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What are the downsides of refusing your allocated school place?

(19 Posts)
FiveHoursSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 16:04:53

I have friend who doesn't do the internet, who has a year 6 DD this year and is looking at secondary schools for her at the moment.
She lives in Neasden and is not religious, so her options are limited.
Her closest school, and the one she is pretty much guaranteed a place at, is not one she wants her kids to go to.
She is going to list 6 other schools that she might have a chance of getting into but thinks it's possible that she will get given this school she doesn't want anyhow.
She intends to reject the place if this happens but I think I read on MN somewhere that this isn't a good idea.
Can anyone give me any advice to give to my friend?

iwantavuvezela Tue 24-Sep-13 16:09:28

Is she thinking of home schooling if she gets the school she thinks she will and rejects it?

Unexpected Tue 24-Sep-13 16:12:25

If she rejects the school place which she is offered, there is no requirement for the LA to offer her another school place (although she is required to educate her daughter) so indeed it is not a good idea to turn the place down. There is a misconception among some applicants that turning down an "unsuitable" place somehow bumps you up the waiting lists or increases your chances at appeal (if appealing). This is incorrect. Waiting lists are prioritised according to the admissions criteria and, if anything, you may antagonise an appeal panel by having turned down a place.

Your friend needs to look at the admissions criteria for the schools she is listing and determine her chances of being offered one. She should definitely put down one "insurance " place on her list i.e. a school which, will not perfect, she is certain to get a place at and which she could accept while remaining on the waiting lists for other schools to possibly free up spaces. If she is high enough on the admissions criteria to be offered a place at this "insurance" school or is offered one of her other choices, she will not randomly be allocated a space at the school she doesn't want.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 24-Sep-13 16:13:08

In the scenario that her DD doesn't get a place at any of her preferred school, would she prefer a place at the non-preferred school or no place at all?

The advice to accept the offer you are given is sound. If this child is offered a place at the non-preferred school, your friend can keep her name on continuing interest lists for each of her preferred schools. She can appeal the decision not to offer her child a place at each of her preferred schools. Accepting (or not accepting) the offered place at the non-preferred school will not affect her chances in either process.

lambbone Tue 24-Sep-13 16:18:16

No, No, No, No, No!

That's a no. Don't reject the place you are offered.

She should definitely list this closest school, because if she doesn't she may end up with a school she hates more, a very long way away. Has she checked how under/over subscribed it was last year?

She can put other schools at places 1-5, and if she doesn't get offered one of them she can remain on the waiting list for them all.

She can even appeal for a place at one of the favoured schools - but no appeals panel will be impressed by the claim that "my daughter doesn't have a school" if the parent has declined the offer that has been made.

Has your friend actually looked at the nearby school, or has she just decided that she doesn't like the look of it on no evidence? Or on the evidence of what the kids are like at 3.30? Trust me - even kids at the "naicest" middle class schools get a bit loud and lairy at chucking out time. Perhaps you can give her a hand by going online and having a look at the data dashboard for the school to reassure her - or not of course if the results really are a bit ropey wink

iheartdusty Tue 24-Sep-13 16:18:42

the downside is that there may be no school place.

you do not get what you want by holding out against all alternatives.

but for a more detailed answer, what unexpected has said.

ThreeBeeOneGee Tue 24-Sep-13 16:25:26

My advice to anyone applying for a secondary school place for their child is as follows:

1. Make a list of all the schools within the distance you are prepared for your child to travel, even the ones you might not have considered or those you have heard bad things about.

2. For each school, look at the admission policy and realistically decide whether your child is likely to get a place. For the distance criterion, the school are usually happy to tell you the furthest place offered last year and the year before.

3. Once you have a list of schools that your child actually stands a chance of getting into (in many areas this is only one or two), then you can read Ofsted reports, look at league tables, visit schools or whatever other method you want to use to decide what your order of preference is.

When children get an NRA (offer from a school that isn't one of their preferences) it's often because their parents didn't understand the process, were unable to access the admissions information (e.g. due to language) or missed out step 1 and/or step 2.

senua Tue 24-Sep-13 16:47:39

her options are limited

You don't get options. It's the LA who decide, based on admissions criteria. You are merely allowed to tell them your preferences, you don't get to opt.

FiveHoursSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 17:10:02

Thank you for your advice everyone.
This is the school she is closest to
Her concerns are that it is single sex and she wants her boy and her girls to go to the same school.
She is also worried as her DD would one of a few white girls there- I know this isn't a PC thing to admit but where she feels it isn't great to be in the minority.

Ladymuck Tue 24-Sep-13 17:24:25

I guess the question you need to ask your friend is what she thinks will happen if she rejects the place? Can she afford private school fees? Or to homeschool?

FiveHoursSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 17:48:19

She said she will home school until a place is found at another school. They can't afford private.

Ladymuck Tue 24-Sep-13 17:59:07

Provided she knows that may not happen and she could be homeschooling for 5 years, then I guess it is a plan. Can she afford to homeschool though?

FiveHoursSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 18:09:18

I don't know. I guess she is thinking they will eventually get in somewhere.

Ladymuck Tue 24-Sep-13 18:44:25

OK, well if she rejects a school place then she has to realise that the LA is then free to give that place (rightfully her dd's) to someone else, leaving her with no school place (and of course in London there are currently fewer school places than children). They also do not have any further obligation to offer her a school place. So your friend will be responsible for providing an education either at home or privately.

Your friend also needs to look carefully at how the waiting list process will work. She will not be the only person on a waiting list, especially to an over-subscribed school. Usually when a space comes up there will be criteria to determine which child on the waiting list gets it - typically those are the criteria of admission to the school in the first place, so if she originally doesn't have a sibling, tick the faith box or live close enough, then she probably won't be that high on the waiting list. The one fact that she must understand is that length of time on the waiting list is NOT a factor in getting a place. She may be technically "first" on a waiting list for several years, but when a space comes up she may find herself pipped to the post by a sibling jumping the list in priority, or simply be someone moving closer. (Ds2 has been on the waiting list to join ds1's school for 3 years now).

If she would prefer to home-ed rather than for her dd to go to her local school, then she is free to do so, but I would urge her to consider the effort this will entail. There are many philosophies of education, but if the aim is for her to join a school in the next 5 years your friend will have to home ed across all of the KS3 curriculum including science and languages. If your friend "doesn't do the internet" then this strikes me as a huge challenge.

MiddleRageSpread Tue 24-Sep-13 19:26:39

If she doesn't even list her nearest / most likely school on her list of preferences then she might not be offered it, but be offered a place at any school in the borough which has places. It might be even less desirable - in fact it almost certainly will because the local school will first offer places to people who put it on the list, even in 6th place, not people with no allocated school who happen to live in the doorstep.

So she will be allocated a sink school miles away.

You automatically go on the waiting list for all schools higher up your list of preferences than the one you have been allocated, and there can be much movement. But in the end, very few pigs actually fly - she needs to be realistic.

Will her dd really be happy to be home educated if she is happy being in the school system?

FiveHoursSleep Tue 24-Sep-13 19:38:37

I think the key facts I was looking for is that if she refuses the school place they offer, they don't have to offer her another one and she'll have to just hope she gets in on a waiting list.
I really don't think she wants to home educate for the whole of KS3.

crazymum53 Tue 24-Sep-13 19:42:54

If there is no access to the internet your friend will need to obtain a printed booklet from the LEA which lists all the local schools and the number of children admitted in each category. They will also need to submit their application using the paper form and make sure that it is posted in good time before the deadline (it is usually possible to obtain a receipt).
Some "religious" i.e. C of E or Catholic schools do offer places to non-church going families, so I wouldn't rule out applying to these schools if they are fairly close to your friend.
The LEA would ALWAYS recommend putting your catchment school as your last choice. The risk is that you could be allocated a place at a school that is even worse and much further away.
Whether a parent would prefer co-ed or single sex has no effect on the admission criteria.

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-Sep-13 19:44:23

She should list on her form the least worst school she is guaranteed a place at, as well as any others she has any hope at all of getting places at.

If she turns down a place offered, then the education of her child is up to her - it is very likely that no schools will have places for her child, including the school that she originally turnes down (unless it is perennially half-empty, a very rare scenario nowadays). She will have to provide an education suitable for her child's interests and aptitudes - and be prepared to do so for the long term, either through a private school or via home education.

The rhetoric of 'choice' is hugely unhelpful, it seems to me. It gives so many people the wrong impression - that they can pick and choose, reject a school and pick another etc. Not that it gives an opportunity to extress a preference should more than 1 school be available to a given child - which is becoming increasingly rare.

prh47bridge Tue 24-Sep-13 22:44:30

Agree with the advice already offered.

- If she rejects the offered place the LA is under no obligation to come up with another. They have fulfilled their legal duty by offering a place.

- If the LA do come up with another offer it may be at a school she finds even less acceptable.

- If she appeals the panel may feel that she is trying to bully them and the LA into giving her the school of her choice. That means she will be unlikely to get the benefit of any doubt.

She should only reject the place if she intends to HE and will not be appealing for any schools. If she intends to HE until a place comes up at a school she finds acceptable she needs to understand that it could take years.

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