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Primary admission versus dream home? Advice please

(35 Posts)
WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:17:18

Please can you wise MNetters give me some advice!

DC1 and DC2 both currently attend our local Catholic school very happily. As a family we are very involved in the life of the parish (regularly attend Mass, undertake responsibilities within the parish etc) and my paid employment is actually within the school grounds. As you can see, we are very attached to the school and the life of the parish and this is something we would not change, no matter what the geographical circumstances.

So here's the big dilemma... Our dream home has come on the market. It is the home we imagine our DCs becoming teenagers in and eventually leaving as adults. It's the home we imagine growing old in. It is made for us and just perfect in every way. This week the vendors have significantly dropped the asking price which makes it very affordable for us. Living in it would also mean, for complicated reasons, that the quality of our family life would be very much improved. We know the vendors are keen to sell quickly. There are no other similar properties nearby.

BUT, it takes us out of parish. Which means DC3 would slip down to category 4 of the admissions criteria (DC3 is currently at category 2). The school is oversubscribed. I will need to make DC3's admission application by the middle of Jan 15 for admission in sep 15. For family reasons, and my sanity, it is imperative that DC3 attends the same school as DC1&2.

Everything seems perfect about this house except for this one problem!

Is there a way I can access this year's data to see how the places were allocated to the different admissions criteria so I can estimate DC3's chances of getting in if we moved?

Can anyone suggest a legal and ethical way around this dilemma?

Or do we have to sacrifice our dreams of our perfect family home to ensure DC3 is at the same school as the other DC? (Which is what we will do if we have to but we reeeeaaallllyyyy don't want to!).

4PlusMum Sat 22-Feb-14 21:19:52

Don't siblings come above geographical location in the admissions criteria?

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:24:22

The criteria are:
1 - looked after children;
2 - Catholic children with siblings in the parish
3 - Catholic children in the parish;
4 - Catholic children with siblings NOT in the parish;
5 - Catholic children not in the parish

So DC3 would move from criteria 2 to 4

4PlusMum Sat 22-Feb-14 21:25:39

Don't siblings come above geographical location in the admissions criteria?

Examples of various admissions policies:

https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/media/ADMS_Catholic_Primary_Schools_admissions_policy_13-14.pdf

www.stthomasmorekettering.com/downloads/admission.pdf

5madthings Sat 22-Feb-14 21:27:16

You should be able to find out which criteria places were allocated last year, but of course the birth rate, siblimg numbers etc may be different this year.

Ay chanceyou can stay in your house until after applications?

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:36:01

If only the criteria were like these you've linked 4plus.

The criteria in my PP are (almost - don't want to be too identifiable) copied straight from the admissions criteria.

Being Catholic and living in the parish comes above being Catholic with siblings at the school BUT not living in the parish. Obviously being non-Catholic is way down the list.

At the moment DC3 is in prime position because of being Catholic AND having siblings at the school AND living in the parish. But if we moved DC3 would be just Catholic with siblings at the school BUT not living in the parish.

Sleepyhead33 Sat 22-Feb-14 21:38:32

Ring the school office-all VA schools should have that available now. VA schools don't tend to publish admissions breakdowns on the LA website in the way other schools do but the school office will be able to tell you.

What school years are dc1 and 2 in? Whether they would be leaving soon would affect my decision. Also, what is the other school option like for dc3?

If Dc 1 and 2 are in ks1 and the other school option is poor then I would definitely prioritise education over a house-however nice. Something else will come on the market.

If the children are in ks2 and your other option is excellent I may go for the house and take the risk that dc 3 might not get in.

A tough one-all the best.

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:41:50

Thanks 5mad

No. We would be able to buy the new house now but would have to sell our current house pretty quickly in order to keep finances flowing. We are confident our current house would sell quickly but we just wouldn't be able to stretch things out until after admissions.

Looks like we'll have to rethink our fantasy! It's a good job DC3 is amazingly gorgeous and charming! otherwise we might have to sell DC3 as well as the house!

atomicyoghurt Sat 22-Feb-14 21:45:45

Go for the house.

Sorry that's not very helpful, but can you imagine seeing that house when someone else buys it and wishing you have gone for it?

There's worse things than having kids in different schools (and you can go on the waiting list to move DC3).

In terms of admissions data, your council should be able to supply you with the last 5 years worth. Phone and ask. It will be a massive book!

MegBusset Sat 22-Feb-14 21:45:50

Can you buy it and rent it out for a year?

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:52:51

Thanks sleepyhead.

DC1 is lower KS2, DC2 is currently YR so both have a while left at the school.

The other (catchment of proposed house) option is actually a more popular, oversubscribed school, though I am not as keen on it as I have a real affection for the current school and the whole community - there is just something very special and unique about it: not something I've come across in any other school I've had dealings with.

You seem to talk a lot of sense. I just wanted MN wisdom to check there wasn't another option I'd overlooked really. We should be happy with the status quo at the moment. We have everything (a lovely house already, a great school, happy DCs), perhaps it's a bit greedy to seek out more before the time is right just to put a bit of icing on the cake.... But it is the perfect house <dreams happily for a few minutes before being content with things just the way they are>

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 21:56:06

I know atomic - it would really drive me mad, but I just couldn't make having them at different schools work practically.

We had thought of that meg but don't think it's the type of property that would have a market for renters. Might be worth looking into in a bit more detail though. Thanks.

moldingsunbeams Sat 22-Feb-14 22:02:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhatADilemma Sat 22-Feb-14 22:09:19

That's exactly it moldingsunbeams

I feel like our decision now will affect DC3s future for a very long time. And I don't want to do the wrong thing. But I don't actually know which is the 'right' thing. Both options have huge advantages and big possible negative implications.

Hmm.

Good luck sunbeams

Sleepyhead33 Sat 22-Feb-14 22:30:33

If it is a family home in an outstanding, oversubscribed school catchment area I can't believe it isn't a renter's dream!
Houses like that in our area are rented out at a premium to different families year after year!

It may be worth perseuing the renting option before (if) you give up on the house if you are in a position to be able to buy without selling your own home.

itsahen Sun 23-Feb-14 09:54:19

A friend if ours has agreed a sale, exchanged contracts so no one can pull out then agreed a 6 month delay - for different reasons but an idea

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Sun 23-Feb-14 10:01:58

I know your eldest is in lower ks2 but senior school options come around faster than you can imagine. Is either property better for the secondary options? Could that swing it at all?

Meita Sun 23-Feb-14 11:24:07

-How 'impossible' would different schools be?
-How much would home quality of life improve? Is it currently ok and would simply be better, or is it currently bad and really needs improvement? Can you weigh up this improvement of quality of life vs. the detriment of having kids at different schools?
-Is there any chance that you might lose your job/have to change location, and then your current school would not be so ideal anymore? How would you feel if you had said 'no' to the dream house, then were to lose your job?
-How rare exactly are houses like the one you are looking at? If it is one in two years that comes on the market, I'd say you can wait for the next one or even wait four years, and you get all the benefits for the only price of staying at your ok house for a few more years.
-Do look into the option of buying it to let, but be aware that you might not actually be able to cover all the costs, so it might be a drain on your finances even if you do manage to let it out immediately.
(These are not meant as questions you ought to answer here, but merely to help you think through things!)

FWIW our local catholic school has a similar admission policy, where sibling priority is only given WITHIN each category, and not as first distinguishing criteria either:
1) catholic LAC, 2) baptised catholic children living in the parish, 3) other baptised catholic children, 4)-6) everybody else
It is always over-subscribed in category 2, so to determine who gets in and who doesn't (of the cat.2 kids), firstly they look at church attendance, and only then at siblings. So if your DC1 is at the school and you are applying for your DC2, but only attend church 1/month, DC2 would very likely not get in.

addictedtosugar Sun 23-Feb-14 11:34:29

Are you sure there aren't people who would rent the new house to get in catchment for the popular school?
Or is the feature that makes it very suitable for you unattractive to others?
Could you rent it out below market value to make it attractive?
We were amazed at how readily (before the crash) the bank were prepared to lend us on 2 houses til we'd sold the other - we'd sold mine, but DH's was taking longer.

JodieGarberJacob Sun 23-Feb-14 12:25:57

Obviously I don't know your school but I would be amazed if your ds didn't get in with category 4. How many is the intake?

CecilyP Sun 23-Feb-14 15:25:25

Agree with Jodie - first check if they have taken category 4 children in previous years. You may be worrying unnecessarily.

springrain Sun 23-Feb-14 17:42:50

look on your council website under school admissions - most publish each school's offers split by admissions category, which will give you a feel. Plus talk to the school about how it has worked in previous years so you have a better idea. Both our local catholic schools admit at the equivalent of your category 4 and both are good/outstanding schools, so it is possible.

admission Sun 23-Feb-14 17:44:33

I am sorry to say this but the reason that the school admission policy is written the way it is, is to stop exactly what you are doing becoming the norm, that is getting a sibling in to the school and then using the sibling criteria to gain admission when people have potentially mover miles away.

I accept completely that you are doing it for all the right reasons but looked at from a school's perspective they want to encourage local people to got to the local school and this is one way of making sure that the school is not full of siblings that live out of area.

It would be sensible to try and establish exactly what the admission levels have been in the various categories because at the moment it is just an assumption that you would not get a place because there are enough catholic children in catchment to fill the places.

There is I am afraid no other option that will allow you to be relatively sure that DC3 gets a place at the school other than be in the current house at the cut off point for on-time applications in January 2015.

Sleepyhead33 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:26:34

yes, a lot will depend on area. I am in the SouthEast and we only admit to cat 2 most years.

Also, you wouldn't just need to live in the house at the time of admission (Jan 15), you would be expected to still be living there at the start of term-so Sept 15. If you move in the mean time you would be expected to let the LA know or it would be classed as admissions fraud (in our area at least). I know this isn't what you are intending to do WhatADilemma but just pointing it out!

itsahen Sun 23-Feb-14 18:50:07

Check what LEA policy is re moving. We could apply and provide proof of address in Sept onwards. I know people who then promptly moved as it doesn't get checked again

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