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Primary school admissions, I've no clue...

61 replies

CoffeeLover90 · 28/09/2022 13:54

Hi, I have one DS. he'll start reception next September. About 3 weeks ago I was told by a friend that I'd need to apply for school places from next month. I'd no idea, I'd thought it would have been after Christmas I'd need to apply! Anyway, I do not want to use my closest school, it's got a terrible reputation, I got in touch with another 2, only one has answered me. I visited, I liked it. The other school hasn't got back to me.
The school I visited is within walking distance, small class sizes and 1 teacher and 1 ta in each class. Also an additional support class and a SENCO as well as an additional TA.
The school that hasn't got back to me has a good reputation, its a large school, classes are split in 2, I'm unsure of the sizes and use of TAs as, obviously, I haven't had the opportunity. They're further away, would require a bus journey and buses are not reliable at all around here.
DS is awaiting assessment for ASD and, I may be overthinking, but I need to know that a school will cater to his needs.
Now, when I come to giving my choices do I need to provide 4? Can I apply for only one? I am in the catchment area for the preferred school although they are under another council.

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HaveringWavering · 28/09/2022 13:56

Your local authority should have a full guide available online which explains the primary school application process in detail. Look on the Council website, call them up to ask if you can't find it.

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brainstories568 · 28/09/2022 15:53

I work in admissions. I also have a child starting school in Sept 23.

It will vary SO much depending on where you live (some areas have catchments, some don't, some you apply for 6, some it's less than that) so as said above, google primary school admissions in enter council name and it will bring up the "rules" for your area including the schools/form entry etc sometimes including the number of apps and offers etc. You can only apply for one place if you want but then you may run the risk of being placed anywhere. Where you are in the country will heavily weigh into this - I am in a part of London where people regularly do not get any of their 6 choices however there are areas of the country where 96% or higher get their first choice.

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brainstories568 · 28/09/2022 15:55

If you expect them to have an ECHP in place before they start school then you may be able to apply via that route, although I think that would be quite rare for reception for ASD.

Also note that you apply via a central online system not directly to the school and you can apply for schools in other council areas.

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namechange30455 · 28/09/2022 15:57

What council area are you? You need to find the admissions guide on their website

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mummyh2016 · 28/09/2022 16:01

Don't apply for only one school, apply for at least one local school that you have a good chance of getting into - even if you list it as bottom choice. Putting only one school doesn't give you a better chance of getting it opposed to those that have used all choices. If you only put one choice and you don't get in you'll be given a place at a school with places. You'd rather a space at a rubbish local school than a rubbish school which is miles away.

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Flopisfatteningbingforchristmas · 28/09/2022 16:03

All school will have a SENCO. Most reception classes with have a TA. SEN TA will be attached to certain children so the funding for the SEN TA you saw in a TA will go with that child who will be in Yr1 next year.

If you apply for one school and don’t get that school you will just be given a place at which ever school is left after they have hone through everyone else 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th choices so that would not be a sensible ideas. Just putting down one school doesn’t make it more likely you will get your first choice.

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PuttingDownRoots · 28/09/2022 16:04

Only applying for one can be risky because if you don't get a place for whatever reason, then you are just offered the nearest school with space which may be quite a distance away.

As others have said, you need to check the admissions criteria for your area. In mine for example we have 'priority admissions zones' which means you are higher up the list for the school you live in the area for (which might not be the nearest one, as they are funny shaped so that everyone is in one). Other areas is distance. You might have religious schools which give priority to those of that religion.

Usually the criteria is something like

  1. Looked after children

2 siblings
3. Distance.

Its usually advised to list the closest school last as a bad school nearby is better than a bad school 45 minutes away.

Deadline in England is January by the way, so you have time.
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CoffeeLover90 · 28/09/2022 17:27

Thanks everyone. I'd already checked the council admissions and it had said 3 or 4, I wasn't sure if I had to have more than one choice. The school I like is the only other one within walking distance, we are in the catchment, a couple of kids in my street go there. If I'd known more in advance I would have arranged visits sooner, it said on website it was best to apply early 3rd Oct until 15 Jan.
I've asked his nursery for a meeting as I'd like to arrange an EHCP if possible, he has speech delay and I believe he can gain speech therapy as part of that. I would name the school I visited on the plan if we could.

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Thatsnotmycar · 28/09/2022 17:34

An EHCP won’t be finalised before the normal admissions deadline so even if you apply for an EHCNA you should also apply via the normal admissions route. Otherwise if an EHCP isn’t issued &/or you have to appeal (potentially more than once) you may not have a finalised EHCP by September next year, in which case you would have to make a late application and be left with whatever schools have places.

You can apply for an EHCNA yourself, IPSEA have a model letter on their website.

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Iheartmykyndle · 28/09/2022 17:46

We visited schools the whole way through the autumn last year. Deadline is in Jan for on time applications (I think it's national date) and we did one visit in early December as well as a couple in November as they were the earliest slots we could get.

Worth asking about siblings on visits -when my DD2 goes she'll be in a class with the siblings of 7 of DD1s classmates so there's every chance there might not be as many places as it looks like on paper.

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mummyh2016 · 28/09/2022 17:59

OP your child will be entitled to SALT without an EHCP, can you ask your GP or HV to make the referral?
You'll only normally get one for speech delay if it is severe.

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SunshineClouds1 · 28/09/2022 18:00

This was my worry as my child is awaiting a diagnosis too.
We don't have a EHCP yet but even if we started it now, it won't be done in time for admissions.

Your nursery, whilst can't help you get where you want they will help to let the school know his needs and the school then sorts this out from there so everything is in place for him starting.

Please don't only put one school. You could end up anywhere. Fill all 3 places.

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SunshineClouds1 · 28/09/2022 18:01

mummyh2016 · 28/09/2022 17:59

OP your child will be entitled to SALT without an EHCP, can you ask your GP or HV to make the referral?
You'll only normally get one for speech delay if it is severe.

And yes to this

Your HV or nursery should have already put a referral in. Confused why they haven't tbh!
Get onto them for it

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HereWeHave · 28/09/2022 18:02

When you say you’re “in the catchment” are you clear about what that actually means? And that it doesn’t guarantee you a place?

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RoseslnTheHospital · 28/09/2022 18:11

Applying early makes no difference, all applications made before the deadline are treated equally. The only reason to apply early is so that you don't forget and aren't trying to submit an application in the last few hours of the window when it is busy and the website response might be slow.

I am concerned that you are misunderstanding catchments, especially as you have said that the school you want is under a different local authority. For the local authority where your home address is, does their admissions site have a search tool to identify your catchment school?

It's also worth remembering that you aren't giving your choices, you are giving your preferences. If you only put one preference down and your child isn't eligible for a place at that school you will be allocated a place at the closest school that has available places after everyone else's preferences have been taken into account. So, use all your available preference slots to put the schools you prefer in your genuine order of preference.

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Thatsnotmycar · 28/09/2022 18:21

Whilst SALT can be accessed without an EHCP, the frequency and duration of provision that can be accessed via an EHCP is often well in excess of what would otherwise typically be available to those without an EHCP, and without the need to sit on the normal waiting lists. DC who don’t ordinarily meet the local threshold for intervention can also receive support via an EHCP.

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QueenWenceslas · 28/09/2022 18:21

Make sure you use all of your available choices, if you only state one school and and don’t get in you could end up anywhere that has a space - in other words at the school nobody wants their kids to go to for good reason.

In my local authority it doesn’t matter how early you apply within the window, applications received by the deadline are considered ‘on time’ and ones afterwards ‘late’. It’s only if you miss the deadline that you will be at a disadvantage.
The schools also aren’t told the order of preference you’ve listed them on your form.

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BeanieTeen · 28/09/2022 18:53

Yeah I knew a lot of people like that when I applied for my first DC. The window was something like October to January - and I seemed to be the only one who understood it’s not first-come-first-serve. They were ready to apply on the dot, but it’s not like buying concert tickets 😂 it depends on where you live somewhat but you most likely still have loads of time.

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ReadyForPumpkins · 28/09/2022 19:05

I apply as soon as possible only because I know I might forget. In my county, we can edit our application until the cut off date. There is really no harm in applying early.

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Harrysmummy246 · 28/09/2022 19:12

As long as you apply by the deadline, which is, usually, January, it'll be considered as others.

You list in order of preference, there are criteria. You can't say that you don't want a particular school though. 8

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crumpetswithjam · 28/09/2022 19:14

Have you also scoped out specialist provision? Our son started SS from Reception age and it has really benefitted him to be with other children like him, he is well supported and very very happy.

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HaveringWavering · 28/09/2022 19:52

You will not gain any advantage by applying early. You will not be disadvantaged by applying just before the deadline. It is not legal for them to allocate places on a first-come-first-served basis.

The only thing that you have to do is make sure you do not miss the deadline.

If you are unsure about the process you need to speak to your local authority or ask on a local parents' message board. Nobody here can give you the specific advice you need, unless you are willing to tell us the name of the local authority.

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CoffeeLover90 · 28/09/2022 19:55

Thanks for the replies. I will fill in all 3/4 slots, the info on the council website wasn't clear so thought best ask here.
Just to answer a couple of points, I did report his speech delay to the HV countless times from him being 13 months. His nursery actually completed the referral in January, HV still been no help whatsoever. Hid first appointment was in June, speech therapist agreed he showed signs of ASD, which nursery had picked up on, and said he needed a referral to pediatrics for an assessment before any therapy began. He has made some progress. Pediatrics wrote to me and basically said they don't have any appointments, due to covid, but he's on the list and will be seen in die course. He says very little coherent words and when he does they're out of context. It's hard to explain. Anyway I told the headmaster about all this during my visit and I was very happy with his response, he was very reassuring.
I looked into EHCP as another way to access speech therapy. I can't afford it private. I wanted to speak to the nursery before starting the process because they've been the only ones to actually give any advice throughout this. They have a plan in place there which is also followed at home.
I know I'm in the catchment, it says so on the council website, headmaster confirmed pupils from this area attend and I know 2 kids in this street who go there.

I just want what's best for him.

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SunshineClouds1 · 28/09/2022 19:58

said he needed a referral to pediatrics for an assessment before any therapy began

I would double check this as my sons had therapy for a year. We've only just had the referral go through for peads.

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HereWeHave · 28/09/2022 20:05

Sorry to labour the catchment point but even if you are in catchment, if the school is oversubscribed they can’t admit everyone in catchment. In our case there were spaces for 30 children. There were 60 who applied who were in catchment. The school therefore had to use the oversubscription criteria to identify who to admit. In our case it was 1 adopted, 20 siblings so there were then 9 spots which were allocated in distance order.

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