It can be quite difficult for parents to know how and when they should register their child's name to start school. We will try to answer all of your questions here:
How do I know which school to choose?
The simple answer is "Go and have a look."
In Nottinghamshire every school has what is known as a 'catchment area'. Effectively it refers to those houses and streets that are generally closest to the school. The whole county is split into many distinctive catchment areas, each served by a primary school.
in almost all cases your 'catchment school' is the one closest to where you live. If you are unsure which one that is you can find out by visiting the following website:
We strongly suggest that your catchment school is one of the first you visit. If you like it then that is where you should send your child to school. The advantages of choosing your catchment school is that it means you have less far to travel each day, your children are generally going to school with the same children in the area in which you live and also, you will be given priority if the school gets lots of applications for places.
You can, however, apply for a place in any school, even if you live outside that school's catchment area. At Peafield Lane, for example, almost 50% of our children live outside our catchment area and have chosen to come here for a variety of reasons.
How can I tell a good school from a bad one?
Again, the simple answer is "Go and see."
All schools welcome prospective parents. We realise that choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions you will have to make and you need to make sure that you are getting it right. There are several sources of information you can use - we've put them here in what we believe are order of merit.
Go and see the school. Get a feel for it. Would you be happy there if you were a child.
Speak to parents whose children are at the school. The more the merrier in order to get a balanced perspective.
Read the school's Ofsted report. The more recent the better as areas that a three year old report suggests need improving, may have been accomplished.
Look at SAT results over a period of time. particularly the progress scores. Beware of SAT results. High scoring schools are not necessarily 'better' schools. They may just have more able children attending. Even 'progress scores' on league tables can be misleading as they only show progress through a junior department, not through the whole school. Schools that achieve high results at the end of the infants find it almost impossible to show excellent progress on league tables because of the way the data is calculated.
When should I apply for a place for my child?
You can register an interest in a school at any time after your child is born. The correct time for making a formal application for full time education, however, is around November / December of the year before your child turns 5.
The best thing to do is to phone your nearest school or any school you think you may be interested in seeing at any time before your child is 4. What we do then is to pass your information on to Nottinghamshire Local Authority who are in charge of primary school admissions. Once that is done you are effectively 'in the system'.
Nottinghamshire Local Authority will write to you in the November before your child is due to start school with a form for you to fill in stating your preferred school.
If you have a 4 year old child and you have not heard from your local authority by December you must call the Local Autority on 0300 500 8080 and ask for Primary Admissions.
Who has the final say on which school my child goes to?
Whilst parents have a choice in which school they wish to apply to, the final decision is made by Nottinghamshire Local Authority or, for Academies, it lies with the school. At Peafield Lane we pay for an independent authority (currently Nottinghamshire County Council) to manage admissions, and all appeals, on our behalf. Most children get into their first choice school but some schools, like Peafield Lane, that are very popular may receive more applications than places available.
In these situations the school will give priority according to the following criteria:
1 Children looked after by a local authority and previously looked after children
2 Children who live in the catchment area and who, at the time of admission, will have a brother or sister attending the school.
3 Children who live outside the catchment area and who, at the time of admission, will have a brother or sister attending the school
4 Children who have a parent working at the school where the member of staff has been employed at the school for two or more years at the time at which the application for admission is made or the member of staff is recruited to fill a vacant post for which there is a demonstrable skill shortage
5 Children who live in the catchment area
6 Other children in order of proximity to the school
It is important to note that the school staff have no say in which children are offered places and which ones are not.
When do I find out which school my child will be going to?
The Local Authority will write to you with an offer of a place in the March before the academic year in which you child is due to start school (i.e. before they are 5)
How can I check that I am 'in the system'?
For this and any other questions call:
0300 500 8080 and ask for 'Primary Admissions'
Alternatively, give us a call here at school 01623 460366 and we'll do our best to help - even if you are looking at applying elsewhere.