primary catchment areas(27 Posts)
DH and I are currently ttc for the first time. We have also wanted to move house for a while so we are now also considering being in the catchment area of the primary schools.
I'm getting a bit anxious about the whole school thing as there is a lot of competition in the area as it is popular and some schools are better than others. My question is -
Does anyone know if primary schools change the radius of their catchment areas?
My worry is we move but as future child would not be at school age for a while I wouldn't want to move again.
I appreciate this is all hypothetical but moving house is expensive so would want to stay put.
Yes they can change as there might be more children born or living there one year. All schools have their admissions policy on their website. So I would look at a house and then look at schools websites.
Unless you a church school for example that has specific rules the catchment will move over time. It's basically the furthest distance of any child admitted not under sibling or any other criteria. So it will move according to number of children in the area that year. it will also grow / shrink according to popularity of school. In5 years it could be completely different from now.
You need to google the admissions for your local school and your local council for how far out the last applicant accepted to the school lives.
My area has Priority Admissions Areas which means that children in those areas have priority over children who do not even if the children who do not live closer.
Most areas don't.
Assuming it's not a church school then the priorities are normally, Looked After Children, Adopted Children, medical needs then siblings followed by kids who live closest to the school.
Academies and church schools will have different priority lists so Google.
If you find out that the last offered place was 1 mile last year and your house is 0.8 miles, it doesn't mean that you're safe this year. There might be a lot of siblings or a new housing development closer to the school than your house meaning that the radius shrinks.
They will have a defined catchment. However, even without it officially changing, some years not everyone in catchment will get a place and other years some applicant outside of catchment may still get a place. It really depends on birth rate. If you choose the school you want you can ring the LA and ask the furthest distance that got solace in the last 3yrs then draw a radius ring around the school.
Our LA doesn't have defined catchments, priority admissions criteria will include LAC/Sen , then siblings, distance , practiced religion, parish or any combination of. We also have some infant/junior schools for which you apply for transfer in y2 and some infant schools get priority for specific junior schools over pupils at others ie. are feeder schools. Given that admissions criteria can be changed a year ahead of applications and the distance will vary depending on number of applicants, you will always have some uncertainty.
Thank you for your replies. It seems like a scary/stressful business. My neighbour has just moved 3 streets down to be in catchment!
I suppose a lot changes in 5 years, so perhaps we should just move and see what happens.
Property and moving is so flipping pricey it seems like you have to look 5 years down the line though.
While obviously a lot can change in 5 years, this site is good for getting an overview: www.schoolcatchment.co.uk/
Good luck. We're moving too - so expensive!
It varies a lot by area. Where we are there are catchments that are part of the admissions criteria. Locally these are council parishes, but in other areas they are named roads. Our local authority schools have in-catchment above out of catchment with a sibling at the school. Academies are their own admissions authorities and may have different criteria to local authorities.
If I was moving house, the main thing I'd be concerned about in an urban/suburban area is that there are 'black holes' where you live between loads of schools, but not close enough to get into any of them and end up travelling miles to any school with spaces. I also think that these black holes will grow and more will appear, so I'd want to be very clearly inside a catchment/radius.
My main concerns in a rural area would be a very small school that might be deemed unviable at some point or only faith schools being available (that's a personal preference rather than a practicality).
Of course in 5 years, the schools can also change hugely, indeed in even a couple of years it's possible - although if your main criteria for a "good school" is having the right kind of parents around you at drop off, then would take longer to change...
Imagine a scenario where the main driver for a school's success is the quality of the management team - they move from small school to neighbouring big underperforming school because of the challenge and money etc. Leaving the previous school with a new management team, and the not sought after one now with a great one.
In five years our area used to have a two mile 'catchment' for its six form entry primary school. Now it is under a mile which sounds a lot for SE London but as a six form entry school this distance is rather small. This is down to a combination of more families buying in the area, more homes being built, more families moving away after getting DC1 in but keeping their children at the school and leaving fewer places for local families. It just got an ofsted outstanding in the last month and predictions are the catchment will shrink even further. I know a family who bought a house 1 mile away when they were looking to start a family and didn't get a place at the April allocations. However another friend in a neighbouring borough got a school she thought was out of catchment as the trend seems to be to expand existing schools to larger intakes rather than build completely new schools. Sibling intake in small schools can also mean in some years (especially if there was a bulge class two years previously) mean the catchment can be zero. It is all very challenging!
In your position buy in a good area with ideally a couple of options in case one goes bad (we have localities here like where I live) and give yourself wriggle room on distance. It can seem attractive when your little bundle is small that a small school will be more suitable but do consider the benefits of a larger school in offering a wider curriculum, more clubs, more friends and for catchments catering for more than a few hundred yards. Personally living next door to a school would be my idea of hell but some people do it but usually if they are looking at an in-year admission rather than part of the normal round. Schoolchecker is a good guide but the school admissions booklets which detail distance given each year or other entrance criteria like banding, raffle, religion etc etc will also be a good thing to review.
I think the thing to consider is firstly school change ..My own secondary school changed rapidly ( to a fantastic school ) after Ieft and school got a new head.
My DS school got a requires improvement from Ofsted when we joined. There is a lot of money and training gone into the school. It came out good last Ofsted and everything I know I would far rather my ds. was at his school than the outstanding school the other side of the town.
You want to hit a school on its way up. I'm not sure how easy it is to get that right.
Thanks everyone. Your thoughts and advice is very valuable. I have seen a house that is 0.2 miles away from a 'good' school. That is the closest one. Surely 0.2 miles is good enough?! It has around 400 pupils. Is this considered big or small? The next closest school is 0.5 miles away bit rightmove says it is out of catchment.....
Primary education itself seems like such a gamble with just one classroom teacher per academic year, whether the teacher is good or not but I suppose that is a different conversation altogether! ;)
Pettswood - I've never heard of these 'black holes' and thanks for pointing out other things to consider
Surely 0.2 miles is good enough
It depends where you are. In some parts of London that could be too far away to get a place. Find out from the LA what the distance was for the last child admitted this year. That will give you some indication but there are no guarantees.
It has around 400 pupils. Is this considered big or small
That suggests a PAN of 60, so two classes in each year. I would say that is fairly average.
We are outer London / Surrey borders and our local school had a catchment of 352 meters my daughters year. So .2 miles is not necessarily enough.that was with an intake of two classes.
The catchment areas can change dramatically. We bought our house 2 years ago and were well within catchment. This year we didn't get a place for dc1 as the catchment had halved from 1300m to 660m. We missed it by 20 metres. There are no guarantees.
Please do not rely on rightmove's mapping tool. You need to look at the stats for the local authority and also any mapping information they make available online which will go from the exact middle of the property. I think rightmove just uses postcode.
Things can change very quickly, but also "Ofsted outstanding" may not be what you want in a school as a wonderful school which doesnt meet attendance or SATs targets can't be deemed outstanding - even if unlike another school it supports all children and parents and doesn't tell parents of kids needing support to move schools. We unexpectedly didn't get into either of our two nearest schools and assigned one that used to be avoided by everyone who tried - three years later it has a waiting list as large as its intake and the nearer "outstanding" school is one people want to escape.
I'd try to relax and just be prepared to move school or house if your school doesn't suit your child, because no school suits everyone.
It can vary, yes. I live near to two different local authorities. One has defined catchment area boundaries and in-catchment admissions always get priority over out-of-catchment. The way the boundaries are drawn (usually using particular streets as the boundary line), someone could live right behind a school but be out of catchment for that school, yet someone who lives 1 mile away could be in catchment. And yes, the boundary lines change over time due to new housing and population dynamics.
The other local authority near us has no catchment areas, but does use distance from the school to prioritise applications from the same category (I.e if two people had no siblings at school and no special needs etc., the one who lived nearer would get the place). In oversubscribed schools, quite often many / all of the places are already taken by children with siblings already at the school as generally these get priority.
Also to consider - lots of schools are converting to academies. These are out of local authority control and set their own admissions criteria.
Your best bet would be to move to an area where there are lots of good schools so even if you didn't get your first choice, the alternative would be OK. Although bear in mind that a good school now might be terrible by the time your child is due to attend and vice versa.
I wouldn't necessarily rely on Rightmove about catchment areas.
I looked at the Rightmove school map for our house when our neighbours had theirs on the market. Rightmove seems to use "as the crow flies" for distance. Our LEA uses safe walking routes for distance. The Rightmove map therefore gave a very misleading idea of how likely it would be for someone buying our neighbours house to get a place at our local school.
DD1 went to an outstanding rated infant school. The year she left, the head retired and a new one was appointed - fast forward 18 months and the school is in special measures!
Don't rely in the fact that a school performs well now will mean it does in 5 years time, there really are no guarantees.
I know people who moved to be in a catchment area and still didn't get in.
Between moving and applying, a lot more house were built in the immediate area so, even though my friends were in the catchment. She was still too far away, all places were taken by families living closer.
It's very very difficult to know what to do. As pp says schools can go from bad to great in 5 years, and great to bad.
Thanks everyone. My conclusion is that there is no way to know 5 years down the line so I'm best being nearish to some schools and just seeing what happens.....
This is such a big thing for people to have to go through and shows how important good schooling and intake numbers are. Shame that the government don't seem to appreciate the importance and are just shirking responsibility by pushing the academies idea!!
Thank you all for you thoughts.
Depends where you live really. We live in London and schools don't have catchment areas but a cut off point for the last distance a child was admitted on distance criteria which can vary from year to year depending on how many kids have siblings, looked after children and SEN.
Definitely look at council websites for areas you're looking to move to see how it works and find somewhere with a few good options.
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