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Catchment Areas(7 Posts)
After some advise please. I have a lo and have started thinking about schooling, most schools in our area are good, however the only one primary in our “catchment area” is C of E, we are Sikh and would like him to attend a school with no religion attached to it (I understand all schools will teach religious education which is fine).
My question is if we do not get offered a place at one of our listed school would he be automatically be offered a place at the C of E? Said school is 0.6 miles away, next school is a mile away.
Assuming not Scotland: No, if you qualify for none of your preferences you will be allocated the nearest school with a vacancy. If your catchment school is already full (with people who look step it as a preference) then it will nit be offered to you.
Living within the catchment of a school may not be enough to secure a place, you may also have to live nearer than other DC in-catchment, as distance may be the tie-break if more DC live in the catchment than the number of places.
Even if you don't much like the catchment (or nearest) school, it might be worth putting it in the final place on your form, rather than get a school you're just as iffy about but which is 3 miles in exactly the wrong direction.
Basically what happens is-
You put schools A B and C down (D is the C of E one)
When the start to allocate places they will put you on the list for A B and C, it doesn’t matter who has put a school first, second or third, everyone goes on the same list and it is sorted according to the admissions criteria.
If the school has say 30 places the top 30 people get a space, same for the other schools
If both school A and C are able to offer you a space then you will be offered your top choice (in this case A) and will be taken off the listfor C
This then means that everyone on the list for C gets shuffled up a place and person 31 gets offered a place
This obviously happened quite a few times until the lists stop moving!!
Then anyone that has not been offered a place is then offered a place at the school nearest to them regardless of whether they put it as a choice. So if D has spare places (and you didn’t get any of your choices ABC) you will be offered that place. However odds are if it’s a popular school it won’t have any places left and you may be offered school E 5 miles away
So it is important to try and put a choice on your list as C that you are very likely to get into - better to have a school you don’t want on your doorstep then a school you don’t want miles away!!
If the coe is popular it’s unlikely he’ll get a place being Sikh. They give priority to coe kids and they often fill the spots. Check if the next school down has a social/medical criteria and apply on the social. You will have to fill in your boroughs separate form and outline why this school is the only School that can meet your child’s needs. You can only do this to one school on your list. I would write that they’re you’re closest comp school aside from the coe and as much as you respect the coe you would like your child to be educated in a comp environment and this school is the nearest that can achieve that.
If they don’t have that criteria I would still write the letter and email/post it to the admissions team with your sons name and application number.
The advice is always to put your catchment school as one of your choices, even if it's the last choice. Otherwise, if you don't get into any of your choices and your catchment school was oversubscribed, you'll be allocated a place at the school nobody else wanted, probably miles away.
You might be surprised at how Christian the "non-faith" schools are. We had a "choice" between (ie realistic chance of getting into) 4 schools for DS, 2 C of E controlled and two community primary schools. In the end we felt that the religious element was less of a distinguishing feature than we had expected it to be - which was a shock, but meant we ended up with the C of E schools as our first and second preferences as they were by the far the better fit for DS in all other ways (facilities, behaviour policy, approach to teaching, size etc).
All schools are mandated not only to teach RE but also to have a daily act of a worship of a "predominantly Christian nature". RE in the community schools in our area is taught to a syllabus set by the LEA, whereas the C of E schools use a syllabus set by the local diocese, but both cover multiple faiths while being quite strongly weighted towards Christianity. The community schools locally make much of their links with the C of E parish church etc and one of the two we viewed seemed almost more overtly "Christian" in flavour than the two actual C of E schools we visited.
I think generally speaking, if the C of E school is the only school in the area (eg "the village school") then they are more likely to look and feel similar to the local non-C of E community schools, because they are schools for the whole community and their intake reflects the catchment.
We have found DS's school so far to be sensitive to the fact that some of its pupils come from families of different faiths than Christianity. It's part of their stated policy to foster respect for different religions and world views, and, for example, to ensure that children from families of other faiths are able and encouraged to mark their major festivals within school. You can withdraw your child from collective worship if you choose to (FWIW we haven't - DH follows a different religion and I am an atheist, but there are many times in life when you have to attend religious occasions of other faiths, so learning to be respectful of others' beliefs might as well start early!) I guess the C of E school is more testing for me as an atheist, the school's culture is rather less accepting of a position of "no faith"! but other faiths are definitely respected and supported within school, both in policy and in practice.
Speaking as someone who didn't want a "religious" school for my son, I'd say look at all the options with an open mind and weigh it in the balance together with the other factors that go to selecting the school that's the best fit for your child.
No you don’t automatically get offered your catchment school if it’s not on your list. BrieandChilli has summarised it well above.
Have you looked at the admissions data for previous years yet? That will give you a good feel. If you're in a "one catchment one school" area, the C of E school should have a similar proportion of in-catchment admissions to all the others locally and probably won't have that many people applying or getting in on faith criteria. For example, at DS's school children whose parents have attended services at a C of E church at least twice a month for 2 years get priority but this year nobody applied on that basis; last year it was only 1 family. On the other hand if you're in an area where people have nominal access to several schools but the C of E one is seen as the "good" school and is oversubscribed, you'll probably have a lot of people playing the faith card to get their child in and the feel of the school may be different, as may be your chances of a place (should you even want one).