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30/01/2014 at 11:24
Morning all! Starting to think about potential schools for E as we realised his reception application process will begin in autumn 2015 and we haven't a clue where we want him to go! I've printed a list of all our local schools and am ploughing through ofsted reports to try and make a shortlist to then visit next year. Is there anything else you did or am I missing anything?
How many schools did you visit and how did you decide which three to apply for?
30/01/2014 at 11:34
I didn't look at any - I work at our catchment school and was totally happy for him to go there, so didn't look anywhere else. I did use up the other spaces on the form though with other schools he would stand a chance of getting into.
Have a look on your council website - there should be a guide for this year's applicants which will say what the admission criteria are and how many the schools admitted and up to which criteria (the criteria for faith schools are often different to take into account church attendance or baptism). There's little point looking at schools which you are unlikely to get a place at so it's really worth finding out which schools are realistic. In some places where population density is high, the idea of choice really isn't as real as it's made out to be sadly.
Ofsted is a good start but don't put too much faith in the reports - some will be quite old and some schools will be reinspected before you apply and the situation may change. The reports are only a small snapshot of what the school is like.
Open days will be held in Autumn of 2015 for his intake so keep an eye on the school websites or contact them directly for dates closer to the time. Talk to people locally and see what the feeling is once you have a few in mind.
30/01/2014 at 11:36
I looked at Ofsteds, and asked absolutely everyone I could think of who had kids or grandkids at local schools, as well as any teachers or nursery staff I came in to contact with.
I viewed 4, liked 2, both were out of my catchment. In the end made a play for the less popular/subscribed of the 2 figuring my odds were better, and we got it. Really pleased. Was totally the right choice for my boy.
I was more interested, to be honest, in the grounds, the ethos, the friendliness and the inclusion aspects than I was the academic results. Most of my friends went for the other of the 2 schools, wanting the better academic results.
30/01/2014 at 11:41
TBH, I didn't look at Ofsted. I knew both of our options were "good" schools but I didn't read the specifics.
We are in catchment for two schools. We looked around them both to get a feel of them.
The head teacher swung it for us in both schools. One was amazing, organised, enthusiastic, and the children clearly respected and liked her as she showed us around. The other was a dizzy fool. She lost her glasses, run about 45 mins late in showing us around, didn't even introduce herself. I had my 12 week scan that day and she ran so late on the talk bit that I only got to look around one classroom.
Also, school two had a VERY drawn out induction period. It was 6 weeks (nearly October half term) before the children were in school full time. I am self employed and work from home so probably could have managed but how other working parents managed it, I have no idea. The school we picked, the head had the attitude that most children would have done full days in other forms of childcare before school so believed they were ready to just start full time straight away.
Ultimately, we also picked the school we can plod to in 10 minutes, rather than the other which would be a drive plus the parking scrabble every morning.
30/01/2014 at 12:04
I went on practical decisions firstly. One was in our local village and walking distance. One was in the next town a drive away but next to the pre school he attended so good for transition links. the third was the church school. they were all welcoming and had good reports. In the end we decided that it was important that Luke had local friends and the opportunity to walk to school when he was older, I wouldn't have to rely on a car and driving in and out twice a day, could possibly make local contacts if I need help at pick up time etc. the village school also had lovely grounds, lots of outside play space for reception children and I liked the senco. It's not a traditional village school as we live near to a military camp and lots of military families move about lots so the school roll is constantly changing 9can be over subscribed one year and empty classrooms the next) but it works hard to welcome new children throughout the school year.
I think how to go about the decision process depends on where you live and how big the catchment areas are. both my sister and SIL went down the church route (RC) and found God in anticipation of the school admission process.
30/01/2014 at 12:10
30/01/2014 at 12:21
30/01/2014 at 12:47
A will just be going to our catchment school
30/01/2014 at 12:51
Also what Isis said, being part of the local community and being able to walk to school was hugely important to me and even if I didn't work at the school, I'd still have chosen it. My H is still best mates with someone he met when they started primary school and they're 40 next year - I really want that for my children too and I love the walk to and from school with friends.
30/01/2014 at 12:58
Thank you everyone this has been really, really helpful. It's looking like we'll have to try schools in the next town to us as although we have a school literally 5 mins walk from us which would be absolutely ideal, we live in a heavily populated area with many different ethnic minorities and the figures show that this school currently has 94% of kids who speak English as a second language. I'm a bit concerned about the effect that would have on the 6% of which E would be one? Obviously we will visit the school and see how things are at the time but it's a major consideration in our area.
We're just not in a position to move unfortunately and when we bought 7 years ago we didn't consider schools as we didn't think we'd still be here when we had kids, but things changed! There are really good schools int he next town where I grew up and my parents live, and as it will be my Mum doing drop off and pick up as things stand now with our working hours and she doesn't drive, it would ideally be a school in walking distance of my parents but as you say choice doesn't always come into it! It's worse as 2012 was a baby boom year so it's likely schools will be oversubscribed for Reception admission in 2016.
Carole that made me chuckle about your sister and SIL! H and I are both christened but aren't church attenders and had a naming day instead for E as we didn't get married in church and have no intention of taking him so thought it was hypocritical. So many people I've spoken to though have 'found God' in a timely fashion for Reception!
30/01/2014 at 14:21
Only looked at the closest school, but there is another, just as good, in the village. Both are in walking distance, but the nearest is a church school and although i'm not religious i like the ethos of the school. It's very oversubscribed though, but C goes to their nursery and we're in catchment so hoping she gets in.
30/01/2014 at 20:28
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