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last house in catchment area!!!

(16 Posts)
josie2312 Sat 27-Aug-11 11:34:11

we live in a semi rural part of wisbech by this i mean we are 2.5 miles from town we had been refused a place in the 3 closest to us schools. every week i check where our daughter is on the reserved lists and every week we have gone down the list, this they say is due to other people applying for these schools that live slightly closer than we do!!!......we are the last house in the catchment for all of the local schools they are 2.5, 2.8 and 3.0 miles from us.....we are at our wits end the school they allocated us is not a very good school infact its appalling and we turned it down......thinking we are bound to get in one of the 3 we chose as we were placed as 1, 3 and 4 but now we are placed 7, 10 and 12, how on earth are we going to move up the list if everyone that applies lives closer than we do!!!...

prh47bridge Sat 27-Aug-11 12:41:14

I am sorry this is happening to you. Given that you turned down the school offered you have limited choices. You could appeal for your local schools if you have not already done so. Your chances of success depend on whether or not infant class size rules apply. You can also ask the LA which schools have places and apply for whichever one of them you find most acceptable.

savoycabbage Sat 27-Aug-11 13:26:57

Yes, have you appealed?

josie2312 Sat 27-Aug-11 15:20:13

yes we appealed but they were all infant class size appeals so didnt win any of them sad we had to turn down the school its reputation was awfull and upon doing my own research found out that both the headteacher and deputy head had both been away from school due to stress and a further 6 teachers would not be returning to the school this september...i just feel that if the school is your catchment school then distance from home to school should not be an issue when deciding who gets in, it all just pees me off a bit..

teacherwith2kids Sat 27-Aug-11 15:58:11


But if the number of children in catchment = more than the school can hold, on what basis would you suggest that the places SHOULD be allocated?

Is it reasonable for a school with 30 places to take e.g. 56 children in a class if all 56 live in the catchment??

CustardCake Sat 27-Aug-11 17:31:05

teacherwith2kids is right - there are obviously far more children living in the catchment area than the three schools can take. How else would they decide who to give the places to when your position on the waiting lists clearly shows at least 12-29 people in the same boat as you?

Your options are to appeal. To pray a bulge class is added to one of the three schools you like so another 30 places are created this year (maybe local pressure would help?). To go on more waiting lists after asking the LA for advice on schools with spaces or shorter waiting lists. To home educate. To keep her out of school until the term after she is 5 and hope a place comes up in the meantime (unlikely if you keep being bumped down the lists).

Its unfortunately common in rural areas but also in densely populated towns. In London for example you can live 400m from 2 different schools and still not be close enough to get a place at either so be sent out of borough 2 or 3 miles away to a "worse" school. There isn't an awful lot you can do except perhaps move very close to one of the schools so you are top of the waiting list. But even then you will only get a space if someone leaves and that's not guaranteed.

prh47bridge Sat 27-Aug-11 18:19:10

Are you in Fenland? If so, Cambridgeshire helpfully have a document on their website saying which schools still have places. There are places at Alderman Jacobs, Beaupre, Benwick, Burrowmoor, Coates, Elm, Friday Bridge, Glebelands, Guyhirn, Kingsfield, Leverington, Manea, Murrow, New Road, Orchards, Park Lane, Peckover, Thomas Eaton and Townley. Assuming this is still up to date, if you apply to any of these schools they have to offer a place for your child.

As you have already appealed you cannot appeal again so, unless you are willing to home educate or wait until the start of term following your daughter's fifth birthday, taking a place at one of these schools (or another school with places available) is really your only option.

I understand your comment that distance shouldn't matter but, as others have said, if the school only has space for 60 and there are 145 children in the catchment area applying for places there is no way the school can admit them all. They therefore have to have decide which children will get in. Whilst a few LAs use lotteries, distance from school is by far the most common tie breaker.

josie2312 Sat 27-Aug-11 18:22:00

but what im saying is that if you are on the reserved list for the school the LA have said is your catchment school surly it should not matter how far or close you live to is your catchment school so you should not be moved down the list because someone else lives slightly closer to it......we would of had to drive past all 3 schools we put down to go to a school that is not in our catchment??? this is the bit i do not understand....

admission Sat 27-Aug-11 19:02:33

From looking at the Cambridgeshire site, they seem to have a fairly standard admission criteria for community schools with siblings in catchment and then catchment children having priority. You seem to suggest that you are in catchment for more than one school, is this actually the case? Did you apply for a place at your actual catchment school?
Obviously if you applied for your catchment school and you were unsuccessful then it must have been on distance from your home to the school, which is by straight line distance.
As others have said the alternatives that you have are to wait and see what happens in September - it is not unknown for a good number of pupils to not turn up because they have moved etc and the parents have not informed the school or LA. But being realistic that is not likely to be 8 pupils who fail to turn up. The second alternative is to talk to the LA and find out where the nearest school is that has a place and accept that.

Clary Sat 27-Aug-11 19:20:58

But Josie surely yr last post is contradictory - if you were the person who lived nearer the school than you do (IYSWIM) how would they feel if you got the place, living further away?

It's obviously unfortunate, but clearly does happen. How near to you are the schools on PR47's list? I'm guessing you would be driving to school anyway so it's not a nightmare if it's 5 miles not 3 (for example).

teacherwith2kids Sat 27-Aug-11 22:19:13


Are you saying that you are happy for initial allocation of places to schools to be on the basis of distance if there are too many catchment children BUT after this point, once reserve / waiting lists are set up, you feel that it would be fairer if 'time on waiting list' was taken into account rather than new 'late' applicants being given a place on the waiting list according to the original admission criteria (siblings, distnace etc)?

I think that in fact is a more arguable point than saying 'all children in catchment should get a place' - should a relatively distant on-time applicant be moved down the waiting list because someone moves into the area and their new house is closer to the school?

Having been, through no fault of our own, in the 'late applicant next to the school' category, I can see this one from both sides. Is it fair (if the rules were different) that someone moving into an area, even if they live right next to a school / have SEN / have a sibling with a place, would always be the last on a waiting list and ALWAYS have to travel to a distant undersubscribed school? It would make moving, especially with more than one school-aged child, even more of a nightmare than it already is!

CustardCake Sat 27-Aug-11 23:04:39

By law the waiting lists have to be administered in the same way that the initial allocation of places was decided. So if siblings get priority at one school then any siblings joining the waiting list later on will be instantly bumped to the top of the list. If living close to the school gains priority, then anyone buying a house next door to the school moves further up the list than someone whose been waiting a year but lives 2 miles away. The LA have no choice about this - it is the rules. But I can see your point that it makes it very hard for people living on the borderline of a catchment area with no siblings to realistically ever get a place off the waiting list.

Have you enquired about bulge classes (a special extra class in Reception so 30 more places are created)? Is there demand or need locally? Are a lot of children being faced with a long journey to school and passing several nearer schools on the way there?

A lot of people will sympathise having faced or about to face what you have found but the problem is that there has to be a way of deciding who to give scarce places to and this will always mean someone in your immediate area loses out. It is very hard to face travelling miles every day past 2 or 3 lovely schools to go to one you're not so happy with but if there are more children than places, then some sort of rule has to be used to decide who gets what.

teacherwith2kids Sun 28-Aug-11 08:48:48

Custard - I didn't know that about the law, thanks!

CustardCake Sun 28-Aug-11 09:28:07

Well the admissions code which goes through Parliament at first as a White Paper so I assume is in law. Some of it says LAs MUST do certain things and some of it is just good practice. The part about making sure places on the list are given out in the same way that places in the initial allocations were are something they MUST do and there is no discretion.

prh47bridge Sun 28-Aug-11 18:44:06

Just to get all technical, the Admissions Code doesn't go through as a White Paper nor is it discussed or voted on by Parliament. There is a consultation following which it is "laid before" each House for 40 days, which simply means a copy is placed in the appropriate place in each House.

It is, however, a statutory document authorised by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, which means it has the same effect as if it is the law. Admission authorities must comply with the Code. Failure to do so can lead to judicial review, although I would always recommend that parents should exhaust other avenues before considering going down that route.

Sadly some LAs seem to believe they are above the law and behave in ways that are clearly contrary to the Code.

CustardCake Mon 29-Aug-11 10:52:00

Sorry prh47 - I knew it wasn't discretionary (ie the LA can't decide that being on the list longest has priority over people who have just moved to the area) but not how the technical law bit worked. It sounds like OPs LA is doing the correct thing though in putting all new additions to the list above the OP if those new additions happen to live closer.

I can't argue with the OP though that this is very annoying and disappointing in terms of getting a school place.

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