happier with the school! DD loves going there, is happy and stimulated, making good friends, seems to be learning things, and my sense is that it's better (better resourced, more thoughtful about social things, ..?) than some 'outstanding' schools some of her friends have gone to. I think those other parents who look down on our school have, at best, second-hand information from previous years.... So take them with a grain of salt.

cheapandchic Thu 15-Nov-12 17:21:05

I have asked about the distances. They are all too far.

my church seems to go by how long you have been attending, not what you do. but there are still so many people going from birth and when you consider siblings...the intake is really rather small.

it just so frustrating to know that you have no choice but a bad school. I just wish there was something more I could do.

ellie732 Fri 16-Nov-12 21:11:32

I am unbelievably stressed out about schools! My poor old dd is getting rejected at all the private school assessments ( no idea why), so Im thinking she's going to be going to the school down the road, which is completely new, so no ofsted yet or anything. What I am wondering is what happens if you decide to move when they are say 6 or 7? Is it then hard to get a place at a good schooling your new area?

cheapandchic Mon 19-Nov-12 14:23:59

I have no idea what happens when you move in London. We most definitely will (my husband like doing up house then selling)...

what if there are no places? the whole system is confusing to me.

EarnestDullard Mon 19-Nov-12 14:32:49

Yes, it's a worry and the whole system is new to me as I grew up in Scotland but moved t'd love to get into but she probably won't as the waiting list is so long, and one that is ok but close enough to our house that she'll probably get in. Even the further away one is only 0.6 miles from us, but apparently that's not close enough!

blisterpack Mon 19-Nov-12 14:33:52

Yes ellie, if it is the same as Herts you get the closest school (or any school) with a place available while being on the waiting list for your preferred school. List is not on first come first served basis but will follow the normal admission arrangements.

fedupwithdeployment Mon 19-Nov-12 14:36:41

We moved just before DS1 finished Year 1 (summer half term). I think my name was mud at Lambeth Council. We followed the rules, and there was no space....they offered a crap school somewhere about 5 miles away. I rang everyone and emailed more....I was a thorn in their side. Eventually the Head of Education (I think) rang me and said, "You're the woman who has emailed everyone....we need to sort this out." Dave Cameron who didn't reply and the minion in Mr Gove's office and Chukka Ummana...may collectively have assisted me. After a month out of school, he finally got into the school 2 mins walk from us. there had been a space for over 5 months. angry

swlmum Mon 19-Nov-12 16:45:56

OP- where in London are you? Sounds like where we are. If it is happy to PM about particular schools..

tethersend Mon 19-Nov-12 17:01:50

Which borough are you in, cheapandchic?

It's a situation common to so many parts of London, mine included (am in Tower Hamlets).

By the time you apply, there may be bulge classes added to existing schools or even new schools opened...

tethersend Mon 19-Nov-12 17:03:13

fedup, I dealt with Lambeth admissions as part of my job- I assure you, it's my name at the top of their shitlist grin

fedupwithdeployment Mon 19-Nov-12 17:13:05

Tethersend - I feel I am in good company!

By the way, Lambeth have just invited my DS to their "Haven't you done well in your SATs" thing on the South Bank....good thing they let him in. hmm

RaisinBoys Mon 19-Nov-12 18:07:13

Wait till you get to secondary transfer stage!

Dededum Mon 19-Nov-12 18:11:56

When we were in South Ken we got rejected from the nursery 0.2 miles from our flat and everyone went to private nurseries as far as I could see. I gave up at that point and left London.

CruCru Tue 20-Nov-12 19:34:06

Yes. I am obsessed. We live around the corner from a good state primary but it seems to have a catchment of centimetres. We have applied to about twelve private schools as well (did this when DS was a couple of months old).

cheapandchic Sun 25-Nov-12 17:45:27

The fact is...I cannot afford private. I wish I could as another option.

But I really dont even see the point of listing 6 schools when I cannot get into a single one because their catchments are all less than 0.2 miles. I am 0.5 from every single school that is decent!

I dont want to say my area of London (I have a thing about being very anonymous online)
But I will say, I was told this area has great state schools, which it does....but only if you pay a fortune for a house on top of the school.

IfYouSeeMeSayHello Sat 01-Dec-12 22:47:27

Sounds like where we live. It is all a real worry. Nearest school to our house as the crow flies is not somewhere I would be happy with in any way. We could manage private but I am hopeful we will get into local faith school. We do attend church weekly. I hope it is enough.

tiggytape Sat 01-Dec-12 23:03:12

It is a real worry and distances for schools can be tiny in London. You may be perfectly happy to travel 1.2km for a decent school but often that is no use since so many schools don't accept pupils living further than 400m or 800m or 1km. It is very hard.

I would say though - do the research yourself from scratch. Don't believe the gossip or feedback from other parents 100%
On admissions, there are many mixed messages about what qualifies you for a school. Make sure you look on the school websites and find out for yourself whether church attendance is judged on length of attendance or frequency or whether they name a church or not.

Also don't be put off of schools by other people telling you they took their son out 5 years ago. Maybe the school was awful then and has now improved (it happens quickly). Maybe their son had additional needs that won't apply to you that the school dealt with badly (some schools are awful for certain groups of children whether that be very gifted children or those with dyslexia or allergies or whatever). If your child isn't in that group, your experience of the school maybe quite different. Maybe the parent's idea of a good school isn't the same as yours. If they favour traditional and discipline, they may hate a school that doesn't operate this way but you may not.

There is no point listing 6 schools that you have zero chance of a place at (once you have researched the admission criteria for yourself) so always list a school that you do qualify for even as last choice else you will get a council allocated school that could be miles away.

cheapandchic Mon 03-Dec-12 19:07:14

but if I only list the schools I can get into...then there is only one! The worst one in the borough.

tricot39 Mon 03-Dec-12 20:25:21

i sympathise as we will be in a similar secondary situation in a few years. from what i can tell, other parents either find religion or a rental property at the school gate! school choice is a myth that i am feeling a bit sick about. good luck.

Silver15 Mon 03-Dec-12 20:47:56

I understand what you are going through. I did not attend the local churches as I'm Pentecostal Christian and travel far to attend church. I felt uncomfortable attending a church for the sake of a school place and was not ready either to baptise my DCs just for the sake. I therefore applied for a good school in the neighbouring borough with easy commute and not far from transport ie tube and bus. Infact all schools on my list were in the neighbouring borough. I managed to get my first choice for DC2.

DC1 is in year 3 and was in a private school. I applied for him in a state school but got none of my choices but rather offered a recently judged good school but was very far. I accepted the offer but also requested for appeal forms. At the mention of an appeal the lady dealing with me spoke to someone else in the background querying why I hadn't been offered one of my choices as class numbers don't apply in yr 3 and above. Next day I got an offer in an outstanding school and this is DS1's second week and he is already flourishing.

Sorry for my long post but wanted to show you that there are other options out there that you can use.

By the way using the threat of an appeal was advised by a friend whose DS was attending with mine in the private school. He had been on the wait list for a year and half until he applied for an appeal. Got a school place at preferred school not long after way before the set appeal hearing.

Pyrrah Mon 03-Dec-12 23:09:52

I was until I went round a load and started reading up on MN as to how to work the system.

The school I want DD to go to is not one we will get a place at. However it has a high level of mobility so I am reasonably happy that we will eventually get a place, although not before term starts I imagine.

On the upside, we have no private schools in the area, we are far too heathen and the wrong brand of atheists to get DD into the RC or CofE schools and out of catchment for all but one school. So the choice was pretty simple - go for THE option or find one we really like, get on the waiting list and potentially buy two sets of uniform in one year.

StiffyByng Tue 04-Dec-12 16:49:05

My daughter is only one and I worry about this already. We are not in the catchment of any of our six closest schools based on distance of admission last year. There is a massive shortage of places. All the local schools are using bulge classes but that results in 2/3 years of sibling-only admissions afterwards. I've just heard that our closest and by far my favourite school will bulge in 2013 so 2015 (our year) will be a write-off. Two of the closest schools are heavily Catholic, which I would loathe, but unlikely to take her anyway on faith grounds. I'm not even being picky otherwise. I'm not fussed about Ofsted if the school feels happy and supportive, and there are plenty of examples round here of schools that were under-subscribed and failing becoming thriving because children of determined parents got sent there. But we are seriously far from any under-subscribed school, two of our closest schools are out-of-borough as we're at the very tip of a borough, and I'm dreading being sent off to a school miles away with a disparate parental community. The LA of course can't set up a new school to meet demand so we're at the mercy of some unappealing-sounding free school ideas. At least they might free up spaces.

tiggytape Tue 04-Dec-12 17:42:26

but if I only list the schools I can get into...then there is only one! The worst one in the borough.

You should definitely list schools that you like at the top of your form but at least 1 school on your list should be one you will have a good chance of getting a place at even if you don't like it.

If you only list schools that are far away or pie-in-the-sky options, you won't get allocated any school at all and instead will be sent to a school that has spare places after everyone else has been dealt with (i.e. an unpopular school so probably a poor one).

The options if you only qualify for 1 school and it is a poor one, is that you list it near the bottome but still get allocated it (if you qualify for no higher listed one) or that you don't list it and end up being sent to a poor school miles away instead of the poor school on your doorstep. Most people would rather have a shorter journey and a not-great school than a long journey and an even worse school out of borough.

Obviously the hope is that one of the schools you prefer will be able to take you afterall even if it is from the waiting list, but if you really only qualify for 1 school and it is a poor one, not listing it on your form won't help you get into a better school.
Listing a school only says you want a place there but, if you don't qualify you cannot get an offer. The council are not obliged to offer you a school from your list if you don't qualify for them - there is no rule that says you must get one you listed.

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