Education · Family · School

The Catchment Catch

With my Facebook awash with friends who’ve had emails today about Secondary placements for their older children, it’s got me thinking again about our own catchment issues. When Sausage was due to start school, we had a real dilemma; the house we lived in was close to the school we wanted her to go to, but wasn’t actually within the catchment. The school was also very oversubscribed and one of those real rarities; a really good school within an area where house and rental places weren’t too high – the Holy Grail for a lot of parents!

school catchmentCatchment appeal advice provided by Simpson Millar LLP

Fortunately, we were in a position to move and found a reasonably priced little bungalow within the catchment area, which meant Sausage was given a place at the school we wanted. She’s been at the school for 4 years now and is really happy, which makes me glad that we were able to get her in. Other people in our area aren’t always so lucky. Many of the other schools with a good reputation are in areas of very high rents, which means that even though it’s not private education, many ‘normal’ families simply cannot afford to send their kids to the best schools. Of course, it’s possible to appeal, so that’s always an option.

In two years, we’re going to have the same issue all over again. BB will be due to start school the same year that Sausage goes into Year 6. This means that we have to either put BB in the same Primary as Sausage and potentially tie ourselves into a 36 mile-a-day journey for all the school runs for another 7 years (providing we still live here in the sticks) or try to get BB into a more local school and have each girl at different schools. Also, would BB even get into Sausage’s school, now that we’re so far out of catchment? See our dilemma?!

On top of this, we have to factor in the quality of local schools where we are now. Our two most local schools are church-run (and we all know how I feel about that!), and because they’re tiny schools, they don’t attract the funding or the most dynamic teachers, like large town schools, meaning that they often flounder when it comes to OFSTED results. Having said that, I don’t put a huge amount of stock in these inspections these days and do think a school with just of 90 pupils in the whole place might be a great way to get a more personal, one-on-one education for BB.

Home schooling is looking like a fairly attractive option, even if it’s just for Reception year. I often think that 4 is far too young for them to start school anyway, and we could home school BB until we know which senior school Sausage will be attending. That way, we could apply for a school place for BB closer to where Sausage is going to school, which could make our lives a whole lot easier!

Have you had to face a similar dilemma? Do you have kids who go to school in different towns? How did you cope? I’d love you to leave me a comment and let me know.

*Collaborative Post*

Opinion · Parenting · Personal · Rant

Postcode Lottery

Like so many people in their late twenties and early thirties, Husband and I rent our house, we’re not in a position to buy and social housing is nothing short of a joke, so we pay through the nose to live in someone else’s house.

Our lease is up in April and while we’re happy with our current location, we seem to be outgrowing our little bungalow and so looked into our options for moving. First, we looked in our local area; prices seem to have gone up a lot in the two years since we moved here – no great surprise seeing as no-one can afford to buy – it’s well and truly a landlords market at the moment.

The reason we live where we do is mainly because we’re in the catchment area of a really good school, so in terms of moving it only makes sense to stay within a catchment of an equally good or better school. This is where we’ve come a-cropper. The only school in the area which has better results than our local school is a mile or so up the road and the cheapest rental property within that catchment is £300 more per month than we pay to live here.

Our local school is something of an anomaly, it’s smack-bang in the middle of a council estate, and most of the private houses locally are modest homes, but the school had the advantage of an amazing headteacher, who sadly retired last year but did an incredible amount of work within the school and community. This means it’s one of those rare schools that’s able to offer great results to people from middle to lower socioeconomic groups, equally.

So, this leaves the options of either staying where we are, or moving out of town or even out of county. Husband and I have had wander-lust for some time, even considering Canada or Australia and would dearly love to give Sausage a better life away from the grind of living in a large town. But then, there are other things to weigh up. Yes, she could potentially attend a school with far fewer pupils, live in a rural setting and in a place with a lower crime rate, but does all of this weigh up against not seeing our extended family, not knowing anybody or anything about the new town, or just the general upheaval of starting again?

I’d love to hear from anybody who’s made a big move, whether you think it was a wholly positive thing to do and whether your kids have got over the huge change. Also, do you find this kind of class division in terms of education in your local area?

Answers on a postcard…just don’t ask me which town to send them to!