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Puzzled by admissions :(

(22 Posts)
tryingtobemarypoppins2 Tue 27-Sep-11 20:38:17

We have 3 preferences, so I assume we put these in order, easy enough.

But if we didn't get school 1, are we then at a disadvantage for school 2?? And then 3??

Can anyone explain how it works! Thank you!

DilysPrice Tue 27-Sep-11 20:40:16

Assuming this is admissions for state primary secondary then no, they can't "mark you down" for putting them second, it's a mechanical process so just go in the order you truly prefer.

DilysPrice Tue 27-Sep-11 20:40:45

(that should be primary or secondary)

PatriciaHolm Tue 27-Sep-11 20:55:28

No, the school won't know what order you have put them. You will be judged against the criteria for each school seperately, and then given the offer from the school you have placed highest (e.g. if you meet schools A and C criteria for admittance and both schools could offer you a place, you'll just get an offer from A)

CustardCake Wed 28-Sep-11 09:08:45

Three preferences exist to stop you being allocated more than one school place. That's all. It has no possibility of harming your chances of getting a place at any of them.

Basically the council looks at your list and puts a tick next to all of the schools you qualify for a place at. That might be just 1 school or it might be all 3. If you qualify for 2 or 3 they give you a place at the school that you have ranked as your most prefered option.

* If you put down 3 schools that you don't qualify for at all (out of area) then you won't get any of your choices. You will get a council allocation from a school that has spare places

* If you put down 3 choices but you only qualify for your 3rd choice, you will get that school even though there are 2 other schools that you like much better.

* If you put down 3 choices and qualify for the 2nd and 3rd choice ones then you will get your second choice.

By "qualify for" I mean that you meet the admission criteria for eg you live close enough to get a place or have a sibling there or attend church or attend the feeder school. That's why you must look at the admission criteria for each school to see what you need to do in order to qualify for a space and to check that you put down at least one "safe" option ie a school that you meet the requirements for.

prh47bridge Wed 28-Sep-11 10:19:00

PatriciaHolm and CustardCake are correct. The schools concerned are not allowed to know whether they are your first choice or your last choice.

It used to be the case that some LAs and schools operated a "first preference first" scheme, whereby anyone naming the school as their first choice got priority. That made life difficult for parents who might have to choose between trying for an ideal school where they had limited chances of success or making sure they got a place at a good local school.

All LAs and schools are now required to operate "equal preference" which the last two posters have described. It makes your live easy. You can simply put the schools in your order of preference.

Do make sure that you include a school where you are likely to get a place as one of your choices. If you miss out on all of your preferences you will be offered the nearest school with places available. This is likely to be an unpopular school which you may find unacceptable. I would therefore recommend making sure that at least one of your choices is a school you find acceptable and where you are almost certain to get a place.

tryingtobemarypoppins2 Sun 02-Oct-11 21:37:17

Sorry I am being so dim!

So if we put school a, b and c, but both schools a and b are out of catchment, will they not consider us at all for schools a and b and only offer c??

An0therName Sun 02-Oct-11 21:59:22

as understand it - it depends how many other children apply in the year and where they live - if lots apply to a and b and they are all in catchtment/nearer than you then you will get a place at c - but if not then you will get a place at a and b- there is normally infomation avaiable about how many children applied last year and how near they lived - the important thing is to have in one of your choices a school you are likely to get into and that you are happy with - ie don't use all three choices at schools you don't stand much chance of getting into

nonicknamemum Sun 02-Oct-11 22:31:38

OP, you really need to read the specific admissions policy for the area in which you live, as the rules vary from one area to another. In the area in which I live, for example, pupils are in a higher priority category if the school is their nearest school, but there is no such thing as a fixed catchment area. So in the example you give (assuming the schools were all in the local authority for which you live) the admissions authority would firstly consider you for a place at your first choice school. If they had a place at that school, they would offer you that school even if other schools were nearer. If by "out of catchment" you are talking about trying to get your child into a school in a different local authority's area altogether, then I don't immediately know what the rules would be. Also, for church schools, the prime admissions criteria may not depend on distance from the school but on having links with a church. However, the key point is that admissions policies vary between areas, so there is no subsitute for reading the policy of the local authority in which you live. Also, don't rely on what other parents tell you! In our area there seems to be a myth of "Schools X and Y like you to put them first" even though it is manifestly the case from the admissions policy that whether you put a school first, second or third plays no part in how you rank in the priority categories.

admission Sun 02-Oct-11 22:44:26

For each preference that you name on the admission form you will be considered for that school. The admission authority for each of the schools will put everybody who applies for a place at the school in the correct order based on the admission criteria. You must initially be considered for all your preferences that you have submitted.
So if you express three preferences you will be on the list for each school. Each school has an admission number which is the number of pupils that they can admit. So the LA will then look at your first preference school and where you are on the list. If the admission number for the school is 180 and you are 190 on the list you will not be offered a place. They will then look at your second preference and see where you stand on that list and so on. If you are able to be offered a place at more than one school then they will offer the school that you placed as the highest preference.
The school does not have any knowledge of where you placed them as a preference, that information is only kept with the LA.

gettingalifenow Mon 03-Oct-11 10:18:59

I'm sorry, but the answers above don't reflect how it happens in surrey, unless the rules have changed recently - so I suggest you look very carefully at the admiissions policy. Every county is different.

Someone tell me its changed in the last 4 years (last time I did it) but first choices here get allocated first - so if you dont get your first choice school, you only get your second choice if that school hasnt filled up with applicants putting them first!

prh47bridge Mon 03-Oct-11 10:32:28

gettingalifenow - The answers above do reflect how it happens in Surrey. First choices do not get allocated first. They are not allowed to do that. If they did they would be breaking the law. I have checked Surrey's admission arrangements this morning and they do not allocate first choices first. If they did I would have referred the matter to the Schools Adjudicator who would have forced them to stop the practise.

titchy Mon 03-Oct-11 10:44:51

Gettingalife - this used to be the way Surrey did it a few years ago but as prh says it's changed now smile

CustardCake Mon 03-Oct-11 13:40:32

gettingalifenow - it has changed since you last did it.
Putting a school as your first choice does not improve your chances of getting a place at that school at all. It is 100% down to whether you meet their criteria if they are over subscribed. If they have places free you can live 20 miles away and still get a place but in reality most popular schools have more applicants than places so have a list of how they are going to award places to make it fair.

An Example:
You live 1.2 miles from SCHOOL X which you love. You went to the open day and loved everything about it. Your child's friends awill all be going there, you love the staff and the atmosphere there and it is your first choice by far - you are desperate for a place there.

I live 1 mile from SCHOOL X. I don't like it so much and it is my third choice.

On allocations day I don't get offered a place at my 1st or 2nd choice schools as I am not religious enough or don't have sibling there or live too far from the gates (or fail to meet their criteria in some other way).
Now the council have to decide who to give the last place at the SCHOOL X to - you or me. It will be me as I live closer than you and distance is their criteria after siblings and neither of us has a sibling child there.

Even if SCHOOL X was my 6th choice and your 1st choice, I would always get a place before you did (assuming that the council couldn't give me a place at a school I liked better ie 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th because I had put down unrealistic choices out of area and didn't meet the criteria for any of them)

tryingtobemarypoppins2 Mon 03-Oct-11 20:10:22

Thanks all. That has made things much clearer. Just more depressing! sad

teacherwith2kids Mon 03-Oct-11 20:48:24

Try to think of it as expressing a preference rather than having a choice. You get to say 'well, of the schools that I have a realistic chance of getting into, I would prefer a to b, and c would still be better than school x and is a very safe option so I shall put it third'.

Too many parents believe that they genuinely have a choice - that they can really go round all the schools in a very wide area, decide on the ones they like best, and put them on their form. It just doesn't work like that, and you will be bitterly disappointed if you go down that route. It's a system which allows you to express a preference amongst a limited range of options.

In some areas, that range of options is 1. When I applied for DS's first primary, I lived in a village with 1 school. The next school was 5 miles away, and admitted only children who lived less than a mile from it. So I put down only 1 school on the form - my preference, from the 1 school available to me, was the 1 school in the village....

tryingtobemarypoppins2 Mon 03-Oct-11 21:30:33

teacherwith2kids I assume you teach? How did you cope with the knowing what it is like from the other side??

PattySimcox Mon 03-Oct-11 21:33:32

The schools may provide you with a breakdown of how they allocated places against their criteria which may help you second guess how likely you are to be offered a place.

CustardCake Mon 03-Oct-11 23:18:06

Patty - that is a very good point. The council website often tells you how they allocated places last year.
For example they might say the school you like had 60 places available and 100 applied last year. 24 of the places went to siblings and all the rest (36 places) went to those living closest to the school so the furthest distance they offered a person with no siblings at the school was 1.1miles (for example)

Therefore you know that if you live 3.1 miles away you are highly unlikely to get a place (unless the school has expanded or changed its admission criteria this year).

Or they might say the school is 3 miles away, has 60 places and 59 people applied and therefore they offered every single person a place. If you look on the website it should tell you or, if you have a particular school in mind, you can ring them to ask. Schools don't have any say in who gets a place but they are usually able to advise you if you're in with a chance based on where you live and whether you meet any other criteria they have like siblings or relgious faith etc.

gettingalifenow Tue 04-Oct-11 08:29:09

Thanks for the update - that all sounds so much fairer than when I had to do it! Still a nightmare though for those of you going through it - good luck!

CustardCake Tue 04-Oct-11 08:42:29

gettingalife - it is fairer in that there is nolonger a dilemma about listing your safe option or your prefered option first. You can be honest and put them down in true order of preference without ruining your chances of getting a local school if things don't work out with your first choice.

But of course it does nothing to solve the fact that some schools are hugely oversubscribed and some are hugely unpopular so a lot of people are going to be disappointed no matter how they decide to share out places.
Also some people still have more choice than others eg some people don't live close enough to even one school to get a guaranteed place whereas other people might live very near 2 schools and meet the criteria of a third (faith for example) so have a real choice out of 3.

mummytime Tue 04-Oct-11 08:53:50

Surrey has changed in the last 5 years or so, and actually I can remember one school getting into big trouble for implying the order was important the year after Surrey (and just about everyone else) changed to equal preference.
I think it is much better, as you can put your true first choice first, and don't have to double guess what everyone else is doing.

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