Sorting out primary school places for your young children can be stressful for any family, with increased demand for places meaning some could unfortunately miss out on a place altogether according to this report from The Guardian.
The process is made even more stressful for families who are in the process of moving home, as the council will require proof of residency before looking at your application.
This proof of residency is usually a signed tenancy agreement or other contracts and you’ll also need a confirmed moving in date.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you only require proof of address when it comes to state schools. It won’t be required if you’re applying to a private (fee-paying) school.
We spoke to David, one of our Manchester based mortgage brokers who said: “Competition for schools is fiercer than it ever has been, and we’re seeing parents make huge sacrifices with some even renting out second properties just to get a foot in a desirable catchment area.
“Being within a certain catchment area is up there with having a spacious garden or an extra bedroom for some buyers.”
The worry over finding a school place is sometimes enough to put families off moving altogether, so is it really that big a deal?
As with anything it largely depends on your circumstances, and of course a bit of luck.
To be on the safe side we would always recommend applying for schools in the area you currently live in as a backup.
Of course, this means that you might have to move your child half-way through the term, which is far from ideal, but it might not be as disruptive as you think, and is certainly better than being left without a place.
If this is the case, you’ll have to look into an ‘in-year admission’. These are sometimes made directly to the school or sometimes to the council, and you’ll have to apply for a place at least six weeks before you want your child to start.
When it comes to infant classes (that’s reception, year 1 and year 2), there is a limit of 30 pupils per class.
This means that once a class has its full quote of 30 pupils, it can be very difficult to find a place midway through term.
The best thing you can do is get in touch with the school’s admissions people directly who will give you more advice on their admissions criteria.
While it could understandably be very disruptive for your child to move schools midway through term, it’s still better to get it out of the way as early as possible to minimise the disruption.
While you may understandably worry about how your child will cope with moving schools, you might be surprised at how quickly they will adapt, especially if it’s still fairly early in their first year.
The two schools will also often liaise to help make the transition a bit easier.
Ultimately, moving house while applying for schools isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t need to be the end of the world.
Remember that your child’s education and happiness is the main thing here, and if it does seem like the process is going to cause too much hassle, it may be best to consider postponing the move, or looking elsewhere.
Citizens Advice also have a guide to applying for school places which you can check out here.