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Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTION Some of the answers below are taken from the Trafford prospectus, others are provided by experienced members of staff
What is the best school for my child? The best school is where you and your child feel most comfortable and supported. Finding a school which appeals to your child’s skills, interests and personality can make a real difference to their wellbeing as well as their academic success.
It is essential you visit the school, look at the school website and if possible speak to current parents or pupils to inform your opinion.
Consider pupil wellbeing support, extracurricular opportunities, the curriculum offered and the range of GCSEs.
Look as well at the practicalities eg. how commuting to and from school will fit into family life.
It can be helpful to create a list of pros and cons for each school together with your child.
My child just wants to be with their friends, what can I do? Friends are a consideration, but many of our Y6 go to a new secondary school without a special friend and are still happy and settled within the first few weeks. It is an excellent opportunity to make new friends, try new hobbies and to have a fresh start. They will always have their friends from Bowdon and will be able to keep in touch to support each other, swap stories and socialise. One great way to do this is through St Mary's Youth Group - Underground, who meet on a Friday in the Parish Centre.

I want my child to go to a Trafford Grammar School.

Is there anything I need to be aware of?

Applicants wishing to be considered for admission to a Grammar School in Trafford must first be successful in the entrance examination for the preferred grammar school. To take part in these examinations applicants must make a separate application, direct to the school, to sit the relevant test.

Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Sale Grammar School, Stretford Grammar School and Urmston Grammar have joined into a consortium called the Trafford Grammar School CEM Consortium. These schools all share the same entrance test.
Applicants will sit the test once, at one of the four schools in the Consortium but the outcome of that test can be considered by any of the four schools provided you have chosen this option. If you wish your child to take part in this test you must register to sit the test at one of the schools in the consortium. Only girls can sit the test at Altrincham Grammar School. It is possible for a child to pass the test for one school and not for another; this is because the raw scores are being compared to a different cohort of children. Each school has it’s own admission policy.

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Loreto Grammar School and St Ambrose Grammar School are NOT part of the Consortium and do not do the CEM Test. You must apply to each school to register for their entrance tests.
Are there any important dates I need to be aware of? You must check each school's website for their individual open days and entrance exams.

March to June - online applications for entrance exams (see school websites)
June, July, Sept, Oct - open evenings (see school websites)
September - entrance exams (see school websites)
October - results from entrance exams are sent out (dates vary - see school websites)
31st October - Common Application Form (CAF) must be returned to Trafford LEA
1st March - National Allocation Day
15th March - Acceptance deadline for initial school offers
Will my child get into my first choice school? This will depend on each school's admissions policy and the number of applications made, which will vary each year. The majority of children do get the first choice they put on the CAF but this may depend on how realistic your choices are.
What is the catchment area for my chosen school? Admissions criteria can change each year, so you must look at each school's admissions policy on their website. You can also ask the school for a printed copy.

A child on my street goes to our chosen school.

Does that mean I will get a place for my child?

Not necessarily. School admission policies and catchment areas can change from year to year. You must check the school's website for their current policy. Also the number of children applying for a limited number of places each year will vary and this will affect offers made.
We share parental responsibility. Can we choose which home address we use? The criteria used by Trafford to determine admission refer in every case to the child’s home address. This means the address where the child normally and permanently lives on a full-time basis, not the address of any child-minder, grandparent or any other relative. If parents are separated and child-care arrangements are shared between two addresses admission authorities must decide how the application will be considered. Where this is not defined in the relevant policy, the average of the distances of the two addresses from the school will be used to determine priority for admission. Where one of the addresses is outside the catchment area the applicant will be regarded as living outside the catchment area and the average of the distances of the two addresses will be used. You may be required to provide proof of residency to ensure that your application is considered correctly.
We only consider one school as being suitable. Why do we need to put more than one on the form? There is the risk of being offered a place only at an 'undesirable' school some distance away if you do not put more than one school on your school preference form.
List the school you like most first – schools don’t know what place they are on your list, and you will only be sent an offer from the highest listed school for which you qualify.
Don’t leave any blanks on the form. Not using up all your options doesn’t mean you are more likely to be offered the school you want.
If none of your chosen schools can offer a place, Trafford will allocate a place at the nearest school in Trafford with a vacancy.
A school has told us we must put them first to get a place. Is this true? All Local Authorities use an equal preference or “blind preference” system. This means that schools will never know whether you have put them first, second, third or even last, and cannot say “put us first or we will not give you a place”. So, you can tell the LA what you really want without worrying that it will affect your child’s chance of achieving a place at any other school.
If, for example, you have applied for places at Ashton-on-Mersey, Blessed Thomas Holford and Sale Grammar your child’s name will be placed on each of the three schools’ lists. The lists will be sorted into order according to each school’s admissions criteria. Trafford will look at all the lists and see which of your chosen schools can offer you a place. If all three can offer a place, Trafford will allocate a place at the preference you have ranked highest on your form. Similarly, if only two can offer a place, you highest preference of the two will be allocated.
If none of your chosen schools can offer a place, Trafford will allocate a place at the nearest school in Trafford with a vacancy.
Why should we consider 'that' school?! Schools can and do change quite quickly. The building might have been recently updated and new facilities mean an extend curriculum or the ethos of the school could have changed due to school improvement or a change of leadership.
There are many factors that affect a school and you shouldn't dismiss a school without up to date information. 
What order should I put my schools in on the Common Application Form? Look at the schools listed and think which ones you wish to apply for. Select the one you really want first. Don’t be put off just because you don’t live in the catchment area. You can apply for any school you like and in any order regardless of where you live. However, you must remember that applicants that live within a catchment area will often be given a higher priority than you. You are advised to use one of your choices for your catchment area school or your nearest local school even if that is only your last choice. If you live in the catchment area for more than one school, you are advised to consider including all these schools in your list of preferences. This will not stop you being offered another school that you have listed higher but it will mean you will have a good chance of being offered a place locally if you cannot be offered any of your other choices.
All your choices are considered equally and a place will offered at your highest choice possible, where places allow.
We did not get offered our first choice of school. What can we do? Once initial allocations have been decided and advised to parents, a number of vacancies may arise due to changed circumstances. If you wish your original, unsuccessful application for a Trafford school to be re-considered or you wish to apply for an alternative, the letter which you receive in March will advise you how to apply to have your child’s name added to the waiting lists.
Any allocation decisions in the review process must be made following the same criteria as used for the initial allocation.
WAITING LISTS
It is important to note that unsuccessful applicants are not automatically added to a Waiting List. Waiting lists must be maintained by the school for at least one term in the academic year of admission.
Applicants must be ranked in the same order as the published over-subscription criteria and must not be given priority based on the date either their application was received or their name was added to the list. For example, if a child moves to an area and has higher priority against the published over-subscription criteria, they must be ranked above those with lower priority already on the list.
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