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School Catchment Areas

(15 Posts)
Bobbiesgirl54 Thu 03-Mar-16 09:29:08

I've been looking at historic comments about the dire straits we can resort to to get our children into a secondary school of our choice. People speak about moving to/renting in the area of a suitable school - there are many negative comments aimed at those people who would look at temporary renting in the area of the school. But does anyone have any suggestions for the schooling of a really bright little boy whose catchment area school has been in special measures for the past 2.5 years, with continual changes of teaching staff and little improvement made according to OFSTED reports. We have a year to go and are tearing our hair out at the thought of his going to the local failing school.

shushpenfold Thu 03-Mar-16 09:33:32

Have you looked into scholarships and bursaries for local Independent Schools? If your ds is really bright, he may well have a very good chance for both, or at least for a bursary which will be determined on your assets/income.

meditrina Thu 03-Mar-16 09:34:36

You may need to put your catchment school down as the final choice (on the grounds that it's better to have a school you dislike that's on your doorstep, rather than a school you dislike somewhere inconvenient).

How many choices do you have in your LEA?

Are any (partially) selective and could you try for an aptitude place?

Are all the schools with different priority admissions areas always filled by children in the those catchments? Because a nearby school that gets far enough down its category list to admit out-of-catchment pupils might be possible as long as its greatest distance offered in the last few years might have included your address.

MumTryingHerBest Thu 03-Mar-16 09:42:07

Bobbiesgirl54 Thu 03-Mar-16 09:29:08 a really bright little boy whose catchment area school has been in special measures for the past 2.5 years

I think the biggest issue people have with those who buy/rent in the catchment of a "percievably" good school is that a fair number of those people move out of the area once they have been allocated a place. This also gives way to siblings to gain a place over those children living on the doorstep of the school.

An example of this would be two of my local schools. The distance cut off for those applying for a distance place is less than 300 meters. The distance cut off for siblings is 3 miles.

We have a year to go and are tearing our hair out at the thought of his going to the local failing school.

That should be plenty of time to sell your house (assuming you're not renting) and buy another in an area with better educational provision. I don't think you need to stress too much at this stage.

enderwoman Thu 03-Mar-16 09:42:11

Some secondaries prioritise children who go to specific primary schools. Any chance that a new primary will mean priority to a better secondary?

Google for any free schools that may be set up in the near future.

Visit the school in special measures. Sometimes a small change like the Head resigning means that teacher turn over plummets.

Katenka Thu 03-Mar-16 09:43:12

We moved. It was an area I wanted to live in anyway. We lived there before but had to live when our landlord sold the house.

When we could buy our own we moved back to the area. We lived here 3 years before the application went in.

Temporary renting is wrong imo, though and councils are looking into people far more than they used to.

The main issue I have with temporary renting is a lot of people do it, move out then manage to get all their other kids in the school.

tiggytape Thu 03-Mar-16 10:06:57

There's nothing wrong with moving house to get a school place you want. If you own your own home, you need to sell and move before the deadline (October 31st in Year 6). If you rent, you need to end the tenancy and start a new one by that same deadline.

What you can't do is rent a house nearer to the school you want without severing all ties with your current home (and it doesn't matter whether you physically live in the rented house for a bit or not). There's all the moral objections about cheating but, more importantly, it is not allowed so if you are caught you lose the place anyway (even after yur child has started at the school).
People got away with it in the past. Some schools were notorious for this happening and some councils barely acknowledged it happened let alone looked out for it. Most councils now (especially where school places are competitive) are really on the ball and even in just the last 2 or 3 years, most councils have introduced much better checks and other parents are on the ball about reporting it.

You can also look at schools much further away that don't care about distance. Some schools allocate places by lottery which is awful if it is your closest school but great for people who live far away who'd like an equal chance of a place.
Some schools prioritise faith applicants. If a faith school requires one year regular attendance to get into a high admissions category, you still have time.
Some schools reserve 10% of places for aptitude in music or sports or languages so people living some distance from them can get in on those grounds.
Some schools are academically selective and exam success not home address is given priority for place allocation.
Some schools are good but awkward to get to or located in the shadow of a cluster of absolutely outstanding schools. As such, they receive fewer applications than places. Any school unable to fill its places locally would take anyone who applied.

So you can move (genuinely) or research schools out of area that may take you on criteria hat are nothing to do with distance. And you can also explore private school options if that is viable.

davidcameroon Thu 03-Mar-16 10:09:04

We moved.
I don't feel guilty because Ive lived in the same house for 4 years and plan to stay here for 10 more.

minifingerz Thu 03-Mar-16 10:17:53

For the record - going to a poor school has much more serious implications for children who are slow learners, have learning difficulties, and who have poor support at home than it does for bright, well supported children. I'm only mentioning it because people tend to put that information forward - that their child is clever - as a sort of explanation of why a poor school is particularly unsuitable for them. If it's not good enough for clever children, it's also not good enough for those children who are less bright.

I'd second the advice to look for state schools which offer partial selection. In my area there are quite a few within travelling distance. I really wasn't aware of this first time around but got wise to it eventually. Both my younger ds's have got into popular schools through this route.

Bobbiesgirl54 Thu 03-Mar-16 11:58:44

Thanks for all your comments. I will look into the 'partial selection' situation. But have to say, selling up and moving to another better catchment area is going to be financial unviable for us.

Icouldbeknitting Thu 03-Mar-16 13:11:50

I realised in reception that I was a slacker of a parent when I was talking to a mother who had a considerable travelling distance in the mornings. I asked why she was coming so far to our infant school when she had good primary schools closer. The infant school was an automatic feeder to juniors and the junior school was a named catchment school for a decent secondary school which she would otherwise have had little chance of getting into on distance. She had a five year plan for secondary school and I'd given it no thought at all.

When we moved through to junior school it then had two years in special measures, poor staff retention, the lot. On paper it was a failing school with poor outcomes especially for boys. DS was happy there because the one thing they got right was pastoral care but he was bored for some of the time. Some parents changed schools but we didn't because he was happy and mostly doing well and I didn't want to lose the secondary place. The one thing they failed him on was maths, he just didn't get it at all. I didn't know how much he hadn't grasped until he moved to secondary when he struggled. It took him two years to get over the "I can't do maths" and get to grips with the subject.

If I could turn back time I'd do it all again except I'd ignore all those parent's evenings where they told me that there was nothing wrong with his maths, it just looked poor in comparison with his other subjects.

catslife Thu 03-Mar-16 13:29:01

I would start by looking up the distances from your home to different secondary schools in your area as closest distance from home to school takes priority over catchment.
We are also in catchment for a secondary school in special measures, but there is one academy that is closer than the catchment school so many children go there instead. There are also some under-subscribed schools in the neighbouring LEA where children go instead.
There are also several schools in our area that have a lottery system for entry so where you live is less important for this type of school.
Faith schools are also an option for many parents, but usually this requires attending church for longer than a year and may not be an option for you.

meditrina Thu 03-Mar-16 13:43:39

"closest distance from home to school takes priority over catchment."

No, it's the other way round.

You need to check on the map that gives the formal priority admissions area, because it may well be an odd shape. As the order will be something like 'siblings in catchment, other catchment, siblings outside catchment, other children' it means that someone in catchment but 2 miles away would get a place ahead of someone outside catchment even if they are only 1 mile away.

Catchments can be redrawn and there must be a consultation about it. It might be worth asking your LEA if there are any consultations underway to change catchment boundaries for 2017 admission (they're not usually well publicised).

Also, check the admitted children carefully. Do all catchment children who apply get places? Are there any other nearby schools which have admitted admit non-catchment non-sibling applicants in recent years? And if so, what was the greatest distance offered compared to your distance from the school?

PatriciaHolm Thu 03-Mar-16 14:03:57

Is there actually a formal catchment, OP? Often the term is used when what is actually meant is "usual area in which people get admitted to this school", not a formally drawn catchment.

catslife Thu 03-Mar-16 15:32:59

In our LEA there is only one very oversubscribed school where you have to live in the catchment area to get in and where in catchment siblings have priority over siblings that live outside the catchment.
In all other secondary schools it's distance that counts (apart from lottery and faith schools).

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