The relief of not being caught up in the agony of school applications

THIS is the first time since 2007 we haven’t been wrapped up in the autumn stress-fest that is secondary school admission applications.

I can’t say I’m missing it.

If you have a child in Year Six, the final year of primary school, then you have to apply by November 1, at 5pm to get a place at school for next September.

Don’t imagine for a second that you will automatically get the school you want. That’s not how it works these days. I’m sure I’ve bored you enough over the years with my grumbles about catchment areas (and how ALL schools should give priority to families who live within three miles). I didn’t get first choice with son 1, appealed, lost, sent him to school that then closed and reopened as academy. A year later, son 2 applied and got a place at school that previously rejected us, under alleged ‘random selection.’ *sighs.

Son 2 was asked to turn up at his over-subscribed school to play rugby from 6pm-8.30pm (under floodlights). They don’t usually train at this time but I guess it looks good to prospective parents. I watched lines and lines of would-be pupils and their hopeful folks trudge around the playing fields in the dark, feeling utter sympathy, knowing that most of them will be disappointed next March when the places are allocated.

Don’t only visit the school you really want. You have to put down three choices, so visit at least three schools. Imagine how difficult it would be for your child, if they’ve been allocated a school they’ve never seen. Not many appeals are successful.

Be open-minded. Talk to other parents, make notes, and get a ‘gut-feeling’ about each place. Don’t look for faults at your ‘second-choice’ schools, and don’t ignore them at the one you’ve already decided you want.

Open days are running for a few weeks, and if you really can’t make their date, ring and ask if it’s possible to make an appointment before November 1.

Above all, take your child with you to the school. And listen when they tell you what they think. You may not agree, but it’s your child who will be spending the next seven years there.

n All open days are detailed in the admissions booklet you will have received with your application, or you can check online via the county council website.

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