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Primary admissions

(20 Posts)
slp123 Tue 15-Jan-13 23:02:01

Just a quick question but could some explain why it is a 3 month wait to be told which school your child has been allocated?
Many thankssmile

DoodleAlley Tue 15-Jan-13 23:10:58

I'm guessing it takes that long to go through all the applications and work out what schools you qualify for or don't?

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 15-Jan-13 23:15:35

They have to sort through all the applications, put them all applicants for each school in the right order according to criteria. Then as they go through sorting out the highest preferences, places will be cleared further down the lists.

Presumably its the same staff who are going through the secondary school lists which are allocated in March.

It used to be longer.

Snazzynewyear Tue 15-Jan-13 23:48:35

I'm actually surprised they can do it in the time, given the tasks involved.

slp123 Wed 16-Jan-13 07:03:39

I guess I just thought as most people apply online there would be some fancy computer programme that would sort it all. Obviously there is a lot more to it though.

tiggytape Wed 16-Jan-13 07:42:09

-Parents apply (usually online but not always - some are still on paper)
-Once the applications are in, schools get a list telling them who has applied (but not what position they've been listed so schools don't know who put them as first choice)
-Schools reply telling the council which people qualify under their admissions criteria eg on a church school list, baptised people will be at the top and unbaptised people living 3 miles away will be right at the bottom of the list.
-The council goes through the forms and makes sure each person is allocated the highest ranked school that they qualify for. This leaves some spares (some people qualify for more than one school so once they've got their highest one allocated, the lower potential offers are distributed to other people instead)
-The council runs checks on addresses. For some popular schools where there's a history of cheating, every single allocation is checked and a council tax history check (and other checks) is performed to make sure nobody is potentially lying about their address.
-Once every child who can be offered one of their chosen schools has one, children with no offer are processed. These are children who don't qualify for any of the schools they've listed (eg catchment has shrunk this year)
-The council matches left over people with left over school spaces making sure each person gets a school as near to home as possible.
- Everything is checked and letters / emails sent out.

In some areas it is simpler than others. Low population, adequate places and having only community schools means the process is quite quick. In some areas there are lots of academies and church schools all with differing admission criteria, a huge population, not enough school places in the immediate area and some schools people try to cheat to get into certain schools. This makes the whole process slower.

MerryCouthyMows Wed 16-Jan-13 08:42:37

I wish I only had a 3 month wait for DS1's Secondary application - I would know the answer as to whether I need to appeal or not by now!

We had to submit our forms by the end of October, and we don't find out until National Offers Day on 1st March.

I put it out if my mind until after Christmas, but now the wait I'd becoming unbearable. I just want to KNOW now!!

tiggytape Wed 16-Jan-13 08:47:56

MerryCouthyMows - I sympathise. The secondary school wait feels like forever. We did ours last year: some of the Open Days were in the Summer, the application process opened in September, the deadline was October 31st and results day was March 1st. It pretty much took over the whole of Year 6 right up until SATS but that's because we live in an area with not enough places and where people can commute to grammars so nobody felt they were in a safe position and everyone (without a sibling) was anxious about it.

sanam2010 Wed 16-Jan-13 09:31:43

Slp, i am sure eventually it will happen much faster but i do think there's still quite a lot of parents who do paper applications and then council workers will type that all in manually, plus you have the annoying voluntary aided schools that need to check as well - and their forms are usually all paper.

If it wasn't for this, I agree with you the computer programme should actually be able to generate admissions lists within minutes...

prh47bridge Wed 16-Jan-13 13:12:10

I disagree with sanam2010.

Tiggy's list of what has to happen is a good start but there is a lot more to it than that:

- If a parent has applied to a school in another LA the council has to contact the LA concerned and give them the required details

- The council also needs to get details from other LAs of anyone from outside the area who has applied for one of their schools

- If parents have claimed priority on medical/social grounds the LA has to get consider the evidence provided and decide whether or not the child qualifies

- If the parents haven't provided all the evidence required to support their application (e.g. proof of address or evidence for a claim for medical/social priority) many councils will contact the parents and remind them to submit the information. The LGO regards this as good customer care. Indeed, in one case the LGO suggested that, if the parents still did not provide the information after being reminded and were going to lose out on a place because of it, the council should ring the parents to chase the required evidence before making a final decision

- When the initial lists have been drawn up the council needs to tell the relevant LA for each external applicant whether or not that child has got a place

- Similarly for parents who have applied to schools in other LAs, the council needs to find out from those LAs whether or not a place has been allocated

- In some cases, the council will find that a parent has got a place in a school run by another LA but they don't need it as they have got a place at a higher preference school. They therefore need to contact the other LA to inform them that the place is not required

- Similarly, some external applicants won't require the place they have gained so, when the council is informed of this, they need to adjust the list for the relevant school

There is absolutely no way this could all be computerised so that admissions lists were generated in minutes.

tiggytape Wed 16-Jan-13 13:20:27

That is very true prh - I had forgotten about all the cross-county applications and the people who have to supply (and have assessed) documentary proof for priority admissions. I do feel sorry for the people who do it as it is a logistical nightmare and then, the day after offers day, the whole waiting list, appeals and query systems starts.
They must just about recover from one admissions round before the next one rolls around again.

sanam2010 Wed 16-Jan-13 15:18:23

Prh, at least for london, the online system is london wide so goes across all councils, the LA wouldn't need to be notified of anything. Maybe it's different in other parts of the UK but in london as of last year there is one unified online admissions system.

titchy Wed 16-Jan-13 15:24:39

Plenty of London boroughs border other LEAs sanam!

sanam2010 Wed 16-Jan-13 15:37:25

Well presumably one day in the future the system will be England wide!! The technology is there already, it just needs to be used and implemented. I don't think people will manually crosschecking these things in 2030 (at least i hope so!).

marquesas Wed 16-Jan-13 15:43:16

I didn't realise that schools themselves decided who qualified for admission - is that that case in all areas? I'm pretty sure that when I was a school gov the school itself didn't know which children had been offered places until the date when parents were informed.

I'm not sure that such a complex system could be computerised as there are so many different individual circumstances.

titchy Wed 16-Jan-13 16:06:20

Doubt it sanem - that would mean 150 odd local authorities agreeing the same processes and to work together, and agreeing how to share the administrative and financial cost!

Suffolkgirl1 Wed 16-Jan-13 16:15:06

The schools won't know who has been offered a place they just rank the children in order according to their admission policy. However as they do not know the children's preferences they can't work out who has a place and who hasn't.

tiggytape Wed 16-Jan-13 16:54:39

They don't decide as such. Either a child qualifies or they don't - there's no discretion involved. A church school that prioritises siblings after baptism but before distance for example would simply place all the children who've applied in a list with those who qualify most at the top and those who qualify least at the bottom.
They check baptismal certificates and dates, then check the people who say they have a sibling actually do (eg a Year 6 pupil wouldn't count as a sibling) then they look at distances from the school to place the rest using the approved calculation method.

The schools is none the wiser about who will eventually attend. For all they know, the 30 who best qualify may all have listed another church school as their first choice and also qualify for that one so be going there instead. Just as the person at the bottom of their list might have put the school as their first choice but probably won’t get it offered. They simply tell the council how well each child qualifies and then the council gives each child the school they ranked highest on their form that they also qualify for.

prh47bridge Wed 16-Jan-13 18:45:06

sanam2010 - I am aware of the London-wide system. It doesn't simplify things as much as you think. It seems that every year recently I advise at least one parent in London who applied for a school in a neighbouring LA and didn't get it because their home LA didn't send the required information, despite both LAs using the London-wide system.

Even if we get a national system that handles cross-LA applications automatically (unlikely) there is still a lot of manual work to do. For example, the evidence for every child claiming priority on medical/social grounds has to be looked at by a panel including appropriately qualified professionals who decide whether or not the child qualifies.

MerryCouthyMows Thu 17-Jan-13 14:45:14

Applications for September 2015 are going to he even worse for me - I will have a Secondary Application to do for DS2, probably without a sibling link if DS1 gets into the Grammar, as DD will have left, AND a Primary application for DS3 without a sibling link, as DS2 will be in Y6, leaving for Secondary.

In an area that is going to be 120 places short for Secondary places and 187 short for Primary places for 2015 start. With no additional schools being opened in time, and no space at the existing Primaries or Secondaries to expand ANY further as they have already expanded to their maximum capacity...

I'm going grey just thinking about it!!

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