we are due to move house hopefully in June and my daughter is due to start secondary school in September. We would really like to get her in to the local catholic school and she is baptised. However when I looked on the local council website they appear to be full. Can they take more children than their published numbers? Do the governors have any say in how many children they admit in a school year? Who makes the decision about when the school has no spaces?
Is there anyone out there who has been through a similar situation?
Schools are not allowed to save spaces for pupils moving into an area and generally popular schools will have allocated all their places before June. A schools PAN (published admission number) is fixed and cannot be exceeded by the Governors or Head Teacher to admit more pupils - they have no discretion over this. The only way to get a child into a school that is officially full is to win an appeal (or in very rare cases - when every other school within an hour's radius or so is also full - a council may direct the school to take one more pupil but only if no other school has spaces not just because the parents request it).
When you move, you will submit an application to the council listing the schools you'd like in order of preference. If any of the schools you list has a space at that time (pupils do leave and create vacancies sometimes) then you will get a place. If none of the schools you list has a space, the council will allocate you a different school. This will be the nearest school to your new home that happens to have a vacancy at that time. If you are not happy with the school offered, you can appeal for a place at the Catholic School. This involves going before a panel and explaining to them why your daughter's needs / interests are better served by the school you want than any other school and making your case. If you win, the school has to take you even though they are technically full up. You can also remain on waiting lists of every school you've applied to (where they maintain lists) and appeal for more than one school.