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Primary school catchment area

(26 Posts)
Thornewood9 Mon 15-May-17 10:29:22

Hi guys need a bit of advice. My little girl is due to start school in sept 2018. My husband said he's been looking at schools and only wants her going to an outstanding school. However according to him none of the outstanding schools where we live are in our catchment area. So I did my own research. There are 4 outstanding schools and I phoned up the local council to find out if they would be in our catchment area. However she told me that primary school don't have catchment areas they just go according to how close you are to the school? The furthest school from us is 5.6 miles and the closest is 1.6 miles. (These are the outstanding schools). She said you can apply to any school (up to 5) and you'll probably get in depending on distance. Is this true? I know I just asked the woman but I'd like to know from you ladies if this is absolutely correct? My husband says the only way to go is private if we can't get in to any state schools (outstanding ones) which is ridiculous cause how are we going to afford that??? Anyways I'd really appreciate your help. Thanks guys xxx

meditrina Mon 15-May-17 10:37:31

That's correct about catchment, for England.

It means a formally defined area within which DC have priority admissions. So the criteria (after the mandatory categories of SEN and LAC) would be something like: siblings in catchment, other catchment, other siblings, others. Each category would have distance as tiebreaker for when they ran out of places (unless they use lottery)

You are made an offer if you fit the entrance criteria. It is as simple as that. And you've been told that schools in your area all use distance.

So what you need to do is look at the criteria of each school you like the sound of and see how likely it is that you would get an offer. Information should be on your council website.

So if lovely school A hasn't admitted anyone over 0.7468 miles in the last decade, and you live 1.6, don't pin all your hopes on it.

Check also if any have faith places and whether you would qualify.

Use all the choices on your form idc. Conventional wisdom is to list the schools you really like in the order you like them (it's an equal preference system from the school's pov) but include on the form at least one school that is the nearest thing to guaranteed you'd get a place at (even if you don't like it much; it's better to have an iffy school that's logistically convenient, than to receive nine if your prefer necessary and be allocated an equally iffy school 30mins in the wrong direction)

xyzandabc Mon 15-May-17 10:38:33

In England, yes. Look on your council website and it will tell you the admissions criteria and the order of priority they are allocated by. Some areas do vary slightly.
It should also tell you for each school under which criteria the last child was admitted, and if it was distance, how far from the school that was.
Obviously this is not fool proof as this year's intake profile will be different to last year's in terms of siblings and how many children live closer than you. But if you look at the last few years it should give you an idea of how close to the school you need to live to have a chance of getting in.

On the other hand just bring an outstanding school does not automatically guarantee greatness or a good fit for your child. Once a school is outstanding, it does not get routinely inspected. Our local outstanding school was last inspected in 2009.

Go and look at all potential schools and see what your gut feeling tells you.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Mon 15-May-17 10:39:09

It is true but I wouldn't base it on last years distance offered or the year before as both had fertility booms.
Also don't base it on ofsted results as that will show little. Look around them too. Also an outstanding school may no longer be outstanding at their next visit.

Bumpsadaisie Mon 15-May-17 10:42:39

Outstanding isn't all that.

I've been involved in ofsted inspections and would now never make my decision based on that alone.

You need to visit each school, get a feel for it, read the website.

meditrina Mon 15-May-17 10:45:01

Sorry, missed a bit I meant to say: in England not all schools have catchments. So their criteria would usually be: siblings, others. Tie breaker distance when they run out of places.

The 'greatest distance offered' shows you how far away lives the furthest pupil admitted in the category where the tiebreaker needed to be used. That is the effective admissions footprint for offers.

(Sometimes it extends further by the start of term than it did in offers day, because if families turn down places or relinquish them because they move, then the waiting list will be used. But those admissions aren't included in the published furthest distance offered. And of course that whole distance is indicative of past offers, not an exact predictor of future ones - things like new housing being built, or a bulge class working through leading to sibling boom 2-3 years later can make a huge difference)

RitaConnors Mon 15-May-17 10:45:23

Make sure you do some more research and thinking about it all. Rather than just OFSTED reports. In a primary school teacher and I think it is a pile of pants.

Tumblethumps Mon 15-May-17 10:48:05

Depending on how urban you are, some schools, especially outstanding ones, will have a very small distance to their furthest intake. You need to find out how far away the last admission was for the last couple of years.

ExplodedCloud Mon 15-May-17 10:49:13

Whatever you decide to do about applying to schools, make sure that one of the schools you put down is your nearest school. It might not be outstanding but it is better to have an offer from an adequate school than fail to get any of your preferences and be allocated a place 4 miles away at a failing school because it was all that was left.

Tumblethumps Mon 15-May-17 10:52:23

I would second doing more research as ofsted ratings don't always tell you the full story. I have an outstanding rated school on my doorstep that I didn't want or apply to. I didn't like it when I looked around despite other people clambering to get in there. So I think your first task is to visit the schools you are interested in.

UnderTheF1oorboards Mon 15-May-17 10:54:49

Read all the Ofsted reports and see why they have their ratings. One school near us got requires improvement because there was poor discipline, poor attendance and a big gap between boys' and girls' achievement. Bad. DS's school also got requires improvement at the last inspection because there had been a few changes in senior management since the last inspection. Non-issue. It's still a great nurturing school.

Schools are so different, looking round them might change your perception totally. By all means read the Ofsted reports and ask the head how any shortcomings are being addressed but Ofsted ratings are a tiny piece of the overall picture.

Also, outstanding now is no guarantee that the school will stay outstanding throughout your DD's time there. It probably won't. Will your DH want to move her if the school's rating drops?

YogaDrone Mon 15-May-17 10:57:10

Unless you are somewhere very rural those distances seem a long way for a primary. Last offered distance in the LA I live in (urban but not a densely populated city) for the most desirable schools are around 500m up to around 2.5Km for the least desirable ones.

As others have said you need to look at the stats. for the individual schools for the last few years and look at the numbers admitted in each category and then the "last distance offered" for your admission category.

Also, Outstanding schools aren't the be-all-and-end-all. Some may not have been inspected for years. An "Outstanding" school in a neighbouring LA lost it's head teacher shortly after being given the grade 1 and by the time it was next inspected about 5 years later it was put into grade 4 "Inadequate". Much better to go and visit your local schools and make your own decisions.

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 15-May-17 11:17:17

My DCs primary isn't even outstanding but had a last admission of less than 400m this year, that's in a market town with several other primaries. So these distances can be really important. If you have closer schools that aren't outstanding you need to give them serious consideration.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Mon 15-May-17 11:23:34

You also realise you do have a choice too and it's not just his decision.

wickerlampshade Mon 15-May-17 11:32:22

Can you afford to go private or home educate? Because if not, your husband is talking out of his backside. You don't have a "choice" of school. You can express a preference. All the advice above that you've been given is excellent, listen to it. If your husband felt so strongly about it, he should have actually taken the time to work out how the system works rather than just assuming that "my child can't go to anything less than outstanding" will cut any ice with the admissions authorities!

BreconBeBuggered Mon 15-May-17 13:29:30

I think you both need to take some time to decide what you want from a school and then visit the ones in your area, rather than relying too heavily on the magic word 'outstanding'. I'm a governor at a primary school last judged to be good with outstanding features. To be honest, the steps we'd have to take to bring it into the Outstanding category would have no positive impact on pupils at all. It's an attractive label and it's good for the head's CV, but it's not by any means a guarantee of the perfect school for your child.

InvisibleKittenAttack Mon 15-May-17 13:39:50

Basically op, the council takes all the children applied for a school and puts them in order due to their criteria, normally it's SEN, looked after children, siblings then the rest are ordered by distance from the school. If there are 60 places the top 60 on that list will get a place.

The order you put the schools in doesn't effect your place on the list, however if you get a place at more than one school, the council will give you the highest choice of those (so if you qualify for your 2nd and 3rd choice but not 1st, you'll be offered the 2nd place one, then come off the 3rd place one list and everyone below you will move up a place).

Sometimes distances can be effected by odd years - like the year a school near us that was 1 form entry (30 places) had 26 sibling applications! They've never had a year like it, normally have under 10 sibling applications, so the "furthest distance offered" was v small for one year- 0.2 miles, whereas every other year it's more like a mile.

cantkeepawayforever Mon 15-May-17 17:36:41

Also worth looking at the dates for the inspections.

Oustanding schools are inspected very infrequently.

However, in the intervening years, the criteria for being 'Outstanding' have changed - a 'Good' school now is meeting standards that would have made it an 'Outstanding' school under the last set of criteria.

So an 'Outstanding' from 2008 vs a 'Good' from 2016 are pretty much identical grades - with the advantage that you know the 2016 one is still likely to be like that, whereas the school marked Outstanding in 200 could have been through a change of head, 2 cycles of staff turnover and be a completely different school!

Visit all the schools you are likely to get into (there may only be 1 or 2 in most areas, but you could look at those further away that you might get lucky with) - you will be surprised.

froyotogo Mon 15-May-17 17:55:29

Outstanding is a good place to start but do not make a decision based on that alone. Outstanding doesn't even mean its better academically than its neighbouring primary school.

If you have your heart set on a particular school you should check the distances for last years admissions and try to live within that distance. 325 meters for our local school.

smellyboot Mon 15-May-17 18:27:54

Schools can go from outstanding to needs improvement in the years that they are not inspected... seen it. In our area catchments are less than 1/2 a mile never mind 5 miles !!!!
OP he needs to do a lot of research on how it all works and start saving if private is his answer

smellyboot Mon 15-May-17 18:30:36

Sorry not actual catchments but distances that DC get in from. O.3 miles is not uncommon cut off. The largest is about a mile unless a school is very unpopular and under subscribed. 1.6 miles would be way way too far away to get in 90% of the schools on our authority.

loveslipstick Mon 15-May-17 21:18:52

Private school is about £3k, far less than childcare if you are currently paying out for that.... just incase you want to consider your husbands suggestions

InvisibleKittenAttack Mon 15-May-17 21:29:37

Private school fees do vary, around here most are around £12k a year at primary level, they have longer school days but also longer holidays for care to be factor in if you both work.

Visit some schools, "outstanding" under the new system is very hard to get, a recently awarded 'good' is probably an old style 'outstanding'. Worth looking round some 'good' schools if you have some nearer to you.

Many private schools ask you to pay a deposit to reserve a space, which gets knocked off your first bill if you go. You don't normally have to confirm if you want a place until after you've heard about state primary places - so many parents who are in two minds pay deposits then wait to see which school they get. (Best not to tell the private school you are planning on doing this, but worth checking when you need to confirm the place and sign contracts!). You might lose a few hundred pounds, if you do this then get the outstanding state school you want, but frankly if you can't afford to lose a few hundred quid you shouldn't be entertaining the idea of private at all...

Charmatt Mon 15-May-17 21:40:45

It depends on the authority - some have catchment areas for schools, some don't. The intake distance can vary - like some Ps have advised, urban schools have closer intake areas because of population density. However, in village or more rural areas, intake areas can differ greatly. A large intake area does not necessarily mean that they are not excellent schools or are unpopular; they could just be serving a more sparsely populated area, or one of demographic imbalance where there are fewer children.

wickerlampshade Tue 16-May-17 08:00:20

Private school £3k a term? Maybe in some parts of the country. Nowhere in the S or SE

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