is there any way you can make sure you are in the catchment area of a school?(18 Posts)
my boy is only 10 weeks old and we are looking to move house. This will be our house for quite some time and the house we visualise our child and future children growing up in. I would love to move to a certain area and so one important factor is getting into a 'good' school. Is there any way you can find out what the catchment area is around a school to ensure we are in it. It may be that we cannot afford to move to the area I like and would need to move to the area next to it, but I am wondering if we could still be in the school's catchment area.
The catchment area may well change from year to year for a very popular school. If a school is oversubscribed then it is usually distance from school. I guess the only way then to absolutely guarantee a place is to move next door to the school and even then if there are 30 places but 30 looked after children or siblings of existing pupils there is no guarantee.
The council usually publish a table detailing how many places a school has, how many applied and what the furthest distance from the school was.
Also you need to check any other admissions criteria the school may have.
In Scotland, catchments only change very slightly, and everyone gets a place at catchment school. Come north! It's great!
Whether you mean formal catchment (a line drawn on a map showing what is the priority admissions area) or admissions footprint (no formal catchment, just a mapping of distance from school of children admitted each year); these can both change by the time your DS is school age.
Formal catchments can be re-drawn, and it is possible that a school might not be able to accommodate all those within catchment anyhow. Admissions footprint change year on year, and can shrink alarmingly near improving schools. Unless you are moving more or less next door to the school, you are unlikely to achieve any certainty.
Perhaps in your situation, it might be better to look for somewhere where there are two or three good schools within easy reach (overlapping footprints?) so you don't feel you are gambling all on one school.
Our council have a facility on their website which you can enter a postcode into and it will tell you what your catchment primary and secondary are. Perhaps you should ring your council to check if they have something similar?
Bear in mind that schools only use the admission criteria once they're fully subscribed. However, I fully understand not wanting to risk not getting into the desired school. I need to remind myself if this because we're currently 'stuck' in a house that is MUCH to small for us because it's in the right area/catchment area for DD1. Not many properties come up; when they do, they're bigger and so more expensive than what we need. I'm waffling, but you get my point, I hope!
I am currently being driven slowly insane by living in such a small space I regularly trip over the clothes horse, trip over overflowing toys and catch my clothing on door handles - all to stay in a house where our DD should get a place in the school we want. I had to say this, sorry
This is what happened when we moved, but I don't claim to be an expert so it might not all be right, or it may onbly apply to where we are:
Fisrt we were told there were not "catchment areas" but "priority admission zones". I think what that means is that the old catchement areas meant if you were in the catchment area you had to go to that school.
Now you can supposedly choose whatever school you want, but if a school is over subscribed, it will give priority to people in the "priority admission zone", first those with siblings already in the school, then those without. So it can work out that you live in the priority admission zone but you still don't get in because there were a lot of children that year who already had siblings in the school. Or you can live outside it and still get in because there were still spaces after all those in the zone (and all those outside the zone with siblings already in school, they get next shot in our area) were given places. Also the zones can change as new schools open,new estates are built etc.
In our area it seems the schools and council make it quite difficult to tell you what the zones are, especially if you are asking because you are moving, and emphasise that you might not get a place even if you are in the zone. But we did eventually manage to get the council to tell us over the phone what the zone was for the school we wanted (double check though because the first time we asked they told us wrong). Also the schools themselves have maps of the zones so you can ask a particular school office as well.
With a child who is 10 weeks old - probably not.
As others have said, catchment areas in England change all the time. Even the ones that are set on a map can be rewritten and the ones that are based on giving places to those living closest vary every single year depending on how many apply and where they live.
You could move nextdoor to a fantastic school (assuming it isn't a faith school that doesn't care about distance and just cares about meeting faith criteria) but which would you choose Primary or Secondary? There are some areas where you would be in catchment for a wonderful primary but have no decent state options for High School and there are places where the state primaries are only O.K but people stay there because the secondary school nearby is fantastic. I cannot think of many places where you could live next to a wonderful primary and still have a brilliant secondary within a few hundred metres as well.
And of course schools change. A school that is wonderful now could get a new Head next year and be awful within two years. And of course the reverse is also true. I think your best bet would be to look at areas where most of the schools are considered good so that when the time comes you have more choice and more chance that any school you're allocated will be a good one.
I sent my dd to an 'outstanding' school and then the head left, closely followed by two teachers and the whole school had gone down the toilet in half a term.
All you can do is do the research now and gamble that there is not a dramatic change by the time your DC is at the school application stage. Being as close to the school as possible works well in many cases but if it is a good school this often has to be really close if you are in London or an urban area (so 200m or less as the crow flies for example). If your locality has 'priority zones' then you need to find out the boundaries as they might only include the area on one side of the school for example. And, of course as others say, you need to check what the other criteria are.
Unless you are very lucky you could find it hard to move to an area where there are overlapping admissions areas for more than one very good school. If they exist in your area they could attract a disproportionate number of people moving in to hedge their bets with a choice of two schools, resulting in the catchments shrinking dramatically by the time your DC is school age. You don't want end up somewhere in the middle between the two catchments and outside of both!
I don''t think you can second-guess how things are going to be that far in advance. We bought this house and, while it should be securely in the area for the better secondary round here - since we did there have been constant housing developments planned, fought off, reapplied for (it's pretty inevitable we're going to get at least one sizeable development) that all will have the potential to shift the population slightly away from us and could well end up with things being a much less sure thing regarding if we get a place when the time comes... add in other factors and things are looking much bleaker than they were even 5-6 months ago!
smugly settled down to raise a family secure in the knowledge that we were 300 m from an excellent primary and certain of a place at an outstanding secondary.
Several years down the line, the primary has been through three head teachers, and none of the children are at the outstanding secondary (one is at an SEN unit, which we certainly didn't see coming; one was bullied into misery and changed schools; the other is
wearing out another head still at the primary.
Things don't always pan out how you expect!
Need to add that not all LEAs have catchment areas as such. Often the criteria is distance from school to home and for some popular schools this can be very small (less than 500m).
You do need to carry out your own research - don't rely on estate agents telling you that "this house is in catchment area for ......... school" as they may not be correct.
You could try posting on your local board to find out more about the catchment policy in your LEA.
thanks everyone. Yes, I guess I just cannot guarentee anything that far in advance and just need to try and move within a good distance of 'good schools' One house is 0.3 miles from a satisfactory school and 0.4 miles from a 'good' school. I would think the 0.4 miles would be enough to get us into the 'good' school but like you said things change and it depends on the intake in that year.
Just to let you know 0.4 miles was not close enough for someone I know to get into the first choice school.
Check your local auhority's website for equivalent info to this table which gives the max distances for the past 3 years.
And don't forget that in a few years time the "Satisfactory" school may improve and become "Good" or vice versa.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.