Can a school choose to admit over it's PAN?

(22 Posts)
clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 10:49:24

Hi, just that really- can a school choose themselves to allow any admissions over their Published Admission Number? If so, how does the communication take place between the school and the Local Authority. Eg, if the school decided to take more children than the PAN, how is council made aware of this in order to correctly allocate places?

When we looked round the school we have subsequently chosen as first choice, the Headteacher told us he didn't envisage a problem in our DC getting a place (despite us living out of catchment) although he wasn't allowed to formally say of course. He mentioned something briefly about the possibility of moving some Year 1's up t the next class.

I'm just musing really as I think it's going to be a close call a to whether dc gets a place, so grabbing at straws! Thanks.

meditrina Mon 25-Mar-13 10:53:43

It is bang out of order for the Head to say something like that.

The published criteria must be followed. Admissions will be to PAN, but more children might join if there are successful appeals (or if LEA needs to activate the Fair Access Protocol). Offeriing a place to a (distant) child who should not have been offered one is he sort of mistake that means the parents of the child who would otherwise have been admitted will have a winnable appeal.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 11:18:00

Thanks- he didn't offer a place as such, just responded to myself and DH's queries as to whether the school was normally fully- subscribed etc. He said himself that obviously there was no guarantee and I think was insinuating that the structure of the foundation/year 1 class might change to allow for more reception in the future.

Funnily enough, in the second school we looked round, the head also said a similar thing I.e they didn't foresee any problems but couldn't guarantee a place. I didn't realise they weren't supposed to...

Thanks again for your reply.

NotAsNiceAsMyMum Mon 25-Mar-13 11:47:58

schools with mixed year classes are often happy to admit more than their PAN if they were below PAN in the previous year and they want to keep their total numbers up.
The procedure for how this is done seems to vary.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 11:57:32

Oh right, that's interesting- it's a mixed age class in this case, and its the procedure I have been wondering about (I am clueless in all this!). So for instance, I assume the local authority sort through all primary applications and allocate places accordingly. If, as you say, a school is happy to admit over the PAN in some cases, I just wonder how all this is all sorted out with the LEA so they can allocate the place?

Bramshott Mon 25-Mar-13 12:13:35

Our school (mixed classes, PAN of 15) admits to PAN in reception but is happy to admit over PAN higher up the school to have bigger junior classes, or if one year is smaller it may admit more children to the years either side.

prh47bridge Mon 25-Mar-13 12:20:26

The rules on this have changed with the latest Admissions Code.

The admission authority can decide to admit children beyond PAN. That means a VA school, academy or free school can make the decision itself but a community or VC school cannot - it is up to the LA. Even if the school is able to make the decision itself it is still required to notify the LA in good time.

I'm sure there are some schools where the head ignores this and admits over PAN without the necessary authority.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 12:23:52

I see. Very dependent on individual schools by the sound of it. I know the last two years our first choice school has been quite under-subscribed but seems to be a much bigger intake this year. Is that true of other areas too? Heard something on the news recently about a shortage of primary places so guess it might be.

prh47bridge Mon 25-Mar-13 12:25:15

Just to add, if the head was very much out of order with what he said. He may not have formally offered you a place but saying that he "didn't envisage a problem" could be interpreted as a promise of a place. If, as he implies, he tries to manipulate things so that favoured applicants get places that would be a serious breach of the Admissions Code and should get him in trouble.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 12:25:34

The school is VA school. So is this under their own control (admissions I mean?)

prh47bridge Mon 25-Mar-13 12:27:55

They are their own admission authority. So yes, it is their decision rather than the LA's. However, it should be the governors making the decision, not the head. And if they do decide to vary PAN any additional places must go to those highest up the admission criteria. The head cannot pick and choose who to admit.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 12:36:17

Ok, think I understand now! So when parents submit their admission form to the LEA, how does the process differ when a VA school is involved? Do the LEA just hand over a list of applicants to the school for the governors to look through?

tiggytape Mon 25-Mar-13 12:39:15

As prh says, the school may well choose to go over PAN but that doesn't increase the chances of someone out of catchment getting a place if the school have far more applicants in-catchment than places.
In most areas there are hundreds more applicants year on year because of the birth rate boom from 2008 onwards.

The school has discretion to admit more but only in strict admissions order so, for this school, they have to deal with all catchment children before out of catchment ones. At other schools, it is down to distance or sibling numbers or whatever the admission criteria dictate. There is no way a school can bump anyone up the list to get them in and if all the newly created spaces are requested by in-catchment children for example, there is nothing the Head can do to change that.

tiggytape Mon 25-Mar-13 12:48:14

VA schools get the list sent to them by the LA. They must then apply the admission criteria to that list and and return it to the council. It is the council who then sends out offers using this new list.

The VA school must look at everyone on the list and put them in strict admission criteria order. So the in-catchment people go to the top and the out-of-catchment people get put beneath them.

If there is sibling priority, the list if shuffled again so the in-catchment siblings are put above everyone else and the out-of-catchment-no-sibling children get put right at the bottom.

The LA offers places from the list with people at the top getting priority. If there are 59 on the list and 60 places to offer, everyone is eligible for a place. If there are 300 on the list but only 60 places obviously a lot of people who applied will be turned down. It is all very strict because it is governed by law - it has to be 100% transparent and fairly applied.

So for someone in your position, you would need the PAN to be expanded to such a degree that virtually everyone who applies gets a place since you will be placed very much nearer the bottom of the list used (being out of catchment). If the school gets 62 applicants for 60 places for example, you'll probably be fine but nothing the school can do will move you up their list.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 12:49:39

Great, thank you! Appreciate all the replies. Such a nerve-wracking time...

tiggytape Mon 25-Mar-13 12:54:27

I should add though that 100s of applicants is not unusual or a disaster because the added layer not described is what happens if a parent applies to 3 schools and is eligible for all three - that's where the preference forms comes into play

If a child qualifies (meets distance or sibling criteria) for all 3 schools on their form, they still only get one offer - their most preferred one.

So people who apply to the VA school you want who are in-catchment may actually get an offer at a school they like more and therefore they will cease to be competition for you getting in to that VA school.

There may be 100+ children who qualify for the school by virtue of living in catchment but if they all ask to go to different schools instead (and get them) then this frees up places for out of catchment people to be in with a chance. It all depends – is the VA school likely to be a lot of people’s top choice or a lot of people’s plan B if another school won’t take them?

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 13:07:15

That has explained things brilliantly, thanks tiggytape. Think most of the people who have it as a first choice have made themselves known iyswim eg through the attached nursery/pre-school. But do think it is a good second choice school for others so not holding out too many hopes.

We also like our second choice school very much and dc stands a good chance of getting in there so all would not be lost.

tiggytape Mon 25-Mar-13 13:10:42

clearing - that is a good position to be in so it should all be O.K - a first choice school you love and may get into and a second choice school you are very happy with and will almost certainly get a place at should the first school not have enough spaces.

Startail Mon 25-Mar-13 13:17:04

DDs old school had mixed years varying from 22 to 8, fairly randomly, but with a general fall in the total number in the school as two conservative very large years left.

They aim to keep combined classes under 30, but have certainly admitted over that in KS2. I'm certain they would jiggle things if at all possible as they are way below the number if DCs and classes they had when DD1 started and they have loads of physical space.

Startail Mon 25-Mar-13 13:17:40

Consecutive

ReallyTired Mon 25-Mar-13 13:24:39

Even the most popular schools have some mobility. Even if you do not initally get offered a place then you might get offered a place on the continuing interest list. People often move areas due to changes in relationships, family size and jobs.

If you are desperate for a place in a particular school then you might get a place in the middle of reception.

clearingthemind Mon 25-Mar-13 13:53:55

Thank you all. Guess its just a matter of waiting now. The annoying thing about the date of the school decision is that pre-school are asking for fees/wanting to book days for next term now. If DC does not get in to first choice, then I will have to do some serious jiggling around and see if they can attend any sessions at the pre-school of second choice school so would be so much better if knew school decision before the end of this term. Ah well, not a lot can be done about it. Thanks again.

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