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Primary school admissions - MNHQ needs your thoughts!

(809 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 08-Apr-15 15:25:57


We've been asked (in advance of primary school places allocation announcements in England, Wales and NI next week) for MNers' thoughts on the current systems for allocating primary places - so as ever we thought we'd come to you for your insights.

What do you think about how your LA allocates places? Have you found the process stressful? Do you think the difficulty/stress varies widely across the nation - and if so, which locations are particularly difficult and which are relatively stress-free? If you're in Scotland, where the system is different, do you think it works well (or not?) Would you support a change to the allocation system - and if so, how would you like to see it changed?

Any thoughts welcome. Best of luck to anyone waiting to hear about their child's place.

WhoahThereCrazyHorse Wed 08-Apr-15 15:30:01

Won't be stressful until we don't get any of our 5 choices - but are allocated a school miles away or a faith school that happens to have places left (we are atheists) due to all of the schools in our area being oversubscribed.... Not looking forward to next Thursday, or the inevitable appeals that will follow.

Sirzy Wed 08-Apr-15 15:31:48

I think its hard, especially in areas where there is a shortage of spaces. I guess there will never be a 'fair' method for allocations as long as there is a shortage of places and in a lot of areas a short of choice in the faith school, or not, side of things.

I benefited last year from the distance rules as My locality to the school got ds into a very over subscribed school. Even so it was still a worrying time as the school was by far the best to meet his needs locally.

MTWTFSS Wed 08-Apr-15 15:32:22

The problem is in any area there are some schools better than others, so everyone tries to get into the best ones and some children are left to go to the not so good schools sad It would be lovely if we lived in a world where all schools were excellent!

MTWTFSS Wed 08-Apr-15 15:36:37

WhoahThereCrazyHorse I don't want a faith school either sad

MrsLettuce Wed 08-Apr-15 15:38:46

I don't live in the UK anymore but the school admissions system as well as the general state of the school system is absolutely top of my reasons not to move back whilst the children are still school aged. I really feel for those who have to deal with it all.

TeddyBear5 Wed 08-Apr-15 15:40:10

Presumably MNHQ meant First School admissions and allocations too... wink

MTWTFSS Wed 08-Apr-15 15:44:36

Its sad, before this school admissions thing I was really enjoying having children sad Not very fun at the moment!

JemFinch Wed 08-Apr-15 15:48:13

I'm very lucky in my area of SE london - DTs are down for our nearest school which is RC. We are practicing and distance hopefully wot be in an issue. We have two schools not much further away that I would be happy with if it came down to it.

Already terrified about secondary applications though...

petalunicorn Wed 08-Apr-15 15:50:33

We have a system that gives priority to siblings, which is lovely, until kids living next door to the school can't get in. The systems which give priority to siblings who haven't moved address since the last sibling got in seem fairest.

Now that there is effectively no choice for large numbers of pupils it is time to remove faith as an admissions criteria. Faith is something for the home setting to teach if they feel it is appropriate.

JimmyCorkhill Wed 08-Apr-15 15:52:02

So incredibly stressful for us last year. I still feel quite emotional about it all. We live in short walking distance from 4 large schools and couldn't get into any of them. We were sent a breakdown of allocated places for our 3 choices and the majority (think 80%+) of places given were to siblings.

I would like a differentiation to be made between siblings in catchment/out of catchment (or a suitable distance if no actual catchment area). I could accept it if we lost out to siblings who still lived near the school, but to know that children who live further away than us got places really rankles.

So priority would go to 1) LAC/children with SEN, 2) Siblings living within a certain distance 3) all other children based on distance (regardless of whether a sibling or not).

LemonYellowSun Wed 08-Apr-15 15:54:41

Luckily where we live we don't have problems with oversubscriptions, and most of the local schools are rated good/outstanding. DS1 got into our first choice 4 years ago even though we were first child out of catchment. DS2 should be fine, as he has sibling priority.

Twoplus3 Wed 08-Apr-15 15:58:38

What exactly is wrong with faith schools? You don't necessarily have to be of any particular faith to be allocated a place at their school and in general they perform so much better than none faith schools.

youmakemydreams Wed 08-Apr-15 16:03:38

I'm in Scotland and I feel stressed every year on behalf of the parents on here waiting for schools. I am always shocked that people upset about getting a school 2-3 miles away and being told that is nothing, not that far etc. even if the person has no transport and has to rely on infrequent buses.
I have done a 2 mile round trip school run including pre-school with no available buses and it is exhausting and time consuming.

I am very grateful that here in Scotland we rock up to our local school fill in a form in January and that's it your child starts at your local school in August. None of the angst about places and not getting into any of our choices.

This year it is a bit different for me as I have had to do a placing request at an out of catchment school for DS2 as DS1 and DD are already at the schol that we did live in catchment for before we moved. That is stressful enough waiting but at least I know what school DS2 will be attending if he doesn't get into our chosen one.

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Wed 08-Apr-15 16:06:18

I completely agree re siblings of families who have moved away (in some cases a significant distance)

Sirzy Wed 08-Apr-15 16:06:52

The problem with faith schools is that someone who can "prove" their faith will automatically get a better, bigger choice of schools. How is that a fair system?

(I am Christian and ds is baptised so I have no problem with faith, I do have issue with faith schools and the admission process to faith schools)

piechuck Wed 08-Apr-15 16:08:48

Worried about school admissions from birth until the deadline for applications as we lived in an area of extremely over-subscribed schools and one extremely bad one. Because of the ever changing 'catchment area' there was always a faint hope that we'd get in to a decent school, but hated the whole unpredictability of it.

We wasted hours meeting the council lobbying for bulge places classes attending free school start-up meetings (in the hope that one would open nearby and we'd get in). At one point we had our hopes resting on a bilingual free school opening and were resigned to DS growing up speaking a different language to us, but at their open day, we were horrified at the state of their premises and didn't want to send our energetic DS to school in a building with no outside play-space).

We eventually gave up and moved out of the area that we loved, in order to be secure in what offer we'd get for primary.

I'm v much in favour of moving to the Scottish system, even though it removes 'choice' for parents. I don't think primary school kids/parents need a choice of school, they just want their closest local school to offer them a place, and for it to be good.

ArcheryAnnie Wed 08-Apr-15 16:09:48

Twoplus3 not around here, though. All the faith schools around me (which are almost all Catholic) have very, very strict faith criteria - even being baptised and going to church occasionally isn't necessarily enough, never mind being of a different faith or no faith.

Because so many of the local schools are faith schools, it leads to the ridiculous situation where children (including mine) have to go out of borough to find a school (any school - I don't mean a high-performing school) that will take them, while children who live far across town are driven to the schools near us because they are of the "right" faith.

My DS did not get into the state primary school which is right next door to our block of flats. Next door. Not a few blocks or yards away, but next door. They would not even give me an application form as they said there was "no point". As a result all DS's mates live a long way away, and for an only child, that's very hard on him.

That's what is wrong with faith schools. No primary school should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of faith in any way. It's ridiculous, immoral, and totally insupportable.

ButterflyUpSoHigh Wed 08-Apr-15 16:11:22

Primary school was fine for us. We wanted a faith school and we live close to it. I live in a fairly big city and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of spaces. The problems arise when people want schools far away.

Secondary school places though is a totally different ball game. We live near to some very poor schools that nobody wants. This has changed significantly since we bought our house when the schools were good.

We eventually got our first choice 4 months into year 7 from waiting list.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 08-Apr-15 16:13:17


Presumably MNHQ meant First School admissions and allocations too... wink

Oh no, sorry! Feel free to school us on the Scottish system (seriously!)

FireCanal Wed 08-Apr-15 16:14:01

I find it totally unacceptable that access to a state school may be permitted or denied on the basis of the religious affiliation of the child's parents.

BigGlasses Wed 08-Apr-15 16:14:06

I'm in Scotland and don't really understand the English system, never having had to deal with it. But from what I read on here it seems to be very stressful. I'm quite happy with the Scottish system which seems to work ok as long as you apply to get into the school in P1. I have heard problems of people moving into an area with older kids and not getting a primary place at their catchment school, but this is quite rare. And if it does happen then the council have to transport (normally by taxi) to the nearest alternative school. It all seems to work ok.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 08-Apr-15 16:16:56

Oh hang on... you weren't referring to Scotland were you <headspin>

OneHappyBunny Wed 08-Apr-15 16:17:32

The Scottish system seems brilliant compared to England.

There is a catchment area and you send your child to the catchment school. If you want them to go to a different school, you put in a placing request.

A placing request, if accepted, does not entitle you to council transport to that school.

And that's it. Done.

MrsFlannel Wed 08-Apr-15 16:20:22

I have always thought new parents should be given or sent a guide to admissions a couple of years before their child turns 3. Some just don't have a clue how it works. It's confusing...

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