Does anyone know how they prioritise applications, eg if you put a school as first choice will you have more chance of getting it?

(33 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Sat 08-Oct-16 11:48:06

We're not applying for our catchment school because it's really not good, but it means it's likely we won't get the choices we want. We'd like to have as our three choices:

1. Preferred school (brilliant school, think DD would thrive there, 20 mins on bus, but massively oversubscribed and last year only those with siblings already there got in from our primary school)
2. Second preferred school (wouldn't mind this one at all, only reason it's second is that it's a bit further away, 30-40mins on bus, this is also oversubscribed but some from our primary got in last year even without siblings)
3. Nearest school to us, although not our catchment one (not our preferred third choice but would be likely to get a place looking at who they took last year, OK school, not brilliant but best of the ones we'd be likely to definitely get a place at, so kind of a 'banker' to prevent us getting the catchment school)

Do my question is, as we think we have a slightly better chance of getting into school 2 than school 1, will we be given less of a priority because we didn't put it first?

I know the priorities are things like looked after children, siblings, catchment, etc and we don't meet any of them for any of the schools, it would be down to distance. But do they judge all applications equally regardless of where you put them on the list? Or do they give all first choice places and then all second choice places, etc?

Or does it differ by local authority? (We're in England btw)

JosephineMaynard Sat 08-Oct-16 12:04:53

The way my council do it is an equal preference system.

So basically, all children expressing any preference for school 1/2/3 are ranked according to admissions criteria. The schools don't know which order you've put them in.

Say each school admits 90 pupils. If a child is in the top 90 for more than one school, they get allocated a place at the school they've put as their top preference. Their name is then removed from the lists for the other schools they're eligible for.

So, the order you put the schools down in makes a difference if your DD would be eligible for more than one of them, because then you get the school you wanted most out of the schools she qualifies for.
But, if she's not eligible for school 1 because school 1 is too oversubscribed, putting school 1 first makes no difference to her chances of getting into school 2.

If she ends up offered a place at school 3, then that means she wouldn't have been offered a place at school 1 or 2 even if you only put down school 1 or only put down school 2.

SpeakNoWords Sat 08-Oct-16 12:09:08

The order doesn't matter. Each choice is looked at independently of the others. The order you put them in affects the order they are offered to you in, iyswim. So if your child qualifies for choice 1 and choice 2, you'll be offered choice 1. If they qualify for choice 2 and 3 you'll be offered choice 2. Etc.

If you don't put your catchment school as a choice, then if you don't qualify for the 3 schools you put down, you'll be allocated a place at a school that the LA chooses that has available places.

iwouldgoouttonight Sat 08-Oct-16 12:24:22

Thanks all, that's really helpful (and reassuring!) do you know if that's the same for all local authorities?

titchy Sat 08-Oct-16 12:35:40

Same for all LEAs - it's the law.

titchy Sat 08-Oct-16 12:35:51

In England...

iwouldgoouttonight Sat 08-Oct-16 12:54:14

Thank you. Now just need to decide whether to put the slightly less preferred third choice rather than one we'd actually want (but be unlikely to get)....

It's a blooming minefield.

OdinsLoveChild Sat 08-Oct-16 17:02:49

You put the one you want most 1st on your list even if you think you won't get a place. My lea states you must list in the order of preference because they will always try and allocate you a place at your 1st choice if at all possible.

The schools don't know where you listed them or even if you didn't list them at all (although most parents seem to share the fact they got a place at a school they didn't list ).

If you don't list a school you actually really liked then obviously you have no chance of a place there. Some schools don't have the usual admissions criteria but use a lottery system. Check the school website for the correct information.

As it happens my children attend a school miles away well outside any catchment area they publish so not being in the catchment area doesn't mean you won't get a place.

AllotmentyPlenty Sat 08-Oct-16 17:46:41

Put your real preferences but make sure that at least one choice is a school that you have a very realistic chance of getting into.

elfonshelf Sat 08-Oct-16 18:53:42

If you don't get allocated your first choice (or even your second choice) in April, you can always go on the waiting list for a place. Quite often places come up, especially after the start of term - you generally need to re-register for the waiting lists on the 1st September.

DD was 42nd on the waiting list for our first choice over the summer and we got a place 3 weeks into the start of YR - 2 children never turned up and 2 children got places at their 1st choices and left. Most of the schools in the area were good and so most parents hadn't bothered re-registering for the waiting list after the start of term.

MrGrumpy01 Sat 08-Oct-16 19:13:06

If you look a bit further down I started a thread called 'your final choice school, which asks a little on the same lines.

It is a tough decision, but I am hoping that I have a reasonable chance of the getting my 1st or 2nd choice. I actually prefer the 2nd but the 1st is better for the family (mainly around future housing plans)

HPFA Sun 09-Oct-16 11:26:11

Just to say - I think it would be quite dangerous not to use your third choice to put down a school you think you're almost certain to get into. If you don't get one of your three choices the Council will give you the nearest school with spare places - which could be miles away and worse than your catchment school. If your 3rd choice is generally OK it would be much safer to have that on your form than one you prefer but have not much chance of getting into.

iwouldgoouttonight Sun 09-Oct-16 14:13:56

HPFA I think you're right, and I think we'll almost certainly put a 'safe' option as third, even though it's not one of our preferred schools, it's much better than what we could get.

Now just need to pursuade DD of this. She wants to put the preferred three, even though we may well not get into them. This is mainly based on her best friend putting them and she desperately wants them to stay together. She can't get her head around the fact that if we don't get any of the choices they may end up in totally different schools the other side of the city.

MrGrumpy01 Sun 09-Oct-16 14:45:25

I've discussed at great length about not putting down what her friends are, for starters the primary school catchment is split down the middle by 2 secondary catchments, a 3rd school covers the whole area but has sibling link with those without at a gamble to get a place.

I have really stressed that because of the way places are allocated there is no guarantee they will all get in to the same place.

Undersmile Sun 09-Oct-16 14:49:25

You have to check each school's admission criteria - they can all vary, even within one LA. That said, the schools do not know which order you put your preferences, only that you have put in a preference, and if you meet the criteria, you're on their list. LA goes down your preferences and allocates the first one you meet the criteria for.

MrGrumpy01 Sun 09-Oct-16 15:02:01

I have no idea how the computers actually work this out, it makes my head hurt even thinking about it.

Missingthesea Sun 09-Oct-16 17:23:13

Our local Harris Academy warns that you have no chance of a place unless it is the first choice of the CAF. I take it they are just pulling a fast one then, wanting to be able to boast of how many people put it as their first choice?

Missingthesea Sun 09-Oct-16 17:28:46

Sorry, first choice ON the CAF.

They do have an unusual selection process, mind you....a fair banding test, then places are offered by lottery, 90% to people living within 1.7. miles and 10% to those further away than 1.7 miles.

iwouldgoouttonight Sun 09-Oct-16 17:37:28

What's a Harris academy? One of the schools on our list is an academy, not sure if they have different application process? I think they did promise all first choice applicants a place last year and then failed to deliver on that.

tiggytape Sun 09-Oct-16 18:37:50

The way my council do it is an equal preference system
This is correct and all councils do it this way. The first-preference-first system (where schools filled places with those who listed them first and then dealt with any left over places last) was abolished decades ago and is actually against admissions law now. Listing a school 2nd won't reduce your chances of a place if you don't qualify for school number 1

So you can safely put the schools in the true order you like them but do include one school that you are likely to meet the criteria for - even if you list it last as I think you have said you are planning to do.

It helps to think of your application form as something the council uses in case of a tiebreaker situation not a list about how likely you are to get each school:

- Each child can only get 1 school place offered.

- You either qualify for a school or you don't. Ways to qualify for a school include faith and sibling links, feeder schools and distance i.e. you cannot really change whether you qualify or not.

- Some people live close enough to 2 schools to qualify so could potentially end up with 2 offers if that was allowed. This is why the council asks you for a list - so they know which school to give you if you happen to qualify for two of them. They will only allocate you one.

- If a child qualifies for more than 1 school on their list, the council uses their list to decide which offer to give them. They give them the one highest on their list that they qualify for.

- Equal Preference means you can "waste" 1 at least one preference on a school you'd love in an ideal world without risking places at the more realistic schools you've placed further down your list.

prh47bridge Sun 09-Oct-16 21:26:33

What's a Harris academy

An academy run by the Harris Federation. They run a number of academies in London.

One of the schools on our list is an academy, not sure if they have different application process

An academy may have a different application process in its first year of operation. Thereafter you apply through the LA in the normal way. However, the academy will have its own admission criteria and may require applicants to be tested if they use fair banding, so you need to check.

I think they did promise all first choice applicants a place last year and then failed to deliver on that

I occasionally come across a schools saying this. No school can make such a promise. They will not be told which applicants named the school as first choice. They cannot prioritise applications that name the school as first choice. The only way a school can guarantee this is if they are undersubscribed and therefore able to offer a place to everyone who applies.

mirpuppet Sun 09-Oct-16 22:15:06

I was told by an academy representative that if people live further away by distance put the academy down as their first choice that even though I live closer to the academy those who put as a first preference would get the space over me.

I think this is not correct and that it will be based on distance. The academy does not have a banding test.

Is that correct? I was planning on putting a school that I prefer and that is oversubscribed first and use the academy as a back up.

prh47bridge Sun 09-Oct-16 22:58:02

Is that correct

It is. The academy will not know whether you have named them as first preference or not. They cannot, by law, prioritise people for putting them down as first choice. They are either mistaken or they are deliberately lying to try and boost their numbers. You should stick with your plan and use the academy as backup.

tiggytape Sun 09-Oct-16 22:58:56

You are correct mirpuppet.
If distance is one of their admissions criteria then you will get priority for a place over anyone who lives further away than you do (unless they are in a higher admission category eg have a sibling at the school).

If there is one place left to offer and if a family further away listed the school 1st and you list it 4th (but fail to qualify for school number 1, 2 or 3) then you get the place and they don't.

iwouldgoouttonight Mon 10-Oct-16 08:27:29

Thanks all, I'm glad I asked because I do feel reassured now. Does anyone know if they publish anywhere how many children out of catchment or without siblings got into schools last year?

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