Choosing a secondary school

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

  1. trashpony

    trashpony Ovaries and tings

    Have you checked the admissions criteria for all the schools you're interested in? Does your primary school not give you any guidance about your chances? Ours does, so it might be worth ringing them - they should be able to tell you how many kids who went to your primary got into the secondary you're interested in.

    Here, you choose 4 schools and they try and allocate you one of those. Schools don't know what place you've put them on the form so the council will try them in order of your preference. If you don't get any of them, then they will allocate you another school within the county/borough
     
  2. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    There's no such thing as catchments really these days, it's usually all done on distance from the school if it's popular barring special circumstances like siblings, children in care etc. It's a shame that schools are cagey about that sort of information. It benefits everyone if parents can make a properly informed choice.
     
  3. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    It might be the term "catchment" which is the problem as it implies everyone within a certain area gets a place. Most schools in England don't have catchments anymore. Maybe try asking/looking up 'furthest distance' that got a place last year - if the LA is the admissions authority (non academy schools) they should be able to provide information on how many children were admitted in each category and what previous years furthest distance was.
     
  4. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    Yes. I was using catchment as a shorthand. Lambeth refused to supply any closest distance information.
     
  5. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    School said they could not provide, and the council say they don't have record. I will have to pry further.
    My second choice is an academy. . . . basically they are all academies apart from one and all the faith schools. Not being eligible for a faith school really screws things up around here. It really is a bit nuts. It more than halves out possible choices, I'm not sure so many schools should be able to work on those terms.
     
    ash and Bahnhof Strasse like this.
  6. Bahnhof Strasse

    Bahnhof Strasse Free the Sepsis Six!

    It's a disgrace really. We're lucky in that the two closest are just normal schools and if you want a religious one you have to go about 8 miles away.
     
  7. Red Cat

    Red Cat Well-Known Member

    How can they not provide that? It's on schools websites in the admissions section round here in Birmingham. Pretty sure it's on the council list of schools too.

    Yes, they're all academies everywhere, that can't be avoided. Round here we are limited by single sex and religious segregation (not faith schools) as well as there being faith schools. Yes, it's fucking nuts. Plus the popularity of schools in more middle-class areas, and the existence of the grammar. We can choose up to 6 schools here but in reality there is one choice and that will be over-subscribed.
     
  8. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    Just as an indication of how complicated it is round here, we had the following types of school admission:

    School 1 - admit solely on distance, but use local authority admissions test to admit pupils across range of abilities (this is the one we went for)
    School 2 - some intake admitted on basis of high local authority test score; the rest admitted based on distance
    School 3 - some intake admitted on basis of ability at art; some admitted on basis of language aptitude (both tests set by school); the rest admitted based on distance
    School 4 - some kind of weird lottery system that I never really understood
    School 5 - some pupils admitted on basis of religion; some on basis of language test (school's own); some 'community' admissions

    We started looking round in Y5 to take the pressure off in Y6, and are glad we did.
     
  9. ash

    ash Inittogether

    Sounds very familiar I'm still very suspicious of the rationale for the intake of school 4 although it looks a very good school.
    I know someone whose daughter is in year 8 and they are still hanging onto the waiting list for that school (number 17 at the moment) !!
     
    Winot likes this.
  10. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    I am getting extremely frustrated about the lack of information about previous admissions. It's like it is top secret. It would at least give me some idea as to how to gamble with my child's life. The most the council say is that "you should not trust last years distance admissions." Well that would be great advice if there was any way of finding them out, to get at least some sort of information. They then have a link to a shit map that just shows you the closest schools (which you still have to type in), no other information what so ever. Why the big secret?
    I wouldn't mind so much if we were close to a school and it was really obvious. Yeah we have three or four pretty close schools, but of course they are faith schools and won't let us in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  11. not-bono-ever

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

  12. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Wow. Just had a lot of council shenanigans.
    I saw a school this morning, and had the usual fob off about how there were no stats for distance, but then another father showed me (on his phone) exactly the stats I was looking for. . . . so they do exist. Armed with this info, back at home I again went to look for the stats, but couldn't find them. Phoned the council again . . . who this time admitted they existed (as I described the exact file name and what they looked like) but they couldn't find them. I was put on hold for 10 minutes. Turns out they thought it was too confusing for parents so took it off the prospectus and now they only exist as a hard copy. . .. Wha. Anyway they scanned that and sent it to me.
    Then I was put onto an admissions officer just to clarify the process and the problem I have of not being near any schools.
    OK the process is pretty clear, each choice is considered as my first and defaults up the list to the closest I can make it into that is the highest on the list.
    Now the problem.
    I'm not close enough to the closest three schools to me, plus the intake for the next school year is about 20% higher for my daughters year.
    Looking at the stats, I can't get into ANY school on distance. The guy said "we sometimes we have to send kids to schools that as as far away as 1.5miles in some extreme cases 2." . . . . the closest schools to me are all more than 1.5 miles as it is. The schools further out still have rather small catchment areas and are over subscribed too. I asked what happens in that case and we just went round in circles, with the guy suggesting I look in Bromley (like that would be any better - plus it's freaking miles away and the schools there don't exactly have huge 'catchment areas').
    There was no solution offered, but he basically agreed that the faith schools were causing problems in the local area. According to stats there are plenty of schools in my area, and indeed very close to me. So on paper we are surrounded by schools a mere 10 minutes walk away (yay). . but they are all faith schools. It's bloody outrageous.
     
  13. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    Do you know how far away the nearest under subscribed school is? That will be the one they allocate you if they can't give you any of your preferences. I think if it is over 3 miles away though they have to pay for transport.
     
  14. trashpony

    trashpony Ovaries and tings

    The whole faith school thing is why I left London. There were 6 primary schools within walking distance of our flat but only 1 which was non-faith. It it bloody outrageous indeed
     
  15. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Surely it would make more sense to stick us in a closer one and move someone who is closer to one further away and closer to the next under subscribed school, so we both only go a couple of miles, rather than my daughter having to travel 5 miles alone every day.
    On top of that I don't think there is anything under-subscribed that close. As you go to the city, it is more densely populated, and as you move further out to the country, the journeys get a bit crazy long.
     
  16. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    Yeah, it is shit. Similar was happening in some areas of Bristol with primary schools a few years ago - children being allocated schools on the other side of the city - but they have now opened some new schools.
     
  17. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    I think we're not 'officially' in any school's catchment area, but I see kids around our block going to said schools, so obviously people from here do get into them. We're not applying until next year, but are definitely thinking about it... all except one of our nearish schools are above national average if results matter and we expect she will get into one of them as none of them are very far away.

    May not apply around your way, but my brother said he found that often kids were initially offered a lower choice, but once some kids took up private school places a higher choice place becomes available for those waiting - happened with my youngest niece. But he does live in an area where more people might actually afford private school.
     
  18. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Well around the two closest (nearly and actually in Shirley) are a few private schools.
     
  19. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    Yeah, did occur to me being Surrey - so you might get some 'settling' of places after first offer.
     
  20. spanglechick

    spanglechick High Empress of Dressing Up

    Are there any schools local to you which select some students on aptitude? Our school is allowed to take up to 10% of our kids based on talent in our specialisms (visual and performing arts). This trumps distance. The sibling rule comes first (plus kids in care), and then our ten percent, and then distance.
     
  21. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Croydon hasn't been in Surrey since 1965
     
  22. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Only two do a test. Our favorite takes the best 27 students who pass a test wherever they live.
    Another does a test, but only to make sure it takes a certain amount of students from all levels. . . so nobody can win that test. You can live anywhere to get into that school . . . .but to be honest I wasn't keen anyway, and it's a bit of a ball ache to get to.
     
  23. Cloo

    Cloo Surfeit of lampreys

    I sit corrected then! :)
     
  24. not-bono-ever

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

    My kids probably go to the school you mention above re banding tests - its a decent if massive place- they love it
     
  25. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    In Purley?
     
  26. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    So I started getting worried about this 'falling between two stools' catchment area problem, so started looking at EVERY school.
    This morning I checked one out that is nearly three and a half miles away, but seems to never get to full capacity so has a massive catchment area. Doesn't sound great does it. Well actually it was pretty impressive, maybe just because it is in the middle of a very very very quiet area that seems to only be inhabited by old ladies. It's also really easy to get to as it is right by Gravel Hill tram stop, and we live right by Lebanon Road tram stop.

    I think it already wipes the floor with our original second choice, so I have no idea why it's not more popular. It's got an amazing attendance record and great student grades. Kids can choose whatever subjects they want in year nine (a lot of schools only let you take one humanities, and one 'artistic' subject. They would also let my daughter do a Japanese GCSE, which, being fluent already, she would ace without any effort whatsoever.

    Because of this I am not so worried, because as a worst case scenario, it's not a bad scenario. The only problem now is that I might want to put it higher up the list. Arrhh.
    Maybe I just liked it because my expectations were so low. There is an open morning on Saturday, I'll go again with the wife (daughter will be at Japanese school unfortunately)

    The bad news is that it is called "Quest Academy", like a really shit role playing game
     
    baldrick, Winot, Thora and 2 others like this.
  27. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    3.5 miles isn't that far, especially if its an easy journey. I had to go 10 miles to secondary school.
     
  28. ATOMIC SUPLEX

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    I think it's fine if it's just one tram ride. Seems a bit far when we have schools all around us. Anyway, I like it's remote location, very nice. Bit hilly though, jebus it was a tough cycle ride. Should have taken the tram.
     
  29. trashpony

    trashpony Ovaries and tings

    A woman I know fought very hard for her son to go to a particular secondary school in Canterbury and it takes him nearly 2 hours each way to get to school :eek:
     
  30. not-bono-ever

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

    nah, the other way - into Londons
     

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