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New to London and need advice on school catchment areas

(12 Posts)
melpenm Fri 12-Jun-15 04:24:39

we are moving to london in a couple of weeks from overseas and would like advice on schools. we have a 9 month old son and were told that if we intend to school our son here we should move into the school catchment area now. could i check how this works? we are RC and would like our son to be in an RC primary school. I understand that for the RC schools in the UK references are required from the parish. Are there further references required? I understand that schools are oversubscribed in London but thought we might have at least a year's grace or two, to move around London and find the best neighbourhood 'fit' for us, but it seems otherwise and we need to move into the catchment area like now-now-now smile

christinarossetti Fri 12-Jun-15 04:31:54

London"s pretty big!

What areas are you considering?

For school admissions, you use the address that you're living at in the January of the year that your DC starts school. Plenty of time!

toomuchicecream Fri 12-Jun-15 06:31:21

Don't panic - you've got a couple of years to make your mind up. But if you're practising RC then picking a parish and becoming involved there will really help when it comes to getting your reference from the priest.

redcaryellowcar Fri 12-Jun-15 06:34:59

If anything similar to the C of E schools near us ideally you will have been worshipping at the linked/ local church for one or in some schools two years, and vicar will sign a form which you send in alongside your application to say that you have been. In your situation is try to visit churches and schools before buying?

AuditAngel Fri 12-Jun-15 06:38:17

The catchments for a lot of Catholic schools is different yo community primary schools. Regular worship at church and a reference are the first steps.

BabyNeedsChocolate Fri 12-Jun-15 06:46:11

You don't need to move into the catchment area now. For most Catholic schools you will need a priest's reference stating that you are regular churchgoers, so you need to build up a record of attendance in a particular parish over at least a year before school application time. I think that in some cases the schools look for an attendance record of longer than that (maybe three years? I've never seen longer than that). I know quite a few churches with weekly registers that parents have to sign, particularly those connected with or close to popular primary schools. In other parishes it is just about making sure the priest knows and recognises you. But if you move over the next few years you can get references from more than one priest - I have seen application forms that make allowances for this and let you include references from your current and previous parish. One other thing - if your child is not baptised yet you should do it before their first birthday, since this is another criteria many schools use.

MN164 Fri 12-Jun-15 08:19:34

On the baptism point, if you're thinking of ever trying for the "big" catholic secondary schools (e.g. The Oratory or Cardinal Vaughan), you need to have baptised within 6 months for maximum points.

Nothing to do with primary school, but a big deal at secondary catholic admission.

HayFeverHell Fri 12-Jun-15 09:46:43

Make sure your child is baptised asap. Attend mass every Sunday and make sure your priest knows it and is willing put it in writing for you.

Do that and you can move around as much as you like up until your child is about 3. Then you need to be in situ because your child starts school when he is 4 and the applying happens before then.

newname12 Fri 12-Jun-15 09:54:10

There's not really "catchment" as such. It varies year to year.

Generally, admission policy is :

Children in care first
Then siblings
Then everyone else, based on home-to-school distance, so closest first, until all places filled.

Faith schools will have a category for baptised children too.

So "catchment" can vary from year to year, depending on demand. If it's a popular school and a high sibling year, a non sibling might need to live within 100m to get a place. The following year it might be 900m. Most boroughs publish a document giving previous years figures.

Bear in mind schools can go up as well as down. When I moved to this area, school a was outstanding, school b so bad it was about to be demolished. When it came to dc going to school, school a was on its way down to satisfactory, school b had been rebuilt, lots of money thrown at it, and in very high demand.

I'd find an area you like and can afford, worry about schools when your dc is nearer 3.

hibbledibble Fri 12-Jun-15 12:24:15

You are 'lucky' in that there are a lot of very good catholic schools. For the most popular ones you will need to live in the parish, have baptised your child before 6 months, and have a reference from 2 years of regular church attendance. Good luck!

meditrina Fri 12-Jun-15 12:32:18

Most London schools do not have formal catchments.

But you may well find that priority is given to baptised children whose family regularly attends a specific parish church (or churches).

So you need to decide roughly which bit of London you want to live in, then look at all the RC schools in that area, and read their entrance criteria very carefully. Also, check with your parish priest about whether they record attendance (ie you need to sign in for every service you attend) or if they just get to know you - former is common with bigger congregations, latter more typical of smaller parishes where everyone knows each other.

As you might be moving, get a letter from each PP to state what your attendance has been during your time there. Depending on the exact wording of the entrance criteria, multiple references can add up to longer attendance on the SIF (supplementary form signed by current priest which confirms your standing with the church and which must be submitted at the time of your school application).

melpenm Sat 13-Jun-15 06:14:46

Thanks for all kind advice and messages smile we are looking at the wandsworth borough as it seems relatively affordable and family friendly. also, ealing and acton, but that part of london just seems to have oversubscribed schools - we are not terribly anxious that the bubs gets into an 'outstanding' school per se, we are fine as long as school is decent and RC. we really like canary wharf as we lived there for a year a couple years back but hear that schools there arent great. we are more or less priced out of highbury/islington. have heard that further north eg enfield is lovely but husband prefers to be on a tube line as his job is in the city.

We are practising RCs and the bubs was baptised when he was 4 months. it seems a different RC culture than from where we are (singapore). over here parents only need to produce the baptism cert at primary sch admission and RC schools dont involve parish priests in admission decisions or look at church attendance, so reference letters from PP's and signing attendance are all very new to us.

Very relieved to know that we have some lead time! was getting quite stressed out!!

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