Mum Muddling Through…Primary school applications

There is a definite irony in parenting that no sooner are we raising eyebrows and sniggering at ‘the things parents do’, than we are doing it ourselves.

Currently, living this dream, primary school applications stylee.

“What can all the fuss be about?”, “I’m not bothered about school reputations, or listening to hear say”, “It’s nothing to get stressed about”…I said, once upon an ignorant time.

But it sucks you in. Big time. Suddenly, it does feel the decision of the century, and us over analytical Mums will have a field day, worrying about every possible vantage point on which schools to put down, and in which order. I’m pretty certain I’m waffling about this to anyone who’ll listen lately, hoping someone will make the decision for me or tell me the right answer. I’m boring myself, let alone my friends and family (unless of course they are class of 2016 Mums too). I’m unbelievablyย envious of our Mum pals who have a clear cut option…like a decent school, opposite their house (why was this day never on our radar when we moved… when I was pregnant! #fail).

At a time of year when there isn’t much else going on (ha ha), November and December have been filled with discussions over Ofstead ratings, catchment areas and whether you got the all important ‘feeling’ on the tour. That magical sought after illusive ‘thing’, ‘something about it’…like when you are looking for your new house, or searching for ‘the one’.

And that’s not all there is to think about – logistics of doing the school run, pre & after school club facilities, faith schools (and letters from the church), intake number, and, of course, how over subscribed each good school is. The Supermums chat group hasn’t seen so much activity since…well, ever.

As a Mum who likes to run a pretty tight ship, the uncertainty in it all is what does your head in the most. Don’t expect any answers on the tours as to ‘how likely you are to get in’. No one will, or can possibly say. Each year will have a variation in number of applicants and siblings, so your ‘chance’ this year could be far greater or worse than last years.

There are so many different ways to approach the type of school that is ‘best’. Do you go for a small nurturing school, amazing little bubble to be in for now, but will they get a shock transitioning to secondary school? Or, do you go for the larger school, which will prepare your child for the chaos of real life, and allow for a wider interaction, but may result in them getting a little lost?

Once you have viewed as many as possible and composed your shortlist – there is then the fun and games of deciding how to tactically apply. Do you put down your favourite, in which you may stand zero to slim chance of getting – and put your realistic choice as second, or dare I say it third? Or, do you give up on your hopes and accept defeat before really knowing, thus eliminating any stress but living with wondering what if? The down side of taking the punt, is (I think?) you may mess up your plan B option by not putting it first. This seems to be a bit of a grey area – no one seems to know or understand the exact logarithm used to decide.

So much to consider,ย I’ve barely stopped to think about how I went from grumbling about teething, to talking about school admission policies. Man, this growing up happens too quick doesn’t it?

I always believed it wouldn’t bother me that Tigs probably wouldn’t go to the school linked to her nursery, as we don’t live (like all her pals) on the doorstep. But now, suddenly, that seems very sad.

I thought I’d be open minded, and was rooting to love the school around the corner with a pretty poor reputation. But, maybe some preconceptions are just too deep rooted to forget? Although, according to some others, it’s a wonderful school with a new Head, and plenty of change coming. Every time I think I have decided, a conversation with pretty much anyone sends me 180 degrees in another direction.

Feeling the decision weighing heavily on my shoulders (Mr G couldn’t make all the tours), I’m nearing a decision. I think.

I’m reminding myself daily that Tigs is a bright little spark, with bundles of personality, and she’ll be fine anywhere. I also have several schools I like, none that I love, and will be devastated if I don’t get. So, I guess the plan is to put down our favourite three, including at least one realistic option, and hope for the best. Let someone else decide, because I clearly can’t!

And, we’ll be getting that form filled in online well in advance of the big-C, so the discussion is off the table…ready for the Turkey, sprouts and Christmas pud.

Until April…


How are you getting on with school applications this year? Any advice for us Mums doing it for the first time?!

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53 thoughts on “Mum Muddling Through…Primary school applications

  1. Phili Reply

    I remember being like this with my first. Just applied for a primary place for my third and it’s a case of “you’ll go where your siblings go and like it”. I’d like to pretend that I’m oh so over the school place angst, but I have to choose secondary schools next year and I’m researching already!!!!!

    1. MMT Reply

      You’re one of those people I am jealous of!! It’s a minefield… But I’m sure it’ll all come good in the end…

  2. Robyn Reply

    This sounds really stressful! We’re not at that stage yet and I hadn’t really given it much though till now, although I’d be exactly the same. It’s a big decision isn’t it? Although as you say your daughter will be just fine anywhere – I love how you describe her as a bright spark with loads of personality, she sounds like fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. MMT Reply

      Thank you Robyn…she is ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  3. Kaye Reply

    I’m really not looking forward to this stage in A’s life; I already think about what school he’d go to and 3 years early it still brings on the worry just thinking about it! Hope it all gets sorted. #bestandworst

    1. MMT Reply

      It’s kind of always been in the back of our minds too…but still been a shock to have to go through it! I’m starting to dread any time anyone brings it up as I’m literally changing my mind every day! So indecisive…

  4. helen gandy Reply

    I have this decision to make too, we’ve had our tours, read the ofsted, debated and debated again and have our top3 haha, we just need to fill in the form and keep our fingers crossed!! It’s quite stressful isn’t it, who knew! Good luck and hope you get your 1st choice. Thanks for linking up to the #bestandworst

  5. Mrs Tubbs Reply

    It’s worth going round the schools you’re interested in as this gives you an idea of what the school is actually like.

    Ask parent’s who actually have children there if you can. School’s change quite quickly but reputations last for longer. That great school might not be so good now, but the school that everyone’s thinks is less good might have changed and be better.

    The brochure you get usually gives an indication of what the assessment criteria is and how many applications there are for each school and the intake. Usually it’s looked after children, siblings then people in the catchment area. That helps you to gauge whether or not it’s worth applying or the likelihood of success.

    Be realistic. If a school only takes 30 children and you live at the other end of town then a place there will not be yours. However much you insist it will be or complain about the unfairness of it all.

    Don’t lie on the forms. Your MIL may live in the catchment area but you don’t so don’t put her address on the form. When they find out you will lose the school place and be scrabbling around trying to find a vacancy anywhere! (Yes, we heard of people who did this. The other fiddle was trying to apply on faith grounds to multiple schools despite them saying that you could only do this for your nearest school. For all the others, you were judged on the same criteria as everyone else).

    Don’t forget to fill the forms in! One parent assumed that they’d automatically get a place at a school because the older child already had one so didn’t bother. Despite repeated reminders. They got a place elsewhere which was a total PITA for pickups.

    Don’t fall out with people either. Some parents got really angry because so and so got the school place that belonged to their child and they didn’t deserve it, blah, blah. I never got my head round that one!

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    1. MMT Reply

      Wow. That is an epic comment packed with great advice! Thank you x

      1. Mrs Tubbs Reply

        My pleasure! I hope it helped ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. martynkitney Reply

    It’s definitely easy to gt caught up in it all! I remember doing it with my eldest and as a teacher it was always seen in the pressure of the parents. So pleased I don’t have that now in Home schooling #bestandworst

    1. MMT Reply

      Well that’s always an option!! Thanks for reading x

  7. butterflymum83 Reply

    This is a really interesting post because it’s already something I think about and my son is only 2.5! The school I want him to attend is right on our doorstep and he already uses the Children’s centre and nursery there. Until recently, I assumed that must be our catchment school since it’s so close. Alas, when I looked it up we’re not in the catchment, and in fact our catchment school is a 30 min walk away. I don’t drive so this is a real issue. Both schools are equal in terms of performance but for practical reasons I’m livid that he probably won’t get into the school nearest to us by far. I know that this time next year I will be getting VERY stressed about it.

    Good luck with your decision and application x #bestandworst

    1. MMT Reply

      It just doesn’t seem to be very clear cut at all…put it to the back of your mind for now and hopefully it’ll all come together ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks x x

  8. Sleepingthroughyet Reply

    OMG it is a minefield. My daughter goes to school next September too (if I finally fill in the forms) and I never thought it would be so complicated, and I never knew there were so many schools so close by. We’re just hoping she gets into the local school, which is pretty good but I think we will have a second option just in case. Scary stuff, can’t imagine what it will be like in April finding out! Chewing finger nails….. #bestandworst

  9. Baby Toddler Me Reply

    I totally get this post! I went through it with my daughter last year! I’m telling you April 15th, when you find out which school you’ve got, was one of the longest days of my life! However, it all turned out well, and what I’m beginning to realise is that it always does! Whatever school you eventually are given, there are always options. We are so blessed in this country because we have such a fantastic educational system. Good luck… it will be fine! x #coolmumclub

  10. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) Reply

    We’re in the process of applying to primary school here and I have to admit that I am one of those lucky people you describe with a decent school opposite my house (*hides in the corner apologetically*) and it’s the only one I’ve applied for. I can imagine that it must be a complete nightmare if your nearest school isn’t a good one and you have lots of potential options to choose from, trying to weigh up which order to put them in. Good luck with it all and hope that you get the school you want. #coolmumclub

  11. mummyinatutu Reply

    I have watched parents muddling through this… thankfully bubba is just 5 months at the moment. But having been a teacher I know whats to come and am dreading it. Good luck and I hope you are happy with the school you get (ridiculous the school you GET!!) x #coolmumclub

  12. rhymingwithwine Reply

    We’ve just entered this territory for nursery for Miss Tot. We live practically next to a newish and fabulous looking school, with a terrible Ofsted which had been failing since we moved here 4 years ago. I always stoically stated that our kids would go there as surely if we support them at home blah blah blah. Had them both registered there since 6 weeks old, and then with just a few months to go before start date I had a major panic over it all and they are now going somewhere totally different and (probably last) on the wait list for a different “posh” school at age 4. When did I become that “ooh not that school for my children” mum?? *slaps own wrist and pats own back simultaneously* it’s a minefield!! Good luck with yours x #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      This comment sums it up perfectly!! I was so the same…guess it’s easier being high and mighty THEORETICALLY! ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  13. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    Bloody hell totally feel your pain. Not looking forward to this. I’m really hoping the school down our road which is great will accept ours and be done with it. Pressure! Here’s to another awesome week over on #coolmumclub lovely xx

  14. Kyles Reply

    I started looking at schools a few months after my first was born and still have this weight like it’s going to be the biggest decision I make in my life. You’re absolutely right though, it all depends on your child and some children will thrive wherever they are. Good luck with your decision!! #coolmumclub

  15. Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods) Reply

    I’m one of the lucky ones who has a great school right opposit our house. As you know though I had to put down two second choices. As I don’t drive my second choices had to be the two other schools in our area. Luckily I have heard these are both good schools too but obviously I am hopi g we get our first choice as I think this one would be best suited for my sons needs. Fingers crossed our children get into our first choice of schools ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  16. tammymum Reply

    Oh my goodness that does not sound like fun. Good luck with your decision I hope you get the outcome you want and your little one enjoys her school when the time comes. #coolmumclub x

  17. Rebecca @ AAUBlog Reply

    we’ve just submitted my son’s application. Luckily we have two excellent schools less than a mile away. I will be baffled if we don’t get into one of those! It is such a big step though and very nerve racking, good luck #coolmumclub

  18. lifeofaglasgowgirl (@ofaglasgowgirl) Reply

    I’m not at that stage yet with Leon but I’m really lucky because we live right next to the primary school he will be going to and it’s a fairly easy process to get him into school because We are the closest in the catchment area so we are gaurenteed a place for him. I don’t think I would like the stress of the whole school application. Good luck and I’m sure what ever happens it will be the best choice! #coolmumclub

  19. Meagan's Mum Project (@mumproject) Reply

    Wow this process sounds intense, I’m not even close to this part of our lives yet, but it’s interesting to read! I think, just as life goes, any school will be right for your child because in the end they learn, adapt and in the end will be the person they were always meant to be. I don’t think anyone can change who you are inherently, of course, environment and friends do play a role in our lives, but deep down we are who we are. Good luck, hope you get one of the top three! : ) #coolmumclub

  20. cvnxena Reply

    omg – we are going through this at the moment! we live virtually outside a school and up until this point I had no issues with any of it… now the application form has arrived and I have to make it official i’m panicking he won’t get accepted and we will have to walk miles and miles to the next one – haha #primaryapplicationsgate :p Thanks for hosting another fab #Coolmumclub and sorry I was late today (so unorganised this Christmas!)

  21. reimerandruby Reply

    Very interesting post! We’re also doing some school application for Ruby. However, we find the decision rather easy because that’s the same Nursery school where her big brother used to go and it’s just next door with his brother’s Primary school. So, logistically it was the best option for us… Best of luck! Hope you get the choice of school you ever wanted! #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      I’m sure second time around it’s going to be so much more straightforward….but thinking that dangermouse will probably go to the school Tigs ends up at’s nursery too which is making the decision even bigger! So much to consider… x

  22. Educating Roversi Reply

    My son is only 18mo so we haven’t begun this yet but I don’t have a clue where to begin! Do you get contacted or do you have to do it? How do you know when to do it? Do they go when they’re 4 or 5? I’m completely clueless! Luckily it doesn’t matter…yet! I’m sure I’ll be having the same issues. Although I have my heart set on my school near us that I went to. Fingers crossed. #CoolMumClub

    1. MMT Reply

      Loved this comment! That was me 2 years ago! You won’t miss it – every parent of kids the same age will remind you at every opportunity. The website opens early November and closes January…you can apply online. It’s actually not a bad process, apart from the decision making ha ha! Don’t lose any sleep over it just yet…but maybe start taking an interest in whats in your area and if you move before then…definitely bear it in mind! x

  23. Nige Reply

    I have to admit my wife does all of this so I don’t feel any stress but I know it be very stressful enjoy Christmas great post #bestandworst

    1. MMT Reply

      It’s tricky for the hubby to really help make the decision as he won’t be doing the school run, and couldn’t attend the tours., this ones heavily weighing on my shoulders! Hope your Mrs is more decisive than me! Thanks for reading and commenting…

  24. Anna Brophy Reply

    Love it! I am still back at the sniggering stage as I watched my sister go through all this. I know, I too, will become ‘one of you’, but for now, I will wish you all the best…from a smug mummy with a good school on her doorstep…betcha we’ve moved by then! xx #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Ha ha, I am jealous! We could always move if things get REALLY bad! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Mrs Lighty Reply

    Oh I just know that I’m going to feel EXACTLY like this, and Baby Lighty is only 6 months old!! Why is nothing ever clear cut and straight forward any more?! I hope you get a school that you fall in love with eventually, even if you only like it now. Thanks for hosting the #coolmumclub ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. MMT Reply

      Thanks hun – so easy to get caught up in all the hype…! x

  26. This Mum's Life Reply

    We are not quite there yet, it will be this time next year for us. I will probably push it to the back of my head like I do with everything, then realise I wished I’d given it more thought afterwards!! We’ve got a brilliant school 2 streets away (we also moved when I was pregnant, and I also was only thinking about the house, and didn’t give a second thought to schools!!) we didn’t even know it was there until we went for a walk after we moved in and saw it!! If for some reason we don’t get in there, there’s 2 other schools with mixed reviews nearby, so I’ll go and have a look and see what I think. I’m sure your daughter will be happy wherever she goes. I’m a big believer that if children are destined to do well, they will do no matter how good or bad the school is. This may be wrong, but it keeps me happy!

    1. MMT Reply

      You are spot on…and I think (?) that’s the stance I’m trying to take…she WILL be fine anywhere. Just wonder if I’ll feel that way if she gets put in the worst school in the area! Lets just hope that doesn’t happen, but we are a bit worryingly close to it ๐Ÿ˜

  27. Ellie @ Hand Me Down Baby Reply

    I think we have to start this process next year, which seems unbelievably soon! Fortunately (?!) we have limited options so the choice shouldn’t be too stressful. Now as for the waiting…

    1. MMT Reply

      Once we’ve done the job I’m going to forget it and try and bury head back in the sand! Until that time in April, sure I’ll be a wreck ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  28. smallstuffandme Reply

    This stage is a couple of years away for us but I do get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I think about it! I hope everything goes well with the application.

    1. MMT Reply

      It’s crazy how quick the time comes around! Life just whizzing by x x

  29. 2teens1preteen Reply

    Oh I remember this stage so so well and remember being cross with myself that we chose the pretty white Georgian terrace house with the climbing ivy and the courtyard garden and the exposed brick fireplace and the pretty little sash windows (get my drift??) over the best school for my daughter – didn’t want to have to make such big grown up decisions then!! Am sure it will work out beautifully xx

    1. MMT Reply

      It’s funny how the future seemed SO far away then! ๐Ÿ˜‰ x MMT

  30. Melissa Reply

    I’m just amazed that you have so many options! I was raised in the military where because of moving I ended up going to 12 schools moving between America and Germany twice before graduating. Then I married into the military and my oldest is currently in his 6th school between three moves between Hawaii and the mainland America for 7th grade. We go where the Army sends us and the kids land in schools accordingly. Some years we are lucky, some years it’s a struggle. This is one of the many areas I wish I could have the option to chose or even try to chose. Your post pointed out some interesting differences in our mom-lives! ๐Ÿ˜‰ #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Crikey, that is a very different perspective. With heaps of positives and some negatives too I’m sure. As you say, if you land a fab school, result…but even if it’s bad you know it’s not forever? Must have seen some amazing things and places on your travels… x

  31. dadbloguk Reply

    Well, I would be the contrarian here but I would hope that it will be “mums AND dads doing it for the first time”. I find it fascinating when I hear mums talking about school applications without even mentioning their child’s father (yes, I do hear such conversations! It’s amazing what nuances you pick up on when you’re a SAHD!). Anyway, ask 20 different people and you’ll get 20 different pieces of advice. I will, however, say this; odd as it may sound, a school rated ‘excellent’ by Ofsted can only go one way. A ‘good’ school will almost always be striving to improve. A very good reason to avoid an excellent school in my opinion. As for the faith schools you mention, they often have much better grounds and facilities. They aren’t under pressure to sell off land for flats because they aren’t owned by the local authority and the religious order (be it the Roman Catholic church, Church of England, Mosque, whatever), usually provides additional funding. You should also consider how many teaching assistants a school has. Will there be one in each class throughout the whole school day? In some schools TAs work half days or aren’t available all the time leaving the teacher to deal with 30 kids on their own more than perhaps is fair. Best of luck and thanks for hosting #coolmumclub.

    1. MMT Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. The other half has contributed as much as he can to the decision, as he couldn’t make every tour. Some wonderful advice here which cements the decision I have almost made! Without wanting to sound patronising, it’s very refreshing to hear a dads voice on these post-post discussions… cheers!! X MMT

  32. Becky Pink Reply

    Ah I had this all last year, and found it surprisingly stressful too. I didn’t think it would be an issue for me as (luckily) all 4 schools in our town are good, and one is outstanding. And that’s the one that’s a stone’s throw from our house, but I didn’t like it when I looked round. I thought maybe I was bonkers for putting down a school that is further away and lower in the tables but I’m relieved to say that Ava LOVES it there and is very happy and doing really well. I do think that if you’re the kind of parent who is getting worried about it, you are obviously a great parent, and will give your child the support they need whichever one they go to. Fingers crossed it all works out for you, I’m sure it will! Becky xx #coolmumclub

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