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Buying a house in primary school catchment area

(16 Posts)
Runningbutnotscared Tue 05-Jul-16 12:02:38

I am completely out of my depth and don't know what to do. So this is more of a WWYD or even what did you do?

We are moving (from the deepest countryside to a proper city), I have an eighteen month old ds who will need to go to school. In the areas we are considering are moving to where we can afford the nicest house, most of the schools have a 'good' offsed rating, two thirds of the kids have English as second language (clever clever children).
Or, we could look at much smaller houses with smaller gardens and perhaps move to an area where the junior school has an 'outstanding' rating. I don't know if it's a coincidence but at this school 90% of kids will have English as a first language.
I really don't know if the language thing has any bearing on early years education, I don't believe I'm being racist, it's the only thing different between the schools that I've been able to pick out.

We have to consider this now as I don't see us being able to move in a few years to change our catchment area. I don't know what kind of learner my ds is going to be, so there is no point visiting the schools now (if they would even let me).

If we weren't moving for work my ds would have gone to the local school, I wouldn't have checked any online checker, and I would have been very very happy with it.

So, how do people do this? Do you buy a tiny house in a good catchment area or a better house where the schools look ok?

(FWIW my Dh thinks I've got a screw loose worrying about this now)

DonkeyOaty Tue 05-Jul-16 12:07:47

The thing is, schools can do the snakes and ladders thing in the intervening years

I would chose a house that best suits your family needs

sirfredfredgeorge Tue 05-Jul-16 12:12:51

And I'd avoid a school that doesn't reflect the local population, it probably doesn't for a reason distinct from the quality of the school.

Kittyrobin Tue 05-Jul-16 12:14:59

Being in a good school is really important. But as pp said a lot can change by the time your dd starts school. I guess don't place all your eggs in one basket, we moved to an area where there were 2 good schools in catchment and 2 good junior schools, rather than 1 outstanding school.

Blueroses99 Tue 05-Jul-16 12:53:48

I totally understand why you are concerned Running. I'm actually in a very similar situation and wanted to ask the same sort of question. I live in in a tiny house in the catchment area of an outstanding infant and junior school. But as I'm 20wks pregnant, we are looking to move house, we just need more space. I've found a place I like about half a mile away which is a lovely house, big garden, in our budget, 5mins from my parents but is in the catchment of 2 good infant schools (one downgraded from outstanding, and one upgraded from requires improvement). DH would prefer to stay closer to the outstanding schools, even it means a smaller home at the very top of our budget. There is nothing in the immediate area that is available right now so we'd have to see what came on the market in the next few weeks and possibly not be able to move before baby arrives. So really interested in the advice of big house good schools vs smaller house outstanding schools.

blowmybarnacles Tue 05-Jul-16 13:00:15

Primary school represents 15% of education attainment.
You are over thinking it and schools can change over time
Buy a nice house in a nice area, enough space and nice amenities. Just buy the house you'd like to live in and think you'll be happy in.

suitcaseofdreams Tue 05-Jul-16 13:05:04

I really wouldn't pay too much attention to the current OFSTED ratings - especially not if it's a good few years before your child will start at the school

So much can change in a relatively short space of time - outstanding schools can lose their way (often because they lose their headteacher), have high staff turnover and fall into needing improvement. Schools needing improvement/in special measures will get significant investment and will likely improve quickly
It's impossible to predict where the OFSTED ratings will be when your child is old enough to attend

Plus OFSTED is just one measure of whether it's the right school for you/your child. I would go and visit some of the local schools, get a feel for whether you think they would be a good fit (you may want to consider bigger vs smaller school, what their vision and ethos are, is the focus very much on academics, are they relaxed vs 'strict', do they offer good wraparound care, what extra curricular activities are on offer etc etc - and then think about how important all these different factors are for you)

Ultimately though you are going to have a gamble a bit - I'd try to find the best possible house which also seems to be well positioned for more than one 'good' (and I use that not in the OFSTED sense but in the sense of a good fit for you and your family) school to give yourself as many options as possible - there just aren't going to be any guarantees...

best of luck!

suitcaseofdreams Tue 05-Jul-16 13:07:22

PS I saw you said no point visiting schools now but why not? You can still get a sense of their character and see what the site is like - even if you acknowledge that some things may change before your child starts there

PatriciaHolm Tue 05-Jul-16 13:09:56

Also be mindful of what "catchment" actually means where you are. In many places, there are no fixed "catchments" and what people mean by "catchment" is simply "area the school usually admits within" and as such this distance can move quite substantially year on year. Living within such a "catchment" guarantees nothing about school admission. Indeed, living within a fixed catchment often doesn't guarantee entry, it just confers some priority.

Wolfiefan Tue 05-Jul-16 13:11:16

Agree with Patricia. There is no fixed catchment round here. It depends how many children apply each year and where they live.

WhattodoSue Tue 05-Jul-16 13:26:42

I would say you essentially need to make a decision about which school you like best. So you DO need to visit. Lots of open days in September, so go, see what you think of the school, what you think of the headteacher. Go to the school fair this summer, or the Christmas one, see what you think of the atmosphere. It is a bit pot-luck, but you just need to see which school you like, and buy your house very close to that one. If you don't mind too much either way, then choose your favourite house, close to one of the schools. Some schools change dramatically, others stay quite similar (for good or bad). Sadly, there is a bit of luck as to whether it turns out to be the right school for you child, so all you can do is try to make the best decision on the information currently available.

HeadDreamer Tue 05-Jul-16 13:30:52

The schools will be having open days after the summer holidays. Definitely go and have a look then. Why not? It's a very important decision buying a house, as you already know. I don't think the ofsted reports in your case should make your decision. They are good and outstanding. Far from failing isn't it?

t4gnut Tue 05-Jul-16 14:02:47

Personally I'd take the good with the diverse intake - kids will get a better grounding and teachers tend to work a damn sight harder and have a far better understanding of each child.

clam Tue 05-Jul-16 18:51:31

with the diverse intake - kids will get a better grounding and teachers tend to work a damn sight harder and have a far better understanding of each child.

What on earth do you mean by that? hmm

smellyboot Tue 05-Jul-16 23:19:55

I'd visit the schools. Your child could start school nursery at 3 in our area... The only way you will form an opinion on schools is to visit. They can vary greatly. Some are more formal, some are more creative, some are very mixed in demographic and some are not. Some large, some small. Ofsted is only a tiny bit of the equation. And outstanding schools don't get visited really, so check if they have done their own benchmarking since. ( 5 yrs since our school had a visit).

CodyKing Tue 05-Jul-16 23:26:46

From experience - local good school now in special measures - previous special measures now good - all in less then 3 years.

Check out the pupil premium stats - my DS didn't qualify for extra help because he wasn't one of the worse - but he does need help. Too many kids with behaviour and social difficulties. He was the missed middle.

I would go pastural care over results. Some get inflated.

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