A survey carried out by Santander found that one in four parents have moved house to be in a desired school catchment area so that their child could get into their first choice school.
Moving home is stressful enough without the added pressure of trying to secure a property within your desired catchment area. To help we’ve set out all you need to know about the process and what you should and shouldn’t do.
A catchment area is a location which is clearly defined and located around a school. Most schools have a catchment area policy which means they will only accept applications from students who live within their catchment area. Depending on how many applications a school receives each year, the catchment area will often change.
As well as considering catchment areas, often schools will give preference to students who are of the same faith as the school such as Church of England schools. Many schools will often give preference to students who have siblings already studying at the school.
A great resource for navigating this is https://admissionsday.co.uk/ which will show you the likelihood of your application being successful at your first-choice school.
How to secure a place
Each school will have varying policies on joining throughout the academic year with deadlines and criteria you’ll have to meet. Your local council can let you know what the correct criteria are for your ideal school and depending on your council, you’ll either have to apply to the school directly or through a local authority. The process of applying will often differ depending on where you live.
To simplify the process, it can be a good idea to create a list of potential schools before you move. Ofsted is a great resource as you can search for schools in your area by postcode and then find out more information about them.
After you have done your research and created a list, you should then contact the admissions office to find out how popular the school is so you can predict if your application is likely to be accepted. If a school is oversubscribed it will be rare for your application to be accepted but bear in mind that you can always appeal the school’s decision.
How to prove your address for school admissions
When applying to a new school, you will need to show proof of address. The address that you will need to evidence will be the address that you and your child are living at when you fill out the application.
Every council will be different but on the whole, they’ll typically ask for two pieces of evidence of your address.
You can evidence your address using:
- A utility bill from the last three months
- A TV license
- A copy of your tenancy agreement
- A copy of a tax credits letter
- A council tax letter for the current year
What if I move after I’ve applied to the school?
If you move during the application process you will need to give the council evidence of your new home address.
In this case, proof of address can be:
- A copy of the lease agreement which you can get from your lettings agent
- A letter from your solicitor which evidences your moving date
When should I apply for a new school place?
The process of applying to a new school can be stressful, especially during the middle of the academic year.
To ensure that you do the process properly, you should apply to the school as soon as applications open or you’ll need to apply to your desired school at least 6 weeks before your child is due to start.
If a school is over-subscribed, the school admissions office will outline specific criteria which will be considered. They will consider:
- Your child’s academic record
- The welfare of your child
- How close your house is to the school
To ensure that you have options, it’s a good idea to apply to many different schools so that if one application falls through, you’ll still have a back-up option for your child after you’ve moved house.
What makes a school application fraudulent?
If a school is oversubscribed, then the school admissions office will investigate potentially fraudulent addresses so it’s important that everything on your application is truthful and accurate.
A fraudulent application can consist of:
- Renting a property in the catchment area while keeping your previous home
- Saying that you live with relatives who live in the catchment area when you don’t
- Renting a property within the catchment area but moving out before your child starts school
How do schools check addresses?
Before accepting or rejecting an application, schools will have to check that the address on the application form is correct. Schools will check this by:
- Carrying out random spot checks on addresses
- Checking that the addresses are the same as they are on the electoral roll
- Checking that applications are the same as they are on council tax records
Overall it’s always best to get ahead of the process by preparing and getting organised in advance so that everything goes smoothly.
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