Catchment areas(22 Posts)
DS will start school in September 2018. We're just checking out schools in a new area, had an offer accepted on a house we love so should be moving in the next few weeks. We're much closer distance-wise to two Outstanding ones but according to the map on the local council website (using our new postcode) we'd fall into the catchment of a different school rated Good.
Would there still be a chance of a place in either of the two Outstanding ones? Is it just as important to get a feeling from open days etc on a school rather than just reading the Ofsted reports? Would love some feedback/opinions.
It will depend on whether the Outstanding ones take children from out of their catchment areas or not. This varies from year to year and the Admissions Department of the Local Authority should publish the admissions data for each school so you can see if any child was taken from out of catchment. With some schools, they do not even take all in catchment. You can then make an informed decision about whether it is worth applying or not. The danger of not putting your catchment school first, is that you may not get that either if it fills up on first preference children. You will not be on their admissions list and you may be offered another school miles away that still has spaces after their preferences and catchment children are all offered places. So guard against that.You must find out if you have any reasonable chance of the Outstanding schools, but you may end up wanting your catchment school anyway. The fail-safe position is opting for your catchment school first.
There may be very little difference between the schools rated Outstanding and Good. It would also depend how long ago the inspections were and the track record of the schools over time. For example, some schools have always been excellent and probably always will be. Others vary and yoyo in quality. If a school is consistent looking back over inspections, then you can see they have a good track record. Some schools with a very middle class intake can look much more successful than ones that do not. School data is now all about the progress the children make, not just results, so dig that out from the Government's web site.
Do go to open days. It is important you have a look round and see the school at work and see what their ethos is and if you like what they do. Get a feel for how the school works in the classrooms. You may find one school has more after school clubs, or does better music or sport for example and you might like that about the school.
Usually the School websites have a section about suitable criteria. Could you ring them and ask?
"The danger of not putting your catchment school first, is that you may not get that either if it fills up on first preference children. "
Not true. There is no danger of this in the 'equal preference' system that all councils in England must (by law) use.
Sorry for staccato posts, page keeps reloading and I'm losing what I type.
Equal preference means relevant admissions authority gets a list of everyone who has applied. They are not told whether it was first, second or last preference.
Thank you both - to be honest the policy on the council website appears to be for all schools in the council area, the individual schools don't appear to have their own admissions policies as I've seen in other areas (e.g. distance from school, siblings etc). It seems a bit confusing.
I rang the council just now and she confirmed we were in the catchment for the Good school (albeit right on the very edge, close to one of the Outstanding) ones - she said it was catchment, siblings and distance in that order. The Good one was last inspected in 2013, whereas the Outstanding ones haven't had a full inspection in years so that might be worth bearing in mind. We absolutely adore the new house and it's convenient for links to our work etc, but I'm (probably foolishly) a bit miffed that we're not in the catchment for the Outstanding schools like we initially assumed (I'm 36 weeks pregnant and mid-house buy so stressing about everything at the moment!)
The lists then get returned to LEA who turn them into a single offer per candidate. Your preference is only considered if you qualify for more than one school, in which case you get the one you listed highest
So I could put the two Outstanding ones as 1 and 2, and the Good as 3? I think there's 3 choices.
Ding read too much into ofsted. Go visit the schools when you can and get a feel for them. Ofsted can't tell you which school will suit your child best.
Don't base a house purchase on an Ofsted report. An "outstanding" school is not necessarily any better for your child than a "good" school.
Can you find any information about whether someone living in your potential new address would typically get into the outstanding school you like? (this should be part of the last year's admissions information). Round here everything is catchment driven, and it's extremely unusual for anyone to get into an out of catchment school, however close they live to it!
Like the others said go and look round all 3 schools and see for your self but yes you could put the two outstanding but out of catchment schools as preference 1 and 2 and the good catchment school as 3 and it won't count against you getting into catchment school.
Thank you golf I will try and find that out.
The stats for performance for the three schools do say the Good school is well below average in reading, writing and maths compared to average or above average for the Outstanding two (from the gov.uk compare schools website) so based on this I obviously would prefer him to be in one of the Outstanding ones. It's all new to me, I'm sure when I moved primary schools in 1993 my mum just rang the new one, we had a quick visit and I started the next Monday!
Saying it is "above average" or "below average" isn't actually that helpful a statistic as these are so dependent on the intake. Plus in some areas parents may be extensively tutoring which of course will make the school look better!!
As others have said you really need to go and look round for yourself. Looking at reports and stats is only a part of the whole picture.
Usually it's not a fixed catchment - you may be in 'catchment' one year not the next. If you fall out off the good' current catchment is there another school you are in the area of or are you in a black hole!'?
"Usually it's not a fixed catchment"
OP has said it is:
"I rang the council just now and she confirmed we were in the catchment for the Good school (albeit right on the very edge, close to one of the Outstanding) ones - she said it was catchment, siblings and distance in that order."
Whether the school has enough places to take all in-catchment applicants is another question. Do you know if it has taken all in that category in recent years? Because living at the very edge of the catchment might not be enough if it fills with catchment children living closer.
Many areas have fixed catchments, what changes is the distance the last child offered a place lives from school.
The other probkem with catchment/siblings/distance as the criteria is thst you might get a place for your oldest DC but not your younger child, if say a new housing development opens up in catchment in the intervening years.
Look around the schools and get your own feeling from them. Don't pin everything on an ofsted report that could change for the better or worse.
My DDs school was Good when she started. Two years later it was judged Requires Improvement. Now it's Good wiry outstanding features again. All the way through this, I've been so happy with the school and she has thrived there. That's down to the staff and school culture which I think you can only judge from a visit.
The catchments seems to be fixed from the map - you type your address in and it plots it as a little square on a map showing the catchments. It's a very small council. Our house is just in the Good school area, although the two other schools are very much closer in terms of distance. The Good school is moving to a new site apparently in 2018 so I'm not sure if that would affect catchment areas.
I know it's not to worry about for a few months (I think applications start in autumn) but it's all good to know now!
I do apologise for my original
Post being inaccurate regarding preferences.
However the information on the Government's web site is now about the progress the children make and not final attainment. Therefore the info is telling you that the Good school children make below average progress from their starting points. Below average progress can indicate a lot of lower achieving children who find school work challenging, a non-typical cohort or it can mean the teaching is not good enough. Whatever the case, the school should be addressing poor performance and I think Ofsted may appear again in 2017-18. Outstanding schools are inspected less frequently. Only you can decide which school is your favourite and you have a bit of time to see better progress in the Good school.
If the school physically moves it could change catchment area. Plans will be well developed for this so ask the Council. I assume it will become an academy when it moves because Councils can no longer build schools. Who will be managing it? It could mean the other schools change their catchment areas too. You can ask the schools about the implications of the Good school moving site but if it is only a short distance nothing may change.
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