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Please help me!!

(8 Posts)
McDreamy Sun 07-Sep-08 08:47:45

How do I choose a school for DD? We are moving home from abroad and DD is currently in Y1.

I have contacted the local school who have a place for her one minute and then they're not sure, they promised to get back to me by the end of last week - but didn't.

I contacted the LEA, but because I have contacted a school myself they will not get involved until local school have written a refusal letter.

Not sure what to do now, it's all getting close to us moving home. I am going to look at other schools in the area but how on earth do I choose? How do you read and Ofsted report, what should I look out for? AAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

Thanks smile

Littlefish Sun 07-Sep-08 09:03:38

By all means read the Ofsted report - look for the main recommendations at the beginning. It will give you a broad idea of the main weaknesses and action points in the school. Then, decide what is important for you in that school. For me, the Personal, social and emotional development of my child is paramount, so I would look to see how the school supports that.

However, please take ofsted reports with a huge pinch of salt! What is written on paper can be completely misleading! Some schools get a poor ofsted report, but may be the perfect place for your child.

The only way to decide is to go and visit the schools. I promise you that you will get a "gut feeling" for the school, and you will know whether your dd will be happy there.

You can go and visit as many schools as you like without needing to involve the LEA. Simply phone them up and ask to be shown around. If possible, ask to be shown around by the Head or Deputy if you have specific questions you need to ask. Our school secretaries were wonderful with parents, but couldn't answer specific questions about curriculum, policy, SEN, approach etc.

In the meantime, phone the local school again and explain the position. Are you looking for a place for this year, or next year.

The trouble is that until you are actually living in the area, they won't be able to guarantee you a place. Even if they have a place at the moment, someone else could move into the area in the meantime and they would have to be allocated that place ahead of you.

McDreamy Sun 07-Sep-08 09:09:12

It's a place for this October. I am visiting the UK for a week in a couple of weeks time and I think I will do just as you suggest, find out who else has spaces for her and visit them. I just wish the local school would say yes or no then I would know where I stand!! Its the "maybe" that is so frustrating!

Thanks for your advice smile

Littlefish Sun 07-Sep-08 09:14:45

Like I said McDreamy - the trouble is that even if the school say they have a place now, you can't guarantee that it will still be available by the time you get back.

If a new family moves into the area or a foster family takes on a new child, that child will automatically get the place ahead of your dd as you are not currently living in the UK/area. All the school can say is "we have a space at the moment"

Sorry to be the bearer of bad/uncertain news, but I think you should consider all the options.

SqueakyPop Sun 07-Sep-08 09:19:40

Arm yourself with as much info as you can now - fine, read Ofsted reports to get an idea of size, organisation etc., look at travel routes etc. See if the potential schools have websites so you can get an impression from there too.

Then, when you come to visit, you view the schools that are all acceptable and doable, and have a chat with the headteachers.

Then you pick!

You don't have to choose sight-unseen, since you are coming for a visit and it is not until October.

There is a bit of bureaucracy involved, in that if you are offered a place, you have to accept it and start attending within 2 or 3 weeks. If you get an offer now from any school, it is not cast iron because another child might appear on the scene between now and October and if they are willing to start straightaway, they are in.

McDreamy Sun 07-Sep-08 09:21:47

We are with the military and they will take a posting notice and acceptance of a new quarter address as evidence of permenant residence- apparently. The local school is predominantly RAF children so they are aware of how the system works in the military. One of the reasons I opted for this school in the first instance.

McDreamy Sun 07-Sep-08 09:24:05

By the time I come home if I accept a place in another school she will be starting within 4 weeks - something I will need to talk to them about on my visit. Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it smile

SqueakyPop Sun 07-Sep-08 09:24:44

It's not the proof of address that counts - it's the child appearing in the classroom within 3 weeks of the offer.

You will get a much better idea of how the system works when you speak to the head face-to-face. They may have more flexibility if they are near a base.

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