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Applying for a school place Sept 2016 and childcare issues

(30 Posts)
murderedbystress Sat 15-Aug-15 22:15:04

Can't believe I am asking this as a teacher, but we don't deal with admissions so forgive me for the ignorance!

When do applications for September 2016 primary begin?

I know people have been in the unfortunate situation of not getting any of their choices (London!) but I am concerned that DS won't get in to the first 2 of his 3 choices.

We are rural. 1st choice is our village school. Large intake but the school numbers have swelled to near capacity and the rumour mill has begun saying there are more children than the school can accept (50). The school is quite central to the village but we live in the last lane - quite literally!

2nd choice is an outstanding school some 5 miles away. It's a choice because our CM does the school run to this school as well as our 1st choice (she has assistants!) and I thought if DS doesn't get in to 1st choice, 2nd choice would be the best choice. BUT the school is oversubscribed as the only school in the town and of course, being 'outstanding'.

3rd choice is a toss up between 2 schools; another outstanding school about 7 miles away and a good tiny village school in the village where my DH works in another county and about 15 miles away. The outstanding school, if given, would have huge and catastrophic consequences for us as a family whereas the tiny, good village school would not be ideal given the location but wouldn't have the same consequences as choice 3a! Keeping up yet???

Basically, if DS didn't get into the 1st 2 choices as well as choice 3b (tiny village school 15 miles away), we would have absolutely nobody to take him to school and pick him up for 2/5 days. We don't know anybody in this village and there are no CMs there either.

Has anyone been in the position of being offered a school place but due to job commitments (DS and DD are at CMs from 7:45am - 5pm 3 days per week) not have any way of getting them to school at 8:45am and picking up at 3:30pm? I have no flexibility (obviously) and DH may have but it would be tricky considering he was asked to change his work times!

How on earth do people manage this situation when a school place is offered but they have nobody available to drop off and pick up?

If DS is not offered either of his his 1st 2 choices, I would literally have to give up my job which would mean not being able to afford to live where we do because the margin of bills and mortgage and not going into debt is miniscule! DH has only just agreed to me going part time so I would feel at least some involvement in the nurturing and bringing up of our children!

ButterflyUpSoHigh Sat 15-Aug-15 22:22:14

Applications wll be from 1st September 2015 to 15th January 2016. You finc out in April 2016. Your childcare issues won't get you a school place nor would it help with an appeal.

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 15-Aug-15 22:22:51

You need to make your application by the deadline. Provided it is on time, it doesn't affect anything how early you are.

start by checking the admission criteria and recent furthest admitted distances for your favoured schools and take it from there.

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 15-Aug-15 22:23:48

Also think about breakfast and after school clubs at schools you are interested in.

YonicScrewdriver Sat 15-Aug-15 22:27:07

If you are given a place more then 2 miles away you should have access to free transport provided you applied to nearer schools but they were full and that you didn't turndown any nearer schools.

Deadline is usually around 15 Jan

murderedbystress Sat 15-Aug-15 22:27:25

None of the schools have breakfast clubs and after school clubs. If we show a need, do the schools have to provide?

I am JUST a teacher so I have no idea about these sort of politics!

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 15-Aug-15 22:28:35

No. They don't have to provide breakfast clubs. at least currently.

YonicScrewdriver Sat 15-Aug-15 22:29:23

Does your first choice give sibling priority over distance?

GiddyOnZackHunt Sat 15-Aug-15 22:36:09

I think you may have problems applying for schools 3a & 3b as they're in different counties. I think you could apply but you would almost certainly be last in line for places.
You need to apply before the deadline in January with schools 1&2 as your top 2 choices. Then frankly you need a third in county school. I don't know if you can submit an additional application to a neighbouring LEA. If you can the do that.
You can also go on waiting lists if you don't get a place immediately so there is a chance you'll get movement and a place.

LibrariesGaveUsPower Sat 15-Aug-15 22:37:37

Do you only get three choices where you live btw?

tiggytape Sat 15-Aug-15 22:56:23

It is very difficult and a lot of people find themselves in this position.
Even schools that have after-school clubs often have a waiting list so it is hard to get a place in the first year at school. Many people use childminders, relatives or even nannies or aupairs.

It is a good idea to try to plan as much as you can. Is there any other school near to where you or DH works that you could list as an option? Because the tiny and good one sounds lovely but is likely to fill up with locals. Is there a bigger or maybe less popular one you could also list? Or do you qualify in any higher admissions criteria at any school that is feasible for transport (eg is there a faith school near work and do you meet the faith criteria helping you to overcome the fact you live so far away)?
Can you investigate other childminders who are able to do differing school runs?
Do you have any other childcare options - a nanny share or aupair or some kind of shared arrangement?

I think you may have problems applying for schools 3a & 3b as they're in different counties. I think you could apply but you would almost certainly be last in line for places.
This isn't exactly the case. Nobody goes to the bottom of the list just for living in a different county. That's not allowed. It actually goes on distance not boundaries (except in rarer cases where schools have fixed priority or catchment areas). But Giddy is correct to point out that even just based on distance, you would be low on the list. Not because of your county but because of the 7 mile difference between you and the other people applying who will all be above you for places. Unless the school is hugely unpopular or located in a very remote location, it may be unlikely you'll get in from applying 7 -15 miles away.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 15-Aug-15 23:04:23

I think Giddy's advice is incorrect unless the neighbouring county uses defined catchments which happen to follow the LA border.

Otherwise, being in another authority would not put you last if you happened to be closer than some children living in county. In fact, leaving off a nearer school out of county to put one further away in county would probably be a terrible idea.

I think you need to look at all the nearest schools and find out how far the admitted this year. You need to find somewhere that he will be almost guaranteed to get into to put as one of your choices.

GiddyOnZackHunt Sat 15-Aug-15 23:09:44

Ah yes tiggy I agree that I was assuming that out of county would mean you'd be bottom of the pile on distance, but in theory another applicant in county could be further away. So no you wouldn't necessarily be last in priority but in practice you might struggle.

tricot39 Sun 16-Aug-15 11:54:00

These issues affect so many people. There are huge pressures on school places at the moment. As mentioned above you need to fill all of the slots on your application form and include at least one school that you have a realistic chance of getting into. If you put only one school or just your favourites, and they are oversubscribed/you are lower on the list than their intake, then you will be allocated a space at a school which has placed. If you are lucky this will be local, but if you search old threads you will see that people are often allocated very inconvenient options! Much better that you choose your own least inconvenient option than have it chosen for you :/

So look on your local authority's website for their information on starting primary school. The booklet for 2016 normally comes out in September but they may be organised early? If not the 2015 booklet will give information on all the schools in your county. You will need to check the other authority websites if you are crossing boundaries. The booklets will tell you how many places are/were offered and the cut off distances for place offers. These can change a lot between years so you can't rely on the info but it gives some indication of how likely you are to get a place. If there is pressure on places then some schools might be taking bulge classes this year so check for changes in class sizes between the 2015/16 booklets.

Near us, some schools had extra classes added after the booklets were printed so make sure you ask about places being offered directly with the schools. The advertised number of spaces does affect how many people include it on their application on the off chance of getting a place.

The booklets should give info on open evenings/days for all the schools.

Unless there are religious entry requirements, the criteria are normally: Looked after children; social/medical; sibling priority and then distance.

A neighbour of mine had hoped to invoke the social/medical criteria (quite justifiably). The headteacher gave some poor advice and didn't highlight that a letter from an Ed Psych or Social Worker is required so they didn't get a place at their nearest school. I suppose the lesson is make sure you read all the criteria and ensure you have the correct form of proof to meet them!

In that vein apply for a copy of your child benefit letter now as this is one of the few acceptable forms of proof for the child's address and always seems to cause a scramble over Xmas to meet the January deadline!

Ps remember to press submit on the phone online application form. You can fill in the form but without the final button the application doesn't go through. Don't be one of the many caught out by that hiccup either!!

Good luck

780539gjg Sun 16-Aug-15 13:14:55

Unfortunately OP this is one of the big reasons many women in rural areas don't work: schools less likely to have wrap around care and no childminders available.

PettsWoodParadise Sun 16-Aug-15 14:16:45

I hope you get one of your top choices. Is there a nursery anywhere that does pick ups for older children at nearish schools? I ask as there is one near us that caters for exactly this scenario. Maybe a parent has two DCs, one goes to nursery and one goes to school. Parent drops off both children at nursery at 7.45. All have breakfast together then bus takes older DC to school, later bus picks up older DC from school and gives both supper. Parent picks up both DCs from same location. Admittedly I am in the suburbs but same need in your area may generate a similar service in your area???

hibbleddible Sun 16-Aug-15 14:26:38

What about the school where you work?

Do they have a priority category for children of teachers? (Some schools do)

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Sun 16-Aug-15 14:39:19

I know it's no guarantee, but once your DC start at a school you will find it easier to tap into the informal networks that can be a godsend in these sorts of situations. Eg there may be another family in a similar position where you can care share / look after each other's DC for a couple of days etc etc. As well as child minders who say in their online profile that they are full, but would be willing to take on a child at the school who is in a fix otherwise.

Inkymess Sun 16-Aug-15 20:14:09

You need to seriously study the application and allocation information for all schools within 5 miles or so. You need to understand that you can state preferences but if more people qualify for places ahead of you, you won't get a place at them. The LA will then give you a place at the nearest school with a space etc You need to look at criteria, distanced etc and weigh up your odds for each school.
Everyone who works and doesn't have grandparents on tap is faced with each the same issues. Many apply to schools with wrap around care to help overcome it.

Phineyj Sun 16-Aug-15 21:27:48

But you can't 'apply to a school with wraparound care' if the options are so narrow already - you have to lump whatever's on offer (if anything) where you are allocated.

OP, having researched this myself (I am also a teacher with a commute) the options are:

1. Do a load of research, put down least bad options (you are a teacher - go and speak to the admissions person at your school and ask their advice - and this is the time to make use of all your contacts) and ask for further advice on here as you find out more. You definitely need to know if any schools give priority to children of staff and exactly what the admissions policies are in the two relevant counties.
2. Move house to somewhere with more spaces/childcare. You should consider whether a move to nearer DH's work, or your work, would help?
3. Consider getting an au pair or look into the suggestions above concerning nurseries and pick ups; if you can do drop-offs and pick-ups yourself two days a week, that might help a little.
4. However, you might find, ironically, that you need to go back to full time if the differential between needing wraparound 3 days a week and 5 days isn't that great. I have found making part time arrangements is more fiddly than full time.
5. I am assuming private school is out of the question (no generous relations, even if geographically distant?), however, round here the independents all provide wrap around care because they know which side their bread is buttered! You could look into bursaries. Some private schools also give significant fee remission to children of staff. Ask around amog teacher friends. You may be surprised.

You and DH need to think long term about this for the sake of both DC, even at the cost of short term expense and hassle.

Phineyj Sun 16-Aug-15 21:29:07

Among not amog!!

Inkymess Sun 16-Aug-15 22:00:23

Op what is the PAN for 1 & 2 and what was the distance that school 2 took the last few years? Are there other schools closer ?

murderedbystress Sun 16-Aug-15 22:40:22

Wow! Didn't expect so many replies! i will try to answer as many as I can.

3a school, 7 miles away is in my county. Last year, they didn't reach their number of 20 (had 18). 3b school IS in another county and though village, they too don't reach their number of 10!

I know my county allow others from another neighbouring county to attend school as it happens a lot. However I am not sure if 3b school's county would do the same (it's a different county to the one neighbouring us that we take pupils from, IYKWIM!)

My school is not an option. It was, even though it a 50 minute drive away. but since I am only part time, I am not prepared to drive 35 miles each way twice a week when I am not at work.

Private education is NOT an option. It was before DD came along 5 months ago!

There is another school next to DH's work in the other county (20 intake) and they do have an after school club but not sure about breakfast club. I could try there?

There is another town about 10 miles north of me with schools but over-subscribed and building a massive housing estate. The only town local enough for me to travel to but again, childcare issues. I may be able to find one but it would mean a massive travel distance for me to get to work.

Though I am rural, I am not THAT rural but enough for there not to be the choice of schools.

Someone asked, but yes, we get three choices. We can give reasons for those choices too (apparently!)

Hoping to get 1st choice - distance comes before siblings. There is a little girl at the nursery who lives outside the village. Her nearest catchment school is our 2nd choice but her brother goes to my 1st choice. There is a high chance, going by the rules, that she may not get a place.

Do rural schools often do bulge classes (is that what you call them?) when the intake is particularly high?

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 22:47:22

Decisions on bulge classes are made at an LA level - if overall there are enough places for children within a reasonable distance, no bulge class is created just because one school is over subscribed.

You can give reasons but unless they relate to a specific admissions category (e.g. medical) then they will NOT affect whether you get a place.

YonicScrewdriver Sun 16-Aug-15 22:48:15

Do you know if the schools combine year groups to make class sizes of 30?

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