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Less than a week to submissions deadline what to I need to ask at the schools ?

(42 Posts)
MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 01:26:11

Less than a week to Primary School submission deadline.

Only found out / realised week before Xmas. So could only ring local schools today / tomorrow for visits, before Friday.

What am I looking for?

What I looking to avoid?

What should I ask?

I know I have to go for my gut instinct & I already have a mental list to ask for,

BUT any pointers ???

I'm not that bothered about stats & results, more a feel for how a school is as a whole.

admission Tue 08-Jan-13 09:45:57

Who shows you around. If it is the head or deputy head then that is good, if it is somebody out of the office, then one questions whether it is priority for the leadership team of the school. If pupils show you around the school then that is a school who has confidence and pride in their pupils and is definitely on my short list.
How many recent works are on the corridor walls and in the classrooms?
Also are you allowed into classrooms or is it a peak around the dooor? When you do go into a classroom are all the pupils active and doing things - not necessarily quiet but engaged in what they doing.

annh Tue 08-Jan-13 11:31:44

Check the admissions policies carefully. At this late stage, there is no point in wasting time on schools at which you realistically have no change of getting a place, no matter how much you like it.

allyfe Tue 08-Jan-13 11:49:38

Hopefully you will get visits arranged at such short notice, but I did just want to say that round here, you would have no chance of actually getting to see the schools because here, they all have massively oversubscribed open mornings and if you miss out on those, you miss out! One other thing, is I would check to see what documents you need to submit with your application. In many areas it is none, but we had to submit a current (last 12 months) council tax bill, a utility bill, the birth certificate (full) and a letter from the child benefit office (within the last 12 months) with the childs name on it. The latter is the problem for most parents because they only send letters generally when you first apply, but if you phone and ask they will send an entitlement letter to you. However, it takes 2 weeks to arrive. Good luck.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 12:24:51

Thanks all.

Best ring the council about the submission then, council tax & utility bills not in our name & no idea about child benefit letter.

There are several primary schools in walking distance, I assumed, probably wrongly I would be eligible to apply to them all . . . . bugger.

annh Tue 08-Jan-13 12:45:37

No, you really need to get off here and on to the websites of all the schools you are interested in! Some of those schools may be faith schools with specific church-attending requirements. If you fit into this category, they will have a supplementary application form which will need to be signed by a priest/minister. It sounds like you also need to urgently think about how you are going to prove where you live (how do you not have any bills in your name?) although again, check the individual schools, because not all will require evidence of your address.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 12:53:22

Agree with annh - being in walking distance doesn't mean you would qualify for a place. Siblings often get priority leaving few spaces for first-born children so catchment areas (last distance offered to a child without a sibling at the school) can be anything from 200m to 2km+ depending on the school size and popularity.

Your application and proof of address evidence (if required) goes to the council but some schools also have an extra form to fill in eg faith schools requiring priest's signature and baptism certificate.

allyfe Tue 08-Jan-13 12:54:15

Just to add, I believe that here we have to submit the application by the deadline but then there is a two week lee-way (if you apply online at least) during which time you can get the supporting documents in. But I agree with Annh - you need to get on the phone and check what you need and by when, and which schools you might get into. Here, you are lucky if it is more than the one on your door step (excluding the very few schools without catchment areas, which sadly, is generally for a good reason!).

dixiechick1975 Tue 08-Jan-13 13:07:51

Agree with above - don't assume anything - check the facts. I'd only see those you have a chance of getting allocated.

I know in our area some faith schools also have an additional form plus the LA application eg I had to submit DD's baptismal certificate.

Do not assume just because your neighbours child goes etc yours will get a place. Admissions rules change, new developments are built etc.

Good luck!

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 13:17:11

I don't want her having a religious based education. The religious schools are low down my list but I have made appointments to visit them. Apart from the catholic school which is opposite my house, which I'm not even considering.

Have rung the council, got voicemail & I've left a message.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 13:23:17

She's not baptised.
I would probably withdraw her from 'Collective Worship' at a non faith school.
So, I'm not going to be jumping through any hoops for the faith schools.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 13:52:29

Sorted.

All the schools in the borough - apart from the catholic ones - have the same criteria. Decision is made by the LA and open days, application dates etc are nothing to do with the decision. Deadline is Sunday so I've as much chance as anyone.

Thanks for panicking me there grin

And a CTC letter will suffice as evidence, which they don't need til after the application.

I know that walking distance doesn't qualify me for a place.

Now I can put my feet up & relax til the school visits wine

annh Tue 08-Jan-13 14:11:22

I don't think anyone was trying to panic you and no-one suggested that open days or application dates had anything to do with the decision on who gets a place. confused You were the person who suggested in your first post that you wanted to do visits. The deadline for applications however has everything to do with whether you get a place or not and that deadline is this weekend so I wouldn't put your feet up for too long or drink too much wine if I were you. Have you worked out which schools you have a realistic chance of getting a place at? Do you know what was the furthest distance offered for the past couple of years for the schools you are looking at?

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 15:00:35

No panic on visiting the schools but the need to apply ASAP is more pressing.
You don't harm your chances by not visiting a school but you do harm your chances if you apply late or if you only apply to schools that you haven't checked the last distance offered for (i.e. schools that are local but not quite local enough to qualify for a place).

The 'decision' isn't made by the LA because there isn't a decision to make as such. And there aren't equal chances either. It is very rare for 2 people to equally qualify for the same school unless they live in the same house.
It isn't names out of a hat or a lottery and the council don't choose where to send people it is all based on which schools you list and how far up their list of priorities you happen to fall.

Each school has admission criteria eg: looked after children followed by siblings followed by distance with higher priority the nearer you live.
They offer places to those who apply to them starting with the top categories first.

If you are in the bottom category (not in care, not a sibling, just a local parent) then there is no 'decision' about whether you get in or not. It is a numbers game. If they have enough places left after all the siblings have been given a place to admit people from 1km away then they will. But if they only have enough places left over to give children living less than 200m away a place, anyone living 201m or more is automatically rejected.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 15:50:44

annh telling me to get off here & go & read the websites . . . . and 'Urgently' . . . . . No you weren't trying to panic me at all.

I never asked for help with admissions, I asked for pointers on what what to look out for when visiting the schools. Which I am doing, before the deadline so it's grand & I'll drink as much wine as I want and easily make the deadline, thanks for your concern.

admission thanks, that was helpful and each school has stated it will be with the head. The nearest school also wants me to DD along, and suggested I take her to the other schools too.

jennybeadle Tue 08-Jan-13 16:01:37

In all honesty, unless that school (the one who said bring your DC) has a shocking history, it would be the one for me.

When I visited the DDs school prior to admission, I took along the DDs because I had no alternative. I am so glad I did. Seeing how the head teacher was with the children (mine and the ones she met as we went round). She was astonishing - had made the effort to learn DDs names, and knew every child she met (3 form entry, no mean feat!).

Any school that actively wants to have your child's input should be valued. And don't ever underestimate the value of it also being near by!

Get the forms in on time though, please!!!

AmandaPayne Tue 08-Jan-13 16:29:49

Try and find out whether your LA releases data on effective catchment areas. Some do, some don't. That's the disatance that the furthest child admitted on geography (not the sibling rule or other priority reasons) lived last year, and sometimes previous years. Some people have also made freedom of information requests to authorities, so it is worth googling too in case they have been posted on one of the relevant websites (like whatdotheyknow, which has some near me).

If you have that data, it will help you avoid wasting one of your choices (normally four or six , depending on authority) on a school you are unlikely to get into.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 16:31:03

That's what I thought too - about wanting to bring DD along.
It is a faith school but she said all the right things about other religions without me prompting & there are other faith children there which is a big plus for me.

None of the other schools have mentioned bringing her, but I will take her now.

No need to worry about the forms / deadline, nice person at the council will do it over the phone with me on Friday after I've had my visits and made my mind up.

All the schools were in the top ten league table in the borough, so none are shocking smile

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 16:40:58

Last year was the first year they used distances.

I live

0.023 Miles from catholic school - some people would love this address for that school

0.112 from the faith school that wants me to bring DD along

0.316 from another faith school

0.432 from the non faith school

0.685 another non faith school

1.11 another non faith school

All accepted everyone last year apart from the nearest non faith school, which was 0.855, so twice the distance we are away.

Admissions person doesn't think there is a problem with demand exceeding supply this year, but that doesn't mean everyone will get their first choice.

tiggytape Tue 08-Jan-13 18:47:58

It sounds like you live in a education Utopia Mrs Dimples grin.
The advice you've been given here is based on the fact that most people only have a maximum of 2 schools that they would qualify for.
As such, there isn't too much angst about numerous visits and selecting the right one because virtually nobody has 6 schools with a realistic chance of getting a place.
Some people only have 1 school that they qualify in which case the only choice to be made is accept it or move.

I am not doubting what you were told today but please double check the council are going to do the application for you over the phone. I have never heard of any council that does that. I am not saying it might not happen but every other area is either online or on paper and requires the parents to verify the information before it is submitted.

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 19:13:17

I have no idea about the phone thingy - I know nothing really seeing as I never got sent any school submission information - maybe they do it for everyone, or making an exception for me as they haven't sent me the info confused

The only 'information' she said they required was something formal with the address on like the CTC letter, which she said to post after the application.

There is quite a lot of green space in the area's around the schools too, it isn't packed with residential development.

My first choice is actually to home school, but financially not that great and DH would prefer school, but if DD doesn't get into a school we like, she won't be going. That's why I'm keen to know what people looked for in schools, so I don't overlook anything important smile

AmandaPayne Tue 08-Jan-13 20:32:55

Please be really careful. I have never experienced an area that will accept a phone application, but I've experienced lots of councils giving out incorrect information on things over the phone. My own (new) area insists that the rules of rubbish collection are totally different from the ones that actually apply according to the bin men and the neighbours. That's a mundane and trivial example, but this time it could really matter if a temp gave you duff info or whatever. Please do double check by calling back that they will let you do this, and take the name and job title of the person who tells you.

Out of interest, if last year was the first one based on geography, what happened before that?

MrsDimples Tue 08-Jan-13 20:38:17

I will check, I have their name and can still do online application after Friday.

I definitely get the bin collection analogy grin

Before last year, they just used 'reasonable walking distance'.

AmandaPayne Tue 08-Jan-13 21:27:53

grin

MrsBradleyJames Tue 08-Jan-13 21:53:18

Wow......interesting to hear how it is in other areas...we are in a small town in the south, only one school in the town! All schools in nearby towns are oversubscribed, so the result is no choiceat all. Cant imagine actually having a choice! As it happens our school is a good one, which helps! Good luck with schools MrsD. Hope all goes well. Exciting times!

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