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Why does it take so long for school allocation?

(10 Posts)
Zingy123 Wed 12-Feb-14 06:51:36

I am currently waiting to hear which secondary school my Dd has got into but this applies to primary too.

Here secondary applications had to be in by 31st October results 3rd March. So 4 months wait to find out.

Primary I think have to be in mid January find out in April. So 3 months wait to find out.

If it is a computer programme that decides it why does it take so long?

noramum Wed 12-Feb-14 07:06:03

If you read your council's explanations it will show you that there is normally a second deadline in February for late applications.

So while the January ones are processed the council then deals with the late ones and sends out the letters together.

I also very much doubt it is totally computer based as most church schools demand extra paperwork which needs to be processed manually.

As school only starts in September and most primaries do not start any welcoming days or similar before end of Summer term I can't see what the difference would be if I would have gotten my letter earlier.

For DD's Junior transfer the waiting period is just one week, just because it is a lot simpler.

ThreeBeeOneGee Wed 12-Feb-14 07:17:02

I have wondered this about secondary allocations. There was a documentary a couple of years ago about secondary transfer which included footage of the council doing this. The actual allocation process took less than 24 hours as it's computerised, but the staff spent several weeks beforehand having to check addresses and explaining to some parents that they had completed the form incorrectly.

RestingActress Wed 12-Feb-14 07:21:27

Children in care or with SN get places allocated first so there is often lots of reports and meetings to sort out those places first.

They have to make sure forms are filled in correctly and some schools require aptitude tests if they have some specialism. These tend to take place in December so then these places are allocated and need to come out if the general mix.

Then late applications have to be considered by feb so it's a long process to get everything lined up and correct before pressing the button.

AuntieStella Wed 12-Feb-14 07:21:30

How long do you think it should take?

And do you think the length of time is a reflection of insufficient staff on the task? If so, how many more would be needed to get the timings shortened to where they should be.

Bear in mind that deadline day and allocation day are set nationally, but presumably they have taken advice from councils on how long the process - and all the checking - typically takes.

Zingy123 Wed 12-Feb-14 07:21:56

Yes I think I saw the same documentary. My friend is a governor at a school that requires additional forms. She said they get sent a list of those who have applied and they rank them in order and return it to the council. This only takes one day to do.

Here the majority apply online so it's not because they have to input all the applications onto their computers.

tiggytape Wed 12-Feb-14 09:14:12

The councils in most areas now also carry out checks on each applicant.
They use the parents' name and address to check council tax records and make sure people aren't lying about their address or renting an extra home to increase their chances of getting a better school.

In borderline cases, more checks will be done - the council can contact primary schools to see which previous addresses the parents have used on school documents for example.

They will also try to contact all parents who have filled out their forms unwisely. The people who list one school 6 times or the people who only list schools miles away that they'll never get into with no local back-up at all. They will try to ensure everyone has submitted at least one realistic choice.

They also have children who will be applying using special criteria like having been adopted from care or exceptional medical needs. All of these applications require extra paperwork and sometimes a meeting to discuss the medical condition listed and how well it meets the criteria stated. Even the ones who state they have a sibling have to be checked to ensure the sibling will still be at the school when the new child starts and that they are a sibling as defined by the criteria i.e. live in the same home.

Then there are late applicants. Some will be late with a good reason and be on time to be added to the pile. Some will be too late and not added in until later.

And the checking. Yes a lot of it is done by computer matching parent preferences to the schools they qualify for but there are also extra checks in place since the consequences of accidentally offering places to the wrong people would affect hundreds of others too.

prh47bridge Wed 12-Feb-14 09:52:07

The simple answer is that there is a lot of manual work involved and it all takes time. A simplified view of the process:

- The LA receives all the applications
- They sort out the list of applicants for each school
- Some people will have applied for schools in neighbouring LAs. The LA notifies the LAs concerned
- Some people in neighbouring LAs will have applied for schools in this LA. The LA needs to make sure it has been informed of all such applications
- The LA checks for applicants giving a misleading address to try and get a place at a popular school. This can happen in parallel with the next few steps
- The LA forward the list of applicants to schools that are their own admission authority
- Claims for sibling priority are checked
- Where appropriate claims for priority on social or medical needs are reviewed by an appropriate panel to determine whether or not applicants qualify
- Any schools using fair banding test all applicants so that they can put them into the appropriate bands
- Any schools giving priority for aptitude in certain subjects test applicants to determine who qualifies
- Schools that are their own admission authority send back the sorted lists of applicants. This will normally take days if not weeks as decisions must be made by a committee of the governors and many such schools have to match up the applicants with supplementary forms before making decisions
- The LA sorts out the initial list of offers for each school
- Where out of LA applicants get places the relevant LAs are informed
- Where applications have been forwarded to neighbouring LAs the LA needs to find out whether or not they have a place
- The LA may be told that some out of LA applicants don't need the place they've got so that has a knock on effect
- The LA may find that some applicants have places in out of LA schools which may also have a knock on effect

All of this has to happen before offers can be sent. And, as I say, that is a somewhat simplified view of the process. That is why it takes several months.

Zingy123 Wed 12-Feb-14 11:18:34

Thanks everyone I'm just impatient and want to know asap.

mummytime Wed 12-Feb-14 11:43:01

It is also because the government has set one day on which all secondary parents find out which schools their children have been allocated, and this has now been carried over for primary.

It is better, as you don't get some people knowing before other, some people knowing they didn't get choice 1 because they get choice 2 which was from a different LA which sent out earlier, the admissions people and schools know just when everyone is going to start phoning, and actually the children are less stressed as there is only one day to think about knowing.

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