The new autumn term is well under way and parents up and down the country are busy attending open evenings, filling in application forms and praying that they get their preferred choice of school for their children, which is usually announced in the spring.
In Hampshire, primary school applications need to be in by January 2016, and catchment areas tend to have a big influence on the likelihood of you getting in. So if you find yourself in the wrong catchment, now could be time to move!
At ScoutBee, we’ve helped many a parent in this situation, so we thought we’d share some tips with you that we’ve learned along the way:
1. Start the process now!
You need to have exchanged on your new house, before you can use that address on your school application form. Be thorough with your search, but react quickly if the right house becomes available – the process of buying and selling always takes longer than expected and you don’t want to end up panic-buying or finding yourself between houses when the deadline hits.
2. Do your homework.
The schools’ admission policies can vary and be quite complex to say the least – we’ve been through them all with a fine toothcomb recently! Just being in catchment doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a place (and catchment areas can change so always double check with the school before committing to an area). Do they have a policy that admits siblings as a priority, which may impact on how many places are available? Is there a religious criteria that could work in your favour, or against?
3. Have a Plan B!
Try not to set your heart on just one school – especially the small, oversubscribed, OFSTED-rated-Outstanding school, surrounded by less than desirable schools. Instead, choose an area that has several good schools, so you won’t be too disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. (Winchester has plenty of good schools to choose from – check out our guide and map here)
4. Trust your instincts!
OFSTED might give you a guideline of what school is good or not, but don’t base your decision on these reports alone. Go and visit the schools, meet the head teachers, chat to some local parents – your instincts will tell you which school is right for your child.
5. Keep one eye on the future.
Understanding which catchment you will be in for Secondary Schools is also worth considering, particularly if you don’t want to have to move again in a few years. Also finding out if the head teacher is likely to change in the near future can be valuable information – they are the single biggest influence on any school.
6. Be prepared to dig deep!
A good school can dramatically affect house prices – so expect to pay a premium for a house near a decent state school. But keep in mind that these houses do tend to hold their value, so it should be a safe bet, providing the reputation of the school remains.
7. Have faith!
It is possible to achieve a house move, to the right property, in the right area, in time for the school term. Just stay positive throughout the process, remembering the reasons for your move in the first place. And if it’s all too daunting, simply ask ScoutBee to help you!