Should I put as first choice a school my son has no chance of getting into?

(72 Posts)
GreenVelvet Thu 24-Oct-13 20:05:26

Because he is well out of the catchment area and it is a very, very oversubscribed school?

I know it sounds a daft dilemma. But my son told me today his friends in our small neighbourhood were applying there which made no sense to me hmm. But I suppose they have nothing to lose if they put it on their list. If they put it as a first choice and the answer is no, they can still go straight to their second, third choices etc assuming they get a "yes" there?

But something about putting a school as first choice you have almost zero chance of getting into feels weird to me confused.

admission Thu 24-Oct-13 20:52:52

I would say if you know there is no chance of getting in, then you are wasting a preference. However parents do have a nasty habit of adopting rose tinted spectacles when it comes to why their child will somehow get into a school, when logic says they have no chance of getting in.
I suppose it depends on how secure parents feel about getting a place at their second or third preference schools. If they feel very secure (and there is no such thing as a guarantee) then they have tried their best to get into the "go-to" school if they put that as first priority.
But I agree with you it is a bit weird or maybe we just too logical

hettienne Thu 24-Oct-13 20:57:46

Catchment areas change year on year, so you never know - you might get lucky. So long as you have a safe choice to put down then no harm.

noblegiraffe Thu 24-Oct-13 21:00:41

My outstanding school ended up undersubscribed one year because parents weren't bothering to apply as they thought they had no chance. If you also put a couple of safe bets down after, then why not?

ChippyMinton Thu 24-Oct-13 21:02:03

It's counter-intuitive, I agree. But with the equal preference system it should not affect his chance of getting the 'safe' choice, should it?

tiggytape Thu 24-Oct-13 22:10:47

As long as it doesn't mess up your chance to list another school that you also like (and that you stand more hope of getting into) then why not?

Of course you shouldn't list all longshots on your form else you'll end up potentially with a council allocated place you've never even heard of miles from home. You have to list at least one school that is as much of a dead cert as possible.

But Equal Preference means you can "waste" 1 or 2 choices on schools you'd love in an ideal world without risking places at the more realistic schools you've placed further down your list.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 00:15:33

And you will automatically go on the waiting list for any schools higher up your list that you don't get on the first offer.

GreenVelvet Fri 25-Oct-13 10:13:32

I see! Thanks for all your responses.

misdee Fri 25-Oct-13 10:26:59

I have put done two schools for dd2 that are outside chances. But I also have 2 other schools down that I would be happy with her going to. I figure its worth a shot to put down the outsiders first.

Theas18 Fri 25-Oct-13 10:29:44

Depending on numbers of choices you loose nothing by putting " dream school" first as long as lower down you then put both an " ok I'd be happy with this one and we are likely to get in" and at the bottom "don't like it much but it's nearest and we'd be certain of a place".

Always put the last choice as the school you are absolutely sure you'll get into even if you don't rate it. Otherwise you'll get allocated a school that is likely to be worse and will certainly not have the benefit of being near by.

mummy2zni Fri 25-Oct-13 22:02:27

Sorry to hijack your thread but am Aussie immigrant struggling a bit with all this! We are in Milton Keynes and have 3 preferences to enter on our application. Having gone through all the local schools over-subscription criteria it appears DS has no "dead cert" choice - a weird combination of where we live and the primary he ended up at when we moved here a year ago. My question - what happens if we put down the 3 closest schools (which also happen to be the ones we want) but he gets into none of them? Thanks and sorry again for hijacking wink

RandomMess Fri 25-Oct-13 22:04:41

Then the LEA will allocate you the nearest school that does have spaces. You then apply (somehow) to go on the waiting list for your 3 preferred schools and IME keep in touch with the schools to see how you are doing on the waiting lists.

mummy2zni Fri 25-Oct-13 22:13:43

Thanks RandomMess...

So we could end up at a less desirable school across the other side of MK due to there being a lack of schools in our area? All the schools near us are over-subscribed! Maybe we should have moved rather than sign new rental agreement last month!

DS has just got his result from 11 plus sad - must have been a lot of smart cookies sitting it as he did pretty darn well but obviously not well enough!

How does level 6 impact on any of this or does that just make his primary look good?

hottiebottie Fri 25-Oct-13 22:21:16

I assume your DS took the Bucks 11+? It was a new test this year and pretty damn difficult! Unfortunately the deadline for requesting a review was today, but you might be able to request an appeal especially if he's level 6 material. The Aylesbury grammars sometimes have spaces left (particularly the mixed school) if you're prepared to travel that far, though I think there are buses from MK.

RandomMess Fri 25-Oct-13 22:24:40

If there is an overall shortage of places then they may put in a bulge class at one of the schools. How many local dc do not attend local schools??? Them all being over subscribed doesn't mean you won't get a place at any of them - after all each child will have applied to all 3 schools but only needs 1 place IYSWIM?

hottiebottie Fri 25-Oct-13 22:24:57

To OP - as long of one of your other choices is reasonably likely and you're happy with it, then why not? Numbers applying vary year on year, and you might strike lucky. You certainly won't get allocated a place at the dream school if you don't put it on the list. Be in it to win it!

mummy2zni Fri 25-Oct-13 22:30:42

No, hottiebottie, this was for denbigh school - they keep 20 places for out-of-zone (my word not theirs) for kids with aptitude who they feel shouldn't miss out just because they live further away. The idea of trying to manage travel to for eg Aylesbury when I already have such a big commute myself just fills me with dread!

mummy2zni Fri 25-Oct-13 22:34:31

Good point RandomMess! [Smile] It can be so easy to get yourself feeling despondent about these things - especially when u don't fully understand the ststem! DS attitude is "wherever I end up going, I'll just do my best" - clever little man! grin

LittleSiouxieSue Fri 25-Oct-13 23:24:30

The grammar schools in Aylesbury and Buckingham have plenty of MK children in them. See if there is transport if you have appealed.

OP. Some schools fill up on first preferences and do not look further down the list. This could jeopardise your place at a local school. It is always best to put the school you actually want, and are likely to get into, first or you can end up with nothing .

hottiebottie Fri 25-Oct-13 23:27:32

Sorry mummy2zni - I didn't realize that Denbigh held an 11+-style aptitude test for out-of-catchment candidates! I assumed you were talking about the Bucks grammars as they are popular with MK families. I know of one girl who applied to Denbigh, don't know whether she passed the test but will probably go to school in Aylesbury as she has a brother already there and has qualified. I understand your dilemma, though, and do hope you get one of your choices on 3 March. If you don't, remember that you have a statutory right of appeal.

hottiebottie Fri 25-Oct-13 23:43:40

LSS - just to add that there are buses from MK to both Buckingham and Aylesbury, but Aylesbury schools are less likely to be oversubscribed (especially Sir Henry Floyd) as distance tends to rule out Royal Latin for MK people these days.

mummy2zni Fri 25-Oct-13 23:44:39

Thanks hottiebottie!

ClayDavis Sat 26-Oct-13 00:34:59

LittleSiouxieSue, that's not right. The OP won't jeopardise her place at another school by putting it further down the list. Schools do not look at first preferences, then second preferences etc. so they can't fill up on first preferences.

They look at all the children who've applied for that school equally regardless of whether they've put it 1st or 6th. The preference system only comes into play when a child meets the criteria for more than one school, then they are offered the highest preference school and the application to the other is disregarded. It's perfectly possible to get a place at your 6th choice school while plenty of others who put it 1st do not get a place. So you should put them in order of actual preference not in the order you think you will get into them.

Any school not following this procedure is effectively breaking the law.

Mattissy Sat 26-Oct-13 01:21:44

Put down schools in the order of preference regardless of any other factor. They will then look at your application for each school individually and will give a yes or no answer, they then look at your list and offer you the highest with a yes. After that they see which schools have places available and start the process again with everyone who didn't get their first choice and on and on etc! That's why it takes so long to sort out. You won't lose a place at a school closer even if you put it down as third choice if you fulfil criteria better than someone who put it as first. Meaning you have absolutely nothing to lose.

Look at your local authority's rules as you don't always go onto the waiting list unless you specify separately.

I went through all of this earlier this year when my ds got third choice, but I kept plugging away at everything I could possibly do and he eventually got our first choice even though it's not the closest. That said it's still only 1.5 miles away so not a hike, although if I ask ds to walk you'd think I'd asked him to walk to the moon! Lol

Mattissy Sat 26-Oct-13 01:25:06

Just read Clay's post, she put it more eloquently than me. I should've just said "uh huh, yes, what she said"

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 08:31:37

I haven't put down ridiculously long shots (there is at least one school I would have otherwise considered that we're well out of catchment for and that is over-subscribed). However, our three most local schools are schools that I really won't touch with a bargepole and so we haven't put them down. So here's my list:

Choice 1 - dd & I both really want it, well out of catchment but applying for a music place there (dd got through to audition, we will know by Tuesday smile)

Choice 2 - catchment is too small but been told it's not completely unreasonable as they think catchment will widen a bit this year. If we don't get choice 1, I really do want choice 2.

Choice 3 - Pretty realistic school catchment-wise, that i like but that i'm not 100% sold on.

Choice 4 - We're on the very edge of last year's catchment, i haven't even seen it as I had thought we were way too far away but it has a fairly good rep and a trusted friend was v impressed by it. It's just a tad further than I'd like dd to have to travel but only 1 train & the school does look good.

Choice 5 - A highly over-subscribed school that picks out of a hat rather than by proximity (^supposedly^), that we're fairly close to, but it's part of a Federation that I am highly suspicious of & i'd rather not be involved with, despite the appearance of great results (we're surrounded by them here, the 3 local schools i mentioned at the beginning of the post are the same Federation, but this one is the best of a bad bunch so I would be ok about dd going there).

I decided not to use my 6th choice for one of the more 'guaranteed' local schools (which i initially did) because I quite frankly am terrified of the thought of dd ending up there, and I thought, why on earth am doing this? If she doesn't get into any of the above schools even if i had put down an unwanted 6th choice, I would want to appeal/go on waiting lists etc etc anyway. If anyone thinks this is a bad decision, let me know!

RandomMess Sat 26-Oct-13 08:44:12

The danger of not putting that down as no.6 is that she could be allocated a school just as bad but on the opposite edge of the LEA area you live in...

So awful school with a long journey...

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 08:54:24

Yes I know RandomMess but i think with especially choice 3 we are fairly safe to get one of the other schools... ?

If on Tuesday we get a 'no' from choice 1 I will think one last time about all this.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 09:30:53

blimey threetomatoes, you have 6 choices??? We get 3.

We have struggled with the form, as ds passed for grammar but not enough to guarantee a place (although it is, say 90% likely he will get it)

school 2 is great school, but we are a bit far away, plenty of kids from here go there, but it is borderline. But then again last year they added a class to accommodate all the applicants.

school 3 is also a bit far away, also borderline.

All 3 schools are in different LEA.

Wouldn't touch local schools with a barge pole. We hoping that if we don't get 1 or 2 we will appeal, and should get in to 1 on appeal (fingers crossed) We really worried about not putting a guaranteed school as no.3, but the only guaranteed school is our closest, and any school is better than that.

Can I just repeat again, it doesn't matter which order you put the school, the system doesn't work like that.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 10:06:52

I think you have to be very honest with yourself when deciding against listing a "safe but disliked" option for number 6.

It goes without saying that you prefer options 1-5 and if the council can give you one of those (i.e. if you qualify for one or more of them) it will. But you do need to a bit of soul searcing about what happens if they can't.

When you open the email / envelope in March would you rather get an offer from a local school you dislike or an offer from a school that you didn't list which has an equally bad reputation but is further away or is so far away you’ve never even heard of it? Because this is your back-up school. If you cannot afford private, this is the one you'll be going to in September assuming appeals and waiting lists fail.

Appeals and waiting lists do offer some hope of a preferred place but they are never a guarantee and having them as a back-up isn't a great idea as they are so unpredictable. Even if your child has a overwhelmingly good reason for needing to attend a certain school, the appeal panel may still not find in your favour if the school is packed full already. Waiting lists move but not predictably and not always by a lot.

Some people have a secret plan B up their sleeves eg a private school option, plans to Home Ed, plans to relocate. But if none of these apply then number 6 should be your "best of the schools I would absolutely hate to get given" because even that is better than getting an equally bad school with a 7 mile commute.

bunjies Sat 26-Oct-13 10:13:54

We've done the same thing for dd. Her 1st choice is unlikely to be successful but at least 2nd choice is still good & as her brother goes there she's pretty much guaranteed a place.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 10:21:01


I agree.
but in our case the 2 worst schools in our city (which isn't that big) are the 2 closest schools to us
So they are the most likely to have places anyway, and they are the only schools I would be 'guaranteed' to get a place in, if I put them on my form.
So in a way we have nothing to loose. If we put them down, we get them. If we don't put them down we probably would get them. If they give us places in another school across town, then that would be a better school than either of these.

The other side of it is knowing your area. This year there are about 170 too many secondary places in our city and the schools have all been heavily giving out flyers and trying to woo parents. This is partly because this year is quite a low birthrate. So we are not in an area with a massive pressure and oversubscription on places.

The schools we have put down as 1, 2 and 3 have all said there is a very good chance that we would get a place. They anticipate people from our area getting places, but no guarantees.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 10:42:37

steppemum - that is very true. If your true preference is "any school in a 7 mile radius that isn't one of the two closest to my house" then that's fine.

More generally though people only think about the ones they want and their chances of getting in so they block out the worst case scenario and don't give it as much consideration as they should (not you - but other people in areas with more people and less schools for example).

Every year people are horrified to find out they've not got one of their choices despite a few of them being fairly realistic based on past years.
They get allocated a school they've never even heard of that they then Google to find out is awful.
They assume the local awful-but-not-that-awful school will take them and find out that this school is full for the first time ever (happened in the year my son applied which was also a low birth rate year)
They decide an absolutely awful school on their doorstep would have been better than the absolutely awful one 2 train rides away but it is too late by then.

Of course nobody wants an awful school - that goes without saying. But, in general when you're applying your last choice is for the one you could just about live with if everything went wrong and that is almost certain to give you a place.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 10:47:09

that is a very good way of putting it

our true preference is ''any school in a 7 mile radius that isn't one of the two closest to my house!''


I am still astonished at the school gate misinformation. The number of people who still think that the order on the form matters, or that if they put one school then they have to be given it.

I am jealous of getting 6 choices though. I wish we could have had 4/5 never mind 6.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 10:58:41

In some areas, 6 choices isn't a great help unless your child has passed 3 grammar school exams or you are Catholic with early baptism and weekly attendance sheets signed or you have 3 older children all in different schools so lots of sibling links and you live next to a good comp as well

Otherwise, in London where we have the 6 choices, there is often a grand total of 1 school that you have any hope of getting into whether you like it or not. In fact some people don't even have 1 (they live in the middle of 2 schools but too far from each to get a place). I don't know anyone who will fill their CAF with 6 schools that they have a genuine chance at getting but there's always a hope I suppose that if the council have a mad minute and decide to admit extra pupils, they might get lucky.

RandomMess Sat 26-Oct-13 10:59:38

But in London where you get 6 choices you can put down your 6 nearest non-faith schools (because you're not the right faith) and still not get into any of them as the shortage of places is so chronic...

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 11:16:57

yes that's true, 6 non choices is not much of a choice.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 13:15:31

Thanks tiggy you've given me something to think about.

I think like steppe said, judging by my borough, the closest schools to us are likely to be the unwanted ones with spaces, but one of them I REALLY wouldn't want, so perhaps I should put the other local one back on as no6 to make sure of not getting into the closest one!! Just had a quick google of the other two schools in Bromley that had 'all offered' last year, they're over a mile away but tbh would probably be preferable to my no6 choice grin. Still, as you say, i wouldn't want dd having an awkward journey so far away...

We have until next Friday to re-submit online if we want to, don't we, so perhaps i can wait till tue and keep fingers crossed she gets into Prendergast.(our no1) I can then think more clearly about the rest as it will become more of a reality if that makes sense.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 15:43:04

'over a mile'

that sounds like a close school to me!

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 16:04:12

Can someone clarify who makes the decision, please - school or LEA? One HT said he has some influence, other said it was nothing to do with them.

Down here in Somerset we only have 3 choices. I have done as the form said, put my 3 choices down in order of preference. If we get none of them and just a place at local 'not over my dead body' school, I will go to appeal willingly, and re appeal as necessary. We don't have any other options available so I shall just fight tooth and nail to get (one of) the schools we want. There seem to be many variables that we parents have no knowledge about i.e. low/high birth years, how many extra's a school can accommodate without jeopardizing the classes and more. Also a fair bit of chopping and changing seems to go on at the eleventh hour.

How bad are these "terrible schools"? What makes them so awful? Low GCSE grades? Violence? Are they "failing schools" ?Quite how bad are they?

Are there really that many awful schools? All comps around here are decent, Some good, some outstanding. Some less desired because of " rougher estates" being part of catchment, but that's it.

Anyway, I am sure you will get into one of your top-5 ones, it IS a significantly low birth year after all.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 16:28:07

You apply to your council and it is the council who make the offers (even for free schools and academies).

However academies are their own admission authority so do will see a list of who has applied but only to apply the admissions criteria already set. It is very regulated (in law) so no funny business goes on about bumping people up and down lists.
They do have some influence in the sense that they can set their own criteria that differs from the council criteria eg they can choose not to give priority to siblings or to give it to children of staff. They have no influence over individuals though. The Head doesn't get any chance to enhance or veto any child's application to his school and all academies return the finished list to the council so it gets double checked too.

You can appeal if you don't get a school you like but it is best not to view appeals as an option that will be successful if you just stick with it long enough. Most appeals fail - that is a fact. And once it has failed, your chance is gone.
You can only appeal once per academic year (unless something important about your circumstances changes) so if you don't win at appeal for Year 7, your next chance is trying for a Year 8 place which isn't ideal if you have no school place for Year 7.

That is why you have to think very carefully about what you'd want the council to do if the worst happened and none of the schools you like could take you. It is easy in October to be adamant that you would rather sell up / home ed / pay private than accept the local school but how would you honestly feel in March if you got allocated a school in the next town you'd never heard of it knowing you were stuck with that school unless you could beat the odds and win at appeal?

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 16:30:25

There is no tooth and nail fighting options open to parents to get the schools they really want. If there were they'd all do it. Ideally you have to fill in the CAF having accepted this.
You can have one appeal per school per year and most appeals will not be successful. After that there is no further avenues to explore unless you have a hugely compelling case of injustice and thousands to spend at judicial review.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:33:06

steppe - sorry that's meant to say over an hour away!

ForeverProcrastinating Here in London at least, each school on your list would receive your application and consider it independently i.e. they wouldn't know what else is on your list or in what order. All applications they consider according to their own admissions criteria - for most schools this is siblings, special needs cases etc first priority, followed by proximity for everyone else.

Some LAs and some individual schools carry out banding tests or use banding results (eg Lewisham) from primaries to divide applicants up into ability bands, so that schools can take a fair spread of abilities. This can possibly have an effect on catchment - if there are lots of middle attainers near a school and not many high attainers, for e.g., the catchment for high attainers would be wider than for middle attainers. And some schools don't use proximity at all- they pick names out of a hat (^supposedly^).

In addition, some schools have special priority criteria - e.g. Prendergast Hilly Fields that we've applied to take 10% of their intake based on a music aptitude test (& auditions), another school we've applied to takes 10% based on results of a Technology test. (The schools have a music specialism and a Technology specialism respectively, you see.) That 10% is given priority over the other criteria.

Having done all that, all schools send back their acceptances to the LA, who then sort through each applicant, and assign the school highest on each list of preferences that has said 'yes' to each applicant. So, if your choice no 2 and choice no 4 both came back saying 'yes', the LA would give you choice no 2.

Sorry that's all rambly, a conclusion in a nutshell for you:

1. schools receive independent applications
2. schools accept pupils based on their own criteria
3. LA assign the place you're accepted at that's highest on your list

The order you put school in does matter if you are lucky enough to qualify for more than one school. In that case you will get your higher preference. Schools never know in what order your preferences have been made, though, so just put them in your true preference order.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:35:18

ha! x-posted with tiggy!
I might have got the wrong impression about the applications going to all the schools then, sorry.

Obv as she says, with special criteria like tests etc it would be dealt with initially by the school

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:35:59

& ellen's put it all in a much better nutshell than either me or tiggy did grin blush


steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 16:43:25

That makes more sense 3toms!

Ellen - yes it comes into effect in that if you are accepted by 2 schools, you will get offered a place at the one higher up your list.

But there is still a 'school gate' myth that school A will only accept people who put them first, or that school B will fill up with first place applicants and so if you put them second there will be no places left and so on.

As tiggy says it is LEA that offers place. School doesn't know if you have put them 1st or 6th

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:51:54

Fiscal one school I never even considered for my list, here are my reasons:

1. A year ago it was all boys, with very bad rep, it is now an Academy (so presumably will improve but still, a Federation i am very sceptical about and whose ethos I am uncomfortable with) but it still has a bad rep...

2. It has poor GCSE results.

3. It currently has a 70:30 boy:girl ratio, I have a dd.

4. There was recently a news article about the school inflating grades, that sort of thing.

I think those are reason enough for me to avoid it, when i have 5 other decent choices, albeit a few long shots?

I may ask for the post to be deleted later, to protect the school.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:54:37

steppe, well i suppose it's true that a popular school that is most likely on the top of lots of people's lists would fill up quicker, meaning you wouldn't get it if you had it lower as those with it as no 1 would get it over their lower schools? confused
It's all very complicated.....

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 17:10:28

NO! You stand same chance if you have put it 1st or 6th

John has put school A first, but lives 3 miles away
Jane has put school A 2nd, but lives very close.

School gets sent list of all the names of all the kids regardless of 1st, 2nd etc.

School looks at kids plus criteria. Both Jack and Jane are eligible, they go on the schools list which is ordered according to criteria (siblings, looked after kids, faith kids, and then distance or whatever their criteria is.)
Jane goes at no.20 on the list and Jack as no. 300, because of distance. School has 170 places.

LEA gets school list back.

Jane could be offered a place at school A. LEA look at her form and find she prefers school Z. She can't be offered place at school Z, as she is too far away compared to others, so she is offered place at school A.

John cannot be offered place at school A as there are only 170 places and he is no. 300, he is no. 30 for his 2nd choice school so is offered that one.

It isn't first choices and then second choices, all the choices are all considered at the same time. Then if you qualify for more than one school (eg your first and fourth choices) the LEA looks at your form and sees which one you prefer. Offers you the place at first choice place and cancels the place at school no. four.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 17:15:26

sorry NO was a bit shouty

how about No! grin

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 17:17:31

No ThreeTomatoes - that's not how it works

Each of the schools you list will know you listed them but not WHERE you listed them. So academies get a list from the council with each child named and they prepare a list to send back placing with all the sibling / top priority people at the top of that list and all the people who live 7 miles away at the bottom of that list.

The person who lives 7 miles away with no sibling will always be treated as the lowest priority for that school even if they listed it as their absolute 1st choice.
And a sibling (assuming the school has sibling criteria) will have a virtually guaranteed place at secondary school even if they listed the school last and put 5 totally impossible choices above it.

All that matters is how well you qualif i.e. do you meet the criteria?
How much you like it is never an issue except if you are lucky enough to qualify for 2 or more schools in which case the council refer to your original list and give you the school you placed highest out of all those that you qualify for.
If you only qualify for 1 school, you get it even if you lisrted it last and even if people who listed it 1st have been rejected for not meeting the criteria as well as you do.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 17:34:52

Yes I know all that, my brain was beginning to melt when I looked at my previous post while i wrote it and thought 'hang on a minute it depends on how they fit the criteria'... but then i couldn't be bothered to think it all through further grin
I think my post stands if ALL the kids applying to that school fit the criteria - if there were enough kids who put it as no1 AND fit the criteria, then those who put it at no 2 etc wouldn't get it....
But that's a highly unlikely scenario
So, ignore me... grin

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 17:36:27

*ok i meant if ALL the kids, say 120 of them, applying to that school who had put it as 1st choice, were kids nos 1-120 on the schools list grin and 121 onwards had put it as 2nd.
what bollocks my example was
i'll shut up now

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 17:44:12

I think my post stands if ALL the kids applying to that school fit the criteria - if there were enough kids who put it as no1 AND fit the criteria, then those who put it at no 2 etc wouldn't get it....

It is brain-melting stuff I agree but that's still not it sorry Tomato
The people applying cannot all meet the criteria equally unless they are all living in the same house and have the same sibling status. Some are bound to live closer than others even if it is only 6cm closer - that still counts.

The people who get the 120 places are:

- the people who listed the school somewhere (anywhere) on their form
- but who didn't qualify for any of the other schools they listed higher up than this one
- and do qualify for this one more than other applicants probably by living a bit closer to the school than other people who applied.
- which is how someone who listed it 1st can easily be rejected in favour of someone who listed it 6th (even if they live nextdoor to each other!)

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 19:48:23

Thank you, tiggytape, that is mainly what I thought. Going on the last figs I can find on a quick trawl, in Sept 12, 96.1% of children got their first choice of school, with 98.8% getting 1 of their 3. I'm fine with all three of my choices, I just listed my preferences as instructed. My 1st choice let in 15 more than their PAN, so total out of catchment allocated places was 44. We have a chance and we can appeal twice, many others have and have been successful. I have sweated over this for so long now, but application is now submitted and I'm not going to worry away the next 5 months.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 19:59:27

I saw those figures too forever. I always got the impression that loads of kids got 2nd/3rd choices or worse.and I was really surprised to see how many got their first choice.
I know the figures are slightly less good for London (not sure if yours are the London figures or the country as a whole, if they are are for London, then the figures for out of London are even better)

I was surprised by some of the things we discovered in the process too, our second choice has a pan of 170, and they took in 300 last year, basically agreed to take in a whole extra class, and by doing so accommodated all the children who had put them first (I think others got their first choice schools anyway) I hadn't realised that a school could/would do that.

In a way the long wait is easier than short wait. We had 7 days between tests and result for 11+ and it was awful. Much easier to think forget about it until March!

(but I will be on here agonising at the end of Feb!

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 20:04:52

Somerset figs, steppe. HT of our first choice said persistence pays, at least 15 over PAN were admitted (I know personally of 1 more recently) and a sizable amount were out of catchment and bottom of criteria, IYSWIM.

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 20:06:39

Interesting comment re the whole extra class, we had something along the same lines going on down here. As I said before, we only know what we know. wink

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 20:12:57

London is about 70% on average but there are huge variations eg in Hammersmith and Fulham it was just 56.67% this year even though the current Year 7 is the lowest birth rate year in the area for ages.

No London borough really gets above 80 or 85% because there is a school place shortage so by definition some people cannot go to a local school no matter what they list.
When boroughs say that 97% (or whatever) got one of their choices you also have to bear in mind that the school place crisis forces parents to list schools they don't really want just to be sure of getting any place at all. So although technically most people got one of the schools they listed, that doesn't mean they got a school that they chose freely but one they were obliged to choose.

It is totally different nationally and region to region of course. There are areas where people have a free choice of at least 2 schools and know they can get into either ((wistful sigh))

ClayDavis Sat 26-Oct-13 20:32:59

I think what threetomatoes meant was that they would get it because it was number 1 on their list compared to the other schools they put on their list not where it was on other people's list.

So technically a school might fill up with people who put it at number 1 if all the people who put it lower on their list also qualified for a school they had a higher preference for. I think it's more likely to happen if people are encouraged to 'put a school first because you won't get in otherwise' because a far greater proportion of their applicants will have put it as first choice.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 20:40:27

technically a school might fill up with people who put it at number 1 if all the people who put it lower on their list also qualified for a school they had a higher preference for.

Yes that is true but unlikely. It would be a huge coincidence if all the people who liked it best also qualified the most and all the people who liked it slightly less also qualified for it slightly less.

In reality, the popular schools are listed number 1 by more people than there are places and are also listed 2nd,3rd,4th or 5th by plenty of others as well.
The people the popular school takes will be the people with siblings and living close by who listed it somewhere on their forms who either wanted it a lot or couldn't be offered a higher choice.

it's more likely to happen if people are encouraged to 'put a school first because you won't get in otherwise

People are encouraged to do this for choice number 6 (the safe option, the back-up school) not choice 1. Choice number 1 on your form is for the one you love best if distance / siblings / faith were no object and if by some miracle they decide to take double the number of students overnight. Number 6 is the one that is realistic but possibly not a nice option but better than nothing at all.

HSMMaCM Sat 26-Oct-13 20:46:42

DD's school was like noblegiraffe said. Massively over subscribed the year DD applied, so the following year loads of people didn't bother to try and get in and it was undersubscribed.

ClayDavis Sat 26-Oct-13 20:54:49

I did mean to add it was unlikely but technically possible. Although that does depend on where you live. Here, you are unlikely to not be given your first choice of secondary school so most schools are actually filled or almost filled by people who put it first. Very different for family of mine living in London.

I wasn't thinking of people who had been given good advice to have guaranteed school somewhere on their list. More like the thread a few weeks back where the HT had implied at an induction meeting that you had to put the school first in order to get in or where there are widespread myths in the community about 'first preference first'. That gets corrected on MN, it doesn't always outside of this forum and people end up putting a popular school first because they think they should or not putting it at all because they think they won't stand a chance of getting in if they don't put it first.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 23:31:24

That is what I meant Claydavis and it was a load of nonsense so not really worth discussing blush. It would be a massive coincidence if all the 120 applicants accepted to a school based on its criteria had also put the school as no1...

I have heard 2 Heads in their speeches say "Put our school at the top of your list if you want the best chance of getting in". It really riled me. They know full well that's not how it works. Had they gone on to explain - because, if you do get accepted by the school but had a different school higher on the list you would get that one instead... then fine but no, they made it sound like the preferences make a difference to your application to the school itself.

Interesting to hear there are stats i can google re % of 1st choice given etc... off to google now!

MinesAPintOfBlood Sun 27-Oct-13 07:36:56

Can I do a simplified explanation?

There are 2 schools a mile apart, 1 and 2. Each school can take 2 pupils this year.

Then there are 3 potential pupils:
A who lives opposite school 1 and would rather go there
B who lives opposite school 2 and would rather go there
C lives 2 miles further up the road from 2 and wants to go to 1

Because they are sensible they all also list their second choice of school.

In the first allocation round the schools order every person who applied by the allocation rules. These are purely distance as no siblings:
1: A, B, C (only A&B would get in)
2: B, A, C (only B&A would get in)

As A and B both have two place on offer they take their highest preference and remove their applications to any lower schools. Thus leaves us with:
1: A, C
2: B, C

C now had 2 places offered so rejects their lowest offer (and takes school 1).

Its just that instead of multiple rounds of people bidding for lots of schools then rejecting offers every time they get more than 1 its done in a single form.

Disclaimer: written on phone screen so sorry for typos.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 27-Oct-13 08:20:33

Further scenarios:

1: A, B, C (only A&B would get in)
2: B, A, C (only B&A would get in)

A & B both chose school 1, leaving us with:

1: A, B
2: C

A had chosen school 2, B had chosen school 1:

1: B, C
2. A, C

(Then C chooses 1...)

Both A & B had chosen school 2:

1. C
2. B, A


ChippyMinton Sun 27-Oct-13 08:46:42

Lots of over-analysing going on here!

The simple message is;
List the schools in your preferred order.
And include your 'safe bet' as the final choice.

BTW miracles do happen. Last year I put:
1) The school that had been our preference for several years, but now a long shot due to our primary no longer being a feeder, and only sibs plusa small handful on distance getting places
2) Our favourite but an even longer shot - only 2 sibs from our primary have got a place in the last 7 years
3) Our 'safe bet'.

DC was offered 2), due to a combination of it being the lowest year for ages, but most signicantly, a new school opening some way from us but that diverted man of the competing families. I nearly fell off my chair! A handful of others that had bothered to put it on their forms also got places. Most didn't, and are kicking themselves.
Interestingly, this year, I saw most of the current Yr6 at the open evening at school 2, and it's firmly back in parents' sights.

Retroformica Mon 28-Oct-13 05:12:59

Have you seen the school?

Use your parental choice to choose the right school for your son regardless of friends/catchment/gcse results. Do consider transportation though.

There is no way my son is going to our catchment school! It's not even in our list.

Retroformica Mon 28-Oct-13 05:14:14

Ps. Only a third of children in our catchment area go to the local catchment school.

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