Those without school-age children probably won’t be familiar with the primary school application process but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. In fact, the jostle to be in the best position possible for a favoured primary school often starts before a baby is born.
Even before Ofsted inspections, parents tended to have a school in mind, but freely available results have made the race for places in the best schools more prononced. As a result, well-rated primary schools are usually oversubscribed and in tie-break situations; an admissions department will revert to its distance criteria or catchment area when offering places. Quite simply, where you live can make or break your admissions success.
In this quick guide to your home and primary school admissions, we answer the most commonly asked questions.
When do I have to apply for a primary school place?
Despite rumours of newborns being added to school waiting lists, parents can only apply for a state primary school place in the autumn term after their child turns four. There is a strict deadline for primary place applications and the next is 15th January 2021. It is around this date each year.
Does it matter where I live?
A resounding yes! Each school will either have a pre-set catchment or distance criteria. Usually places are given to those classed as ‘looked after’ and those with siblings already at the school first but after which, a family’s location can heavily influence the success of an application.
Is it ‘closest to the school’ wins?
It’s true that in a case of over subscription, the distance from the family home to the school gate may be taken into account. It is wrong, however, to assume a primary school puts itself in the middle of a circle to establish its admissions radius. The school could actually be off centre and those living closest won’t always get an automatic place. In some cases, parents who can actually see their favoured school from their home or live a matter of feet from the classrooms have missed out.
So is a school catchment different?
Yes, it is. It’s very important to contact each primary school you are interested in to establish their catchment, as this, for instance, may not always include the roads closest to the school – some will prioritise children in certain parish areas. Other influences include county boundaries, as well as cultivated relationships with ‘feeder’ nurseries and pre-schools.
What can I do if I’m out of catchment?
Some families or would-be parents discover they’re living ‘out of catchment’ and want to move home to secure an address that gives them the best chance of application success. In these cases, we can help locate a property to buy or rent that falls within the right catchment or distance criteria.
Does the timing of my move matter?
School applications must reflect the child’s permanent address, so for maximum peace-of-mind, complete any move before the 15th January 2021. You can move during the primary school application process but you will need to provide your local authority’s admissions department with a solicitor’s letter confirming your completion date (an exchange date will not suffice), evidence that you are selling or have sold your current residence or if you are a tenant, proof that you have given notice on your present property and have signed a new tenancy agreement, together with the start date.
How long will it take me to move?
Given the next primary school deadline is 15th January 2021, anyone needing to move to for application purposes should go on the market now. Parents should factor in how long the marketing, viewing and offers process takes, plus add the time between accepting an offer and completion – usually around 12-16 weeks. If you are renting, the process may be a little quicker but still factor in a three month lead time.
All we need to start your home moving journey is the name and postcode of the primary school that’s at the top of your list. While we can’t guarantee you application success, we will do our best to get you in the strongest position possible. We can also assist in the process by selling your current property, so get in touch.
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