Choosing "good" over "outstanding"?

(25 Posts)
Fourormore Wed 27-Jan-16 14:38:17

There are two schools where I live. One is outstanding and one is good but I would prefer my DC to go to the school that is "good". The outstanding school feels like an army, focused on academic achievement at the expense of other aspects of the child's development. The good school is more well rounded. My DC is very clever for their age but it's still more important to me that they are valued as a person over their academic achievement. I am in the catchment for Outstanding School but not for Good School. Both get oversubscribed.

If I apply for a school place and list Good School above Outstanding School, is there a chance I could lose their (probable) place at Outstanding School because I didn't list it as first preference and therefore end up having to take her to one of the other nearby schools which are all religious (we aren't)?

TeenAndTween Wed 27-Jan-16 14:42:17

No.
You are OK.

There is an 'equal preference' system, whereby schools don't get to know where you placed them on your list.

Your order only affects which school you get offered in the case where they both can offer you a place.

Presumably this is for 2017 entry as submission dates for 2016 have already passed?

Primaryteach87 Wed 27-Jan-16 14:44:53

I have taught in a range of gradings -from satisfactory (now needs improvement) to outstanding. The one I would choose for my own child is the needs improvement one! I was told at one of the outstanding schools it was accepted practice to set up wonderful creative scenes, photograph them and take them down (one after another). Then get on and do 1.5 hour literacy lessons to 5 year olds. Totally not acceptable in my book. I don't want my child going to a school where the only focus is on targets and teachers are under huge pressure to deliver at any cost. Inevitably, the children suffer.

Inkymess Wed 27-Jan-16 23:26:16

You need to read the admissions application information and understand how it works. You get to state preferences that only apply if you qualify for more than one school. The ratings are irrelevant if you have no chance of getting in. If both are oversubscribed, whether you get in depends soley where you are on the criteria

bojorojo Thu 28-Jan-16 00:10:43

The admissions authority places you on the admission list for any school you express a preference for regardless of the order on the form. The schools do not know what order you placed them in, but the admissions authority does. Therefore they will try and offer you your first choice. Where this is not possible, they will offer second choice etc. however, for each school, you need to weigh up the realistic chance of getting in. Should it be pretty hopeless for both, then you may have to reconsider. Hopefully, you will get the one you want. Does it have a catchment area and are you in it? What proportion of children go to it from your neighbourhood, and, crucially, further away? Check the admissions criteria and previous admissions to see if what you want is realistic. Hopefully it is. If so, place the schools in the actual order you want.

bojorojo Thu 28-Jan-16 00:11:51

Last but not least, read the admissions authority booklet and guidance to school admissions. It will all be explained!

MigGril Thu 28-Jan-16 00:23:55

It depends on how the admitions work in your area I think. The same situation hear locally my friend was considering applying for the out of catchment good school. But the way it works hear if she didn't get a place there she then would not get a place at the outstanding school she's in catchment for as it would be full with everyone who'd already put it first on their list who are also in catchment (very rarely do out of catchment get a place). Then you risk having to go to the next nearest school which has space. You have to be prepared to accept this outcome.

Choice of schools really isn't a choice of you live in an area where the school are full most years. You are gambling getting any random school. Your Lea should have previous years figers for admission to local school on there website should help you make a decision.

MigGril Thu 28-Jan-16 00:28:43

Not some movement of places does seem to happen hear after offers have gone out. Due to people accepting a place then moving out channing there mind, so you can always accept another school and stay on the waiting list for your first school. Read the admitions booklet carefully.

Topsy34 Thu 28-Jan-16 03:03:19

Go with your instincts.

We looked at 5 local primaries, 2 outstanding, 2 good and 1 needs improvement

We went with needs improvement, simply because we felt it offered the best environment for ds. The 2 outstanding were like army camps, ds would be able to learn to play an instrument if we paid for the lesson and instrument.

The needs improvement has excellent pastoral care, small classes (15 in his class year 1 and 2), lovely teachers and ta's etc

Topsy34 Thu 28-Jan-16 03:05:54

The only info the school get is how many children have applied and which choice so the governors get a list of something like 1st choice - 20, 2nd - 10, 3rd - 10. they dont get names

tiggytape Thu 28-Jan-16 11:05:59

if she didn't get a place there she then would not get a place at the outstanding school she's in catchment for as it would be full with everyone who'd already put it first on their list who are also in catchment

If you are in England, you have either misunderstood how they allocate places or this school is acting illegally.
No state school can choose to fill places with people who placed it first.
It is not allowed.

The places are filled by anyone who named that school on their list, who meets the criteria (in your example that would be living inside catchment) and who doesn't get a place at any other school they placed higher on their list.

That means some people who get places in outstanding and very popular schools are those who didn't even want a place there very much whereas other people who were desperate to get in don't get a place even though they wanted it more (because they live further away usually and therefore qualify less).

The only time the list position matters if you list 2 schools and qualify for both of them. When that happens, you get the one you said you liked best.
If you only meet the criteria for one school on your list, you get that school even if you said you liked another one better and even if other people want that school more than you do.

ScarlettDarling Thu 28-Jan-16 11:10:08

The primary school where I teach is outstanding. My own children go to 'good' schools. Outstanding schools have heads who know how to play the game. Paperwork and record keeping will show exactly what ofsted want to see. Ofsted hardly observe any teaching...in our last inspection I was observed for 15 minutes!

If you get a good vibe from the good school, go with it.

Notenoughsleepmumof3 Thu 28-Jan-16 12:35:47

Go with your instinct. Pastoral care is very valuable. My children have all been at the local outstanding primary school, but I enhanced their curriculum at home with creativity. It isn't all they say it is. I can't say my kids have been happy at primary school and that is a deep regret I have. I have had to do a lot of damage control and have removed one of my children from the school because of bullying. If they are smart they will do well anywhere. Make sure they will have a happy time socially as well. The rigidness of outstanding schools creates unfair social issues with the kids because results are what is valued most. All kids aren't going to get the best results for a variety of unfair reasons. My own children are high achievers, but many of their peers in primary have resented them for it. This is because the school doesn't celebrate or provide a varied enough curriculum. It's all about maths and English. It isn't all they say it is going to be. They fail to realise that creativity feeds into good results. They are also very rigid in weird ways. They yell at pupils and parents who are 30 seconds late or texting before the kids are even released at the end of the day. Sometime parents are working out playdates or childcare or picking up for another parent if they are running late. I don't think they are on Facebook. This is primary school. The kids are little. I haven't been late, but I hate seeing it and don't think it is good for the child who is late. It's all about their ofsted. Then when there are genuine problems and concerns like bullying, they sweep it under the carpet. All these targets are ruining education. They are dehumanising it. Everyone can't be the best at everything. A school should provide varied opportunities for the children to grow to love learning. I'm not against levels or test as a marker for goal setting or to see what a child is retaining, what they can improve on, but it shouldn't be the mark of a successful school or not.

MigGril Thu 28-Jan-16 16:36:05

It's ture that schools don't know what your prefances are but as the our Lea state they will try to give you your first prefances above any other and both schools normally fill on siblings and in catchment first choice applications (you can find this data on their website). Putting a school down as sconed choice that is full almost guarantees you don't get in even if it's your catchment school as it'll already be full with priority applications. Unless you where in a really low birth year with few siblings which so far hasn't happened hear applications just keep going up if anything.

tiggytape Thu 28-Jan-16 17:06:41

No No No MisGril - that just isn't how it works at all and no council in England will be doing that as it would be entirely illegal.

I think you've confused councils saying they attempt to give everyone their highest preference with thinking preference order gives people special priority. That never happens. There is no priority at all for anyone who lists a school first - it just does not happen and is not allowed.

So schools don't fill up with 1st choice places first and fill all the rest later.
A computer programme fills all the places simultaneously.
No school is ever full up of siblings and people who listed it first excluding other who qualify but put it second.

Here are two examples of how it works:

- A parent lists 4 schools
- Because of where they live, they only qualify for (meet the criteria for) school number 2 and school number 3 on their list
- They get offered school number 2.
- They won't get offered school number 1 because, even though they love it and are in catchment for it, 50 siblings applied leaving only 10 places for locals
- Those 10 places went to people also in catchment who lived a teeny bit closer NOT to people who said they liked it the best but who listed it somewhere on their form.

- Next door to the catchment school is another family
- They are one of those 10 people who got into the catchment school but they didn't even want it.
- They listed 4 schools too but they listed: an outstanding school 5 miles away, an outstanding school 4 miles away, an outstanding school 3 miles away and then the catchment school last
- They didn't meet the distance criteria for the 3 outstanding schools. They only met the criteria for 1 school on their list so that's the one they get.

So one family gets their last choice and are really not pleased.
And another family (who would have loved the catchment school) get their second choice instead but are OK with that.

That's why every year, families get allocated each others first choices (but are not allowed to swap of course)

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 28-Jan-16 18:27:06

I think you've probably misunderstood the data in the admissions booklet migGril. Our LA has similar info but it is to help give a better picture of which schools are popular and oversubscribed.

It gives number of applications, number of first choice applications and I think the number of first choice applicants that were offered a place. This has nothing to do with how admissions are allocated though. A second choice applicant who is further up the admissions criteria will always be offered a place over a first choice applicant unless they are able to be offered their first choice school instead.

regenerationfez Thu 28-Jan-16 18:35:33

I made the same mistake as you. I saw a good school that I loved, and I had misgivings about the outstanding school. We were right on the edge of the previous catchment of the good school and within the catchment of the outstanding, so Input it first. My DS doesn't really suit being in that environment. There is not much fun or innovation, lots of testing, lots of emphasis on the brighter children and not much on the rest. If you have an bequal chance of getting into both, I'd go with my instinct. OFSTED look at results and data and as others have said, outstanding schools often just play the game better.

regenerationfez Thu 28-Jan-16 18:43:47

not enough we have the same issue at our outstanding primary school with small things being made a big deal, but bullying being ignored. I thought this would be part of ofsted but they just have to have the policy in place. I'm a teacher in secondary and know how ofsted works there. I just thought they would take a moré holistic approach at primary. My kids aren't entirely happy at their school either. The worry every day is not worth it to have your kid in an outstanding school.

Fourormore Thu 28-Jan-16 19:40:59

That's why every year, families get allocated each others first choices (but are not allowed to swap of course)

I think that's what confused me. It seems wrong that I could want Good School but am on the wrong side of our very small town so get Outstanding School and then Mrs Smith over the other side wants the place that I got and would give me her Good School place in exchange. Perhaps there needs to be a "Space Swap" period after places are allocated grin

Fourormore Thu 28-Jan-16 19:41:35

Thank you to everyone who has replied, I really appreciate the clarifications flowers

Blu Thu 28-Jan-16 20:01:58

FourorMore, list your schools in your genuine order of preference - there is no disadvantage to you doing that.

Just make sure that there is one school that is practically a 'dead cert' , because if you use all your choices to list 'outside chances' you may end up being allocated nothing from your list.

Also while I agree completely that the atmosphere and style of a school is far more important than the ofsted grading, and in your shoes I would opt for the 'good' school too, a school can be 'outstanding' and happy, supportive, creative etc - we were lucky enough to be at one of those.

MigGril - the others are right, you are still seriously misunderstanding the way the LA allocates place.

They don't start the process looking at who has put a school as first choice. They start the process by asking the schools to list everyone who has applied, as 1st 2nd or 3rd choice, and rank them in order of how they meet the admissions criteria for that school. Then the top 30 of that list can be offered a place. If an applicant is on the 'top 30' list of more than one school then the LA will allocate them their highest preference.

Then their place is offered to person 31 on the schools list and the computer keeps whirring until everyone gets allocated a place.

People who only list schools which cannot put them in the top 30 get the places which are left over at the end of the whirring. That is why you need to list one 'dead cert' - but you can put it last choice.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Thu 28-Jan-16 22:45:36

Just to counter the posts about outstanding schools, there are also outstanding schools that really are brilliant places to be educated at and to work at. They are usually lead by inspirational, hard-working heads and this rubs off on the staff and the children, resulting in a vibrant, happy community.
Whenever outstanding schools are mentioned there are always some people who want to portray them as results driven, box-ticking, stressful places with miserable staff and pupils for some reason.

Inkymess Thu 28-Jan-16 23:27:11

Mig is wrong as LEAs do not try and give people 1st choice. It's a totally computer generated system. Only if you qualify for 2 or more will they see which you stated you prefer.
My DC are at a totally amazing ceative sporty musical outstanding state primary which has been outstanding for ages and is a national lead school. There are two others near us that are outstanding. One is a total exam factory

HortonWho Thu 28-Jan-16 23:38:32

Agree with allpizza- our local outstandings are really exceptional and you can see the difference even on a short school tour. One of them is well-known for its creative environment and the extra work the staff put in is inspiring and amazing.

bojorojo Fri 29-Jan-16 14:40:25

LA's do try and give people 1st choice but the children must also qualify for the school on the stated admissions criteria placing them above others who have chosen the school,but are low down on the admissions criteria. Read what tiggy says. Perfect explanation.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now