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Help clarifying the UK School system - Reigate specifically...(13 Posts)
We are originally from Canada where are schools are very different from the way they are set up in the UK. Can someone help explain to me exactly what the differences are between the schools - state, catholic, public, private, prep, grammar, etc??
Also, my son has a late August birthday, so will ultimately be turning 4 just before the school term starts (so he'll be the youngest). (*He is currently only 18 months though). When are we expected to apply for a school place? And also, how do we go about applying? I know that school placements in Reigate are in very high demand, so we need to know what the best way is to secure a spot in our first choice school (haven't decided that yet either!). We are currently house hunting, and have narrowed down our search to the few streets in South Reigate between St. Mary's Rd and Lesbourne Road, and North Reigate between Somers Road and West Street.
Can anyone give me an idea of the likelihood our son will get into one of the local schools in the area? And also which schools are the best? I have been told that Holmsdale, Parish and Priory are all excellent (and have been rated Outstanding by Offstead), and I've also been told that Sandcross is an "up and coming" school after having £5 million put into in last year. That's really all I know about the schools - can anyone shed some light on them? Does anyoone have children that go to any of these (or other schools in Reigate?). Opinions? Advice?
I am all for putting my kids in a good public (state?) school, while my husband wants to explore the idea about putting them in private school, as he went to private in Canada. Again, I know very little about the private schools in the UK and in Regiate, but from what I've found out the ones local to the Reigate area are: Micklefield, St. Mary's, The Hawthorns and Reigate Grammar - have I missed any? Again, the same questions apply - Does anyoone have children that go to any of these (or other schools in Reigate?). Opinions? Advice?
Thanks in advance!
Hi there, will try and answer your questions one by one!
- State schools are funded by the state, and are therefore free to pupils to attend. Your entrance is usually determined by the distance you live to the school.
- Catholic schools - i.e. St. Joseph's, Redhill. This is a state school, but the entrance is not solely determined by distance to the school. The majority of entrants (well, their parents!) attend particular catholic churches for an expressed period of time prior to the kids getting in- and backed up by a letter from the Priest/Vicar.
- Public/Private/Independent Schools- are all the same thing essentially- you pay out to attend them. The fees range from expensive to the sublime!
- Grammar- in some counties, Grammar schools are free, and are the creme-de-la creme of secondary state schools. Most usually have entrance tests that the students sit in their last year of primary school. However, (as in Reigate), some Grammar schools are not free- and are independent schools (see above!). Reigate Grammar School is a fee paying secondary school, and also has an entrance test.
When you need to apply
State Schools - School years in the UK run from September to September. The September prior to your son attending school- (i.e. one full calendar year), you will be sent an application form by your local council. So, you would need to be in residence by then I believe. You will be allowed to make 3 choices of state primary schools in priority order. You will have to return your form by January (I think). You will then find out in May (again, I think!)- where your child has been allocated a place. I am going to go through this, in the coming September, so not 100% sure of how it works yet!
Private/Public/Independent Schools Have waiting lists for entrance. You can put children's names down anytime from birth onwards!
Living closest to the state schools is a way to aid your entry. Children looked after by the State, and Siblings get priority into each of the schools- so your DS will come below those in the case of every state school.
- Holmesdale gets fantastic reports from Ofsted, and is a community school. This means that they do not give priority to parents attending any particular church. They have 3 form entry- i.e 90 children. Last year they added another class to their reception year only- making 120 children- but they do not guarantee that this will be done annually.
- Reigate Parish- again gets fantastic reports from Ofsted, but is a church school. It is not that close to me, so don't know all the ins and outs- but think it only has 1 or 2 classes, and 50% of students are selected from the local church attending population- and the other 50% are the nearest kids to the school. So- if you fancy getting into this school you need to live very very close to it. If you are a church go-er, you may need to find out how long you have to have attended the church /which church etc.
- Sandcross is indeed up and coming. It has had a poorer reputation in the past, and admittedly it isn't in the most popular end of town. But, I keep hearing good things about it. It gets an Ofsted 'good'- and I think it is one to watch. As far as I know it has no religious entry requirements.
All these schools have a website, which will detail their admissions criteria.
Surrey County Council's website also have a useful tool which allows you to pinpoint your home address (or you can guess at one if you are looking at houses), and then see the distances to the other schools.
We are very lucky in Reigate- there are no terrible state schools! I have friends who live in other towns who are jealous of the selection we have in Reigate.
Reigate St. Mary's, Micklefield, Hawthorns. I know very little about the differences between each of these, but am going to look around the first two in the next few months- so can report back then! Reigate St. Mary's is already full for the reception year in 2014, and has 23 on the waiting list... so perhaps best to get your skates on if you do want to go private.
Competition for houses
I have no idea of your budget for housing- but just to warn you that housing in the areas that you describe are fiercely competed for! 2/3/4 bedroom Victorian semi's/terraces are battled for tooth and nail!!! We moved here a year ago, and as we had nothing to sell (presume like you)- we were in a better position. Even then, there is no guarantee of getting our DC into the state school of our choice- so we are also looking at private schools as a back-up.
Reigate is a joy to live in- great town, restaurants, park etc., but the school situation is stressful. There is a shortage of state school places, and Surrey County Council have been talking about building another school- but a lack of sites (and sites which are accepted by the local residents) is currently prohibiting this.
You'd need to check the Local Authority Admissions booklet for latest criteria especially the distance of the furthest child admitted to each school(which can change from one year to next) but Holmesdale would be the obvious choice from Somers road / West Street and Reigate Parish for the other area you mention. However there have been proposals amending the entry criteria for Parish infant/ Priory junior (they change at 7) , currently shelved but could well come back in next year or so. A few schools like Wray Common go through from 4 to 11 but most are either infant (4-7) or junior(7-11) so you have to reapply at 7+. There should be a new school in the area in the next few years to relieve some of the pressure on Reigate spaces, as many schools currently have extra intake (known as "bulge classes") for which their site wasn't designed.
There are no selective state senior schools in the area it is a comprehensive system and Reigate Grammar is a private school form 11-18, fed by its prep school Reigate St Mary's, other local preps and state primaries . As to private primary/prep schools , Micklefield and RSM go up to 11 so gear their teaching towards entrance exams taken then (ie Reigate Grammar, Caterham, Whitgift, Croydon High etc), Hawthorns goes to 13 so focusses less on 11+ leavers and more towards Common Entrance/13+ entry exams to those and also boarding/well known public schools like Tonbridge and Wellington. You could also look at preps in the Tadworth/Banstead area such as Aberdour and Priory.
LIZS- when you talk about entrance requirements changing at the Parish, do you mean in terms of getting into the school in the first place, or about the plans for 'feeder' schools into the Priory?
It was the priority for entrance to Reigate Priory from certain schools, not sure if even ahead of siblings of current pupils. But any school can propose to change its admissions criteria with notice and consultation . St Bedes (local state Secondary, most places allocated on religious priority) is potentially becoming an academy and apparently may do away with sibling priority in next few years.
Thanks for the explanations ladies! Looks like we may have to look at going private just to be certain.
I'm in a horribly grumpy mood at the moment - we lost out on another house today. We offered £5,100 over the asking price and still didn't get it. Went to a sealed bid with 9 bids. We've been looking for a year. Not sure whether its time to just give up :-(
You will NOT automatically be sent an application form in Surrey. These are however easy to obtain, from any pre-school/nursery your child attends, local library's, some Doctors Surgeries, schools themselves and easiest of all on-line at the Surrey County Council website. You can't unfortunately judge a school just by Ofsted, and schools can change a lot, especially if they get a new Head.
Ahhhh... good to know Bekabeech- I had no idea... I would have sat here in my front room waiting for an application form to land on my doorstep!
One other question - if you don't get into your first choice school the first year, can you apply again the next year of you really want to?
You would go on a waiting list in case anyone leaves. These are based on the same admissions criteria (ie. looked after children , siblings, distance ...) not first come first served , so if another child moved closer than you and/or had a sibling who got a place in another year group they would be placed ahead and move your dc down. Places offered to waiting list children need to be taken up quickly so you may find yourselves changing at short notice. No local schools are that bad though and once settled you may feel it not worth the disruption.
Unlike in the US and maybe Canada, you do not reapply for your school place every year. If you move you can keep it as long as you can get your child there everyday. There is no fresh round of admissions for year 1. Sometimes there is a fresh round of admissions for year 3 - BUT this is only when the Infant and Junior school are separate (except maybe my DCs school which is a weird one in a different town). You do then re-apply for year 7.
Otherwise you only get a place via a waiting list, and you can move down as well as up waiting lists (if someone for example moves into the area closer than your house, and other reasons). From year 3 it can sometimes be worth appealing.
I can only comment on schools I know. I would say it depends entirely on the child to some degree. We moved to Reigate just over a year ago & my daughter went to Sandcross primary. We were also offered Priory which has an excellent reputation but not so great for special needs. Sandcross is a fantastic school & worked wonders for my daughter who they fought hard to get an ASD diagnosis even though she was only there less than 2 terms. They thoroughly deserve their recent good Ofsted! I now have children in Reigate & The Warwick (in Redhill) secondary schools. (No space for eldest in Reigate when we moved here) Warwick has also just got a well deserved good Ofsted after shaking off a bad reputation. I rate both schools very highly.
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