How could people be made more aware of reception admissions?

(147 Posts)
Pyrrah Tue 07-May-13 17:14:31

Judging by the number of people on MN who turn up having made a balls up of the application process (which will be a fraction of those who have) surely there must be a way of alerting parents and of warning them of the possible issues.

Could the BBC do a party political broadcast type thing once a week from when applications open?

Could CBeebies do a basic guide?

I can see why sending letters out everywhere isn't practical, but it must cost a fortune for councils to sort out the mess each year.

Many people don't send their child to nursery, don't visit libraries etc and so really have no idea of when to apply or how it works - or more importantly the consequences of rejecting an offer or of only listing options they don't stand a hope of getting.

jamtoast12 Tue 07-May-13 17:41:43

I agree it does need sorting. Nearly everyone I know thinks by putting only one school down they will definitely get it! Some of these people are on their second and third child too! I also know lots who don't use childcare. I'm not sure what the answer is but agree is needs addressing.

rubyflipper Tue 07-May-13 17:47:23

I don't know what else can be done. I live in Oxfordshire and the application notes clearly state the dos and don'ts of completing the form.

If people choose to believe local gossip or don't call the education department to ask for help, then that is their look-out.

OddBoots Tue 07-May-13 17:50:02

They have a big spread in the local paper here including the basics in a range of languages but people still don't read that.

Our school secretary calls all the nursery parents in to talk them through the form bless her.

Pyrrah Tue 07-May-13 17:55:03

In many places there are no application packs or letters sent out - you need to know to go and find out about applying.

While application notes tell you how to apply, IMO they overstate choice and they don't make it clear that rejecting their offer, or only putting one school/no chance schools will not get you a better offer or make you top of the waiting list.

Do many people buy local papers?

Hence why I'm wondering about something on TV.

ClayDavis Tue 07-May-13 18:02:31

Maybe a section for common misconceptions in the admissions booklet. Also there's a lot of advice given by the experts on here,like always including a school that you stand a good chance of getting into somewhere on your preference list, that I don;t often see elsewhere. So maybe a section for useful tips as well.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Tue 07-May-13 18:05:22

Lovely idea to have something.

No local papers here,
No letters or application sent to me (although I know they did/ do for others)
Don't attend nursery/sure start etc
Have no health visitor either
I only came across the application by accident when checking bin dates!

Fuckwittery Tue 07-May-13 18:10:37

we had no letters about the process
just told to look online
I didn't see any application notes on the online application form
It would definitely be helpful to have a common misconceptions leaflet

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 18:14:25

I think, in oversubscribed areas especially, they need to be a bit more negative realistic and really spell it out to parents maybe with a specific FAQ page right at the front of the booklet or on a leaflet sent home from Pre School:

Q: "We live opposite the school we want our child to attend. It is definitely our nearest school. Does that mean we are guaranteed a place?"
A: No - places in this area go to siblings first (except for faith schools) - see page 5 to see who was eligible for your nearest school last year.

Q: "I work fulltime and do not drive. There are only 2 schools that would be suitable in terms of childcare. If I explain this on the form will it affect the outcome?"
A: No - childcare and transport issues are not part of the admissions process.

Q: "My child has no special needs but is very shy. She would like to stay with her nursery friends. Can this be ensured?"
A: No - Attending nursery forms no part of the process for any schools in this area. To secure a place you need to qualify under the criteria listed (see page 5 to see who qualified last year)

Q: "There are only 2 schools I like. Should I just list 2 schools?"
A: No - if you do not qualify on sibling / distance / faith criteria for the schools you want, you cannot be offered a place at either. In that case, the council will find you an undersubscribed school to attend which will not be a school you listed.

It sounds really miserable and might put a negative gloss on things but the booklets are way too long and complicated.
People just don't get how places will be allocated because they are told they have a choice but don't understand the limits on that choice (preference).

They don't always understand that they only have a choice of the schools that they qualify for so sometimes that means a choice of 1!

Our local brochure states clearly:
A) include a school close to your home to maximise your chances of getting an offer
B) do not limit your choices - this will not improve your chances of getting your preferred school.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 07-May-13 18:30:35

The thing is, people know but choose to ignore the rules and think that somehow they will be the exception. I know some people know the consequence of only putting one school down but who chose to do it anyway because obviously they will be the exception. I know one person who only put down our local CoE school, which has seperate criteria stating that you have to attend church regularly, and flipped out when she didn't get a place (obviously, she attends church twice a year, Christmas and Easter, every year, which in her mind means regularly.... [sceptical]). The rules are there, they are black and white, either people don't bother to read them or choose to ignore.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 07-May-13 18:31:33

I meant [hmmm]!!

blueberryupsidedown Tue 07-May-13 18:31:51

i can't do those faces can I hmm

ihearsounds Tue 07-May-13 18:34:49

Something really needs to be done.
My oldest children, you just walked to the schools you were interested and put your name down for a place. Then you would start calling them to see what was happening.

Had dc4 and it all changed. It was all down to the LA to deal with.. Fine I thought. Only I was wrong because the LA never contacted me. Luckily he was going to the nursery by this point, and they said you can do it all online.

Looking online, there was no information. No does and don't. Just the application form.

The system has not improved. Occasionally I will sit in the park, parents with younger children will have a conversation and you can see the blind panic in their eyes when they realise the stuff they have been told by older relatives is all wrong because now it's all changed.

It doesn't matter who you know. It doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't matter you are known in the area. And it doesn't matter that you show up to all the fund raising events and spend a fortune because when the time comes, the school will remember you.

givemeaclue Tue 07-May-13 18:37:51

Really? 100% Of people I know managed it, who are these people who can't complete a form?

People already "in the system" eg nursery or pre school, or with older siblings, get frequent reminders of the deadlines.

People with lots of FB friends in a similar situation will be well aware of the deadlines.

The children whose literacy or awareness is lowest are the most in need of suitable school places. They will have the highest non-attendance for logistical reasons and can least afford to be at failing schools.

I think the odd reminder on CBeebies, Milkshake, Disney Jr etc in January (ie near the deadline to add urgency but not so near that people who didn't realise will miss it) is an inspired shout.

ClayDavis Tue 07-May-13 19:01:09

I think the appeals system can sometimes give a false sense of security too. Everybody, quite rightly, has the option to appeal the decision made. I don't think that it's widely understood that in ICS cases you can only win that in certain circumstances, so people put down unrealistic options thinking that it's OK they'll just appeal the decision and get in that way.

I've seen people on other sites complain that the system must be fixed because so few decisions are overturned.

* The children whose parents' literacy is lowest...

blush

ClayDavis Tue 07-May-13 19:05:03

Adverts on commercial channels are going to be massively expensive. That has to be overkill. There's no way that is going to be cost effective.

CMOTDibbler Tue 07-May-13 19:09:12

I think theres lots of scope for it to be done better - in this area you have to know to apply online or ring up for an application pack, and I didn't see any info about it at all

gallicgirl Tue 07-May-13 19:22:34

I have a friend who has no kids in his family, child's mother only just come to the UK but I can guarantee he would have no idea of admission dates if we hadn't told him. He works in education too!
I have no idea how you would reach out to people like him - not even a letter from child benefit agency would work as he doesn't claim.

ClayDavis Tue 07-May-13 19:45:28

There certainly is scope for it to be done better in lots of areas but I don't think there's any way of catching absolutely everybody.

What about a generic letter through with the council tax bill/bin collection dates. Just saying something like 'If you have a child born between X and Y they will be due to start school in September XXXX. The final date for applications is 15 Jan XXXX. Please phone or check our website for the admissions booklet.'

paneer Tue 07-May-13 19:57:07

What about via GPs? They know how old children are and send out letters for pre-school boosters, so could remind people in the same process.

Springforward Tue 07-May-13 20:03:35

Really? Here we get notices up in nursery, then a letter telling you to apply which comes with a big booklet of the rules (including quirks for entry rules to e.g. faith schools or those with shared catchment areas), then you get reminder letters if you're getting close to the deadline. There were also coffee mornings attended by an LA staff member to go through it all with you, at nurseries. I really thought that was standard, if it's not I'm a bit shock TBH.

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