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Questions on primary schools....

(9 Posts)
mumtosp Sun 14-Apr-13 15:19:02

Hi all,

We are currently in search of a new home and looking at a coouple of areas with good schools - DS is only 6 mo but I would rather not move again when he's 5. But the whole thing is doing my head in sad
I have to confess I wasn't educated in this country so that may explain why I find it all soooo confussing....
I hope hoping one of you can help me with these questions....

1) Is it correct to say that private schools don't have a long list of criteria when it comes to admissions? - i.e. they don't care where I live (catchment area) or what my religion is as long as I can pay the fees??

2) For state schools, if the school is CoE or Catholic, do I need to belong to these faiths to get my DS in ? Or is only based on catchment areas?

3) And the catchment areas !! How do I know where it ends ?? I've look on the school websites and I cannot find anything specific. And who's to say that even if I buy a house within a catchment area, it will not change in the next 4 years !?!?

4) Finally, if you had to choose between Sutton and Bromley - where would you choose for good primary schools??

Thanks for being patient with my silly questions blush

Cheers... smile

mumtosp Sun 14-Apr-13 15:20:25

*couple
and just hope... not hope hoping smile

MoaningYoniWhingesAgain Sun 14-Apr-13 15:27:22

I can only answer parts - catchment areas do not exist everywhere, and yes they can and do vary from one year to another.

Faith schools - their admission criteria vary too. Some do not require faith, some will give priority to regular attendance at church (sometimes a specific church) and baptism.

You can look at the admissions criteria for most schools on their websites. But they may have changed by the time you are applying for a place for your DS, and a school that is great now could be rubbish in 4 years, and vice versa.

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 14-Apr-13 15:31:27

1. Private schools do not care where you live but some - not all - are selective so children have to have an asesment before entry.

2. Faith schools usually have church attendance as one of their criteria however if they don't fill all their places others may get in.

3. Most schools don't have defined catchment areas (though some do) if a school has 30 places the 30 children who live closest to the school will get in (though siblings usually get priority)

AMumInScotland Sun 14-Apr-13 15:32:47

I think the answer to all of those is "It depends", which probably doesn't make understanding it any easier!

1 - Private schools - these vary hugely. Some are oversubscribed, and will test children to decide who gets a place. Some may also give precedence to children of former pupils. You have to get the details from the school itself about how they work. Others are never full and you just have to pay them the money. But, like many other things in life, if they are not that busy you have to ask yourself why that is, and whether they are worth the cost. They won't have catchment areas, and most aren't interested in your religion, unless they have something in their history/ethos which makes them think that is relevant.

2 - Again it depends on the school. CofE schools come in different categories, some of which are more closely attached to the church than others. Baptism of your child in the right denomination and regular church attendance will affect some more than others. The school secretary should be able to give you the details

3 - It's more about distance from the school than catchment areas, and that will depend on how many more applications than spaces they have from year to year

4 - no idea grin

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 15:41:54

1) not exactly - some may be selective (assessments day even at an early age), but they don't care where you live.

2) no, but... If it is a VC (voluntary controlled) school all places will be allocated using the LEA criteria. If it is a VA (voluntary aided) school, then like free schools and academies it is its own admissions authority and can apply any (legal) criteria, which can mean placing members of a specific faith (with proof of good standing such as baptism and/or attendance) into a higher admissions category than others. It may also put residence in a particular parish as a priority catchment area. If the school is oversubscribed, even though you theoretically fit one of lower entrance criteria (different faith, no faith) e chances of getting a place are virtually nil. But do check the criteria, some schools (more likely CofE) have a proportion of places even at VA schools on community criteria, and they are worth a chance if you live close and like the school.

3) Not all LEAs/schools have catchments (ie formally defined priority admissions areas). Those that do should publish exact maps alongside other admissions information (try school website or email to enquire). The actual admissions footprint (ie the furthest distant addresses from which pupils were offered places) changes from year to year, but again should be on the website or readily available to enquirers. These aren't much use if you're looking more than a year or so ahead, as they can vary dramatically (new housing, bulge class sibling legacy etc).

4) No idea!

But here's an answer to one you didn't ask: 5) admissions criteria can change. There has to be a consultation period in the year before the changes come into effect, but catchments can be introduced, changed or abolished; other (legal) changes (eg to sibling rules, handling of exceptional cases etc) can be made. And of course new schools can open, others be closed, merged or taken over and the reputations of individual schools can change hugely eg with a new head or if local demographics change.

That's not said to sound daunting, rather to make sure you realise that whatever research you do now isn't going to be the be-all and end-all; you can give it your best shot by looking for an area where there are a few decent schools in striking distance, but don't tie yourself up in knots looking for one ideal now.

mumtosp Sun 14-Apr-13 17:06:33

Thanks for all your responses. I think I need to look start looking at school websites for criteria before I finalise on a house...
Where I come from you just pick the school you want to go to - they may or may not have a test and they surely don't care what religion you come from or if you live 100 miles away !! But I ain't moving back to India after so many years smile

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 23:16:46

1. Private schools do not care where you live. For some you need to pass selection tests and interviews though.

2. It varies hugely. Some faith schools take all who apply (if they are generally undersubscribed). Some actively reserve places for people of no faith or other faiths. Some ask for baptism and / or church attendance and / or living in a certain parish and / or attending a certain church.
There are so many variations with this that it isn't even the same for all faith schools in one town - you'd need to check fo reach school.

3. Most schools have a list of how they will hand out places if more people apply than they have room for. Normally it goes children in care or adopted out of care, followed by medical reasons followed by children with siblings at the school and then distance as the last category.
If you are relying on the distance category, it can change every year depending on how many siblings and children in the higher categories apply. it also depends on the birth rate - of it is a high birth rate year and loads of peopel apply who live closer than you, you are less likely to get in

4. I don't know but I would look for big primaries (living near ones with an intake of only 30 children per year is just too risky in terms of being able to get a local place). If I wasn't likely to meet any faith criteria, I would try not to make my most local school a faith school.

prayingmantisgroupie Mon 15-Apr-13 23:24:40

Just to say, I don't know about Bromley, but Sutton has had a real problem with a shortage of primary school places over the last few years. We've moved, so are now under Reigate and Banstead, which isn't as bad, but a friend a mine from Sutton didn't get offered a place for her DS at any school at all last year! She had to wait until the last minute to be offered a place at a school several miles away, which wasn't one of her original choices.

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