Catchment?? Help this American, please!

(21 Posts)
ClutchMyPearls Thu 28-Feb-13 12:39:43

I would move right on to the doorstep of a school you really like so that as soon as a place there becomes available you would be at the top of the waiting list for it, and meanwhile see what other school places the LEA has to offer.

You can go on as many waiting lists for specific schools as you like.

ArbitraryUsername Thu 28-Feb-13 12:07:18

And, having had to go through in-year admissions 3 different times, all in places I didn't know at all, I had to accept every time that I would only have a choice of undersubscribed schools because I needed a school with a place. You just have to choose whatever will work best for you from the available options.

ArbitraryUsername Thu 28-Feb-13 11:48:26

Yes. I know that. BUT crucially when you move somewhere you actually need to find a school to put your kids in. One with a space.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Thu 28-Feb-13 09:57:42

Arbitrary - even with in-year admissions a popular school will probably have a waiting list for vacancies which is ordered by the usual admissions criteria. It is not ordered according to the date you go on the list. Therefore even if you have been on the list for months, if someone moves to an address closer to the school than you and applies to the school for the year group you require, they will be placed above you on the waiting list.

If there is not a waiting list for the year you require the place has to be offered to the first person who applies regardless of the criteria. Therefore, if you get the timing right you can get an offer of a place in a popular school even if you live some distance away.

ArbitraryUsername Thu 28-Feb-13 08:14:27

(Note: you apply to south glos via the Bristol LEA, counterintuitively).

ArbitraryUsername Thu 28-Feb-13 08:13:41

You can apply to south glos for a place in their schools, even if you live in Bristol though.

English school admissions are unnecessarily complicated!

lemonmajestic Thu 28-Feb-13 08:12:07

Just to complicate things further although Thornbury has a Bristol postcode, the LEA would be South Gloucestershire not Bristol. So if your preferred schools are full you will be offered places in the closest school with places available in this LEA. HTH

ArbitraryUsername Wed 27-Feb-13 23:42:03

Yes, some very oversubscribed schools will have waiting lists for in-year transfers but the catchment areas etc don't really matter. All that matters is whether there is a place in a school or not at the time of application. Some schools will be full.

Our two closest schools were full when we moved here, so DS1 had to go to the 3rd closest school. It didn't actually matter where in the city we were; all that mattered was that the school had a place and we could take it up. We could have gone on the waiting lists for the other two schools but that seemed silly and unnecessarily disruptive to DS1 (who, it turns out, loves his school and is doing really well there).

Fairypants Wed 27-Feb-13 23:06:05

Hi, I'm in Bristol and I'm afraid we do have serious issues with all the good schools being oversubscribed. Some will have a waiting list even for in year transfers. Whilst most of the schools work on distance (after siblings etc) some do have an area of primary responsibility which may or may no coincide with distance. In this case, places are given to siblings and SN first, then area of primary responsibility (in distance order) and finally just distance. At the new Free School for example, the school is only just in its own catchment area. It is worth checking on the website as there is good info on how many got places in what group over the last few years.
Also, Academies each have their own set of rules so you need to check each one.
Sorry it's so confusing, I hope you find a good place.

jo164 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:26:04

I've sent you some links on the Bristol site that may help explain the 'catchment' thing. Around here they are called 'Areas of Prime Responsibilty'.
But as everyone has said, if it's not for a year 7 place then where you live becomes irrelevant. If the school have places available then you will be offered them regardless of where you live. The only snag to this is if you need to apply later on for a younger sibling - as some admissions codes are now stating that 'siblings living outside of the area' are way down the list of priority and you may not secure a place for a younger child if you live a long way from the school.

ArbitraryUsername Wed 27-Feb-13 22:18:29

Yeah. That bit's horrible. I've done it twice. It's nerve wracking but has worked out both times.

If it's in year, you don't have to worry so much about catchments. You just need an address to apply from (and usually have to be able to take up the place within 10 days). So you can choose to live where you'd actually like to in Bristol and apply to schools all over the city. The LEA will most likely only be considering a small number of applications at the time for an in-year admission (rather than thousands of children all applying for a Y7 place at normal admissions time), so it's mostly a case of finding you a school with a place going.

llsharman Wed 27-Feb-13 22:13:39

Thank you all.

Our problem is going to be that we are working backwards. Hoping to find a school before we find a home. But we can't be accepted (or apply) to a school before we have an address. So we'll rent a home with only the hope of being accepted to a nearby secondary. It's very scary.

I'll call the LEA, as advised.

Thanks again,


ArbitraryUsername Wed 27-Feb-13 21:34:52

Although, if it's an in year admission (rather than for a place in Y7 in September 2013), it really just depends on whether there's a space in the school at the time you apply (this can change on a weekly basis as people move in and out of an area). You're best to phone the admissions people at the LEA and have a chat.

PatriciaHolm Wed 27-Feb-13 21:30:10

Ah sorry you are looking for secondary! Same principles apply, I expect there is a secondary doc equivalent on the bristol site.

PatriciaHolm Wed 27-Feb-13 21:28:54 Guide for Parents and Carers_0.pdf

Shows you the admission criteria for Bristol schools. For most state schools this is children in care/siblings/distance to school.
This means effective "catchments" change year on year depending on how many siblings there are and where applicants live. Look at the schools where you want to live and see how far away you need to live to get a place in reception.

lljkk Wed 27-Feb-13 19:17:37

Few already full schools have guaranteed spaces for newcomers in catchment. Need to contact the schools you're interested in to find out if they have any spaces, who may refer you to LEA to go thru application process.

We wanted to move to a town that has entirely over-subbed schools. LEA made it clear DC would only be offered spaces in other town & village schools (have to go there by tax-payer paid taxi, I guess). We could take it to appeal panel, but I wasn't up for that fight x 4. You may have more stamina.

pooka Wed 27-Feb-13 19:15:10

You can ring the secondary schools themselves for info or the local education authority.

We were thinking of moving recently so I rang the LEA with a list of schools I might be interested in and the person on the phone gave me the furthest distance each school had gone out last year and also the year before (which I already knew had been a high birth rate year). On that basis I was able to work out how close to the school we would have to be to be comfortably within "catchment" although of course it can vary from year to year depending upon siblings, birth rate, faith criteria.

So for example, I know that our preferred secondary school offered places to children living a maximum of 1.47miles last year and 1.32 the year before. We live 0.98 away and so, fingers crossed, should be fine.

This is relevant for the initial yr 7 entry. In-year admissions really depend on the individual schools having places. If there's a waiting list then that will generally be based on proximity - so you could be 3rd on list, but then drop down to 4th if someone moves closer to the school and asks for a place.

talkingnonsense Wed 27-Feb-13 19:05:52

Wow Alan, helpful.

Not all schools have catchments any more. Best bet is to get order of admission from the school itself or the LEA. It is likely to go:

1) chdn in care
2) church attendance if a faith school
3) siblings, possibly sibs in catchment
4) distance, either as crow flies or by safe walking route.

4) might also be designated primaries or within a defined catchment rather than distance.

Do you currently live in the uk? If so, the primary will have a book with all the state schools in it.

Is that any help?

Wolfiefan Wed 27-Feb-13 18:59:27

I live in the area. (Pm if you like). Not had to do secondary yet but at primary there is no area. Each year siblings get first places, those with particular need for that school/looked after children/regular churchgoers if church school then it is on distance from school.
Some years there will be lots of siblings. Some years very few.

alanyoung Wed 27-Feb-13 18:56:21

Here in the UK we have catchment areas which determine which schools your children can attend.

llsharman Wed 27-Feb-13 17:58:29

Hello -

Here in the US we have district lines which mandate which school your child attends. If you want a specific school, you move within the district line, and that's where your child goes.

My understanding of catchments is that if you live in a certain area, there are several schools your child might attend. Some good. Some bad.

We are moving to the Bristol area, and need a secondary school for both our DD and DS. We have locked in on the Thornbury (Castle) or Wotton Under Edge (KLB) area. But how big is the catchment area? Is it possible we could get stuck in an undersubscribed school in South Bristol?


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