Wansteadium reader Clive Ewerton, who has made a close study of the process for applying for school places, writes:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org .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