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What to say so that your first-choice school will give its place to your child?

(43 Posts)
Fiona2011231 Wed 20-Nov-13 13:32:15

I put this question as a mother who still hopes my 4-year-old son can be accepted into our first-choice school. In Sept, we missed the place and the child is now number 7 in the waiting list.

I always thought simply that I should contact the council sometimes to ask about the waiting list.

However, now at least two of my friends claim that you have to contact the school itself to show how 'desperate' you are. The school will always say No to you first, that they do not have any power, and that you must contact the council. But apparently the reality is they will listen to your desperate voice and somehow you will get lucky.

Is it true? If it is true, then what exactly you should tell the school, knowing that the person on the phone will say No to you at first?

Thank you very much.

3bunnies Fri 22-Nov-13 12:49:21

Afraid didn't have much choice as was LEA administered at the time so all schools would have had same incompetence. Have seen our LEA slated on here before. Would be a bit silly to leave a good school because other people couldn't get a place. I am just saying that mistakes can and do happen but if you keep in touch you are more likely to be aware of them. Up to you whether you believe it or not smile

Floggingmolly Fri 22-Nov-13 11:55:57

3bunnies. I wouldn't want my children attending a school where places can become vacant and it's not actually noticed until those on the waiting list helpfully point it out? confused. not that I believe it anyway

DeWe Fri 22-Nov-13 10:06:06

Someone I know who is very intelligent and generally full of common sense told me that at the school open day (infants school) one of the governors told her that they had full control over admissions and could get their child in. hmm.
She also attended (with child) all 6 open days and made sure she personally spoke to the head to make sure they knew she was there, as she was told that would make a difference.
Slightly backfired on her when her child at the 6th open day (probably bored) scribbled on a piece of artwork, and she was convinced that would blacklist them grin

I suspect the governor was hoping for a backhander, and told her that I wouldn't want a school that had governors that were either misinformed or corrupt. I don't think that went down well.

(did get in anyway as it was undersubscribed)

prh47bridge Thu 21-Nov-13 23:35:14

Today the first case would not work. The older child might get priority once the younger child had been admitted but that is all.

The second case depends on the admission criteria. Some will include parental issues such as this in their "special medical needs" criteria and therefore the child would get priority. Some schools don't have such a category and many of those that do will only consider the child's needs not the parent's.

MrsYoungSalvoMontalbano Thu 21-Nov-13 19:38:50

I know of two cases where the parents were able to creatively circumvent the usual rules to do this, but both were several years ago so may not work now. The first case was a reception-year applicant who had a younger sibling with a disability that would mean he would get into the nearest school. the school then gave the elder sibling a place in reception. In the other case, the mother had a disability that meant she could argue that she could only walk the child to this specific school and no other. It could be done by persuasive and creative people - not sure how it would work now.

Floggingmolly Thu 21-Nov-13 19:25:36

Do you really imagine the school would let you leapfrog the waiting list because you can come up with a good sob story?
If that were possible, it wouldn't have gone unnoticed; people would be employing professional scriptwriters to up their chances.

3bunnies Thu 21-Nov-13 19:18:36

I would keep in touch with the school - you don't need to be having tea with the head but just keeping track of where you are on the list and whether any places have been offered. Also if you know anyone with dc in the school then asking them to let you know if they hear of any children moving. The school won't break the rules just because you ring them a lot - equally though they can't blacklist you for doing it.

You will though be able to make sure that they are administering the waiting list correctly. Ours wasn't for a while - they didn't seem to realise that places were becoming available and so didn't offer them out until then other siblings were offered a place, they joined the school - got to know a few parents and discovered that there were spaces the school wasn't aware of. By this time they had a sibling priority and so jumped up the waiting list. It is sorted now but it did leave the school open to appeals and it is possible that some children should have been offered places who weren't and would win an appeal.

You won't get a place just by hassling them but you might make sure that when your turn comes you are offered the place.

DoesZingBumpLookBigInThis Thu 21-Nov-13 18:54:38


I know but I'm desperate.

BettyandDon Thu 21-Nov-13 18:39:38

I'm sure the CoE schools near us are passed the waiting lists from May each year so I imagine it is very hard to identify if the admissions codes are strictly enforced. Interesting...

I'm sure i. state schools there is less doubt.

teacherwith2kids Thu 21-Nov-13 18:31:47

SharesinNivea- I'm glad that your situation has been sorted eventually!

ClayDavis Thu 21-Nov-13 18:23:02

The LA admissions booklet should tell you how they decide in the case of a tie break on distance, Zing. I suspect it's likely to be random lottery. What you've put almost certainly won't make any difference,

DoesZingBumpLookBigInThis Thu 21-Nov-13 18:00:38

there's nothing you can say if it id solely based on distance.

but we will put down everything we can think of (father went there, 4 brothers went there, we've been supporting the PTA actively for 9 years etc) - just in case it's between him and another child who lives the same distance away.
it might not help.

I am trying to not worry about it (or I'll cry)
if he doesn't get it we are screwed as if he doesn't get in in our chosen one straight away he'll have no chance in the 2nd or 3rd choices as they are all over-subscribed.
he'll be on the waiting list and remain on it as long as needed.

he'll carry on going to playgroup until his 5th birthday and I will have to home school him until he has a place - with a 2.5 year old and a newborn in tow (#7 is due in July).

<sticks head back in sand>

Ladymuck Thu 21-Nov-13 17:10:05

Certainly with independent schools it is worth keeping in touch. Admission registrars trying to fill a space will prefer to avoid writing and phoning each parents on the list if they have an eager parent at the right time.

I think it is worth keeping in touch over any waiting list. My niece was at the top of the waiting list for her closest state school, so dbro was suitably surprised to find the place had gone to another child. After enquiring it became apparent that a mistake had been made, and she got a place (in addition to the other child). If he hadn't been in regular contact he wouldn't have known.

prh47bridge Thu 21-Nov-13 14:27:53

Mintyy - If they are fiddling their lottery or in some other way subverting the waiting list someone should report them to the EFA. They will mend their ways pretty quickly when they realise they can lose their funding for this type of behaviour.

MadamNoo - Five years ago schools generally handled their own waiting lists. We have been through a period where the LA has to deal with the waiting list for all community and VC schools in their area but now some LAs are passing this back to schools. There is always the risk of this kind of thing happening where the school manages its own waiting list - indeed, even having the list officially managed by the LA never entirely stopped it. A few successful appeals due to this behaviour often brings the school into line but there will always be the occasional head teacher who thinks the rules don't apply to them.

sharesinNivea Thu 21-Nov-13 13:18:05

Not necessarily wrong.

After a year on the waiting list and then finding out some councils have a 'secret service' called the Education Entitlement Team, and probably also the daily nagging and reasoning I instigated with the old infant school head and the personal interviews I requested with the proposed infant school head, emails to my local MP, chewing miles of red tape looking for loopholes (and there's barely any, but they do exist), then learning that Admissions like to place children at the start of any new term even if it means increasing the class size, eventually my child got a transfer place in Year 2.

However, her brother had started Reception at this school by then (although younger sibling criteria doesn't officially apply) and I had moved to a different town and couldn't afford the travel costs between old and new school or the logistics of two at different schools, plus the old school head hated me asnwemwere probably solely responsible for their poor grading on attendance due to my travel problems so was glad to get rid. The new school head said they'd had many talks together about it... So I may have just had a good case.

Request an appointment with the proposed school's head and keep ringing Admissions daily. Pester, pester, pester.

SidandAndyssextoy Thu 21-Nov-13 12:01:52

Sometimes maybe it seems like that. My husband was convinced his son had got into his over subscribed primary because he had begged the head teacher. I had to tell him several times that it happened because his older sister joined at the 'same time' basically going into a higher year and making her brother a sibling and top of the waiting list. For years he thought his pleading letter had succeeded.

Mintyy Thu 21-Nov-13 11:31:59

Prh - the two schools concerned re. my post are both academies, one of which has a lottery system for admissions. And, of course, it is not just the three children affected, there will be five other children in future years who won't get in to those schools because of the sibling policy.

MadamNoo Thu 21-Nov-13 11:05:23

I believe my son got his primary place from being plucked off the waiting list by the headteacher (not by being at the top of it necessarily) and the reason is that this is what the head teacher more or less told me. she's the type who likes a nod and a wink and having the inside info, pulling the strings etc. so it may be that she just wanted me to feel she'd done us a favour. however my understanding is that after all the places have been assigned, the waiting list is passed back to the school to administer (or was when my son started 5 years ago), so no-one is checking how the school apportion any places that come up. I took two tours of the school and chatted a lot with the head about how keen I was for him to go there, and called up/popped in a few times to ask the ladies in the office about the waiting list, whether places ever come up in-year etc so they definitely knew me and my son (disgusting pushy middle-class parenting behaviour basically). he had four days at another primary and then I got a call from the head personally to say that someone had not turned up and would we like the place?

prh47bridge Thu 21-Nov-13 10:50:31

The rules for school nurseries are somewhat different to those for schools.

The Head teacher basically told her that she would ensure her child would get a place

If it is a community school or VC school the head teacher should have no involvement in the process. It is all handled by the LA.

I too know of 3 people who have got their children into their first choice state school and have bypassed the school's usual admissions process

Statements of SEN bypass the normal admission process. So do children admitted via the LA's Fair Access Protocol. In other circumstances it shouldn't happen. If the school is a community school or VC school the only way it can happen is if the school offers places direct to the parents, in which case the head teacher will be in trouble with the LA. If it is another type of school it is possible for this kind of thing to happen but it would mean, if true, that 3 families have been deprived of places that are rightfully theirs and should win an appeal.

I know of people locally to me who believe they have bypassed the usual admission process to get into their first choice school. In every single case they are wrong. Their attempts to bypass the process failed but a place came up in the normal way and was offered to them.

Tailtwister Thu 21-Nov-13 10:22:37

I know someone who wasn't in a catchment but got her child into the school nursery and herself onto the PTA. She literally campaigned for a year to get him in and she did. Getting placed out of catchment where we are is incredibly rare. In fact, when I called up about the same school (we live a few streets away) I was told there was no way we would get in as it was a small school and it was over subscribed in it's own catchment. The Head teacher basically told her that she would ensure her child would get a place.

Mintyy Thu 21-Nov-13 10:12:18

I too know of 3 people who have got their children into their first choice state school and have bypassed the school's usual admissions process. And this is not anecdotal, these people are known to me. But I am talking about secondary rather than primary.

DowntonTrout Thu 21-Nov-13 10:06:56

When my eldest were that age ( over 20 years ago) this was almost certainly true. Admissions have changed a lot since then though. Still, keeping in touch with the school, if the list has been passed on to them, cannot do any harm.

Slightly different, but youngest DD was first on waiting list for private prep. I was told a child was most likely leaving and if so, the place was ours ( no admission criteria other than first come first served) My friend rang me and was delighted at being offered a place and thought we must also have been offered as they were 2nd on the list. We hadn't though, so I rang the school, who confirmed it was a mistake and withdrew my friends offer and give the place to us. This all happened within a couple of hours but was still awful and our friendship never recovered.

Fiona2011231 Thu 21-Nov-13 09:47:54

The replies are very helpful. Reading this, I'm not sure if I would dare to call the school, though. Thank you very much.

madwomanintheatt1c Thu 21-Nov-13 00:33:03

'My child has a statement of special educational need and you are the named school on the statement'.

That's about it, really.

prh47bridge Thu 21-Nov-13 00:26:44

Parents who really want the school and are at or near the top of the list are often pretty active in checking for vacancies. If they thought someone had jumped the queue many of them will appeal and/or complain. That is usually (but not invariably) a pretty effective form of oversight and enforcement. The school will get its knuckles rapped if it is found to have administered the waiting list wrongly. Even LAs have been known to get it wrong (indeed, I can think of one that deliberately administers its waiting lists in a way that is contrary to the Admissions Code) so it is important to keep an eye on what is happening and kick up a fuss if you think they have admitted someone incorrectly.

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