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How do you decide which schools to apply for?

(16 Posts)
Nottalotta Fri 21-Apr-17 22:39:21

I'm a way off having to do this, but am interested all the same. I live in a rural village, with several other villages close by and a market town six miles away.

School 1 - just under a mile away, but couldn't walk due to no pavements, busy road. Classes of 10-17. Ofstead Good.

2 - couple of miles away, classes of 5-8. Ofstead Good. Same group as school 1( there's 3 in the group.

3 - classes of 20-24, 3-4 miles away . Good

4 - in town, 6 miles away but I working the town. Outstanding. In the middle of a deprived council estate. Classes 25!- 30+

Wolfiefan Fri 21-Apr-17 22:43:48

Look at the admissions criteria for each school. It's irrelevant where you work for the purposes of school admission. They will consider school applications on the basis of your home address. So I bet you wouldn't get into the outstanding school. Is it oversubscribed?
It's not about OFSTED. I would think about what would suit your child. I know mine wouldn't thrive in a tiny class so I wouldn't choose that school.
Go and look. Consider their ethos. The school priorities. How they deal with SEN or gifted children. Allergies and bullying. Home work and lunch arrangements. Lots of things really. Get a feel for the place.

DoItTooJulia Fri 21-Apr-17 22:49:05

Start with the ones you're likely to get into. If you only get three choices (we do here but other places get 6 at primary I think) you need to make sure that you put at least one down that you are in catchment for/likely to get into.

Because if you fill your choices up with schools that you won't get into the LA will give you a place at any school with places.

Then, once you've figured out how many choices you get and how many schools you'd get into, you visit them all and rank them in order of preference. And that's what goes on your form.

You can't beat visiting a school for getting a feel for it.

TanteJeanne Fri 21-Apr-17 22:59:48

Definitely second the advice to check out which schools you'd actually be likely to get a place at. Parents can't really choose as such - you apply for those you have a chance of getting in....
Consider if you meet (e.g. religious) entry conditions? do you live in catchment? etc. No point applying if you don't meet conditions and the school is popular.

The ones with small class sizes are obviously not over subscribed. But, for me, very small class sizes aren't a plus point- very small pool of children might be quite limiting for friendships, or just variety. Probably they will double up year groups which I don't like for Y5 and 6 especially.

OFSTED and parents don't always agree on what makes a good school. For my DCs, at KS1, I just wanted a lovely warm hearted affectionate teacher who liked my kids. I couldn't give two hoots if OFSTED thought they ran a tight ship!

Charmatt Fri 21-Apr-17 23:02:27

I would visit them all and get a feel for them. Different schools suit different children. Ofsted ratings are a snapshot in time and not necessarily reflective of right now. Ratings can go up or down, so some schools my be performing better than their rating. Ask questions about pupil well-being and how they support pupils, enrichment, etc. Any educational professional worth their salary doesn't make a judgement based on stats but experiences the school before judging, so why wouldn't a parent?

GreatWhites Fri 21-Apr-17 23:11:15

1- would love child to go here. not very likely to get in, but small possibility.
2- good shot of getting in.
3- banker. I will definitely get in here.

You do not want to be allocated a school you can't get to because you haven't been realistic with your choices.

NennyNooNoo Fri 21-Apr-17 23:12:30

Are these really class sizes, or are they average numbers per year group? I've not heard of state schools other than special schools having classes of 5-7. If it's average number per year group, they may only have 2 classrooms in the school with several year groups mixed. There is a village school near us that only has 26 pupils that does this.
Best thing is to visit each of them. What is your gut feeling? Can you see your child being fitting in and being happy here? Would you fit in as a family?

QuackDuckQuack Fri 21-Apr-17 23:16:14

On your list I'd wonder whether school 2 will continue to be seen as viable, given that it's only a couple of miles from other schools.

Nottalotta Sat 22-Apr-17 03:45:32

Thanks all. This is really useful. As I said I have no idea so I'm pleased I posted.

The reason I mention working near school 4 is just to show it wouldn't be s problem getting children to and from there.

When I say class size, I mean pupils per year. I don't know if they bunch them together. The one with very small numbers has a pre school which is Saif to be really good.

QuackDuckQuack Sat 22-Apr-17 11:41:42

I'm not sure I'd be happy with more than 2 year groups together. The curriculum has become very year group specific and that poses big challenges to teachers of mixed age classes. But I'm no expert.

cantkeepawayforever Sat 22-Apr-17 11:53:45

I think it likely that School 1 combines at least 2 year groups together in a class.

School 2 may have as few as 2 classes - 1 for Reception + KS1, 1 for KS2, or perhaps 1 for pre-school + reception, 1 for KS1, 1 for KS2. Imagine having the same teacher for 3-4 years before considering it....

3 may have 1 class per year group but may split a year group between 2 classes e.g. R + half Y1, remainder of Y1 + Y2, then probably 3 classes with variable splits to cover KS2. IME splitting the same year group across 2 classes is the worst kind of mixed year group classes - there is always some difficulty in who 'goes up' and who 'stays down' and it is very, very difficult to ensure that the same year group gets the same experience in the two different classes.

Visit all of them, work out which you might get places at, and find out exactly how they mix and split year groups. Also ask about %SEN - again IME very small schools, particularly those within fairly easy reach of a town with larger schools with larger classes, can become highly sought after by parents of children with SEN, who see the smaller schools as more nurturing. It can lead to mixed classes - which already have several years' worth of ability spread - getting exceptionally large ability spreads which are very hard to manage. I worked in one where the spread was from a pre-verbal, not toilet trained, significantly SEN child working at the level of a c. 12-18 month old, all the way up to a child working at the level of at least a 9 year old. A 6-7 year ability spread, with over 1/3 on the SEN register, in a class covering 2 key stages and 3 year groups was .. interesting, and didn't really work very well for anyone.

NennyNooNoo Sat 22-Apr-17 12:30:00

Although you work in the market town and therefore have a connection, it is likely that the vast majority of the pupils will live in the town itself, especially given that it's in the middle of a large estate. Many of them will already know each other before starting school and they will be more likely to socialise with each other outside of school hours. Your child might be more of an outsider than in one of the schools more local to you. I find this gets more noticeable as they get older and they attend local youth clubs etc.

tiggytape Sat 22-Apr-17 13:36:30

One criteria to consider is how likely you are to get into any of them. Simply applying to a school and putting it as your first preference for example won't help. To get an offer you have to live close enough / have a sibling there / attend church or whatever he criteria might be.

As an example, if none of the 4 schools you list ever offers a non-sibling place beyond 0.65miles then you wouldn't qualify for any of them and couldn't be offered any of them even if they were the only ones you listed.

You will be given the school you said you like best out of all the ones you meet the criteria for. So you do need to make sure that at least 1 school on your list is one that a family in your location could confidently expect to be offered. Even if you list it last, you will get an offer there if you meet the criteria for it (and don't meet the criteria for the ones you said you liked better)

And, as others have said, I'd see how they arrange classes. Having only a handful of reception children might mean they mix 2 or more year groups for teaching. This can change the whole dynamic of a class and may be something that you decide you want to seek out / avoid.

NennyNooNoo Sat 22-Apr-17 16:58:34

So which is your catchment School - is it School 1? I would probably go for the catchment School unless there was something I didn't like about it. Most of the children will be local to you. You're pretty much guaranteed a place there too.

Nottalotta Sat 22-Apr-17 21:20:03

Thanks.. Ive listed them in order of location. The first three are the three closest to me. I hadn't considered mixed or split classes. I'd assumed small classes would be good but not though that small year groups would mean mixed groups.

cantkeepawayforever Sat 22-Apr-17 22:12:54

School finances work on a per head basis (less so in new funding formula, but even so). Class sizes of less than 20 make funding the teacher to teach them much more difficult than class sizes of 30, and 5-8 would simply not fund the adult to stand in front of them unless there was a significant reason for extra funding.

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