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Is there a website where I can check if I'm in the catchment area for a school?

24 replies

HeadFairy · 06/07/2009 14:52

We're moving to a new area soon and we've checked out schools in the area, they seem pretty good, but I wondered if there are specific catchment areas and beyond which I haven't got a hope of getting ds in to a particular school.

Or does it not work like that? I'm only thinking of these things because where we are currently the two nearest schools are very good and have a 500m catchment area. If you live beyond that then you don't really have a chance of getting in.

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Overmydeadbody · 06/07/2009 14:53

I'm pretty sure there are specific catchment areas, have you looks on the local council website or local LEA website? They shouold have all the info you need there.

edam · 06/07/2009 14:55

Depends on the LEA - in my town, catchment areas grow or shrink every year according to the number of siblings/no of applications/distance from school of those applicants.

Have a look on your council's/the schools' websites or phone up the education department.

RhinestoneCowgirl · 06/07/2009 14:58

I'm about to apply for primary school for DS for next September. They way they work it round here goes as follows:

  • First priority to children with SN
  • then priority to children with siblings in school already
  • then they draw a line on the map and whoever is closest fills remaining places.

    In practise this meant that the school we are closest to had a 'catchment area' of 600m last year, but this could obv vary from year to year.

    I would phone the local council and ask to talk to someone in the education office.
RhinestoneCowgirl · 06/07/2009 14:58

I typed slower and less concisely than edam there...

edam · 06/07/2009 15:00

but you mentioned the top few categories that I'd missed Rhinestone! Children in local authority care/with a defined social or something need (basically SN/medical, I think) come top before anyone else but that's a legal requirement and is the same everywhere as far as I know.

Itsjustafleshwound · 06/07/2009 15:00

Check out the LEA and admissions policy - they can change every year .... we didn't get into our nearest school because the admissions policy (way the appeal process ruled) was to include a new housing dev at the cost of those families nearest the school ..

HeadFairy · 06/07/2009 15:47

Thanks everyone.... I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself here, I can't put ds's name down for reception until next September, but it sounds like if catchment areas are a moveable feast then I can't do any more than getting as close as I can to a good selection.

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EldonAve · 06/07/2009 15:56

Some local authorities publish how close people had to live in the last year
They should also be able to tell you this if you call

Beware being in the middle of various good schools, you might still be too far from each of them and therefore get none!

tkband3 · 06/07/2009 16:04

If you have the postcodes and house numbers of any houses you are looking at, you can phone the local authority and they will give you the exact distance from those houses to your preferred schools. They can also tell you how far out the catchment went this year and in recent years.

But beware of setting too much store by the information - we moved to our house on the basis that we would have got into our closest school that year and the year before. The year we applied for DD1, the catchment shrank from 0.47 miles to 0.29 miles because there were over 30 siblings and we were about 25th on the waiting list!

UnquietDad · 06/07/2009 16:06

Our local authority has a catchment-o-matic on its website where you can enter your postcode and it'll tell you which catchment you fall into.

HeadFairy · 06/07/2009 16:11

LOL at catchment-o-matic UD... I'll have to check out the council's website...

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piscesmoon · 06/07/2009 16:15

I went into the education office and they showed me a map with road names and lines drawn for the various catchment areas.

Fizzylemonade · 06/07/2009 16:17

We have no "catchment" here, if you apply for a school and there are enough places you get in.

But if the school is oversubscribed (as the good ones always are) then it is as RhinestoneCowgirl described.

Hence why we moved very close to a very good school to almost guarantee entry. Downsized to do it

piscesmoon · 06/07/2009 16:26

You have to take great care-in our area one side of the street can be on one catchment area and the other side in a different one-this is why it is a good idea to see a map.

UnquietDad · 06/07/2009 16:32

It's the same here, pisces, and is reflected in the house prices!

About 12 (?) years ago our city council shunted one catchment up the hill by about 10 houses.

There was an absolute shit-storm. I didn't have children at the time so it wasn't "on my radar" as much, but I remember it all the same. The middle classes were practically on the streets burning effigies of the council... It was interesting reading parental quotes where they were trying very hard not to say the other school was "bad", and oh no, it's perfectly good for the children who go there, it's just not "appropriate"...

That less desirable school is now to close because of falling numbers. Various options have been explored, and I bet the catchment-shifting was one they didn't dare explore because of the middle-class revolt last time.

They've tried to save it by getting it to federate, but nobody wants to federate with it!!

HeadFairy · 06/07/2009 16:36

I guess the odds of getting in to a good school are increased if most of the schools in the area are good aren't they? The good ones (getting 1s and 2s in every category on their Ofsted reports, mostly 1s though) really out number the bad ones by about three to one as far as I can tell.

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edam · 06/07/2009 16:51

but you have to be very careful when buying that you don't fall outside the catchment of the 'good' schools and inside the catchment of the less desirable ones...

HeadFairy · 06/07/2009 16:52

Edam. Hopefully the not so great ones are far enough away... they're certainly not nearer than three of the really good ones. In fact they're considerably further away.

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UnquietDad · 07/07/2009 16:15

How about this for catchment area madness?

jujumaman · 07/07/2009 17:11

Hmm, there was a catchment of only 300 metres for our local school this year after siblings were taken into account. | think there is such a bunfight for primary school places that the only way you can guarantee a place at a school of your choice is to move into the same road and then as close as possible to the building. Which will be reflected in the house price. Good luck

Fennel · 07/07/2009 17:37

Our area has set catchments, there's a map the LEA has up on its website. They don't change year to year. And they have a specific policy for children moving into the area which guarantees them a place in one of their two nearest schools. It was very useful when we did move here, not knowing the area well.

But our old area was different, and most people on mumsnet don't seem to live in a strict catchment area.

jeanjeannie · 07/07/2009 18:34

We bought in a good catchment for a number of schools but our LEA have changed our catchment FOUR times since 2002 Now we have LOs we've found that we're now in a catchment for the worst school in the country - and it's nowhere near us

We've looked at the changing catchment maps and you can see how they've enginered the areas so that the good schools get all the expensive housing stock, even if it's not near them! Our road is a mix of council and privately owned so we've now been taken away from those schools and put into the big failing school catchment. Oh and our nearest school is literally at the end of our very small street!!

Tambajam · 07/07/2009 19:07

Catchment areas aren't fixed where I live. They move around depending on how many children fit the different admission criteria. e.g. in a freak year for siblings. It's not some conspiracy. It's just the way it works. Perhaps in one year you'll have 20 siblings filling a Reception class and only 11 the next year. So the children coming from the distance criteria will obviously come from further away in the 11 sibling year to fill the spaces.
Your best bet is to phone the primary admissions officer in the LEA. You give your full postcode and they will check on the computer system and tell you your exact distance from the school and what your chances would have been the previous few years. And what the system is in your area. There are obviously no guarantees but you can get a pretty good idea.

merrymonsters · 08/07/2009 10:11

We don't have catchment areas here either (London). It all depends on how many siblings there are and then preference is given to those closest to the school. At our school, 20 of the 30 reception places for September went to siblings. Firstborn children had to live less than 300m away to get a place. Luckily loads of children around here go to private school or the situation would be even worse.

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