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Is this a way to jump the queue and get into your outstanding school?

(25 Posts)
Fiona2011231 Sun 24-Aug-14 16:56:07

A friend of mine has moved to a new home and her child managed to get into the outstanding school there. Her house is in the catchment area, but as in the case with an outstanding school, there was already a queue.

So I asked her how she succeeded. This is what she told me:

Like everyone, she had to fill in the in-year application form, where she listed three outstanding schools. Not surprisingly the council told her that the schools were oversubscribed and there was no place for her child.

She went to meet the school admissions team at the council and had a chat. Essentially she insisted, "If my child cannot go to one of these schools, then my child would stay home as you cannot find a place for us."

According to my friend, a few days later, the council called her and said yes, there was a place. So now her child is studying at that outstanding school.

As a parent who failed to get the preferred school for my own child, I'm very interested in this 'method'.

Has anyone tried and succeeded with the council?

Thank you

NorwaySpruce Sun 24-Aug-14 17:02:09

If there are no places, you go on the waiting list.

HE is booming in some areas because people are willing to HE rather than attend a second rate school (the LEA have no obligation to offer you more than 1 place, and it might not be at a school of your choice.).

If you refuse an offered place, they have no further obligation to you AFAIK.

MrsCakesPrecognition Sun 24-Aug-14 17:03:17

I don't think your friend has told you the whole story. Trying to "blackmail" the LA with threats to HE don't sound like a reliable (or morally acceptable) way of choosing a school.

hollie84 Sun 24-Aug-14 17:04:00

The council don't care if you HE.

If her house is in the catchment area she got the place because she lived nearer than anyone else on the waiting list. No "method" involved.

titchy Sun 24-Aug-14 17:44:38

It isn't a method and your friend did NOT get a place this way. She got a place because a vacancy came up and she was first on the waiting list, or those above her on the list declined the offer.

It is sheer coincidence that the vacancy appeared just after she'd gone to the LEA.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 24-Aug-14 17:49:23

I hope she did get a genuine place and didn't get in on appeal. Like the extra few kids in dd2s class. Which means that this year when they go up to year one dd and a handful of the other summer born kids will have to have part of their education this year in a glorified corridor because there's no room for them in the classroom. hmm

LadyLemongrab Sun 24-Aug-14 17:57:30

I think in over subscribed areas the LA would likely be rather chuffed to get someone off their lists because they opt to HE.

I suspect your friend was just lucky that a place came up and she was next in line for that year group.

hiccupgirl Sun 24-Aug-14 20:10:25

As fa as I'm aware most LAs are more than happy for you to HE your child if it saves them having to find a school place in an oversubscribed area so I really doubt this tactic had any effect.

I would imagine a space came up and she was top of the list for living the closest to the school.

Hakluyt Sun 24-Aug-14 20:14:43

Absolutely not. If you refuse an offered school then the LEA has no further obligation to find you a school- you're on your own. And why on earth would an LEA use up a place on someone who was intending to HE.

She must have been closer to the school than anyone else on the waiting list when a place came up.

MrSheen Sun 24-Aug-14 20:16:51

I don't see why the LA would care. If it's a 'normal' school then it's quite possible that distance is the first criteria and she lived closest.

Blu Sun 24-Aug-14 20:18:03

No it isn't a way to jump the queue. Schools admissions are governed by law, and can only be made within the published criteria.

She was just lucky. After a certain date all the late admissions get put on the waiting list in the order in which they meet the criteria. So she probably lived closer than anyone else on the list. Or else those closer had already decided they were happy with another offer.

People pull all kinds of stupid stunts: only putting down the unrealistic outstanding schools for which they are not within catchment, believing that the LA will then have to offer them one of those, only putting down one school, in the same belief... nall deeply flawed reasoning and likely to lead to a place in an un-sought after school miles away.

ladybirdandsnails Mon 25-Aug-14 09:35:10

Coincidence unless she managed to win an appeal. What year was it?

bryte Mon 25-Aug-14 09:38:54

I suspect this is a coincidence. A place has probably luckily come up since people tend to move house during the summer. They are the people on the waiting list who live closest to the school.

tiggytape Mon 25-Aug-14 09:40:21

No - this isn't why she got a place although I doubt she will ever see it that way.
Admissions are goverened by laws and very strict procedures and frankly (as anyone who has read the boards in October and January) the council doesn't care about parents who are incredibly upset with their allocated school and decide to Home Ed. There is nothing informal that can be done except follow the rules and wait.

You friend got a place because her new house was closer to the school than the houses of the other people already on the waiting list.
As such she got added to the list at the top or near the top. So when a place came up, it was given to her. The waiting list is always kept in order of admissions criteria (siblings and distance) rather than first come, first served. This is one of the admissions laws and worked in her favour.

Every year people will insist that they only wrote one school on their form and that won them a place (or some other nonsense that they are convinced got them in) but the truth is simple. If they qualified more than other people applying they got in. If they didn't, they wouldn't have done.

mrz Mon 25-Aug-14 09:49:21

In fact threatening to Home Ed benefits over stretched/subscribed LEAs as they no longer have to find a place for the child.

Hendricksandcucumber Mon 25-Aug-14 09:54:33

Maybe if her child's on a child protection plan the the local social services would pull strings not to have her HE as it would remove a safety net of a professional seeing the child daily.
But they couldn't admit this as it's her right to HE even if there are concerns about her parenting?

tiggytape Mon 25-Aug-14 10:23:15

No - there is no way a child can jump the queue even in those situations.
If they are considered to be in such danger at home then they can be placed in Foster Care which does put them in the priority category for any school.

The council doesn't make moral judgements about who is and isn't suitable to Home School at the application stage. There are no strings to pull. The admissions process is laid down in law and cannot be informally changed even for good reason.

tethersend Mon 25-Aug-14 10:35:07

If a child had SS involvement but was not in foster care, they could conceivably be placed on a higher priority on the waiting list if the LEA/school had a medical/social criterion. This would require report(s) from the professionals involved with the child, outlining why they believe the child should attend that particular school, not just a chat to the LEA.

Your friend is mistaken, and should be careful about going around telling everyone her 'method' as it's a load of bollocks

BoffinMum Mon 25-Aug-14 10:47:03

I have my professional hat on for this. In terms of the Schools Admissions Code (2007):

Statements of SEN and children being in care are top of the priority list.

Then siblings.

Then proximity, which is sometimes calculated by walking route, and sometimes on Google maps or similar.

She will have got in on proximity grounds, as no other children on the list were in the top two categories.

We also did this once when I needed DD to transfer schools. We happened to live two streets away from an amazing primary school, so I asked to put her on the list and we were in within a fortnight, no hassle at all.

Local authorities are delighted when people offer to Home Educate, as this saves them money, so your friend is wrong.

There are a few other factors that go on behind the scenes when allocating places:

Taxi costs for Local Authority if child ends up in a distant school. They don't like shelling out if it can be avoided.

Whether the school has reached the maximum PAN (Pupil Allocation Number) as spaces at the top of the school can offset oversubscription lower down, if there is physical space.

prh47bridge Mon 25-Aug-14 18:28:48

The 2007 Admissions Code is no longer applicable. We have had a couple of updates since then. It only specified that children with a statement naming the school must be admitted even if the school is full and that looked after children must be given priority over other applicants. It did not require siblings to be given priority (although, like the current code, it suggested it was a good idea) nor did it stipulate that proximity must be used as the tie breaker.

Taxi costs for the LA should not be a consideration at all. Taking them into account would be a breach of the admissions code. In most LAs free school transport is dealt with by a completely separate team who are not involved in admissions at all.

In general a school will not use spaces in a higher year to allow them to go over PAN in a lower year. Unless the two years concerned are taught in mixed classes the spaces in the higher year will not affect class sizes in the lower year. Also the school has to consider what happens if other applicants come along wanting places in the higher year. If the higher year is below PAN it is very hard to refuse to admit a child even if other years are over PAN.

Having said that, the story given by the OP's friend is how myths about admissions are perpetuated. Unfortunately some people will believe it is true.

The LA is required to find a place for any child that applies. That place does not have to be at one of the schools preferred by the parents. The LA cannot allow parents to blackmail them into offering a place at the preferred school. It could lead to successful appeals from parents whose children should have been admitted. Worse, it could lead to other parents blackmailing them.

The truth is that the OP's friend was at the head of the waiting list when a place became available (or everyone ahead of her declined the offer). Given the time of year it is quite likely the waiting list was pretty short as most parents would prefer to keep their child in their existing school even if a place comes up at the outstanding school. Her conversation with the LA was entirely irrelevant.

NynaevesSister Tue 26-Aug-14 10:41:04

I would like to take issue with the poster who implies that winning a place on appeal isn't fair. Appeals are only won in early years/infants if the school or LA made a mistake and without that mistake, the child would have got in. If your child is going in to year 1 sat in a corridor that is most definitely the fault of the local authority and nothing at all to do with the children who won places on appeal.

RiversideMum Wed 27-Aug-14 10:22:51

Your friend is talking rubbish. It is a coincidence.

miller599 Thu 04-Sep-14 15:56:00

If those outstanding schools were full and there was a satisfactory school within reasonable reach then that would be what is offered. The la duty is to ensure that every child in their Borough is allocated a school in that Borough. If all full then they would have to exceed the limit criteria and find a suitable place to put the child.

If the parent refused a choice because it's not their preferred choice and chooses to home educate then that's down to the parent. The La would not be bribed so I think that either the whole truth wasn't told or it was a coincidence that a place came available at the last minute

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 04-Sep-14 16:56:27

Probably someone left and a place came up when she was top if the waiting list.

nlondondad Thu 04-Sep-14 17:40:49

The last posting here by prh47bridge is definitive. Yes, its a coincidence, and yes this is how myths about admissions start...

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