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How do you decide which state primary schools to apply to?

(20 Posts)
TheBlonde Mon 17-Sep-07 10:33:31

How do you decide which state primary schools to apply to?

Can you go and look round them?
When are you supposed to do this?

LIZS Mon 17-Sep-07 10:38:24

Visit, look at Ofsted reports, SAT tables(BBC website education section) etc . There is usually a series of open days just before the applications are due or you cna contact the shcool scretray and see if they will take you round. I've seen a few notices in the paper already and the closing date for 2008/9 applications in this LEA would be around October half term. Have a look at your local LEA website to check the deadlines and details.

Hallgerda Mon 17-Sep-07 10:40:05

Ring the school and ask for an appointment. That's it, really. You can look at OFSTED reports and SATS results online, and talk to local friends. If you are after a nursery place, any time from when your child is 2 would be a reasonable time to start looking at schools.

Oh, and don't be surprised if the Head answers the phone grin

TheBlonde Mon 17-Sep-07 10:53:30

Thanks, I have looked at the council website and it seems I don't have to apply for school until Autumn 2008

MillieMummy Mon 17-Sep-07 10:58:16

You can visit the school - amazing what you can pick up from one visit. The head of one of the schools we visited doesn't talk to parents who visit - we chose not to send DD to that school. If it's not offered to you, ask to talk to some of the children. We were taken round a school by the older children - the head's view is that they will give honest answers and she is confident that they are proud of the school and are good ambassadors for the school.

LIZS Mon 17-Sep-07 10:59:40

So your dc isn't due to start Reception until 2009/10 ?

TheBlonde Mon 17-Sep-07 11:28:37

Yes I know I am planning ahead!

He will start Sept 2009 but we are having to make decisions re private schools shortly so need to think about the alternatives

Blu Mon 17-Sep-07 11:43:16

Ask everyone you know, and then make arrangemenst to visit. It is worth doing that well in advance though as schools manage visits on differnt timescales, some do them as one-offs whenever anyone asks, others do planned group days. But it is worth doing some thinking before you visit: What sort of qualities wuld you like the school to have - and what sort of atmosphere would suit your child. Some just seem more structured / comptitive / formal / relaxed / laid back / lively / reserved etc than others. Look at work on the walls when you go - and notices - are they bossy, encouraging, do they exude consultation or efficiency or are they peeling and yellow? How does the school suport sport / the arts and are either or both important to you? If they prioritise arts hey may well have an 'Artsmark' award, or 'sportsmark', or both. Do you wnat after school clubs? Do you want local for lots of after-school and w/e meet-ups with friends 9choice of friends and time spent with them becomes much more independent and important than when they are toddlers and basically play with children thier Mums are friends with!).

And then....if you are in inner London, come to terms with the fact that if a school is popular you will struggle to get in unless you live on the doorstep.

Am i right in thinking you are in S London? Ask for any knowledge of partiular schools on here!

TheBlonde Mon 17-Sep-07 12:56:50

Thanks, yes we are in S London

Someone mentioned a website where you could see how close you needed to live to a school to get in - has anyone heard of this?

bluejelly Mon 17-Sep-07 13:02:09

Don't know the website but I would just pick the nearest school to your house and go and see it. Unless it's horrible, then send your child there.

Worked for me and I am very happy with the choice. Also a three minute walk to school and all friends in local area is a HUGE bonus.

Good luck

Blu Mon 17-Sep-07 14:42:56

Don't know of the website - but it varies so much from year to year, anyway, depending on how many siblings take up the first places. The schools we spoke to were able to say roughly whether children from particular roads sometimes get in or not.

MrsBadger Mon 17-Sep-07 14:44:54

lea websikte usually has catchment lists

Blu Mon 17-Sep-07 14:46:41

London doesn't operate on catchment areas, though.

frogs Mon 17-Sep-07 14:49:50

The LEA website will usually have information on how many applicants each school had for the previous year, together with the cut-off distance beyond which places were not offered. That won't tell you for sure whether you'd get a place, as the no. of applicants and siblings will vary from year to year. But it should give you a general indication. Remember to check how each LEA measures distance -- some use 'shortest safe walking distance', others use 'as the crow flies'.

MrsBadger Mon 17-Sep-07 14:56:35

blush
am yokel, me

Jennifer8 Mon 17-Sep-07 15:14:17

Yes, go and look round. Ring the schools you are considering and see when they will show you round - most offer guided tours which will usually be conducted by year 6 children IME. Gives you a very good idea of morale and what kind of kids go there.

We applied to three - the nearest and biggest, which I hate actually but people kept telling me how fabulous the new infants head is and what improvements have been made since its last (disastrous) offsted.

People with kids in the juniors told me it was 'grim'.

Also applied to the cliquey one in town, a bit further away with one class intake and 16 sibling places taken. Needless to say it was a no hoper.

Third we put the good-reputation one which is up a steep hill and has two classes per year.

We got a place at the big, local, horrible one and immediately regretted not putting the inaccessible one as first choice. So we rang them and were put on the waiting list and told we had no chance as there were 5 kids ahead of us.
In July they rang and said a place was available. We bought a car blush

Having since been around the local one and seen the mums and kids I know I was right to go for the other one. I might sound like a snob but I went and stood in the playground there at the end of last term, and most of the people there looked so unhappy...many were smoking, swearing at their kids etc.

Where we are now (up the hill) has high morale and the children are kind to Ds rather than teasing him as they did anywhere near the local school (swings etc.) There is a large proportion of university families so the parents are generally more educated and the kids seem happier.

I would advise you to go with your gut feeling as it is your child, and you know what they need. If we had a perfect family at home I wouldn't have minded so much him going to a lower standard school with a lot of SEN kids, but fact is we're a single parent family and he has enough to contend with already. I don't think he could have survived it judging by the kids we used to meet at the swings next to it.

Jennifer8 Mon 17-Sep-07 15:15:02

BTW the local school had the highest results for the last year, which shows that you cannot go by that as the only guide.

ChippyMinton Mon 17-Sep-07 15:16:35

Ring the school and be nice to the school secretary, they are usually very helpful. Think the term is 'admission priority area' rather than 'catchment' as it will vary from year to year depending on who has applied and where they live.

earlgrey Mon 17-Sep-07 15:18:00

For us it was easy. Nice RC school down the road, good reports, nice head. Oh, and I'm RC.

TheBlonde Tue 18-Sep-07 22:16:30

Thanks

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