Choosing a secondary school

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by ATOMIC SUPLEX, Sep 26, 2017.


    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    It's that time. . . .
    I appear to have quite a bit of choice. . . if I suddenly find god and have been attending church for the last few years without remembering.
    So yeah, there are a few of those bullshit academy things, they seem OK, but seem to operate in a fairly straight manner just to tick the ofsted boxes. Art, music, cookery, drama etc are all pushed to the side of deleted. . . . and after two years you have to choose. Art or Drama or music, can't do two or all three. Same with humanities. Geography or History or Religious philosophy (WTF?).

    There is an old performing arts school that I did really like. It's not actually a performing arts school anymore but they are hanging on and it seems to offer more choice. Kids get to learn a little bit of everything and then can choose to specialise. The school bases its lesson plans (blocks) around what the children that year chose, so there is a lot more choice. More art more more science, photography, video editing. . . all sorts of stuff. It's also in a nice location and an easy bus ride away.
    So yeah, I love this school, but all the schools are over subscribed and my daughters year was a BIG one, so there are more kids. We seem to be just on the edge of the catchment area (well kids that currently attend the school), and the teachers seemed to suggest to a friend that lives closer than me, that he was too far away.
    There is a closer school, but we are even less in the grip of it's catchment area. Then there is a horrible school in the shit part of Croydon that as the crow flies is even closer, but despite being close we are not in the catchment area at all.

    If what the schools are saying is correct, we don't appear to be in anyones catchment area.
  2. Mr Moose

    Mr Moose What the hell are we supposed to tell the kids?

    What are the friends doing?
  3. purenarcotic

    purenarcotic Conveniently Pocket Sized

    What are her friends doing? Where would she like to go?
    mx wcfc likes this.
  4. Lambert Simnel

    Lambert Simnel Banned Banned

    It sounds like you about to start secondary school? Lots of talk about what you like, but what about the child? Do they even like drama? Maybe they could think of nothing worse than doing both geography and history? You've already decided all the academies are bullshit, and that your kid will be better off going somewhere they can do video editing, so maybe you should just send them there?
    ATOMIC SUPLEX likes this.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    I would prefer her to have the opportunity to have a go at everything to see what she likes and what she want's to do, and not to be limited in her preferences later down the line.
    And yes she does like the same school I like. We have been going to all the open evenings so she has seen quite a few. She's into art and drama, but not music so much. The one we like is clearly head and shoulders above all the other schools in that department.

    She does want to go to the same school as her friend (I am friends with the parents too), but it does not appear to be affecting her choice. I'm not sure what school they want, but appear to like the same one I do.
    spanglechick likes this.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Look at everybody making out like I have not listened or thought about what my daughter wants.
    scifisam and PursuedByBears like this.
  7. bemused

    bemused Well-Known Member

    Good sixth form, one bus. Job done.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    . . . and how does the voting thing work? If we don't get our first choice and we less likely to get a place at our second? I mean they have to put my daughter somewhere right?
  9. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    I would phone all the schools you're interested in and ask if your daughter would have been admitted based on current year 7 applications. If your postcode didn't happen to be on their list of admissions they can tell you how far away the furthest admission was and give you some idea of how likely your application is to succeed. That info may be available from your council but often the admissions officer of the school will be able to tell you just as easily.

    Then go and visit all the schools you have a chance of getting into.

    I work in a very oversubscribed school. A lot of parents for this incoming cohort only wanted this school even though they were much further away than realistic and ended up being offered schools that weren't on their preferences. I recommend you don't end up in their situation!
    Winot likes this.
  10. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    If both schools are oversubscribed you may be shit out of luck. Places are allocated according to preference so everyone who put the second school as their first preference will get a place ahead of you.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Yes good idea to call the admissions officer. I can see we are in the zone for kids currently at our first two choices, but this may be significantly different for next year (almost double the kids in my daughters year, they had to make an extra class in most schools).

    Problem is, our second favourite school (which is closer) seems to have us also on the edge, in fact moreso.

    The closest school (which I hate anyway) does not even come close.
  12. purenarcotic

    purenarcotic Conveniently Pocket Sized

    Not at all, your post didn’t discuss her thoughts so I was asking in order to get a better understanding of the situation.

    If she also likes the school you do then that seems the most sensible choice to go for. I agree the squeezing of arts subjects is really bad.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Not just the squeezing, there is a total lack of choice in most schools, nothing to even try your hand at. Just heads down and get those Ofsted points.
    They don't seem to think it's important. One girl at the school I liked excitedly told me that she had been a terribly shy kid when she first came, but through music and drama she gained confidence that she took and used in all aspects of the school curriculum.
    Maharani likes this.
  14. Maharani

    Maharani Just like Heaven

    Am stressing about this now. Doing it completely on my tod doesn't help. May ask some dumb questions that I should already know the answers to...please accept my apologies ahead of asking.

    Firstly, is the only way of finding out if I'm within a catchment area, by calling the admissions officer?

    How detailed are applicants' 'reasons for choosing' responses on the application form and what kind of things are people putting down.

    Hoping this will be a very helpful thread...thanks for starting ATOMIC SUPLEX
    not-bono-ever likes this.
  15. BlueSquareThing

    BlueSquareThing With chips

    Try and avoid any school which makes kids choose GCSE subjects at the end of Year 8 (after two years). We do that where I work and it's completely for the benefit of the school and its league table position and is, imo, a terrible thing for the children. If possible, avoid anywhere that's forcing them to choose either Geog or History as well - they're doing that for league tables and league tables alone.

    I'd, quite seriously, choose just about anything if it didn't do that.

    We got lucky. About the only school around here which doesn't do these things is the only non-free school in town.
    catinthehat, Saffy and trashpony like this.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    They all seem to do that. I think the one I like does it a year later.
  17. BlueSquareThing

    BlueSquareThing With chips

    A year later is the right time.

    We have kids starting GCSE courses this year where there isn't even a syllabus in existence. The teacher hasn't got a clue what's going to be on the syllabus and so is spending this year covering as many basic things as she can do - and then won't get any teaching time back when she actually knows what the fuck to teach.

    We have Year 10 kids who have been studying a subject for a year at GCSE who have now been told that the syllabus they do is in the same "league table pot" as some other subject they also do - the government has recently moved it there whilst the kids were in Year 9 (after they'd chosen their options). So they now have to drop one of them - because it hurts the school's league table position if they do two subjects in the same pot (only one counts).

    There are too many problems with early options imo.
    Saffy and baldrick like this.
  18. not-bono-ever

    not-bono-ever Not what they want but what is good for them

    some schools - not a million miles from Croyden - do not have a catchment area- have you looked at those ? Alos, places can come up at other schools in the first few weeks of terms , so there are other options of you are prepared to chop and change and get on waiting lists.
  19. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    Are there schools further away which are less popular that you could use as a banker on your list? A certain amount of pragmatism I think is needed if you think your daughter may be on the verge of not getting a place at her closest schools next year. The last thing you want is a school miles away or a school that you really don't want to send your kid to.

    Anyway, good luck.
  20. Maharani

    Maharani Just like Heaven

    Just called a school asking about catchments and the lady made me feel a bit stupid for asking! They’re probably inundated with calls atm.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Uh oh, I'm just about to do that.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Long conversation. No clear answer.
    So it seems my difficult gamble is that all the schools in my area are over subscribed, and we do not appear to be in the safe zone of any school. Luckily my two favorite schools are the second closest and my least favorite has a minute catchment area.

    I think we are just going to have to put down our favorites and cross our fingers. Maybe we will have luck with in year admissions. Who knows. It's mental. I mean if everyone is already oversubscribed, and the coming year is maybe 20-30% bigger . . . where do the kids go???
    Maharani likes this.
  23. Catchments are normally shown on the school's website.

    We chose BB1's secondary school on the basis of its equestrian club and jazz band. Are either of these considerations for you ATOMIC SUPLEX?
  24. Maharani

    Maharani Just like Heaven

    I’m going to apply the same mantra I had when applying for primary; I will get my choice, I will get my choice...

    I’m trying to not get stressed about it. I’m figuring we’ll get into the one closest to us which sounds pretty ok. I think with secondary we’ll have to get extra tutoring anyway as we’ve been doing for her in primary.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    The primary closest to me was ace. We didn't get it. I have to walk about three times as far in the opposite direction away from the station before heading back and another ten minutes to get a train.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    None are shown on any around my way. They also all seem to think 'catchment' is a dirty word. Best I seem to be able to do is look at the stats for where kids currently attending live.
    Bahnhof Strasse likes this.
  27. not-bono-ever

    not-bono-ever Not what they want but what is good for them

    secondary school kids in my manor travel from a few hundred yards to several miles on public transport a day to secondary school. Check whether schools you apply to give priority to their position on the list you submitted - I think some take this into account. be realistic above all. I know several people who put down only unrealistic choices and ended up with something they did not even know existed
    Bahnhof Strasse likes this.
  28. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    The availability of information about catchments is variable. We are in central Brixton and applied to schools in Wandsworth and Lambeth. Wandsworth had a nice table on their website which showed the schools and the most recent catchment information (it changes every year because it depends on the school's admission policy, who applies, and how many closer than you get in).

    Lambeth on the other hand had nothing about catchment on their website. We asked and they said they didn't keep the information. That was a clearly a lie. In the end Mrs W had to make an FoI request to get it.

    Some schools were prepared to give catchment info. Some were not. Some were vague.

    It's incredibly frustrating and inefficient. What's the point of applying to a school that you're clearly not going to get in to?

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Yes, why would last year's admissions be a secret. I was told because some might be siblings or whatever. . . But I can kind of factor that in. Plus clearly they were wrong when they said figures could not be separated, as there is a website that has a map of all the current children but excludes siblings, special needs, ones that passed the entrance exam and teachers kids.
    Winot likes this.
  30. ^^^yep, I know some people who did this at primary and were left very upset when they didn't get what they wanted.
    not-bono-ever likes this.

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