19 September 2011

Applying for Primary School


Can you hear the shouting and swearing?

I'm tearing my hair out.

I'm applying for primary school places for my boys. Due to our amazing luck we have not one, but two children starting school a year from now. They are brothers, not twins.

I'm guessing that some of my readers are also applying this year and some have already been through it, possibly many times. This is my one shot at the process.

When I was a girl you went to the local school and that was that.  Well, unless you went to a private school and that's not on our agenda.

So I can choose three schools and rank them in order of preference. How does this help when they are all over-subscribed? If we don't get into our first choice school then we don't stand a chance of getting into either of the other two. We are in the catchment area for our first choice. It is the closest school. My boys now attend the nursery class. I want them to go to this school. It is our local school, yet we may not get places.

Here's the kicker. The local authority are under no obligation to place both of my children (or twins or other multiples) at the same school. How can I possibly be in two places at the same time to drop them off and pick them up?

Isn't this a crazy system?  Where is my supposed choice?

Let's not even start on the shoddy online application process that must have been programmed by cretins. Or monkeys. Or cretinous monkeys.

Anyway, I have submitted my applications and now must wait until 4th April 2012 to find out where my boys will go to school. If the school isn't local, this will then have a knock-on effect as they could be placed into a primary school that feeds into a different secondary school.

I feel utterly powerless.



  1. I would say don't worry about what could happen, deal with what actually DOES happen and take it from there.

    Also, there is no point worrying about what happens re secondary schools a) because the local schools can and do change in 7 years before you have to do this again and b) because they could change the admissions process and rather it depend on what school they go to, it could be down to where they live.

    My advice is based on my experience as I do know how you feel. I went through all this when I applied for Monkey. Nearest school (you know which one) was so oversubscribed that it wasn't worth applying to as people on the same road didn't get in the year before (and we didn't go to church) even tho we are less than quarter of a mile from the school. 4 out of 6 possible primaries were VA and church attendance or membership was a major factor. It didn't help that we only had one choice that year and if you didn't get in, the local authority allocated the nearest available school. Eek!

    In the end, we went for a community school but the further of the two which was a risk in itself but thankfully they weren't oversubscribed that year - and I took a risk again when applying for Missy Woo as although she is a sibling, there were loads of them and we are so relatively far from school. And this year, they WERE oversubscribed, eek! Seems like my timing was fortunate.

    Good luck, and fingers crossed. You will count down the days, I guarantee it.

  2. Finding out is such a long way off that Kate is right, there is no point worrying yet - it will only drive you insane! I know as it did it to me this year!
    We were lucky and got our first place. My fingers are crossed for you x

  3. Argh. I know. Painful!! Being in central London, there is only one (1!!) state primary school that is recommendable. To be on the safe side, we had to secure a place at a private primary, because it is so highly unlikely that we'll get into that one school. I hate that we had to do this, I want her to go to a good state primary school, I don't like the idea of private schooling, but I don't feel I have a choice at all.
    As for everything else you said - placing siblings in different schools and all- it IS ridiculous!!!

  4. Aaarrrggghhh it's so infuriating! I remember the ridiculous process oh so well and spent ages arguing with my council who were determined that Chick would go to our local crappy school. I was equally adamant that she wasn't going there!! I opted for two choices outside of my catchment area and if we hadn't have gotten either of those our choice was to go private or move. Thank god we got our second choice because we really can't afford the private fees.

    We now find ourselves back in the same predicament as Chick only has a couple of years left of primary. All the secondary schools are terrible in the area so we'll probably again look at moving and private school!!

    Good luck xx

  5. What a dreadful situation. If your boys don't get into the same school, kick up a huge fuss. You have common sense on your side.

  6. You have to wait until APRIL??! Ridiculous.

    We're just about to move out to a village (Sherington) which has a tiny tiny school, I'm hoping we'll be lucky and get in as we'll be a couple of hundred metres down the road.

  7. I am with Kate on this. There is no point in worrying until you get the decision. 99% of the time things are fine, it is just the other 1% you hear about.

    Plus people change their minds and often you can get in at a later date. Nothing is set in stone for the full time they at school

  8. Kate, thank you for taking the time to leave such a full comment. I agree, I shouldn't worry until I have something to worry about, I just got extremely frustrated by the whole process. Luckily the majority of schools in MK aren't church schools, so we haven't had to worry about that side of our 'choice'! I'm glad it's working out for your two. I'll let you know what happens x

    Seasider, you, she's right about that! I'm so glad you got your first place x

    Met Mum, oh what a shame you had to do that. You never know, you may get a place at your first choice. Fingers crossed. I hope I'm worrying unnecessarily about the sibling rule, but it is there in black and white in the policy. We shall see! x

    Emma, I think it's terrible that they devote so much time and money to league tables and inspection reports, that would be better spent on improving all schools so there wouldn't be crappy schools. How rubbish that you may have to move or go private. x

    Rosie, don't worry, I will! x

  9. Alice, you've got all this to come, but it would be madness if you didn't get in to the only school in the village! Good luck with the move x

    Mum in the Mad House, I know, I know! We'll see what happens in April and take it from there. I was extremely frustrated when I wrote my rant! x

  10. I'm in a similar situation to you - the geekdaughter's application for a school place must be submitted by mid-January. Like you I know my first choice - it's the school we're in catchment for, across the road from her nursery, and her cousin is there already. But it was double over-subscribed last year, so I have no idea if she'll get in or not. I'm trying to give a lot of thought to my second and third choice places, but really there's no other school in the area that I want her to go to! I'll be waiting to see what happens, like you. Crossing everything for you!

  11. My son didn't get into our catchment school this year as it was hugely over subscribed :-(( As it turned out none of his best friends got in either, so they are at the next nearest school. The only problem is we can't walk there, so getting in and out of the car all the time is a bit of a pain. Try not to worry though, I'm pretty sure you would win an appeal if the boys ended up at different schools as well.

    Good luck xx

  12. argh. Sometimes choice can be a burden. If you want to feel better San Francisco has the nuttiest school assignment system in the world, it even spawned its own blog so that people could navigate it. but we ended up Ok. My mum taught in Milton Keynes primary schools for years, and most of them were very good, if that is any consolation! Very best of luck. http://geekymummy.blogspot.com/2010/12/year-of-great-school-hunt.html

  13. Geekmummy, it sounds like you have exactly the same dilemma. Keeping everything crossed for us both!

    Emma, I'm glad to hear your son's best friends have all got into the same school. It's crazy that you can't get into your local school and end up driving!

    Geekymummy, I really can't see that there's much choice at all. Having said that, most of the primary schools in MK are good. I'd just prefer to stay local. The SF system sounds.. erm...erm...!

  14. My advice is to go to events at all of the schools and check out the atmosphere and children. If you have any choice at all you want to make sure you are all comfortable at that school. x

  15. Kat, excellent advice, that I'll be taking shortly! Thank you.


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