School admissions for sept 2016

(55 Posts)
alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 09:03:41

Hi,
Just after some thoughts really. We are applying for schools for our child to start set 2016. In our area it's so so hard to get any school you would prefer. For example, our closest catchment school is 0.252 miles away from us but the cut off last year was 0.248 so our neighbour didn't get her child in. There are others closer but they are not good schools and I wouldn't want my child to go there.
I'm a qualified teacher so have a teacher head on and mummy head on. I've viewed many schools and have my 'favourites'
1) a village school, recently graded outstanding, 3 miles away, fantastic teaching witnessed, resources, pastoral care, enthusiasm and confidence from the children
2) catchment school(0.252 miles away) , good ofsted, very good academic statistics, I didn't get a good vibe from it- bit stuck in its ways & the reception area was a mess, all the resources falling apart etc.
3) church school ,1.7 miles away, outstanding school, links to child's pre school, great teaching, some great learning tools, confident children.

I'm taking Dh along to view no.1 &2 of our choices literally days before the submission has to be in.

My dilemma is what order to put them in, realistically 3 miles is some distance especially but 0.252 miles is a short distance but no one has got in the last few years being that close...

No.3 our child would be 7th criteria as not baptised etc. I have viewed another village school about 3.5 miles away that has 75 pupils in total and planned intake of 12. It's a tiny school with literally 3 rooms. The headteacher was lovely, knows every child. This school is 5 mins from my mum ( if childcare is needed when I return to teaching in a few years)

Sorry for the waffling!! Basically we re thinking to replace church option with tiny village one? As it stands she s highly unlikely to get into no.2 and no.1 depends on siblings etc.

Any thoughts? It's all very tactical sad

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 09:04:12

Apologies for typos! Multitasking feeding 9wk old!

LibrariesgaveusP0wer Sat 19-Dec-15 09:13:24

Do you only get three choices in your area.

If you are unlikely to get into no.2 and no.1 wouldn't have taken you last year, no. 3 needs to be your banker. It isn't really about which school you like best - it's about which you stand the best chance of getting into.

No point having a three item wish list and ending up with a school you hate, possibly miles away.

meditrina Sat 19-Dec-15 09:13:25

1) if it is your catchment school, you'll be higher up the priority criteria than people who live outside catchment. But if it is typically full of catchment children who live closer to you, then you cannot rely on a place.

(Catchment having the specific meaning of "priority admissions area" - they do not exist in all parts of the country, and can be odd shapes, so it's not that uncommon for your catchment school not to be your closest).

2) Put the schools in the order that you want them. Because if, for some fluke, it's a low numbers year and you qualify for more than one of them, you'll be offered the one you gave highest preference to.

3) you need to include one school in bottom place that you are as near as dammit sure you'll qualify for. If you use all choices with 'only if we're really lucky' schools, and qualify for none of them, you will be placed in the nearest undersubscribed school. It sounds like it won't be your catchment school, as it is oversubscribed to the extent it cannot take all its catchment children some years.

I'd order your choices 1) 3) (or other village) 2) if you're prepared to risk a council allocation at any school.

Otherwise 1), 2) and continue research for a banker for 3)

prh47bridge Sat 19-Dec-15 09:23:26

Agree with the previous posters. It isn't tactical at all. You have to choose two schools that you want and one where you are almost certain to get a place and which is less unacceptable than the alternatives. Once you have chosen those schools you put them in your genuine order of preference. You won't lose out on a place at a local school just because you put it third.

MrsHathaway Sat 19-Dec-15 09:47:54

At least one of your listed preferences should be a "banker": it sounds as though all the schools you're looking at are oversubscribed so there's a real danger that you might not get into any of them.

A crap school five minutes away is better than a crap school an hour away. Remember that the LA meets its obligations as soon as it offers you a place in any school. You are applying for a school place and indicating school preferences, not choosing schools: the distinction matters.

So ...

Look at several years' data (eg Google "primary admissions <LA name> 2014"). The 2015 entry may have been a blip with other years 0.68 miles or greater.

Find which school(s) you would be reasonably certain of getting into based on previous years' data. Include the most certain bet that is acceptable (eg might not be Outstanding but feeds into the better secondary, is on your way to work, has wraparound on site).

Once you have three schools on your list, list them in genuine preference order.

MrsHathaway Sat 19-Dec-15 09:49:22

Cross posted with others (some of whose names I recognise as experts) giving basically the same advice.

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 10:30:23

Thank you for all your thoughts :-) I've googled the admissions from past years and it's so different year upon year which is normal. So maybe at 0.252 miles away we would get into local one this year if numbers of siblings/lac are low.

The thing is there are no 'banker' school really as they are all totally oversubscribed sad all are one form entry too which obviously makes it more difficult. The bad school 5 mins away is probably what she would get as its two form entry. The tiny village school has pan for 12 but can increase it so that's why I'm thinking it may be worth putting that down. They are never full..

More houses continue to be built in the areas and only two more schools have been built. They have planned intakes of 15 per class (one form entry again!). The amount of new housing estates way outnumbers the number of school places.

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 10:30:54

libraries yes only 3 choices in our area

FishWithABicycle Sat 19-Dec-15 10:47:13

By "banker" they mean the least bad of the ones you don't like. You said in your opening post There are others closer but they are not good schools and I wouldn't want my child to go there. - that's a shame, but unless you have the option to go private or home school if you don't get one of the 3 better-but-further-away schools, you have a real possibility of getting assigned to as school that is just as bad AND 2.5miles away. So choice #3 should be the "best of a bad bunch" school that is close by. If you end up getting a place at this school it doesn't stop you from appealing for/staying on waiting list for schools #1 and #2.

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 11:25:27

Regarding wrap around care -the tiny village school doesn't have it sad I'll be returning to work in a few years so need that. But the school nearest does as does the one 3 miles away.

It's all so stressful

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 11:29:29

Ah ok fish thing is there's no way she s going to the one that I hate that's in walking distance so that's why gearing towards the little village one. She may get in there and it would be the best of the bad bunch.
We have been offered support to go private but we are not wanting that route when there are good schools in the area. Dd will do well in a state school as long as it's a decent school. I haven't chosen the amazing all singing/dancing ones so that's good I just need to be 100% on the banker one.
If she doesn't get in any of our choices and gets the one closest I'll go through all the appeals etc then possibly home school for a while. The school in question would ruin her chances of a good education.

BondJayneBond Sat 19-Dec-15 11:38:12

Don't count on appeals.

Infant class size legislation limits the number of children that can be admitted (max 30 per class), and the only way you can win an appeal where infant class size legislation applies, is if the council has messed up your application and this has cost your DC a place. PANs of under 30 can also fall under infant class size legislation if the school has mixed age group classes.

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 11:44:31

Yes I'm aware of the pan. I wondered re the mixed age pan limits as the village school has mixed age groups. The headteacher said she can and is happy to take over the pan of 12 so I wonder what she is legally allowed to take.

Thanks so much for all your help/info. I shall try to consolidate all the info and when I have a spare few minutes I'll have a good think ( spare minutes with a 4 yr old and 9 week old... Impossible haha)

catkind Sat 19-Dec-15 11:54:05

If you're definitely not prepared to send her to more local schools and are prepared to home school for a bit, I'd say it's not that tactical at all. Work out which schools you want and might have some chance of, put them in the order of your preference.

I'm not really sure why you're thinking of putting the nearest school there as you say you wouldn't have got in in the past few years admissions rounds and you don't like it either?

How easy a drive are the 3/3.5 miles ones? We had this sort of drive at one point, but it was across a busy town and a complete nightmare.

For the working out if you have a chance. You say the nearest one you wouldn't have got in the last few years? What about the religious one, you would be 7th criterion, do they usually admit children under that criterion and if so what have the maximum distances been? And the others? Any idea how many siblings are expected at any of the four you've mentioned?

BondJayneBond Sat 19-Dec-15 12:03:35

Being vague to avoid anything too outing. Last year my nearest school (only school in our village) had a PAN that was not a multiple of 30 or 15. They teach mixed age groups.

When I went to the open evening, the head was very vocal about wanting to accept every child in the village who wanted to go there, and as an example of how committed to this they were, he said that the previous year, they had admitted more children than the PAN. The mixed age groups made it possible for them to slot the extra children in. Someone asked if they'd admit over the PAN again this year if they were oversubscribed, and the head made noises about how they'd do everything possible to admit all the children in the village.

When it came to our school offers day, DS1 did not get a place at our nearest school. There were several other children living nearer the school than us who didn't get in either, as well as more further away than us within the village.

I spoke to the head teacher after this, and basically, admitting children above the PAN in previous years meant that for DS1's intake, the PAN brought the school right up against infant class size legislation. They didn't have room for even one more child than the PAN without breaching the legislation. If they'd not admitted children above the PAN in the previous year, they'd have been able to take a couple of extra children in DS1's year.

Some parents appealed, but every appeal was refused on the grounds of infant class size legislation.

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 14:01:20

Thanks all! I'm posting from my phone so unable to read and reply properly. I'll post back with more information when I get a spare few minutes ( possible with a 4 year old and 9 week old!!?)

alien11 Sat 19-Dec-15 14:03:09

Ps where do I find information on the last few years intake /distance etc?

MrsHathaway Sat 19-Dec-15 14:20:43

It should be published by the LA although might be buried somewhere.

I'd recommend starting with a simple Google of eg Haringey primary admissions 2015.

BondJayneBond Sat 19-Dec-15 14:50:24

My local council produces a primary schools admissions brochure, which can be downloaded from the education section of their website.
There are tables in the back detailing how many applications there were for each school in the previous year, and, if oversubscribed, what criteria the last child admitted came under (including distances where relevant).

LibrariesgaveusP0wer Sat 19-Dec-15 14:56:50

I presume as a teacher you're aware that an ICS appeal is almost doomed to failure? So don't hang anything on the appeal.

When you say 'possibly' home school, does that mean you would possibly consider it, or it's your genuine fall back? If it's the latter, choose the schools you want for the three. But you do need a banker. As others have said, that isn't a good school you'll definitely get into (unless you are very lucky). For most people a banker is the rubbish school that is, at least, 0.5 of a mile away, rather than be allocated a rubbish school three miles away. If you are willing to home school, that can become your 'banker'.

The bad school 5 mins away is probably what she would get as its two form entry.

Are you sure? Was that school undersubscribed last year? Round here, you wouldn't get the local school a lot of people don't like. You would get one of a number of much further away schools. Because much as people discount one of the schools, they still get plenty of people who do want it, or who 'banker' it.

I also assume you've visited that school before discounting it?

Given you have said that it's all small intakes, do do some research on past years too. For example, I know a 30 PAN popular school that took a bulge class, who are currently in year 1. On an average year there are about 15 places go to siblings. Next year there is a massive sibling bulge - informal word on the street is that those 60 kids (and kids who don't have a two year gap with their siblings) have created in excess of 25 siblings for admission in 2016. There will only be a handful of non sibling places. With only three choices (as opposed to the 5 or 6 some areas give) you really can't afford to waste choices on a school like that. You can ask about that sort of stuff at the schools you are visiting, it doesn't necessarily show up in admission data.

Does the church school normally get down to criterion 7 on their admissions?

BananaPie Sat 19-Dec-15 18:34:16

libraries is right - you may not get the crap school that's 5 mins away if you don't apply for it. You may end up with a crap school that's much further away.

FishWithABicycle Sat 19-Dec-15 19:12:33

you may not get the crap school that's 5 mins away if you don't apply for it. You may end up with a crap school that's much further away

That's the point I think op has missed. But if you genuinely have the capacity/option to home school or go private if all else fails then there is less need for a banker.

Every year there are dozens of families who use their 3 choices to apply for excellent schools that they don't live near to, in order to avoid school X nearby, they get none of their 3 choices but instead of getting X they get School Y - just as bad as X if not worse - the other side of town, and are worse off.

But if your school X would actually trigger homeschooling/private anyway then there's no harm done if the op puts herself in this situation. Sadly most of the people who end up there do not have these options.

admission Sat 19-Dec-15 23:01:54

If the village school literally has three rooms, then realistically you have a net capacity of the school of 3 x 30 = 90, which given the seven year groups would therefore have a PAN of 12 or 13 per year group. They have chosen to go with a PAN of 12.
You need to think a bit about the possible classroom organisation and my bet would be reception / year 1 (so 24 in the class) then year 2/3 + some of year 4 followed by some of year 4 /year 5 and year 6.
The rec/ year 1 class would have to be considered under the infant class size regs of 30 maximum but because the next class would have a minority of infant pupils, it can be any size.
I would therefore suspect that the school is letting reception and year 1 going above PAN to 15 admission number, so making up the maximum that the school can have in the class under the ICS Regs. I would not bet on them taking more unless the previous year groups have been very lumpy in numbers.
The other point that you seem to be forgetting is that if the school is as good as you think it is then you might not be the only one eyeing up the possibility of places at the school.
Whilst you might be saying the very local school your child is not going to, I think there is a fair chance that is exactly where they may end up or in an even more difficult school much further away. I think that I would in your circumstances be considering the outstanding village school as first preference, the village school as second preference and the bad school five minutes away as third preference. But it is clearly your decision

alien11 Sun 20-Dec-15 07:21:59

Hi all!
Ok time for a catch up and to answer your questions. Re admissions for the last few years for the school 0.252 miles away -2015 entry was 0.2802 with 13 siblings, 2014 was 0.233 with 18 siblings, 2013-0.460 with 9 siblings . This year they expect 9-14 siblings but obviously are unsure how many will want a place ( I emailed the school but totally forgot I had asked!) reading this back I need to recalculate our distance as our neighbour is closer and didn't get in last year. I know it's calculated to a random point in the school so that would make up the difference.
Re the tiny village school - the classes are R/1, 2, 3/4, 5/6.
I've viewed all the schools in question.

Your thoughts have really helped and I'm going to try and arrange a viewing of the not so good local school again. Also, it's an infant school so I'm thinking if she got in there there would be the option to transfer to another school in Year 3 if we wanted too.

catkind the drive to the one 3/3.5 miles away are good drives, one main road which I use to take dd to pre school three days a week anyway and then country lanes.

The furthest distance for the other schools varies greatly through the years. My number 1 school took up to 3.3 miles last year, 2.46 the year before, 1.56 the year before. They are also expecting 9 siblings.

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