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The primary school admissions minefield

(56 Posts)
mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 06:41:07

Hello everyone,

I’m new to mumsnet. I am currently going through the primary school admissions process and trying to get all of the information I need together to make the best choice I possibly can for my son. It's my first time.

I generally end up on the council's website to find what I need but it’s proving difficult. There has to be a better way.

Can anyone out there give me some guidance / where to look etc...

Thanks

Olive

AuntieStella Thu 12-Nov-15 06:45:57

What is the information you're having trouble tracking down?

mummytime Thu 12-Nov-15 06:50:02

Key points: visit the schools, and take "what people say" with a pinch of salt. Although people who work there can have very useful insights (this includes trainee teachers).

Find out which school/ schools you can pretty much guarantee you will get in if you apply - have it on your list - unless you hate it so much that you would rather travel miles to another "bad" school.

Then put your choices down in the order you prefer them.

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 06:49:56

Hi AuntieStella. Just general information really. I find I am having to go to so many different places to find things. Ofsted reports, school open days, websites, catchment area information, do I need to put down more that one choice when I do choose my school. It's not all that clear to me.

VocationalGoat Thu 12-Nov-15 06:51:38

If you go onto the education section of your council's website, you'll get a list of local state primaries/secondaries. Tgen look at all of your local primary school websites. Call them up and ask about their open days/ visits to the school. In my experience, I've met personally with the head teacher and I've had a look around. Read their Ofsted reports. Get feedback from nursery parents you know who already have a child/children in primary school.

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 06:52:28

Thanks mummytime. That's really useful. Going through this experience is really opening my eyes to how we could make things better. I think I might look into that once this is all over. :-) How did you find the whole experience?

meditrina Thu 12-Nov-15 06:55:51

Attachment areas (ie formal priority admissions area) should be clearly laid out as part of the admissions criteria, so there is no doubt which is your designated catchment school.

Are you in England? Because if so you also need to discover the greatest distance offered (you are not guaranteed a place at your catchment school if more children are higher up the criteria, by category or distance than yours).

Council websites vary in user-friendliness enormously. On some it's east to find all you need in a few clicks. Even if yours is as clear as mud, that and the schools' own websites are the main places to look.

VocationalGoat Thu 12-Nov-15 06:56:34

Apply using the online common application form (see council's website under education regarding form). I think it's 3 choices, never just one. Definitely choose 3. If you only choose 1 and your DC does not get in, he/she will be allocated a place at a school of the council's choosing and this could be next to impossible to dispute.

Flossieflower01 Thu 12-Nov-15 06:56:25

Each will have their own admission criteria so work out which category you fit in to then find out how far away the furthest admitted child in that category was last year- that will give you an idea for each school how likely you are to get in. Usually if you get to put down say five choices you will be assessed to see how many you are eligible for then you are offered the one highest up your list. So put them down in your real order of preference. You won't get into a school just because it's the only one you out down- if your not eligible for it you'll be offered a different school after every one has been given places (so probably the one that no one wants to go to or one miles away). Put down at least one that you have a good chance of getting into to avoid having to travel miles!

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 06:56:37

Hi VocationalGoat, thanks for the input. I'll do just that. Everyone is up early this morning. I didn't think I'd get any responses until later. My little one kept us up all night.

VocationalGoat Thu 12-Nov-15 06:58:15

Religious schools will expect both the common application form via the local authority AND a school application form along with a parish priest's reference.

AuntieStella Thu 12-Nov-15 06:58:54

This gives an overview

www.gov.uk/schools-admissions but does keep signposting you back to your council website.

Key thing: deadline for reception admissions is 15 January.

VocationalGoat Thu 12-Nov-15 06:59:22

Oh my goodness, I live in the house of the sleepless zombies. Sympathy hugs! grinflowersbrew

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:02:00

Hello meditrina,

I live in Buckinghamshire. The council's website can indeed be confusing. I must have downloaded about 30 pdfs just to get to grips with the different criteria the schools have.

VocationalGoat Thu 12-Nov-15 07:03:25

I think with my first we lived in a borough which gave us 6 choices. Where we live now offers us 3 choices. So I suppose it depends on where you live. It's a stressful process..flowers

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:03:48

Hey VocationalGoat,

I think my daughter could get by on 20 mins sleep most of the time. I think I have little feet shaped bruises in my back this morning :-)

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:04:45

Thanks AuntieStella

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:05:28

Thank you Flossieflower01, that is VERY useful.

gingerdad Thu 12-Nov-15 07:08:15

Edubase is a good site to work out which schools are close especially if you're near a council boundary.

Take anything ofsted with a massive pinch of salt.

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:08:40

Thank you everyone. Much food for thought.

I really am going to look at how we could make this all a bit less painful. It's what I do when not running around after the children.

Would be great to hear about your experiences having gone through it so that I can maybe get in front of a few council's and see if they can do anything to help us out more.

PerspicaciaTick Thu 12-Nov-15 07:09:16

Your LA should publish (possibly online) a booklet detailing the admissions process, the admissions criteria for each of the schools in the area, information like that PAN of each school, the numbers of applications received for each school and the last criteria under which a child was admitted last year, plus school addresses and phone numbers.
This should help you narrow down your options before doing more research.

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:09:31

Thanks gingerdad. That is a good one.

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:10:25

Thanks PerspicaciaTick

mumonawire80 Thu 12-Nov-15 07:15:14

One more thing. I've heard different things in regard to Ofsted. How much faith do you have in the reports?

SelfRaisingFlour Thu 12-Nov-15 07:17:27

It is important to read the information provided by your Local Authority in their admission booklet. Other parents will come out with urban myths and advice about what was true a few years ago.

On the Ofsted website there is a school "dashboard" giving information about the schools. dashboard.ofsted.gov.uk

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