Letter to Wansteadium: Read this before applying for school places

Wansteadium reader Clive Ewerton, who has made a close study of the process for applying for school places, writes:

Dear Wansteadium,

I just wanted to give some tips on applying for primary school places as there tends to be lots of confusion/misconceptions about the process in Redbridge. Each year people find themselves unnecessarily without a school place.

1. Visit all your local schools before applying so you can get a feel for the school. Try not to read too much into the Ofsted reports. The school you like most may not have the best report in the borough. Don’t be put off the school you like by friends/family, you know your child best.

2. Read the application booklet THOROUGHLY (it’s available on the Redbridge website) It really is essential!

3. You don’t actually have a ‘choice’ in schools, you have a ‘preference’. Make sure you choose all 6 local schools, so if the worst comes to the worst you are on the waiting list for all 6 preferences. If you are in a black hole area in Wanstead (central Wanstead) think about what your options are if you don’t get a place in a local school) Nothing is guaranteed unfortunately, people also have difficulties getting places at the faith schools too.

4. Know your catchments. Email Redbridge admissions (admissionsandawards@redbridge.gov .uk to find out your distances to all your local schools (do not try to calculate distances yourself, it won’t be accurate). You may come under the catchment for only one school. Compare your distances to those in the applications book. If you live a mile away from Nightingale you won’t get in, even if you apply for just this school. Lots of people think you have to get one of your preferences so only chose one school and then get left without a school place, don’t let this be you!

5. Apply for your catchment school. This may sound obvious but every year you get parents in the Warren Estate/Overton Drive/Wanstead Station/Gordon/Dangan Road/The Green/Seagry Road area applying to only Nightingale and Snaresbrook schools. These areas have not been in the catchment of these schools for the past 5 years (and this seems set to continue). If you aren’t applying to a religious school your only preference is Aldersbrook, but the catchment for Aldersbrook seems likely to have a reduced catchment along with all the schools in Wanstead. There are parents having to journey from the Warren Estate/Seagry Road/Draycot Road/Warren estate areas to Barkingside this year because they only applied to Snaresbrook and Nightingale school and they could have got a place at Aldersbrook but didn’t apply.

6. The application is decided in the following order: 1. ‘Looked after children’ 2. children with medical/psychological needs 3. siblings 4. Distance. APPLICATION IS NOT DECIDED ON ORDER OF PREFERENCE. This means that having a school as your 6th or 1st option will not make a difference to you getting a place. I hear lots of people saying “I’m putting Snaresbrook Primary as my first choice as I’m worried my child won’t get a place if I put Nightingale first”. Each preference is considered separately, purely through the order indicated. If you prefer Nightingale put that as your first choice.

7. Make sure you submit all your documents and application on time.

8. Apply online (MAKE SURE YOU SAVE ANY CHANGES) you get the results a day or two earlier

9. Cross your fingers and hope for the best

Best of luck folks

8 thoughts on “Letter to Wansteadium: Read this before applying for school places”

  1. Not applying to Aldersbrook when you live in Warren Estate/Overton Drive/Wanstead Station/Gordon/Dangan Road/The Green/Seagry Road area seems absurd to me.

    We live within that area and thought, rather ignorantly, that Aldersbrook would be our last choice after of Nightingale, Snaresbrook, Church (despite not even being Christian!). We visited Nightingale, Snaresbrook and Aldersbrook and were so impressed with Aldersbrook on our visit, we made it our first preference.

    The newish head who herself was at Aldersbrook as a child, has according to the majority of parents, transformed the school. She, like almost all the staff I’ve come into contact with, is very approachable and visible in the morning and afternoons. The communication with parents is very good, the PTA is very active and strong, as are the board of governors, one whom is a deputy-head of an outstanding school.

    The physical appearance as you go though the school seems far superior than the other schools, with a focus on creating experiential learning environments like the library with tactile flooring and the outdoor science classroom or the incredible nursery/reception playground to name just three off the top of head.

    Another critical factor was the amount of outdoor playground space that wasn’t grass (wet and boggy and out of bounds for most of Autumn, Winter and Spring) certainly felt much greater than at the other schools.

    But more than any of this, the children all seem happy and engaged, are well taught by teachers who appear motivated. Pastoral care is great, our adopted child was welcomed and acclimatised in a manner that seemed personalised and appropriately sensitive to her emotional well being.

    I know this sounds like a placed ad and I assure you it’s not, but we couldn’t be happier that our children are at Aldersbrook and I’d urge people to look beyond what everyone at the school considers to be a rather unfair Ofsted, which is certain to be revised at the next and imminent inspection.

    I guess my point is, it’s one thing to have a preconception, it’s quite another not to seek to even evaluate it. Do check out Aldersbrook, I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. Changing Wanstead church school and OLOL to secular schools would go somewhere to avoid the problems for children living in central Wanstead who are effectively excluded from both their local schools.

    1. Those schools are full generally with local kids. Changing the status would not increase capacity and would merely add those kids into the general melee. The only solution is to add classrooms or build new schools.

  3. I would strongly agree with Clive’s point about the over-reliance and over-influencing of OFSTED reports. A few years ago, my wife and I dutifully visited all the local schools and felt that Nightingale was the best for our daughter. Friends of ours seemed a little perplexed and even shocked as it only had ‘Satisfactory’ OFSTED rating. While in our daughter was in reception, the school was rated again by OFSTED and received an ‘Outstanding’ rating. The change in peoples’ attitudes was palpable, from (horror) ‘You send your daughter to Nightingale!’ to (impressed) ‘You send your daughter to Nightingale!’ It’s your choice – make sure you do your homework and decide which school is best for your child.

  4. I agree with Jane. Unless you go to Church, you are completely stuffed living on Gordon Road.

    The attitude of Wanstead Church school was completely unhelpful/unfriendly, to say the least, to our family’s circumstances. I take exception to their entry criteria, given that it creates a bias against local families. This has proved to be expensive for our family, now educating our children at St Aubyns (a very friendly and lovely school, but not near our home and “independent”)

  5. That old chestnut regarding faith schools! Stop knocking people because they want their children to have a faith school education.
    If you look back at the history for that schools you will note they were built at the time when there was a lack of faith schools in the area. The problem is that with the growing population new schools were not being built to feed the demand for places and every year the school places debate rages on time the faith card is played! Wanstead church school is so small it only class per year so the chances of local faith school and when we moved to Wanstead we were told by Redbridge to forget for OLOL- you have no chance! In the end we combined our child care vouchers and she went to St Josephs and is very happy..
    Accept it and move on, these faith schools will not change any time soon.
    I think the advice given in the original text was excellent with one final note to add. If you had your hearts set on a particular school, go on the waiting list and keep appealing for a place so that you are on the waiting school for that place. There were two girls in my daughter’s class who appealed for a whole year and both got places in OLOL. Another friend accepted a place at Ray lodge and a year later , her son started at churchfields!

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