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Advice on applying for a reception place?

(22 Posts)
MsFiremanSam Mon 03-Nov-14 22:01:04

I will be applying for DS to start school next September, and I'm new to this whole process. We live in between two schools - one Outstanding and one which has just come out of Measures. For many reasons, we prefer the former, but are about 100 yards nearer to the latter.
Is there any obligation to put down your nearest school? All the schools around us are over-subscribed, so we're worried about being sent miles away.
I've had conflicting advice IRL, from definitely put it down to hold out for your school of choice and refuse to go anywhere else.
Any advice hugely appreciated!

whyhasmyheadgonenumb Mon 03-Nov-14 22:02:34

Marking place, in similar situation

cece Mon 03-Nov-14 22:03:02

Put both of them on the form. Put the one you like best first. Are they your two nearest schools?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 03-Nov-14 22:04:42

Put the schools down in your order of preference but try & put at least one safe choice down as its better to be allocated a weaker school
Closer to home than a weaker school miles away.

MsFiremanSam Mon 03-Nov-14 22:12:22

They are our two nearest. I really am not keen at all on the weaker school though. There are at least 4 other schools in the area I'd choose over that one.
I'm worried that if I put the weaker one down, we'll definitely get it because it's the only one not over-subscribed.
What would happen if we put 5 schools down which didn't include that one?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 03-Nov-14 22:15:30

How many choices do you get (in our area it's 3 but I know in some its more)

Put you favourite school as no 1, the further away ones in your order of preference and then the very close but weaker school as your last choice

That way you will only be offered the last one if you don't get a place at any of the others.

admission Mon 03-Nov-14 22:17:23

Holding out for the school you want is a recipe for disaster and is someone who does not know what they are talking about. You will end up in a school miles away probably.
Decide which school you prefer and put that down as first preference and the other one a second preference. I am presuming that they are the nearest schools but you need to check how the distance is measured - is it straight line distance or nearest walking route - it can make a difference as to what is nearest. If the two schools are the nearest I would establish what is your third nearest school, visit it and check it out and if happy use that as your third reference. It is definitely safer to have three different preferences and for them to be the nearest three schools.

MsFiremanSam Mon 03-Nov-14 22:20:35

We get 5 choices here. Do they look at your choices in rank order? So they would look to place DS at each of the first four before allocating the weaker school?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 03-Nov-14 22:24:24

Yes, it's called equal preference.

You are assessed against the admissions criteria for each of your choices then if you meet the criteria for more than one school are allocated the one you put higher up on the list.

EskSmith Mon 03-Nov-14 22:24:58

Your choices don't influence each other. Each school decides if it will accept you based on their published admissions criteria. You then get offered your top choice. So if you choices are 1: School A, 2: School B, 3: School C. You don't get into school A but meet the criteria for schools B & C. Your LA will then offer you school B as it was your remaining top choice.

In your situation I'd put the local outstanding school first, followed by the nearest of the others, with the closest school last.

WastingMyYoungYears Mon 03-Nov-14 22:27:21

Yes MsFS smile.

We didn't get our first choice (and actually got a lot lower than that), but we're actually really happy with how DS is getting on at primary school. Try not to get too hung up on one school - it's best to visit all of the possibilities with a clear head.

hollie84 Mon 03-Nov-14 22:30:41

If you put down 5 choices that are over subscribed and don't get any, they will give you the nearest school with spaces - but that might not be near you at all and might not be the nearby school you don't like.

I would put down 4 schools you want, and one school you will definitely get and could live with if it came to it.

MsFiremanSam Mon 03-Nov-14 22:40:05

Thanks for all the advice. Think we are a bit emotionally attached to the first choice, as all of DS's cousins go or are going, grandma worked there for years, sister works there. But yes I think we need to have a clearer head about it and not be so hung up on one school.
Think we'll do as suggested and choose 4 nearest then a safe option of the weaker school. Travelling miles would be a logistical nightmare.

tiggytape Tue 04-Nov-14 08:29:52

You should definitely list the one you like best 1st on your form. If you live close enough to qualify compared to all the others who apply, you will get in. If you don't live close enough (or they have a surge of siblings applying who take most of the places) then you won't get a place there.

What you put down for 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc won't change whether you qualify for school number 1. Either you do or you don't so digging your heels in and refusing all other schools won't work.

When listing other schools for options 2,3 and 4 etc, be aware that just because a school is close to your house doesn't make it a safe choice. Ideally you need to find a school that isn't as good as your first choice but is still ok that took children living the same distance away as you last year. This may or may not the be the school you live 100 yards closer to. There may be others that you like more that you'd also get a place at.

You can ask the council or look on their website to work out which schools would have taken you last year.

MsFiremanSam Tue 04-Nov-14 08:38:58

Thanks tiggytape, great advice. The problem in this area (and I guess others) is more kids than there are places. People move here for the schools and there are lots of families renting here, all clambering for the same school. There's 3 outstanding schools nearby but all are oversubscribed, so I'm not sure there's an option for one that's ok but more likely. It seems to be either outstanding or Measures.

tiggytape Tue 04-Nov-14 17:49:55

Don't just go on the Ofsted reports. Some of them are so out of date that barely anything in them is still true for the school as it is now.
Others are bad but means the school gets a new head, new staff and constant monitoring to make sure it improves.
Sometimes a school on the way up can be a better bet for a child joining age 5 than one in a bit of a gradual decline relying on a good reputation that is 5 years out of date.

Go for yourself and have a look. Do the staff seem to share the same priorities as you? Are the children happy and engaged?

addictedtosugar Tue 04-Nov-14 20:11:49

From what I can tell in primary applications (we're about to apply for DS2) the rules are:
*Fill your choices
*In the order you would prefer your child to be considered for the schools
*Put in one that you are fairly confident you will get a place at
*Read the application criteria for YOUR AREA - everyone's are different (so, for example, our nearest school isn't in our catchment area, so we don't stand a chance of a place)

Putting a really unpopular school as bottom choice will not affect your chances of getting into any of your other preferences. You will get the school highest up your list that has a space you qualify for.

And, putting one school in all the spaces WILL NOT force the council to give you a place at that school. If there is no space at that school, they will put you at the bottom of the list, and you will get a place at a school that has places after everyone elses 1/2/3 etc preference has been filled.

whyhasmyheadgonenumb Tue 04-Nov-14 20:23:19

The school closest to me is outstanding and the one 100 yards further down the road is in measures but when I went to visit them I much preferred the one in measures and will put that as my first choice. The new head was lovely and the pupils were happy, the outstanding school was nice but didn't give me such a nice vibe.
It's an interesting time isn't it!!

MsFiremanSam Tue 04-Nov-14 21:50:47

Thanks addicted, that's really useful.
Have spoken to a parent today whose child goes to the Measures school and is really happy there. Seems they have a new Head who is apparently excellent. Only other issue is that it isn't a very mixed school. I've made an appointment to look around next week.

pyrrah Wed 05-Nov-14 21:01:01

If you don't get allocated your first choice, you will automatically be included on waiting lists for all those schools that you listed that are higher than your allocated school until 31/8.

As of 1/9, the schools themselves administer the waiting lists so you need to call to say that you want to stay on the list.

We got a place at our 1st choice 3 weeks into the first term even though we weren't high on the list - 4 places came up due to no-shows and most other parents didn't want to move their children who had just started at other primaries.

So don't lose all hope even if you don't get it in the first round.

Am always amazed that people think only putting one school means they will get it - or that a real person does the allocations rather than a computer with no heart that just spits out data.

addictedtosugar Wed 05-Nov-14 21:18:09

pyrrah - the waiting list procedure is different in different areas. Again, you should check what your area does with regards to waiting lists if you want to remain on them

bearwithspecs Thu 06-Nov-14 13:20:35

Make sure you visit all schools you consider. They vary greatly. List as many as you can in the order you want them but as others have said, include one that you are sure you will qualify for a place at. I know several people who were unrealistic and then devastated when they ended up with a school miles away

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