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Finding the right school for your child when moving house can be tricky, with plenty of hoop jumping and red tape ducking.
To ensure your move goes as planned is one thing, but the added stress of finding a new school place can take its toll.
While Comparemymove.com can help take care of moving day for you, having a wealth of tools and knowledge at your disposal will come in handy for securing that school.
Planning ahead will make everything a lot easier, although there are plenty of things that can be done before and after your move to secure that place.
Well before you have moved house, make a school shortlist. List the schools in your new area that you would be happy to send your child or children to. It is advised to keep your child enrolled in his or her current school at this point, in case anything happens to push back moving day.
A good website for school scouting is Ofsted, which allows you to search for schools close by your new home. From there you will be able to read all reports published in regards to each individual school’s performance.
Equally, the Department of Education website will help you compare schools in the area in terms of academic results, finance, attendance, and other school characteristics (such as number of pupils enrolled and ratio of boys to girls).
Once you have shortlisted a number of schools, contact the office to find out subscriptions and popularity to gauge how successful your application will be. If the school is oversubscribed, it is unlikely your child will be accepted, although you can always appeal which we will come to a little later in the article.
While finding the right school is extremely important, it is useful to remember that eight out of ten schools are rated as good or above by Ofsted. Schools play a big part in your child’s development, but it is debatably more beneficial to create a positive and supportive home for them to learn in.
Proof of address for your new home will be needed when applying for a new school.
Each local authority is different, but they will generally ask for evidence of your address, which can be a letter from your solicitor confirming moving date, a utility bill for your new address, or a copy of the lease agreement from your letting agent.
Moving home from abroad back to a house you own? You may be asked for evidence from a third party, like a doctor's statement.
For security, it is worth applying to a range of schools to be certain your child will have somewhere to go once you have moved house.
You will need to apply at least six weeks before your child is set to start at the new school.
The actual application process is largely contingent on where you choose to live. Depending on the council, you will either have to apply directly to the school or via the local authority. To find out your local council, visit the Gov.uk website and type in your new postcode.
When oversubscription to schools happens, there will be certain criteria outlined by the admissions office which will be taken into account. It's worth finding out about this criteria, which will likely include distance between your house and school, academic record, and welfare of the child.
Securing a place will also depend on the time of year you are moving. Some councils, such as Buckinghamshire County Council, will have a guide written up for people moving house midway through the school year.
Councils will usually have different contact details if your child has special educational needs. This will take into account your situation and will be able to give you information suited to you and your child.
Your application will most likely be denied if the school is oversubscribed, or you are outside the catchment area.
If this is the case, you have every right to appeal the admission office’s verdict. Your appeal will most likely go to a different board of people (depending on the council) who will look at applications on a case by case basis.
Every school has a statutory obligation to not exceed 30 children per classroom with one teacher. However, this can be stretched in certain circumstances during the appeal process which will look at your child’s welfare.
You will likely need to prove that your child will be better off at the school you are appealing for, with evidence pointing towards travel times to other schools, and how your child may adapt to this school over others.
As mentioned, 8 out of 10 schools are rated as good or above by Ofsted, meaning your child should be in safe hands whatever the outcome.
In the scenario that your application and appeal is denied, you can then ask to be placed on the school’s continuing interest list. This list is a first come first serve list of interested parties who will be accepted into the school once a vacancy becomes available.
This list only lasts one academic year, so you will need to reapply come September if you are sure you would like your child to go to a certain school.
Finding a school that matches your child’s needs is an extremely important part of moving your family. A lot of focus should be put into making your home a great place to learn as well.
While there is a lot of red tape to get through when it comes to getting a school placement for your child, good planning and research will help make things less stressful.
Open a dialogue with your child to find out what he or she would want. Take them with you to have a look at some schools and see where they would feel happy. You may find a school that wasn’t on the top of your own list, but where they feel they will fit in with a lot more ease.
In the scenario that your application and appeal are denied, keep calm and set out a plan of action for the foreseeable future. You will be guaranteed a school place by your council, and so it is worth taking into account whether your child is better off settled in a school which wasn’t shortlisted, or moving your child to your desired school once a vacancy opens.