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Primary schools admissions 2014

(16 Posts)
Stevie77 Tue 16-Apr-13 10:42:24

Yes, I am jumping the gun a bit probably!

DD (PFB) is due to start reception in Sept 2014, currently in a private nursery. I want to start looking at schools very soon, to be prepared for the opening of admissions in August. So, I have a number of questions which I hope you'll be able to answer:

1. Except for OFSTED reports and visiting schools, are there other sources of information? I only know parents at one school, our nearest (we're within catchment and close by).

2. Is visiting Schools an acceptable thing to do? Ideally I'd like to arrange those before the end of this year.

3. When visiting, what questions do we need at ask / things to look out for? What's important?

4. How likely is it to got into a church school if we do not attend church? In our area, there are a couple of good state school and a couple of dodgy ones. On top of that there are LOADS of church schools, most are good. Not wanting to end up in the dodgy state schools, what will happen if I put the church schools on the application form? (I know some require a separate application process but I think you still name them?)

5. Dumb question - does it matter when in the admissions process you apply? I.e.

Stevie77 Tue 16-Apr-13 10:43:40

Whoops, sausage fingers!

5. Cont... i.e. the earlier the better?

I think that's it for now!

Thanks in advance

takeaway2 Tue 16-Apr-13 10:48:37

I think it depends on which area you live in as different LEAs have different rules re church/no church etc.

1. don't know about other sources of information
2. yes, visiting schools are. they usually will put up a schedule of visits probably around november/december so you can go around. depending on how big your school is, they might hold open days etc.
3. it depends on what's important to you isn't it? You can observe. I think observation is perhaps more important than asking questions. See how the kids relate to the headteacher/teachers, see whether kids look generally happy, bored, disruptive. Have a taste of the school dinner...
4. You need to be baptised, and I think if there are lots of church schools in the area which are good, then you will need the separate application - this application form wil lneed to be signed by your parish vicar/priest so if you don't go to church now, you better start!
5. earlier does not equal better - not sure what you mean. if you mean that you'll get ahead of the queue, then no, it doesn't make a difference at all. It's mostly computerised anyway, your LEA will have links that will open typically in dec till january 2014, and you need to fill in your choices etc there.

unebagpipe Tue 16-Apr-13 10:50:48

I too have a child starting scho in 2014. Think visiting is acceptable and many of our local schools are running open days in September. I rang round the ones I was interested in to check this.

I think it makes no difference as to when you apply as long as you are within the timescales.

Round here there is no chance of us getting into the religious schools as they are oversubscribed by the religious folks kids as it is- but our local authority publishes the achieved results- incl. distances of applicants and number of children in each category, I.e looked after children, siblings, non-religious places etc.

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 10:54:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SunflowersSmile Tue 16-Apr-13 12:24:19

Hi op,
make sure you visit close schools that some parents think dodgy. 'Reputation' is often unreliable- I know!
My children attend a primary that some around here are most snooty about but it is a great school. Children of all abilities and backgrounds supported well. Blunt instrument reporting of SATs gives misleading result as background info needed.
Keep your options open is what I am saying and use your OWN judgement on the basis of visits/ chats to Head etc.

Periwinkle007 Tue 16-Apr-13 12:44:41

I wouldn't expect you are likely to be able to look round before the end of this academic year - most schools arrange visits in Oct/Nov I think and they do encourage it. Some do it individually, some do it in sessions.

Church schools round us are very strict. they have different admission criteria which give priority to regular church attendees. You can apply for them without having a Vicar/Priest form completed but as they are heavily oversubscribed I don't think anyone has got into either the Catholic or CofE one without a form for many years here.

doesn't matter when you apply so long as it is before the January deadline. If applying for Church schools though the earlier you apply the earlier you can deal with any supplementary paperwork that may then need completing.

the only official info is Ofsted and SATS results. Neither of which are necessarily a great indicator. Ofsteds can be misleading but equally can raise things you might want to look into further. SATS results can vary depending on cohort, you might be more interested in the progress made by children rather than the actual standard reached over all.

when you look round I would say the key thing is do the children appear happy? Some people are particularly keen on the children having good sport facilities, others are keen on drama, some want individual music lessons to be available or language clubs at lunchtimes higher up the school. before or after school clubs might be relevant. Hot lunches and choice etc.

caffeinated Tue 16-Apr-13 13:20:55

I would imagine you wouldn't be very popular requsting to visit this term. It will be crazy busy getting ready for reports/sats/the new intake/leavers concerts etc.

You have until mid January to apply so I'd wait until a few weeks into autumn term. It isn't first come first served.

Snowme Tue 16-Apr-13 16:34:52

I myself went to a really dire primary school and turned out academically fine, as did all my siblings. I also have friends who went to other apparently lower grade schools and quelle surprise, have gone on to succeed well. My current partner went to what is now considered one of the worst reputation primary schools in his town, yet (no bias, promise!) he's done well academically but more importantly all of these people are decent and upstanding.

After all the stress with In Year Admission amd Reception place allocations research, I'm beginning to think the Ofsted grading system is responsible for far too much segregation. hmm

SunflowersSmile Tue 16-Apr-13 18:57:38

Segregation indeed Snowme.
In my opinion it is bad for a school if people self select out eg your so called middle classes dismissing a school due to wrong sort of children/ parents/ headline SATs rather than can a child do well here? What progress does a child make whatever its ability? Is this a kind and inclusive school?

Stevie77 Tue 16-Apr-13 19:23:58

Thanks everyone, useful comments!

Snowme and Sunflower, I don't particularly feel I have to justify wanting a good school for my child. If you are happy for your children to go to schools with OFSTED reports citing ongoing bullying and other issues, then that's your choice, but it doesn't give you the right to judge those of us who don't!

SunflowersSmile Tue 16-Apr-13 21:10:10

Oh get stuffed Stevie- that is not what sort of school my children go to and you deliberately misunderstand.

SunflowersSmile Tue 16-Apr-13 21:23:49

Ok- I was rude Stevie.
Most schools do tours round application time and a good Head will see you other times too.
Visiting schools is good idea rather than just looking at paperwork.

mam29 Wed 17-Apr-13 09:08:02

I am 2014 2nd time round for me.

was different at time with eldest I was expecting child no 2 sept due date.

We had to apply at time october 2009 and got told march the 1st 2010 due to start sepetember 2010.

The time limits changed here we apply in jan get told april.

but at time july 2009 we did one open day as thourght thats one ,less in sepetember it was our least fave but had fab open day so put it down as 3rd choice.

Another issue was faith element.

I was brought up coe hubby wasent we argued for few year about baptism but got her baptised august 2009 so just before school applications.

She went to a rc preschool next door to rc primary 10mins walk from our house-I dont drive seemed prefect had split 45 intake-that was our 1st choice but as voluntary aided they decide their own admissions as we were quite low down the pecking order.

we arranged appointment to visit well performing middle class infants also 10min walk 60intake but knew chances getting in hard , would prefer a primary and tour with head was disaster.

we were not allowe dto speak to any children or staff as that would be disruptive.
so couldent get proper feel.

its reputation seems inflated in reality i dident get good feel.

head told us unless we put as 1st choice we stood no chance and we be very fortunate if child gained a place there.

it was our 2nd choice as nearer than 3rd choice with better results.

we wanted to look at 4th but they said couldent bring baby and reality we were too far too get in.

we wanted to look at more.

I would have liked coe school but all the coe schools here voluntary controlled so la decide and its distance faith does not come into it.So in reality any devout coe familes here even if go church every sunday stand no chance getting coe school.

I dident look at nearest large community new build primary as had high propportion behaviour problems, herd bad things and thourght was too large.

its since improved and now a good choice.

my 3rd choice school went into special measures.

my 2nd choice school still up their own arse and still unsure if should put it down as 2nd choice this time.

If i drove then quite a few drive to nearby village schools.

Fastfoward 2years our 1st choice school which oddly was undersubscribed out year has been over subscribed every other year is failing.

poor sats, downgrded ofsted and unhappy under performing child.

we pulled her 1 year into year 2 as she was unhappy, behind.
shes got into a village coe school 1.2mile walk each way out of catchment 132 kids and doing so well it cannot compete with

old school on size as old school had 10classes, large hall, extra classroom, large libary, ict suite, 2huge playgrounds, equipment and large field.

But that was all wsted as they were not very sport dd was, offered no afterschool clubs, the split intake of 45 was horrid as always 15 cut off from rest of year group she lost her best freind in year 1 nd their freindship never recovered.
She was also midle of year an always felt she was at disadvantage,

re ofsted it was good when we looked, she loved attached preschool son made best decsion could make at time.
But the new ofsted highlighed low attaintment and how many temporary teachers they had I had no idea how juniors was.
Church inspection also poor.

we moved october and head left at xmas so now has 2temporary heads and quite a few temporary teachers so we made right choice.

new school has 2tiny yards, no field, only 5classes, 3classrooms are portacabins, tinyhall, liary, no ict suit so each class has 1 computer and they have laptops on trollies bthey make the most of every bit of space. they dont have fancy play equipment but they do have slipping ropes, space hoppers and den building at lunchtime, meals are brouht on from another school, theo offer cheaper berkkie club and lots of after school sport clubs, shes class 30 mixed year 1s but gets so much more support at xmas the whol school went on trip to panto.They do have village common.

A lot of people dismiss this school old victorian building not shiney new, so small and mixed classes but its been fab its changed what I will look for.

Im so hoping we get in but not sure so want to visit 2 schools dident visit last time.

god luck dont just go on ofsted and sats.

observe the kids are they happy?
how do the staff treat them?
how do the staff treat you?
what do you think of the head?

in a way open days can be very false much prefer small visit with the head.

Stevie77 Wed 17-Apr-13 12:14:57

Thanks Mam29, good pointers

NynaevesSister Wed 17-Apr-13 14:58:43

my child goes to a good school that other parents are sniffy about, and has had lots less bullying and other issues than the parents that sent their kids to the schools considered more 'middle class'. I put that down as my first choice when I could have put others down. I visited all the school, asked questions, and my teacher cousin gave me a great tip too. Look for something in the classroom that the teacher can write on and leave up all day ie not just the whiteboard. This shows a good mix of learning techniques, and organisation for the class - schedules can be put up all day, or a word of the day, or something else for the children to keep looking at.

The other thing I did was talk to parents with children in the uniform of the schools I was considering. This is how I learnt that the lovely middle class school A had a bit of a bullying problem that wasn't being tackled, and that school B had fabulous resources and staff in KS1, but had lots of issues in KS2 and many of the parents sent kids to tuition for SATs in year six.

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