Admissions Myths(96 Posts)
I have a friend who is applying for a Reception place for her DD this year.
She lives fairly close to an Outstanding primary. Her DD may get in on distance but there's no guarantee (based on info on LA website she would have got in last year but not the year before).
The other schools she lives near are not as popular. Special measures in one case and the other has a poor reputation locally-though it gets consistently good Ofsted reports.
My friend has told me that she is not prepared to let her DD attend anything less than an Outstanding school. So has put the closest Outstanding school first on her form. Her other 3 choices are comprised of the best schools in the rest of the County. There is absolutely no chance her DD will get into any of these 3. Their catchments are tiny and her DD has no special circumstances (no Statement not a previously looked after child etc).
I have tried explaining that if she doesn't get any of her choices then her DD will be allocated a place in the closest school that has space. I have pointed out the section in the admissions handbook where this is spelled out.
But she still persists in the belief that the LA will look at her form, see she is a 'discerning' parent and place her DD in one of the Outstanding schools.
I can't get through to her at all.
It's very frustrating. Talking to other parents, it really is amazing how many myths regarding school admissions still exist.
We have a school right next to us which although on paper looks good is rather big. Therefore, we put as a first choice a school which was outstanding but out of our catchment. We got in. How that was possible I will never know as I know some other parents who live closer to our preferred school but who didn't get in. Three years on, we have decided that the outstanding school which we selected 3 years ago is not all that after all and will be taking our daughter out in January/2014.
Have you got an alternative place for your dd, never land?
Debs75 - if all Catholics get priority over all non Catholic children (including siblings), it is doubly important to have a Plan B.
Of course having them in separate schools is not ideal but at least if you list a 2nd and 3rd preference you can limit the impact. If you can't have your 1st choice, you can use 2nd and 3rd preferences to try to ensure you don't end up with them far apart or in totally opposite directions which might happen if you just leave it to chance and the council have to allocate you somewhere random.
Neverland - You obviously qualified in some way that they didn't or they listed another school higher and got that. Distance isn't always as obvious as you might think (eg a house backing on to the school field might count as being a long way to the school if they use "safest walking route" but will only be a few metres away if they use "distance as the crow flies" It can seem people living close miss out if they use the walking route option which some do.
You are right though that it isn't always the popular schools that end up being the best at the time. Most school reputations (good and bad) are very out of date. Schools find it hard to shake off reputations whether they are undeserved good ones or undeserved bad ones
Agree totally with PaperMover
We live in a shared catchment area for two secondary schools one outstanding and one OK but really improving. Up until recently the one furthest away was our catchment (ie would have to travel past Outstanding one to get to OK one). Now we are shared and the admissions have been changed to include a green policy which is "extra distance needed to travel", which now mean kids that can see the outstanding school from their bedrooms may now have to go to the OK school and there are children (like DD) who would have to travel another 1.2 miles to get to it.
Good for us, not so good for others. It is total guess work on which school you would get into. It all depends on who applies and exactly where they live.
The "additional information" section on the form seems to confuse some people - it's clearly meant for info about special needs and statements, but I know people who wrote down that they needed a school near grandparents/childminder who would be doing the school run and argued that the LA would have to take that into account - if not why was there space to put such things on the form...
Don't know what happened as child isn't going to school near said gps/childminder.
A surprise for me was 3 of my 6 listed schools, non religious, wanting additional information supplied such as photocopies of birth certificate, NHS number, and photocopies of two utility bills and parents passports - stuff that I found fairly difficult to sort out in time - and a deadline for providing that to the individual schools of a week or more before the main application deadline (and in practice this meant doing it before Christmas if you wanted a receipt from the school office). I'm told that schools wouldnt be able to reject you for not supplying such additional info on time, but I wouldn't like to test that.
I was advised to apply immediately simply to ensure I didn't forget with having two small children, Christmas, illness, etc, and to give myself time to provide additional info, and then to adjust the schools applied for later if I wanted.
The criteria may have changed, Heels, but they have to be published before the admissions round so it's not guess work.
Maybe Heels meant that parents assume (wrongly) that the admissions criteria to a school can never change. So if it was sibling priority in the past, it will be siblings first in future. Or if it was a fixed catchment last year, the catchment will be the same the next year.
Whereas, with a fairly brief and not very well publicised consultation, a school can change it's admission criteria radically between one year and the next. Any parent who doesn't read the current booklet before applying might not even know about the changes.
I suspect Heels means that the added complication of a tie-breaker such as "extra travelling distance" means that it is guesswork whether or not you will get a place. When distance to school is used as a tie breaker the distance for the last child admitted last year is a good guide. With this kind of system there is no easy way of telling how good a chance you have of getting a place.
My local LA used to have a system where the distance to the preferred school and the distance to the alternative school were both taken into account and the rules applied depended on whether you lived closer to the preferred school or the alternative school. In some situations it meant that the further away you were from your preferred school the more likely you were to get a place. Indeed, in some scenarios it actually maximised travelling distance for the children involved which was presumably the opposite of the intention. For parents it meant it was guesswork as to which school you would get into as it depended on the distances for both your child and the child with whom they were competing for the place.
It is guess work Doctrine just because they have published the policy (which they have but people don't read it) it all comes down to the amount of children that apply and how far down the criteria they get. ie we live in the outside bad under the "extra distance to travel rule" which means we have the furthest distance to travel to the alternative school. However, it depends on how many kids apply.
prh47bridge Eactly the same senario, we live furthest away so have more chance than some one who lives in the same road as they can get to the alternative school easier than we can.
NotCitrus - I would refer the schools concerned to the Schools Adjudicator. They should not be asking for proof of date of birth until after a place has been offered. Even then they must not ask for a long birth certificate nor can they insist on documents showing maiden names, criminal convictions, marital or financial status. It sounds to me like these schools may be going beyond what they can legitimately request at this stage.
Some myths that I was told constantly when my daughter didn't get a place five years ago was that I should (a) have put her name down earlier (down where?) (b) be really nice to the HT and admissions officers at the schools I was hoping to get her into. Lots of people still think that admissions to state schools are done on a nudge and a wink.
I agree PaperMover - out of catchment primary siblings are becoming a big issue in the town I live in because of our single sex high schools. People do everything they can to get their first child into any of the very good and outstanding primaries we have, and then move within a year or two to be closer to the relevant high school they want. It creates enormous pressure in high birth rate/high sibling years for those applying for a first child primary place, and our town regularly has to have a bulge class or two somewhere anyway as there are too few primary places. Our LEA hasn't done anything about it yet, but there are rumours that it will be changing next year so that out of catchment siblings come lower down the admissions criteria than other in catchment children. I suspect a lot of parents will get caught out by this in the coming years.
3 miles is too far in London I am afraid and won't make the impact it needs. People can still get their first child into the outstanding school in an area of expensive housing, then move to cheaper housing. Still, it's a start, and it's in the admissions brochure. (By expensive I mean a couple of thousand pounds rent a week for a two bed flat. )
photocopies of two utility bills and parents passports
The latter seems to breach the spirit, if not the letter, of 1.9(o) in the admissions code which forbids the use of photographs of the child for any purpose other than the confirmation of identity for taking selection tests (increasingly irrelevant, as the "10% for specialism" policy is falling from favour). The idea was, presumably, to avoid covert racial selection, which in broad terms would also be risks if schools had access to photographs and passports of the parents. As prh47 implies, it also flirts with 1.9(f) forbidding discrimination on occupation, marital and employment status. I don't believe schools are responsible for assessing whether people have legal right of access to UK education.
It would be very interesting to know why they want to see passports and utility bills: a cynic would suggest it's a way to intimidate parents from overseas, and to exclude parents who don't have passports (who will be overwhelmingly poor) or who don't pay their own utility bills directly (ditto).
"They have t give you one of the preferences you have listed"
"you have to put school X as your first choice - they don't admit anyone who puts it further down the list"
"S/he's in the nursery and they love her, I'm sure they have some say even if they say they don't"
"If you only put one choice, you'll get that school"
" if you don't fulfill the full church criteria, and hardly anyone else does, you'll get a place under church criteria anyway because they know you've been to church a lot.". Not true ( or it shouldn't be, again maybe it was in the past)
StarlightMackenzie "I only named two schools. I was considering naming none. Where I live there is no choice. Catchments are so tiny you will end up where you end up regardless of what you put on your form."
if you are allocated anything other than your first choice school you automatically go on the waiting list for every school higher up your preference list than the one you were allocated. You are wasting 2 potential chances of being the applicant who automatically moved up the waiting list as soon as any place is not taken up after the acceptance date.
Also if you know that your chances of being allocated any of your nearest schools are slim to non-existent, you are chucking away a chance of getting a place in the least worst or closest 'unwanted' school.
Or are you confident that you will get a nearby or sibling place?
Anyone who puts no preferences down would automatically be assigned whatever school place was left after all others had been allocated - you wouldn't even get an otherwise surefire sibling place I you haven't actually named the school on the form. Why would anyone put no school down? (I know you didn't, in the end)
Because there are not enough school places, in our LA or the neighbouring ones. The cost of not giving us a school place close or at all woukd be an unnecessary expense for the LA.
Where we live we'd be first on any waiting list for 2 schools which were the two I chose.
They have to give you a school place but it doesn't have to be close. If you do not name any schools you will get a place at the nearest school with places available. That could be miles away and you would not be entitled to free transport, so no expense for the LA (not that they are allowed to take that into account in any event). If you name your nearest school and still get a school miles away they have to provide free transport so you are better off in that respect at least.
Catchments are so tiny you will end up where you end up regardless of what you put on your form
As prh says - that isnt' really true.
Just because you live well within catchment won't get you a place if you don't name the school on your form.
Iff you don't formally ask for that school and other people do, they get priority over you even if they live much further away.
If you list no school in protest of not having a proper choice, you are likely to end up with an unpopular one a long way from home (i.e. one that not many people asked for).
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