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Foreign family moving to Bristol in August - applying to primary school

(8 Posts)
Caezar Sun 14-Apr-13 13:16:29


We are a family of four (two children aged 5.5 and 1.5), relocating from Hong Kong to Bristol in August. I will pursue graduate studies at the University of Bristol and my spouse will take care of our younger daughter. We are not British and we will not have an address prior to arriving in Bristol in August.

We now need to apply to primary school for our elder daughter (born in August 2007).

I called the Bristol government offices who explained that we have to wait until late June to apply, as the registration period ended in mid January. If we do not get one of our top three choices, which I assume if the most likely scenario, our daughter will be assigned a school with available space.

I am a bit worried about not being able to choose the area where my daughter will go to school, as it seems some neighbourhoods of Bristol are a bit rough (Saint Paul's etc).

I also checked independent schools, such as Gracefield, but the fees are expensive.

What strategy would you advise me to be able to find a decent school for my daughter?
What considerations should we take into account in searching a school place?
Neither my wife nor I go to Church. Does it preclude us from applying to CoE of Catholic schools?
Is there information available online about schools with available places for September 2013?
Which areas of Bristol to target (I was thinking Westbury-on-Trym)?
Should we also apply for schools in Bath, which apparently has very good state schools (I would in this case commute to the university by bike or train)?

I thank you in advance for your advice.


SavoyCabbage Sun 14-Apr-13 13:29:59

Hello, we are in a similar situation. We are moving back to the uk from overseas. Some areas have lots of places in their schools and getting a place is not a problem. Some areas are oversubscribed.

My dd was born Oct 2006 but will be in the same school year as your dd, so year one if they started now, year two after September. I have found this has made it easier to get a place as often someone has left.

You can't apply for a place until you are actually there but you can look at schools on the Internet and find out if they have a place. Some LEA's put the places available on their websites but in some areas you have to phone the school. If she is not starting in September it's called an "in year admission".

I would ask in the local mumsnet area for Bristol for advice on areas.

Caezar Sun 14-Apr-13 14:10:06

Thanks a lot for your reply. I will also seek the advice from local parents on the Bristol forum.

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 14:22:51

You cannot apply until you have a UK address, but when you do the LEA must process the application straight away and offer you a place within a reasonable time. You are right that it may well not be in any of the schools you ask for, but simply where there is a place.

Even if you hate this school, you are best off accepting the place and having DC attend whilst you look for something you prefer. Is is because once one place is offered, the LEA has fulfilled its duty and does not need to come up with another. But you still have to fulfil the legal requirement for DC to receive an education, which will mean HE or private.

You can however appeal against refusal of places at the schools of your choice, and go on the waiting lists for any school. You will be assessed for place on waiting list by how well you fit the criteria for entrance, not when you applied. So if you move right next door to the school of your dreams, you'll be at or near the top of the list and will just have to cross your fingers and hope for movement.

At appeal, you have to show how the school you are appealing for is uniquely suitable for your DC, not how the allocated one is terrible. Which school year will DC be joining? If up to or including year 2, then the chances of winning an appeal are slight (because numbers are regulated by law), but it might be worth a shot.

crazymum53 Sun 14-Apr-13 15:08:57

The January deadline only applies if your daughter will be starting school (reception) in September. Your dd will be 6 this August so will be starting in Y2 in September. The form that you need to fill in will be the in-Year application form and can be filled in as soon as you have a UK address.
There is some movement in places in schools close to the university, as the population in this area is quite mobile, so there may be school places coming available in this year group close to the university.

Runoutofideas Sun 14-Apr-13 19:02:09

Just wanted to let you know that schools in Westbury on Trym are highly oversubscribed. I know someone who lived pretty much next door to our local school and put in a late application for their child. It took two years before they were able to get a space.... You may be better off looking at Clifton/Redland area schools as the population tend to move around a bit more so spaces may come up more regularly.

St Ursula's may be worth a look as it is a new school and I am not sure if it is full in that year group (or actually even if they have a current year 1..) Make sure you make it clear that you are looking for a year 2 space in September otherwise the council may assume you are talking about reception places. I'm not sure how much schooling your child has already had but they will be joining a class who have spent 2 full years at school. Aug 2007 birth would make them the youngest in the year (my dd2 is exactly the same age).

SmeeHee Sun 14-Apr-13 19:13:48

Are you set on living in Bristol? There are lots of areas just outside Bristol's boundaries that have good primary schools that aren't over-subscribed. I live in a small town to the north of Bristol in South Gloucestershire and was spoilt for choice when it came to good primary schools. The commute into Bristol isn't too bad either.

tiggytape Sun 14-Apr-13 22:54:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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