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dilemma over primary school choice

(24 Posts)
manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 06:32:47

I am lucky to have a choice of primary schools (I think I have a choice). I have got my first choice but now I don't like it and I want my second choice. I just want a bit of help establishing whether it's worth the hassle of trying for it or if (like dh I just accept what we have and be thankful) a sort of wwyd.

we moved house just before the deadline for admissions from an outer london borough to a new lea outside london. dd2 y3 got a place in the closest school (sch A) around jan 20th. Dd1 y5 got a place just after half term in a school 15 mins walk away (sch b) so has been there about 5 weeks.

I applied for first choice A and 2nd choice B for ds1. Ds1 has a sibling link to both schools now. I have never met head for school A, it is a smaller school and is placed in a very residential area, I haven't really started saying hello to parents despite doing school run twice a day, it feels very homely and when you are there it feels like nothing else exists - really separate from life. dd2 had a detention in her first week because she handed her homework in at lunchtime instead of the morning, this really unsettled me. Head is in late 50s and has only ever taught at this school which worries me.

school b, the head showed me round, he answered 3 calls from me in the couple of days before dd started. the school actively involves itself in the community, it is bigger intake and slightly more diverse. school gates are far more welcoming, I dont feel like such an outsider. dd is extremely happy. in the 5 weeks she has been there she has participated in a dragons den whole school maths week, a day at the local high school for drama and a whole week of cycle proficiency. she is about to go on a 5 day residential trip, I am so impressed.

sch b is a separate infants and junior. sch a is primary. Initially I reassured myself that the younger 3 kids would not be at school together if I chose sch b and sch a is so much closer that school a was better but I feel so uneasy about the school. I have accepted the place and there dont seem to be waiting lists here. I cant work out if my concerns about school a warrant the hassle of navigating the appeals system. I wish I hadn't seen school b then I would have been happy with original choice but I also think I'm really lucky to have a choice for ds1 and ds 2 who will each get 7 years at each school.

Does anyone have an opinion on whether I'm being superficial or have valid concerns and how difficult appeals are?

I think the teaching is fine at A, it is more social side and attitudes my children may adopt from 7 years there that I am worried about. If you got this far thanks, if you reply even better, has been useful to write this down.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 06:41:39

Until an admissions expert shows up...

I think that you need to accept school a so that you get a place. You can go on the waiting list for school b but you can't now switch your choice and get b straight away. Does school b prioritise siblings over distance?

You won't automatically go on the waiting list for b as you were given your first choice so you will need to ask.

The important thing to remember is that you like both schools so a or b, the outcome is a good one.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 06:42:43

Oh sorry, you said there were no waiting lists. Are you in England?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 06:44:00

...Urgh, too early, you said where you were! Off for coffee to wake me up.

AuntieStella Fri 19-Apr-13 06:55:25

You don't have a choice as such. Eveyone gets a single offer, but if you decide you don't like it, you can go on the waiting list for any other school you like. Where you are placed on the waiting list depends on how well you fit the school's entrance criteria, and you get a place only when a vacancy arises.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 07:10:17

Thanks, I don't really understand the rules in this county. Old borough had waiting lists which you went on and sat on. Here you apply to the county who allocate you a space and schools don't appear to have waiting lists. I would get into both schools based on distance, he comes under the distance for school b too (783m (B) opposed to 283m A). I have just logged onto website and he wasn't listed as a sibling for school B. I think I will have a chat with admissions later today and see if he could get in under rule 4 and how tricky the system is - turns out they don't work at 7am...

I have accepted A as that's what the email advised. Just spoke to dh, who is slightly more helpful now that its not 4am. He thinks we roll with it but he is at work all day and doesn't see the schools.

Doctrine, you are so right, I know that I'm happy either way, just more happy one way than the other. Not sure if I will always kick myself if I don't try for the boys and also have been really attentive to school A over last month to try and persuade myself i like it but I find all the adults so unfriendly I can't help but think their kids are likely to be the same. Also with each other they are all lovey dovey and huggy and I'm just never like that with anyone. The last straw was realising there is no residential trip in y5. I keep hoping the head is near retirement...

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 19-Apr-13 07:20:32

I'd have a go for school B. You can then at least say you tried. My two went to different first schools very close together geographically. There was a big difference between the parents at each and it did make a big difference to how I felt going each day.

If you don't get in then nothing lost and stick with school A.

AuntieStella Fri 19-Apr-13 07:20:44

It's a single offer system. You are allocated a place at your highest preference school at which you qualify (not just fit the criteria, but fit better than remaining candidates).

Now, it's possible that you fitted the criteria better than other candidates at both these schools, and indeed lower choices too. Then you were correctly allocated your higher preference, and you were removed from the lists for all other schools on your form, because you had your first choice.

All places at the second choice school will also have been located. None are held back for any reason. So your only option will be to take your chances on the waiting list.

As you fit the criteria well, then you arelikely to be at/near the top, but you will have to wait or a family to decline their offer or not turn up at the start of term for a vacancy.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 07:21:37

also i meant to say that at the beginning of the year i didn't think I would have any school for any of my kids so I am really pleased but suddenly now I'm getting picky!

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 07:24:30

Thanks, i'm going to ring admissions and just sound them out about hte process. Don't want to lose my place at school A then find out haven't got school b too. Also dont want dd2 to be upset by this, there is no place for her at other school and she's not settling brilliantly (I think as she doesn't say a blimming word) but can't work out if it's school or just missing her friends at old school.

AuntieStella Fri 19-Apr-13 07:27:32

You will not/not have school B as well. The single offer system, in use across England, does not allow that.

You can accept school A, and go on the waiting list for school B, and change if/when a school B comes through. In London, there is a lot of churn, so your chances are pretty good, but it often means waiting to see who doesn't turn up in Spetember.

prh47bridge Fri 19-Apr-13 08:05:28

I would be very surprised if you have a choice.

As others have pointed out, the fact you got a place at your first choice does not mean you would have got a place at your second choice. Your second choice school will almost certainly be full unless it is an unpopular school. It is likely that any appeal would be under infant class size rules which means you should only win if a mistake has been made. Since you got a place at your first choice that means you would be extremely unlikely to win any appeal. If the appeal is not infant class size you would have a better chance.

You can accept school A and go on the waiting list for school B. If you are near the top of the waiting list you may be lucky. You are entitled to appeal but you need to be realistic about your chances of success.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:07:04

Thanks. School B is full, the stats are on the web and both schools were oversubscribed but i presume I'd be high on waiting list. I think I'd also like to know if things like:
1. not keen on head - and attitude to punishment vs reward
2. residential trip access and
3. not sure about atmosphere

are really things other people would take into consideration? Thing is if I discuss with my parents they flap about dd2 and think the easy walk is the most important thing, we end up shouting. Dh also thinks the easy journey is important, he says we can implement change at school b but i was governor at last school and it's quite hard to implement change when head is not open to it. So RL discussion is limited...

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 19-Apr-13 09:19:55

I would take those things into account, i've found the Head sets the tone of the school at the 4 schools the DC's have gone though so far. You've had experience of the reality of both now, not just what they are like on paper.

Personally I'd ring and get on the waiting list for B. if a place offered, great. If not, you stick with A, knowing you tried.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:23:21

ok have spoken to admissions. can keep him on first choice as accepted but also register interest in second choice school, first choice wont be told thankfully as would hate this to count against us if he goes there.

If we get it in the first or second round he automatically gets the second choice - will need to talk to dh about this and make sure we really want it but in the meantime any opinions about what counts in primary education relating to the things I've not liked so far would be really helpful.

Whats really mad about all this is I've not even seen the infant school it could be really rubbish, it's all based on the junior but I'm even liking the split as dd1 feels really grown up and the school seems to treat them as a lot older because they are. Also although further away the preferred school is near shops and bank so quite convenient. It's bigger so I think a bigger pool to draw from for friends. both schools are 'good' in ofsted rating fwiw.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:25:59

Thanks wynken x post , have rung, need to email to get on list and will do once have thrashed it out with dh tonight. how come yours went to two diff schools? did you feel bad for the child who went to the school you didn't like as much?

LittleFrieda Fri 19-Apr-13 09:31:18

I think it'smuch nicer to go to a school close-by, you don't just join a school, you join a community. I think that's easily the most important thing.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:38:27

Thanks little frieda, I agree which is why they moved from the school we liked when we moved areas and why I want a school I can walk to.

Bizarrely I think the school dd1 is at seems to have more people in our roads than the one closer by. The people who go to the school that is closer to me historically have lived the other side of the school to where we live so actually live a bit further away. There are a few who come from my area so it's kind of six of one. So far there are 5 people in my road at dd1's school and have met one who is at dd2's school. Think its also because dd2's school is smaller.

Floggingmolly Fri 19-Apr-13 09:40:43

You say school B is full, and was oversubscribed in the first place. You will not be high on the waiting list, I'm afraid, as you will have been taken off all lists when you were allocated your first choice.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:43:06

I think I'll be above those for distance as i have a sibling link and below those who have medical reasons to get it or who are cared for. Is that not the case?

AuntieStella Fri 19-Apr-13 09:43:49

She'll be allocated a place on th waiting list in accordance with how well she fits the criteria. As she mentioned a sibling, and I assume she meant attending school B, she'll be at or near the top. I can quite see why doing a split school run has caused second thoughs.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 19-Apr-13 09:46:36

I have 5 school years between mine. DD went to our catchment school. When we were applying we were told the other one was dodgy. What had happened there was they had a bad Head, she'd left and one of those Heads that come in to turn the school round had come in and in fact it was improving but the old reputation had stuck at that point. I didn't bother looking as was happy with our catchment one.

Head of catchment school then left when DD was in year 1. New Head came in who was ok but wasn't hugely keen. But the teachers were great, especially the reception teacher who was superb. They started leaving. I put in the application for DS for that school then at Christmas the reception teacher said she was leaving and I was gutted. Meanwhile at the school own the road, the Super Head left after 2 years and a new guy came in who was fantastic. I'd heard loads of things about how god the school was and people were applying fom miles away. Went to have a look, loved it and was lucky that was able to change application as before closing date.

DD does say DS is at the better school but does accept that things were different when she went. The big eye opener to me was the feel of them both. People who had children at the school down the road used to say it felt like one big family and I used to inwardly roll eyes. But actually it is true, a much warmer feeling and there was an edge to catchment school which a few people said about after the girls left. With hindsight DD might have been happier at other school but I did what seemed right at the time.

manitz Fri 19-Apr-13 09:57:39

Thanks that helps. School A is described as one big family too but it seems there is quite a bit of sniping, so not sure how functional it is...

I know things change over time, similar happened in old area, loved the kids school but the school with a worse rep got much better over time. Think here that school A has a better reputation but it's about gut instinct for me at the moment. Also both schools had same number of applications so it's not that one school is dramatically better than the other. It's purely a feeling, I can feel myself making excuses on this thread.

Because of that im just not sure i can cope with the stress (for me and ds who hates his new pre school and hates change) instead of just taking the easy option and accepting what I've been given. Once dd1 leaves in a year I wont be able to compare schools and I can forget about all the other options!! If I change schools dd2 has 3 more years so 3 more years of two newsletters/different clubs/ptas/inset days etc. Gah, wish they'd just got into one school am not v good at this...

manitz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:56:59

hi just an update. i dont think we will appeal. called to make appointment with head who wouldn't see me but, yet again, had my questions answered by woman in the office. school seems to offer quite a bit of stuff that I was concerned about so that was reassuring but I'm still a bit annoyed about how inaccessible head is but I think I'm just going to have to live with that.

Have heard that the other infants school has a problematic head so really it's the junior I like. To cap it all a place in y3 has come up at my preferred school so could transfer dd but she has been at her school for 3 months and is just finding her feet, seems cruel to transfer her now - especially as she couldn't care less whether the head is inaccessible. Plus there's the complexity because my preferred school was 2nd choice i dont get to go in the first round appeal but the second. Seems less of a safe bet now and timing it with dd's in year admission (which it seems might really knock her about) would be a nightmare so i could end up with two kids at different schools again.

Also I have now heard how many people havent got their 2nd or 3rd choices and I feel pretty grateful we have such an easy walk to school. I hope I have made the right choice, i still don't feel totally happy about it...

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