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Websites 'calculating' admissions areas and getting it seriously wrong!!!

(35 Posts)
kyususpecs Mon 17-Apr-17 22:51:39

You may have seen that the house-hunting website Rightmove is asking for feedback on its "School Checker" functionality on another thread. They are using data sourced from 192.com which calculates whether houses are within the "successful admissions area" of schools that use pure distance criteria. (Their algorithm doesn't cover other types of criteria).

However, for my Local Authority, they are using cut-off distances from National Offer Day, rather than the final cut-off distances from the start of term on September 1st. I know for a fact that the cut-off distances increase significantly between March/April and September because our LA has a high rate of families going private, meaning that waiting lists move a lot. That means schools' "successful admissions areas" are bigger than the ones shown on their website.

Does it matter? Yes, if people are making house-move and other big life-changing decisions based on this data. And yes, if it's affecting people's house prices (we're selling at the moment and my agent told me they lost a sale recently because a buyer 'discovered' a house was outside of a school's admissions area - in fact it was right on the edge and they would have easily got a place at the school).

I'd be interested to know whether the cut-off distances are meaningful for other areas. I guess in areas where waiting lists don't move much it might be less of a problem. Here is a link so you can check it out: www.192.com/schools/

Unfortunately, Rightmove don't seem to be asking for feedback on whether their data is accurate - they just want to hear from pre-school parents as to whether it would influence their house-buying behaviour.

SoulAccount Tue 18-Apr-17 08:08:17

The Rightmove advice for my road is way, way off for what happens in reality.

The Rightmove system is such a blunt tool. It can't cope with Fair Banding or any other admissions criteria except straight line distance, which may not even be on the same measuring software the school uses.

Every child in our road goes to a school that we are shown as not being in catchment for.

I can only assume the converse is true for other areas.

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 08:36:13

I can only assume the converse is true for other areas

I don't think it is - they seem to be under-playing the cut-off distances (by using the distances from national offer day) rather than over-playing them.

At first I was concerned they might not be taking into account whether schools used crow-flies or walking distance, but 192.com seems to suggest that they do. Unfortunately Rightmove doesn't make it clear what they're using, which gives a confusing mixed picture. They seem to be calculating the home-school distance themselves using crow-flies. So for example they say my house as being 0.5 miles from a school (crow flies), when it's actually a mile away on foot. Yet they correctly show that we're outside of its 0.7 miles cut-off (walking) distance because they're pulling that through from 192.com.

For another school they show we're outside of its 2016 cut-off distance, but that was only true on national offer day in March 2016 - a few weeks later when the waiting lists moved, we were well inside its cut-off distance, and the same thing happens every year.

For anyone wanting to report errors I think it may be best to report them directly to 192.com, not to RightMove - though perhaps RightMove do still need to know that the data they're buying is inaccurate. It could even lead to them being sued if people lose house sales over it.

sunnysouthend Tue 18-Apr-17 10:09:21

If you know that all the kids on your road go to x school and RM disagrees - surely that is up to the EA to point out to potential buyers? Surely no one can be stupid enough to go on that RM thing alone? Given that who gets in changes year on year.

I the area I'm moving to the school checker just appears to use catchment so actually lists houses where kids would have 0 chance of a place as in that schools catchment. They are in that catchment, but schools are so oversubscribed that they will not get a place.

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 10:41:59

Surely no one can be stupid enough to go on that RM thing alone?

Read through the responses from Mumsnetters on their promotional thread above - you'll see that potentially-naïve pre-school parents think the information provided by Rightmove is extremely useful.

People will lose house sales on the back of this and their property prices will be impacted.

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 10:46:25

If you know that all the kids on your road go to x school and RM disagrees - surely that is up to the EA to point out to potential buyers?

They can't do that if the potential buyers don't even bother to get in touch to query the information - and why would they? They will just move on to another property that is showing as "inside" the admissions area instead. They will pay more for that, and sellers "outside" will miss out on a potential sale.

meditrina Tue 18-Apr-17 10:50:21

The only data that is actually published is greatest distance offered on Offers Day, so that is the only thing that is available to be used.

Yes, there is more to schools admissions that distance to the gate, and yes I agree that tools such as this should be used with caution.

F1ipFlopFrus Tue 18-Apr-17 12:03:02

you'll see that potentially-naïve pre-school parents think the information provided by Rightmove is extremely useful.

You'll also see others pointing it out that it's a guide, and to contact the school admissions department for accurate and up-to-date information.

It is a useful guide, but it is simply that; a guide.

The information is there on the website, they know it's not always accurate,
*This data is provided for informational purposes only and Rightmove plc does not accept any liability for purchasing decisions based on this data.*

*Data sourced from* 192.comcom*^_^*. 192.com Ltd does not accept responsibility for any inference or conclusion derived from the data by third parties.*^

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 12:16:44

F1ipFlopFrus exactly - they use disclaimers so they don't have to take responsibility. But people will still make decisions based on the data. It's a problem for ordinary consumers (house buyers and especially house sellers) that are affected by it, but in the meantime Rightmove get to promote their brand on the back of it.

F1ipFlopFrus Tue 18-Apr-17 13:03:33

If you're in the position to move to get into a particular school, then I would hazard a guess that you would also be doing your own research and phoning the school and the LA to find out exactly where that schools catchment is. Who got in in 2016 is irrelevant if the school has narrowed or enlarged their catchment. -they're using 2016 data which is almost 2 years out of date. If you are explicitly moving to get into a particular catchment area you don't use out of date data.

The disclaimers are all there on the site. Okay, so that means that they don't take any responsibility for buyers decisions, but it also means that if people are basing their decision on whether to buy a house or not based on only the school checker guide, then that really is their own responsibility.

There's also a number of ads on rightmove where the estate agent has stated in the description which school (usually secondary though) the property is in catchment for.

OdinsLoveChild Tue 18-Apr-17 13:17:10

Most of the details are incorrect for DDs high school.

The number of pupils admitted for this year 7 is incorrect, the total number of pupils in the school is incorrect, the distance the furthest away pupil admitted this year is incorrect (out by 1.7 miles), the number of sibling places in incorrect and the GCSE results for 2017 are shown on the graph which obviously are incorrect because they haven't been sat yet.

It also says my house is outside the catchment area when we are in fact 1.7 miles inside the catchment.

In fact none of the details on Rightmove actually seem to correlate with whats on the schools own website.

However, go onto Vebra.com and they have a heat map showing how many pupils from my postcode got a place at the school and they have managed to get the furthest admitted child distance correct. They also have the correct number of students admitted and the current number of students from the census last term. The information clearly is out there and available but Rightmove have obviously done it on the cheap.

Rightmove should know better really. They know they are the market leader and they know people will take their advice as good information. I think theyre on very dodgy ground with this really.

2014newme Tue 18-Apr-17 14:38:43

People are idiots if they rely on what rightmove or estate agents tell them about schools!😂😂

Ta1kinPeace Tue 18-Apr-17 16:36:30

I just tried the 192 site
it has my catchment school wrong
and it does not know about the school that my kids went to (and that most other kids in the area go to)

mummytime Tue 18-Apr-17 21:42:41

I commented that for my LA Rightmove draws circles, which means one whole village is left off. They need bigger disclaimers, more signage of faith schools, and beware for bulge classes/ new free schools/ increasing rolls etc.

Venusflytwat Tue 18-Apr-17 22:38:01

The Rightmove school admissions tool has been around a while now and it is crap. I used to work in admissions and ran loads of sample tests to see what it gave me and it wasn't accurate at all. I used to strongly advise parents not to rely on it.

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 22:53:03

What it really needs is something like Schools Week or Watchdog or Radio 4's More or Less to give them some bad press about it. It's the only way the word will spread that it's a pile of pap.

LittleBearPad Tue 18-Apr-17 22:54:45

Anyone relying on the rightmove data is being naive. Catchment areas change year to year depending on all the factors mummytime mentions.

kyususpecs Tue 18-Apr-17 23:07:42

Anyone relying on the rightmove data is being naïve

Yes, of course they are, but it's too easy to dismiss buyers as stupid and let Rightmove continue to get away with it. It's the sellers who suffer the consequences of their homes wrongly been advertised as outside of admissions areas. They don't get a say in whether the information is displayed against their listing or not - it's just automatically added.

RedSkyAtNight Wed 19-Apr-17 13:37:29

Just looked at RightMove. It seems not to know that my DC's school has 2 campuses. Hmmm

LittleBearPad Wed 19-Apr-17 20:28:14

But catchment areas change all the time. You cannot rely on the fact that your child getting into X school will mean anyone living in your house will get into the school.

My neighbours either side go to one achool that my DC didn't get into simply because of the locations of reception children last year versus the years they started school.

meditrina Wed 19-Apr-17 21:00:08

Catchment areas, in the proper sense of the term, can only be changed after proper consultation and then the (new) admission areas will be published as part of the information to parents at the start if the admissions round.

The actual footprint from which pupils are admitted can be either smaller or bigger than the catchment. Living in the catchment is not sufficient in many areas (though it is in Scotland).

Many areas simply don't have catchments, though.

kyususpecs Wed 19-Apr-17 21:03:18

You cannot rely on the fact that your child getting into X school will mean anyone living in your house will get into the school.

Of course you can't - all they do is say your house was "inside admissions area in 2016" or "outside admissions area in 2016" - they say nothing about what will happen in future. But that's not the point. The point is that they are wrongly labelling houses as "outside admissions area in 2016". If they were getting it right it would be less of an issue.

LittleBearPad Wed 19-Apr-17 21:41:15

I'm guessing you feel your house is unfairly labelled outside a catchment area.

NotCitrus Wed 19-Apr-17 21:49:37

The data that's published is for admissions on Offer Day. If people get in on the waiting list, that's great and I'm sure estate agents will mention it, but you can't slate the websites for using the nationally-agreed definition! The fact that that statistic is fairly useless is a different point.

kyususpecs Wed 19-Apr-17 21:56:45

you can't slate the websites for using the nationally-agreed definition

It could arguably be a nationally agreed definition of "inside admissions area" but it's certainly not a nationally agreed definition of "outside admissions area". Any homes that aren't within that National Offer Day cut-off distance should just be left as ambiguous as they would be for faith schools and any other school that doesn't have a pure distance-based policy.

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