Questions surrounding catchments for someone with no kids!!!!

(19 Posts)
LEBW Wed 25-Sep-19 09:30:26

Currently in the process of TTC (only one month in!) alongside looking to move house. Have spotted the perfect house for us. This house is in a average/good area that neighbors a not so nice area (doesn't bother us as in a city (Birmingham) that's usually the way)
Question is there is 3 schools the house is in catchment area of- closest being 0.1 miles away, the next 0.4 miles away, third 1 mile away. The very close school is currently a poorly performing school (alongside other issues that won't ever change that personally I wouldn't be happy sending my imaginary child to) but the other 2 are great schools.

I know I'm not even pregnant, I know all this is a long time away but I wondered would other mum's move there and take the risk? I haven't got anyone to ask as all my friends don't have kids so just say 'ofsted doesn't matter, don't worry it's ages away etc'. Husband works in a school but thinks imaginary child would be able to get in school 0.4 miles away easily-just not sure.

P.s There is possibility to buy smaller house in 'nicer' area?

OP’s posts: |
Cookit Wed 25-Sep-19 10:17:51

Go on the council website and find where it shows school catchment. Each area works differently, mine is as the crow flies rather than specific roads, but you can put in any school and it will show you where the furthest away child lives who got in on the basis of distance (ie live closer than that and you’d have got in). I assume other areas just list roads.
Anyway, after maybe an hour spent on the council website I could pretty confidently tell you which schools I could get into from my address. Even if you don’t have kids it matters a lot for house prices and things anyway so always good to know.

PhonicTheHedgehog Wed 25-Sep-19 10:55:11

What Coolkit said but I’d add look at any church schools you may consider too. They tend to have admissions criteria based on church attendance rather than simple distance.

Haworthia Wed 25-Sep-19 10:58:16

Where I live, it isn’t possible for a house to be within catchment of three primary schools. It’s only ever one school. The local authority had a postcode checker which tells you about your catchment primary and secondary schools. The schools themselves usually have catchment maps on their website too.

LoveWine123 Wed 25-Sep-19 10:59:42

I was in the same situation a few years back. The reality is that you will never know how things are going to work out when you actually have the child and h/she is ready to go to school. In our case, the school we wanted changed so much in the years between moving and my son starting school that we no longer wanted it. Instead we went for one where we previously didn't have a chance of getting but they ended up going from one form to two forms and we got in even though we weren't in catchment. We also cinsidered other schools that we hadn't looked at before and several options were open to us. You don't know in 5-6 years time what your childcare situation will be, whether you will need before/after school care, etc so things like this will play a role as well. Our child is very shy so picked the school that was right for him even though that wasn't the school we had in mind before. My point is things change and you can never predict how things will be and what you will need/want from a school when the time comes. Make sure there are good options in your area, but don't get too fixated on catchment areas now.

brilliotic Wed 25-Sep-19 11:08:18

Yes, as PP said, find the 'school place allocations' page on your county webpage. Also read the oversubscription criteria for all three schools. Together, this should give you a good idea how the chances would be for getting a place in either school if you were applying this year.

However, it will be at least 4 years from now until you apply for a place, for starting 5 years from now (if you get pregnant pretty soon and DC is born May-August 2020). In that time of course the schools can change. But most of all, the chances of getting into those schools can change, massively.
- A new school is opened nearby, taking pressure off all nearby schools.
- One of the current schools expands its intake, massively increasing chances for that school, but also taking pressure off nearby schools.
- A new estate/group of houses/block of flats is built nearby, making it near impossible to get a place at school x if you live further away than that.
- One of the nearby schools closes/reduces its intake, increasing pressure on all schools.
- Labour gets into power in next GE, removes charitable status from private schools, fees for private schools go up, some parents can no longer afford them, pressure on local state school increases.
- Perhaps that labour government though has already gone further and implemented plans that turn all private schools into state schools, so suddenly people (who couldn't afford/didn't consider private) have more/different choices, but other people (who sent their children private, but can no longer get in due to distance) are trying to pick the 'best' state school they can get in to - the pattern of which schools are popular changes completely.

So in short, whilst you can get a reasonable idea of what your chances would be if you were applying now, there is really a lot that can change in 4/5/more years.
That counts for the other house you are considering too.

Therefore I would base your choice on finding the right house, with only a cursory glance at available schools. It would be very disappointing if you bought the 'compromise' house, on the basis that it is in the catchment of a school you think you like; and after 5 years of living in a compromise, you don't get your child into that school anyway, as a new estate has been built meanwhile.

LoveWine123 Wed 25-Sep-19 11:10:04

Haworthia that's usually true but if there is space, then they will accept a child regardless of catchment. So if the house is close enough, they do have a chance so worth exploring. Most schools now don't have drawn catchment areas but admit on distance and that changes every year depending on the number of children and siblings applying.


Haworthia Wed 25-Sep-19 11:17:28

@LoveWine123 Oh I wasn’t disputing that. I know plenty of people at my child’s school who technically live out of catchment (but, ironically, the catchment school is slightly further away) but it’s a large school and they have no trouble getting in.

I was just questioning whether it’s possible for a house to be officially in the catchment of three schools, or whether the OP is mixing up “catchment” with “proximity”.

LoveWine123 Wed 25-Sep-19 11:20:04

Haworthia yes that's true. Where we live (London) there are no catchments per se, everything is about distance so maybe that's what OP has in mind.

meditrina Wed 25-Sep-19 11:29:30

You need to check the actual admissions criteria for the schools.

Not all schools have catchments (defined priority admissions areas) and go mainly on distance.

Example (after SEN/LAC): - siblings in catchment, other catchment, other siblings, others; versus - siblings, others. There may also be categories for exceptional medical or social need, or prioritising faith, very occasionally children of staff, or those attending the school's nursery

Catchments do not have to be concentric round the school - so you might find your catchment school is not actually your closest.

Living in catchment may nit in itself be sufficient, if there are more catchment DC than there are places, because there will be a distance cut off.

Unless the school allocates by lottery (fortunately quite rare)

As outlined above, quite a lot can change in the time before you could possibly have a school-aged DC. But changes, such as the introduction of, change to, or abolition of a catchment must be subject to public constitution, might want to keep an eye out for that.

LolaSmiles Wed 25-Sep-19 11:33:01

There's some great advice already but I was just also going to add that not all schools have official catchments, it can be distance where certain areas you are more likely to get in.

meditrina has already said what I'd have added.

Personally, I'd go for the house if it's right. A lot can change in schools in 5 years.

FusionChefGeoff Wed 25-Sep-19 11:41:37

Read up on your local council admissions page.

We don't have catchments for our town primaries - you put your top 3 choices then they allocate based on availability.

So if no-one else applies for a school, it doesn't matter how far away I am - if I want to go and they have space, I'm in!

Equally, if EVERYONE applies for 1 school, they then fill based on criteria that starts with 1) children with EHCP that name that school 2) looked after children eg foster / adopted 3) siblings

If there are spaces left after applying those 3 then it is ranked on distance.

So some years, you can get in if you live 2 miles away as maybe not many siblings that year and no looked after children. But the next year, massive sibling intake, couple of looked after kids and 1 with an EHCP and all of a sudden the 'catchment' shrinks to 0.3 miles.

As such, it's IMPOSSIBLE to predict or guarantee.

So if it's the same with yours, I'd just choose the house I liked and cross my fingers smile

randomsabreuse Wed 25-Sep-19 11:52:27

Schools change massively over time. We moved next to a school when I was pregnant- special measures, falling rolls, the lot. My now 4 yo is at that school now, it is good, improving and a great school for her. The intake is as mixed as a rural market town can be - it is in the 'rough' area - such as it is, and the other side of town is seen as posher. However their local school has just been taken over by an academy and is far less popular than it was... all this in 4 years!

I'd go for the house!

RedskyLastNight Wed 25-Sep-19 12:05:21

Checking historic admission info as suggested already is good advice.

Also consider what sort of area you are moving into. Is it up and coming with lots of young families? Are most people in their "forever" houses and just getting older?

5-10 years ago our local schools were heavily over subscribed but the make up of the area has since changed (i.e. people stayed put, not many new people moved in, so there were fewer children of school age) so it's now easy to get into them from quite a way out of catchment.

drspouse Wed 25-Sep-19 12:12:35

Your as-yet-not-conceived child may need a special school or special provision, too.

JoJoSM2 Wed 25-Sep-19 12:14:19

Have a look on there to compare the schools. I picked my catchments carefully when we bought (before I was pregnant + we’re going to go independent all through so just for backup).

On the above website, you’ll get a sense of the overall attainment and can check things like percentage children on pupil premium etc
Whilst it’s true that schools change, the catchment/types of families aren’t going to change drastically in 5 years.

LoveWine123 Wed 25-Sep-19 12:19:57

JoJoSM2 presumably when you look for a house in a particular area it is because you like that area, including the types of families living there.

JoJoSM2 Wed 25-Sep-19 12:40:13

LoveWine, we had a large-ish search area and all of it ticked our boxes. ‘Types of families’ wasn’t really a criterion (the area we picked isn’t considered posh and often gets villified on Mumsnet). Within the area, we went with a catchment that is pretty uniformly affluent and the school offers a broad range of extracurricular activities (and has high attainment even though currently the progress scores are average). I felt that there’s less that could go wrong at a school like that over 5-10 years vs somewhere with a very mixed intake.

LEBW Wed 25-Sep-19 13:55:23

Wow thanks for all your responses! Yes I had looked on the local council website for the information and they are the 3 schools we would be in the catchment areas for.

I think (if all goes to plan) I will take the majority advice, buy the house and cross my fingers for it all to work out!

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