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How's everyone's secondary hunt going?

(19 Posts)
Echobelly Wed 03-Oct-18 21:00:54

DD is to start secondary next year, so we've been on the hunt. I know a lot of people are organised and look at them in Y5 - I get why now, it's all a bit intense, but DH would never have got involved. I have been doing my research and looking up stuff well before now as well, though.

We live in a dead zone for catchment where we are a mile to 1.5miles from several good schools, but they all have catchments smaller than that, so it's probably waiting lists and crossed fingers.

Thus far:
School #1: Furthest away, but not difficult to get to, in next borough in unfamiliar area to us. Rated Outstanding twice in last 8 years. I like it, little bit shabby around the edges but that's fine, seems caring and with good results. DH concerned by its size (1400 kids) and distance from home. She did a test for a music-ability place and has a definite offer. Probably our back-up last choice due to distance.

School #2: The only local one I think we have a real chance of getting into. Ofsted rated Good, lowest-performing of the schools we're looking at, but they're all well above national average. Were very impressed, I thought it might be a back-up option, but might be near top of list at this rate.

School #3: Very high performing, Outstanding rated school. Church priority to places, and we're not church. I didn't warm to it and DD and DH hated it as it was clear it was all about discipline, discipline, discipline, which DD doesn't need and was worried about finding stressful.

School #4: Very new academy, only just sat first GCSEs, tiny catchment. Lovely, caring atmosphere, has a lower school campus that feels like more of continuity from primary. DH worried that it's too touchy-feely and won't be a 'proper' secondary experience, but we're going to visit upper school site next week.

Two more left to go!

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BrickByBrick Wed 03-Oct-18 21:30:49

I am on my 2nd child in the process so has been slightly easier this time round. We have moved and have less of a choice now (logistics mainly) but we are happy with the local school and they seem to have good support services for ds who has autism. We are pretty much guaranteed a place - sibling + can see the school from our bedroom window.

In terms of your choices remember it is an equal preference system, so put any choices in their true order, so for example don't feel that you have to put school #2 1st because you think that is the only one you will get into despite preferring the others. You will be offered a place at the school highest on your list that has a space once the school has applied their over subscription criteria.

Echobelly Wed 03-Oct-18 21:35:42

Oh yeah, there's lots of misunderstanding about it, but I know the schools don't know where you have put them and there's not point trying to play the system somehow - just put the one you want most at the top.

I'm keeping in the back of my mind which I feel might be good for DS (now in Y3) as well, though I'm not going to let the affect the choice we make.

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SarahBeeney Thu 04-Oct-18 00:07:48

I'm exhausted by it all!
We have seen four schools,and won't get to see any more due to work which I can't afford to take off. I will put all 4 down but not sure what order yet.
DD seems to like the schools with the shinier new buildings the best 🤔.
They're all so big,intake usually around 200 with one of them nearly 400.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 04-Oct-18 08:47:55

A big intake can seem scary after smaller primary schools, but the secondary schools should 'manage' that.

e.g. Our school splits the school year into two equal mixed ability halves and in the first year you only have lessons with others from your half, so you get to see familiar faces more easily.

Plus there will be more extra curricular.

Plus (and I think this is very important), come GCSE time there are likely to be more variety of subjects on offer, and more flexibility in combinations.

BastardGoDarkly Thu 04-Oct-18 08:49:30

It's pretty much a given which school ds will go to.

Should I be applying now?

BastardGoDarkly Thu 04-Oct-18 08:50:38

And should I apply to more than one?

TeenTimesTwo Thu 04-Oct-18 08:53:46

Darkly If you are 100% certain you'll get in, you can get away with one, but are you 100% certain? If there is any doubt then list more than 1. (We listed 2 and my DDs are adopted so more or less top of the list!)

Have you looked at the schools?

If you have a year 6 you have to apply by the end of the month so you might as well get on with it.

BastardGoDarkly Thu 04-Oct-18 08:57:12

Oh shit really!!?

Do I do it online? God I'm crap aren't I? !

BastardGoDarkly Thu 04-Oct-18 08:57:45

Thank you Teen flowers

TeenTimesTwo Thu 04-Oct-18 09:09:38

I am talking about England & Wales.

Have you had no information from your current school??

Yes you can normally apply online, have a look on your LA web page and go from there.

You get to state a preference. If your preferred school isn't your local school and you think you only have a 2% chance of getting in, still put it top of your list, you may get lucky. You aren't 'penalised' for listing a school last. Make sure you have a 'banker' on your list somewhere though, otherwise you could be allocated a rubbish school 15 miles away rather than the rubbish school on your doorstep.

BastardGoDarkly Thu 04-Oct-18 09:18:46

Thanks so much.

We had a letter to look round, but as we've been there hundreds of times, ;I know the school well,,so didn't go.

We've had no.... get your shit together, this needs doing before end of October. .. letter though!

My kids bus into school (rural) so I don't talk to any mums, or I guess I'd have heard.

Anyway, I've applied, and put 2 back up places too, just in case.

Thank god for mumsnet! flowers

NotCitrus Thu 04-Oct-18 09:29:08

Ds is in Y5. We're on the border of 4 London boroughs and there's about 50 schools within 40 min travel (having already eliminated the all-girl and Catholic ones). His school sends a few kids to almost all of them.
I'm trying to figure out a dozen he could get into because there's too many to look at, but he may get an EHCP which opens the field again (followed by no doubt narrowing again when schools show what they think of acquiring an argumentative arsy autistic kid).
I have a spreadsheet...

elkiedee Thu 04-Oct-18 11:30:09

NotCitrus, wow, that sounds like a very daunting choice.

BGD, well done. One of our open evenings was quite late in October so we didn't make the application until a few days before the end. Luckily we eventually decided on the nearest school which isn't oversubscribed because dp messed up the application and somehow forgot to actually submit it before the deadline - eek! Yes, it did all work out fine in the end, but it is just as well we weren't competing!

Echobelly Thu 04-Oct-18 13:13:28

Glad I started this thread then @BastardGoDarkly ! Good luck!

Our primary sends us reminders and had an admissions evening, but I'm all over this stuff like a rash anyway!

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Growingboys Thu 04-Oct-18 21:10:54

I'm a year ahead with DS in Year 7, and just wanted to say that in our experience, the size of the school is a bit of a red herring if the school is organised enough.

DS has gone from a tiny primary to a massive secondary but because it is organised impeccably, he's in a class of 30 (there are several) and it all feels perfectly cosy and not at all daunting for him.

I was really worried about the size thing but it's turned out not to be an issue AT ALL.

Echobelly Thu 04-Oct-18 21:22:29

Thanks @Growingboys - I think DH is extra concerned about it as he was privately educated all the way through, so is used to much smaller.

School #5 tonight was very good. Consistently high achieving, high expectations, Outstanding Ofsted. We have a small chance of getting in, I think DH's nephew might well get in, as they are probably properly in catchment. DH says it's his top choice at the moment, DD still prefers school #4 and we want to look into how much it pushes kids or whether it coasts because it has a high-achieving intake and starts from a high baseline.

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changehere Sat 06-Oct-18 11:33:08

Hi Echobelly - I think from your list we’re not far from you and are choosing between no. 3 and no.4. I know quite a few who are happy with no. 3 and the results are impressive, but leaning towards no 4 based on atmosphere and the staff seem very committed and enthusiastic.

Echobelly Mon 08-Oct-18 10:50:25

Visited last one today - I liked it; we saw lessons that looked orderly without being overly disciplinarian, kids moving well between lessons without being too regimented, good signs about music activities.

DH less sure, but we're going to talk to some parents with kids there. Results are good. Couldn't take DD with us, but I think she would have responded positively to it - she's seen the site and liked it at least.

Either way, TBH, it's probably our penultimate choice due to accessibility (not that far, but would mean tube, bus ride, walk) - it would be quite a long day as she'd probably have to leave by 7.30 to get there. But I'd like to speak to parents as it might reassure DH a bit about it.

Still need to see upper school of #4 on Thursday morning, but DH I suspect will remain wary of it.

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