Headteacher shares his advice for September 2018 admissions


Andrew Taylor, Head Teacher at Rugby’s newest primary school, St Gabriel’s CofE Academy, Houlton, wanted to share his advice for parents as they look to apply to school places in 2018. Included is helpful information about the process of application and advice for what to look for in a school.

Here are his answers to some of the most asked questions from parents:

When does the Warwickshire County Council application period end?

Applications should be completed by 5pm on the 15th January 2018.

 How do I apply for a school place?

The place to start is https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/applyforschool

You can access this through the school’s website, in the Admissions section. Once here you will need to create an account to register and apply. A confirmation email will be sent out and you will now be able to login. You will need to add your details and the name, address and date of birth of your child. If eligible to start Reception in 2018, you will be able to click ‘New School Admissions Application’ to proceed.

You will be asked to provide your Council Tax Property Reference Number and a few further questions about your child which help determine your priority for places.

Now the exciting bit! Once complete, you will be able to search for your preferences.

You can search by name, for example: St Gabriel’s CofE Academy, or by distance to your home.

Select your schools in order of preference (up to 6) and this also gives you an opportunity to write your reason for application.

Review your application.

Please note, if you are in the process of moving home, you have until the 26th February 2018 to submit proof of address. Alternatively, if the deadline has passed, call 01926 41414 for late applications at any time.

How do places get allocated? What are the criteria for acceptance/rejection?

Each school has a maximum number of places available for each cohort, known as the Published Admission Number (PAN) for example in 2018, St Gabriel’s has a PAN of 30.

All applications up to the maximum number can be accepted. If the school receives more applications than the number of places available, the applications will be ranked in priority order. Your chosen school’s admissions policy will detail the criteria for allocating places in priority order. Factors can include whether the child has ever been in Local Authority care, whether the child has a Statement of Special Educational Need, whether they live in the priority area (sometimes known as catchment area) or how close to the school they live.

St Gabriel’s CofE Academy’s admissions policy can be found here:


How do catchment areas get decided?

Priority areas are decided by a school’s admission authority (for St Gabriel’s CofE Academy, the board of Trustees) in conjunction with the Local Authority place planning team to service the need for places in an area. For example, St Gabriel’s priority area is the new development of Houlton where new homes will increase the need for school places. Whilst living in a school’s priority area increases the likelihood of being offered a place, parents are not limited by priority areas and can apply to any school. For St Gabriel’s, whilst the population of Houlton is small, the priority area will be less of a factor in determining places.

What should I be looking for when I look round a school?

You should decide what it is that you would most like for your child and your family. All schools offer something different and being clear about what you are looking for gives you a better chance of recognising it as you visit schools.

Key points to consider:

Look at the facilities and equipment: Is outdoor space important to you? What do you want the classroom environment to look and feel like?

What is the vision and ethos of the school and does this match up with your expectations?

How do you feel about the curriculum and educational opportunities the school is offering?

Are the staff friendly and engaging?

Lots of people tell me that ‘I will know’ when I look round a school if it’s the right fit for my child, do you think that’s true?

I think there is some truth to this. Visiting a school is the best way to get the ‘feel’ of a place and can help you picture your child in the setting. You want to come away feeling comfortable and confident that your child will flourish in that environment. Interested families should contact schools they are interested in, for example enquiries@stgabrielshoulton.org.uk to arrange a visit to the school at any time.

Do all schools follow the same curriculum?

Maintained schools in England follow the National Curriculum which sets out what subjects are taught and what standards children are expected to reach in each subject. Academies do not have to follow the National Curriculum but must ensure they deliver a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum including, English, Maths, Science and RE. In reality, a great many academies do follow the National Curriculum which in itself is not constrictive or heavily detailed. Schools write the curriculum that they feel will best engage their pupils to make progress and achieve, so you will see a great variety in topics covered and approaches used in different schools. More information about St Gabriel’s curriculum can be found here: http://stgabrielshoulton.org.uk/curriculum/

Even though approaches may differ, all publicly-funded schools are subject to the same statutory assessment procedures at the end of each Key Stage, so you will find that all schools aspire to reach set standards for their pupils.

What is the difference between an Academy, a VC school etc?

There are many different types of school. Some are directly under Local Authority control, such as Community schools or Voluntary Controlled schools. These receive their funding from the Local Authority who in turn have received it from central government. Staff are employed by the Local Authority who are responsible for the school.

Academies are run by the Trust they sit in. Trusts receive their funding directly from central government meaning they are outside of Local Authority control. This allows academies some freedoms in terms of the curriculum they deliver and the staff they employ. Trusts can be large (involving many schools) or small (single school) although many academies are working within Multi-Academy Trusts, making use of shared services and expertise.

The Department of Education hold Academy Trusts to account for the service they provide and Ofsted inspect all types of publically-funded school using the same framework.

Do OFSTED ratings matter? What do they tell me about a school?

Ofsted ratings can tell you whether a school has been judged Outstanding, Good, Requiring improvement or Inadequate. Judgements are made around pupil outcomes, quality of teaching, behaviour safety and welfare of pupils and the quality of leadership and management. It is useful to read past reports and find out what the school has done since its last inspection, a great deal can happen in the life of a school, so it is important you get the context for where the school is now, particularly if it hasn’t been judged for a few years. Sometimes schools judged less favourably are rapidly improving so it pays to visit the school and talk to the Head Teacher. New schools should receive a full inspection within three years of opening!

What about children with SEN?

Children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) are potentially vulnerable learners and require additional support in a school. You should talk to schools about how they recognise and respond to pupils with SEND. Children with a statement of SEND or the newer Educational Health and Care Plans, are high on the list of priority when it comes to admissions, so you have a very good chance of getting a place at whichever school you feel will most successfully meet the needs of your child.

What catchment area does St Gabriel’s fall into?

The priority area for St Gabriel’s CofE Academy is the first phase of development in Houlton, an urban expansion area of Rugby. Families interested in our school should not be put off if they do not live in Houlton though, we welcome applications from all interested families, and as the inaugural cohort, you have a great chance of receiving a place.

How many places are available at St Gabriel’s?

30 Reception places plus additional places for older pupils based on demand.

When does St Gabriel’s open?

September 2018