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what happens when you don't live within the catchment area of any local schools?

(21 Posts)
warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 07:20:00

we have four very good local schools, all of who allocate places to children closer to the school than we live. so it looks like we won't get dd1 into any of them.

what happens - do they take this into account and make sure she gets into one, or will they allocater her to a school much further away (and probably a bad one if no-one wants to go there!).

warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 07:20:17

allocate, not allocater...

jeanjeannie Tue 03-Mar-09 09:02:11

I thought you legally had to have a catchment school? We do but it's not our nearest hmm

When we bought this house we were in the catchment for 4 schools but they've all been taken away and we've been allocated a school quite some distance - and it's failing. Its catchement has been extended to bulk out the numbers as no one wants to go.

I always thought the catchments were you 'local' schools - but clearly not. You may find the not-so-good-school has you name on it - ours does sad angry

ABetaDad Tue 03-Mar-09 09:15:11

This is bizarre.

Are you really saying that good state schools are now effectively small islands in a sea. Unless you live on the island you have to travel across the sea - so to speak?

That is awful. The LEA have messed up big time in allowing areas to have no local school at all. I guess that allowing developers to build houses without also payng the cost of building schools, doctors surgeries, roads etc is the reason this happens.

When I think about it this is about to happen in our village where a lot of new houses are due to be built. The headmaster of the local primary school has told the council the school will not be big enough but the council and the developer are unwilling to pay for a new one so kids will be transported out of the area.


warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 09:45:45

we're in london, so it's not new builds that have caused the problem. there are a lot of private schools in the area too, so with the credit crunch there will be even more competition to get into the good state schools making it even harder.

i wouldn't be surprised if she gets into an awful school miles away. sad

jeanjeannie, how do you find out what your catchment school is? when it's already too late to do anything about it?

titchy Tue 03-Mar-09 09:54:30

It's quite common unfortunately - in most cases there is no such thing as a catchment area - schools simply take the 30 (or whatever the maximum intake is) nearest children, so if you live too far from any school you will end up being allocated one that hasn't filled its places, which will probably be miles away and possibly crap, on the basis that the 'good' schools are oversubscribed.

Betadad - the Planning Officer is supposed to address questions like this when considering planning permission for developments - whether they do or not however is another matter. sad

LadyMuck Tue 03-Mar-09 09:59:27

warthog, this was our position. If you apply for your closest schools and miss out because of siblings and distance then you usually will be allocated a place at the nearest undersubscribed school. Last year our borough (which is I think is the largest) had 200 too few reception places so a couple of schools had to erect portacabins.

You can go on the waiting list for your closer schools and actually places do seem to come up quite regularly especially at the larger schools.

You can also consider whether you are eligible for any foundation schools (usually church schools) which have their own admission criteria.

warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 10:03:34

well, unfortunately i'm an atheist so i don't think church schools will be thrilled to have dd1. and i can't start going to church to get her in - against my principles.

jeanjeannie Tue 03-Mar-09 13:43:33

I agree with Betadad - it does appear where we are that housing developments have something to do with it all. In 2000, our house had 4 schools in catchment (all within a 20 min walk) - 2 great, 2 Ok - we'd have been happy with any of them. When I went to check on the council's website to make sure, I was stunned to see that as from Sept 07 that we now had the really bad, failing primary in an estate over a mile away from here shock and none of the others. You could say it was coincidence but that was the date the new housing developement opened hmm

We don't have any faith schools in our catchment either -but there are lots about and feel that despite being non-church goers it's the only chance we've got of avoiding this particular school. Could afford independent for one but not for both DDs.

ABetaDad Tue 03-Mar-09 14:42:28

jeanjeannie - and you can guess why the developers built the houses right in the middle of the catchment area of the best schools. That probably pushed you out of the catchment area and also definitley increased the price of the houses they could sell.

Even though my kids are not not a state school this makes me really mad. Your local council must have known what would happen when they gave permission and did not force the developer to build new school in the area.

Basically a developer made a big profit out of pushing kids out of their local school. angry

It disgusts me and you have my sympathys. I would rent a house in the catchment area of a good school in your area. It is the only way round this for you and I would not blame you.

jeanjeannie Tue 03-Mar-09 14:56:54

Sadly Abetadad we are already thinking about the renting option sad

We're also in a grammar county so the schools that do well on the 11+ are really good the rest tend to be pretty dire. I'm in Bucks and we have some of academically best schools in the country - but at what expense? I think many are just left on the heap.

I can cope with an OK school but this one has real trouble with the parents and the school has a 'hotline' to the police to calm the situations that arise at the school gates. We went to this school once for a meeting and I took DD1 and was preggie with DD2. One mother called DD1 'a ginger half breed' shock and spat at me and called me a posh snob because she thought I had a posh pram - clearly that put me off! I know they're a well known family but I couldn't suffer that day in day out.

Many thanks for your sympathys - it's something we never thought we'd really have to think about - we'd just assumed the schools that were in our catchment would stay that way. Duh! Makes you think about moving to a catchment area eh....seems in Bucks they swap the boundaries as soon as a development pops up angry

warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 16:27:31

well, i'm sad i'm not alone - it's happening to others as well.

if you rented in another area, you'd have to move and sell your house surely?

the application form clearly states you must put the address where your child is residing - permanent residence.

Blu Tue 03-Mar-09 16:33:53

Warthog, talk to the admissions people in your LEA - in some cases admission is for people for whom the school is the nearest school, rather than people who live nearest, iyswim. So, if Mrs Smith lives very close to school A, but even closer to school B, and Mrs Ahmed lives a bit further away from school A than Mrs Smith does, but it is Mrs Ahmed's nearest school, then Mrs Ahmed's aplication may take precedence.

Where do other children in your road go?

warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 17:22:51

unfortunately not, blu. from their booklet:

[fourth criterion of selection is ] To all other pupils in order of nearness to the school.

my road seems to consist of retired people. I haven't managed to make friends with anyone in the next streets yet (just moved). i have been chatting to people in the playground, but even my playground is a drive away so they don't tend to live close to me. sad

Blu Tue 03-Mar-09 18:03:28

Well, apply to all of the four that you like, and then get on the waiing list - places often come up after the intial offers go out, and within the first year. I live in a borough where there is a redular scramble f places in most schools - and someone I know who had no place at all in September just got a place in one of the most over-subscribed small schools from being on the waiting list in January.

warthog Tue 03-Mar-09 19:25:53

yes, i think that is the best i can hope for...

i can only apply to 3 schools, but my hope is that we will get into one of those.

it's so obvious that we need another couple of schools in this area!

nlondondad Thu 05-Mar-09 15:39:40

I dont know where you are in london Warthog, but it is worth checking where the borough boundary is because while on the one hand borough boundaries cannot by law be taken into account when doing admissions on the other each borough ONLY does its own schools so they wont tell you about schools in other boroughs and if you live near a boundary you MAY have a bigger choice than you realize...

JazzHands Thu 05-Mar-09 16:01:42

warthog I am in exactly the same boat and started a thread a couple of days ago!

For me it's 3 good local primaries, but 2 are religious and so no go (athiest - and they are strict about going to church the whole time or you don't get in) and I just found out the non-religious one last year only took children within 1/3 of a mile shock. I assumed that living just under 1/2 a mile away it would be OK, apparently not, next nearest one is a 30 min walk (for a grown-up) sad

warthog Thu 05-Mar-09 22:13:34

nlondondad, good point but unfortunately i'm not close to a boundary.

jazzhands, it sucks doesn't it sad

BirdyArms Thu 05-Mar-09 22:25:08

You should have a chat to the admissions person at each of the schools. Generally in London, and particularly in areas where a lot of people go private, there is quite a lot of movement on the waiting lists. I am hoping that ds1 will be able to go to a particular school but we were 200m outside the catchment area last year. The admissions lady told me that she would me amazed if he didn't get a place by january when he would be due to start there. See if you can call in for a chat, they will often be a lot more helpful than over the phone, and it might make you feel a lot less worried.

JazzHands Fri 06-Mar-09 10:04:46

Thanks birdyarms smile

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