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Distances from school - how measured

(23 Posts)
itsahen Wed 12-Feb-14 21:09:17

I was wondering if anyone knows exactly how distances are measured for admissions? I know in principle it's on a map in a straight line (in our area), but what if several people have houses around the same distance? I know 5 people who are all the same distance, so some are likely to not get a place?

TheGreatHunt Wed 12-Feb-14 21:38:27

It depends a
But I think they use computer software which is incredibly accurate and measures to the middle of the property?

tiggytape Wed 12-Feb-14 21:58:56

For schools that use straight line measurements, there is special software accurate to a few cm.

It uses a datum point on your house (normally the centre of the property) and a fixed point at the school (the gates or the centre of the office) and measures the distance in km accurate to several decimal places.
If there is even 15cm difference between one house and the other, that will be used as the deciding factor.

If it is a block of flats they will say which ones get priority or if all are treated as being the same distance.

If there is ever a case where the last place to be offered is tied, there will be a tie breaker in the criteria to decide between the two eg names out of a hat overseen by an impartial person. This is very unlikely though since most addresses will vary even by just a few cm in their distances to school.

itsahen Wed 12-Feb-14 22:12:45

Thank you. I wondered how it was done. The distance used for us when we applied for the the school nursery looked a bit odd so I was concerned.

prh47bridge Wed 12-Feb-14 23:36:49

Odd in what way? If it is hugely different from what you were expecting it is possible they were measuring from the wrong address. It shouldn't happen but it isn't entirely unknown.

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 00:24:14

I'm always told "as the crow flies" - so totally disregarding roads, access, traffic etc.

homeworkmakesmemad Thu 13-Feb-14 00:32:24

My mum is the chair of a board of governors for a nursery school - she is responsible for admissions. She has a trundle wheel and literally walks the distance from the front door of the school to the house in question as it would be walked or driven. She has built up quite a database over the years so knows for instance that from the nursery to the end of street A is so many metres and then if the applicant is at no.17 she just has to walk from the end of the street up to no.17. They are always oversubscribed 2-1 and so there have been instances where a child has got in but a neighbour just 2 or 3 doors away hasn't. This is in NI by the way.

fortyplus Thu 13-Feb-14 00:36:45

In Hertfordshire it's the 'shortest safe walking route' from your front door to the school's main entrance - not as the crow flies.
You can go on the schools admissions website and it will tell you the exact distance to the nearest metre.

steppemum Thu 13-Feb-14 00:42:49

It does vary from council to council, and it should state on their website.

Some use a distance via a pedestrian route, so if a school is built next to a motorway with no footbridge, you don't get families on the other side of the motorway getting in who then have a 20 minute circular route by car round the motorway to get there.

Some use front door to front door, as the crow flies

Some use centre of school roof to centre of house roof

and so on.

Friends of ours live in a new build and at their appeal (which they lost) they asked how the distances had been measured. They were told on google map, centre of roof to centre of roof. Their house wasn't get on google, and the council had no answer as to how the distances had ten been calculated!

CouthyMow Thu 13-Feb-14 00:58:09

Steppe mum - did they complain to the LGO?

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 01:35:28

forty

that's interesting.
yet another post code lottery type thing <sighs>

itsahen Thu 13-Feb-14 08:12:52

Yes it's crow flies here. I had us down as closer than they measured. It looked like they had done it just using postcodes. When I used our raw post code on a map tool it came out at the exact distance they told me we were, to 3 decimal points. Our road is long however and lots of houses with same postcode etc That left me wondering. Massively oversubscribed school, where a few houses make a big difference !

chickabilla Thu 13-Feb-14 08:19:29

Ours was done on walking distance and they did get it wrong as there was a footpath not used on their tool so we got in on appeal.

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 08:24:34

chika

that is astonishing!
you must have felt elated to win!
Congrats!

<starts training a crow to fly faster between the school and homegrin >

daytoday Thu 13-Feb-14 08:25:51

You can call / email your council to get an exact measurement.

tiggytape Thu 13-Feb-14 09:16:20

yet another post code lottery type thing <sighs>

Sort of. Every council in the country makes an admission mistake at some time or another. Distance is a less excusable error though. Many council use "as the crow flies" and can demonstrate they are accurate enough to differentiate between houses on the same street. Postcode alone is no where near good enough.

If you are suspicious of the measurement they quote, you can ask them to send a pdf file or a printout of the map from their system that will show your datum point and the school's fixed measuring point.

The tricky one is the councils that favour "shortest safe walking route" because what they define as safe isn't always what parents define as safe and they often disregard parks and shortcuts that aren't main roads (they are allowed to do this if they say unlit roads or ones without pavements don't count).

If the council use the wrong route or measure incorrectly, you can appeal but you will not win unless the council's error directly cost you a place. If the corrected measurement is still too far away to get a place, you won't win at appeal simply because they made a mistake.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Feb-14 09:23:29

It looked like they had done it just using postcodes

It could be that you happen to live at the centre point of your postcode. But if the LA is using postcodes rather than actual addresses that is wrong. Their admissions booklet should state how they measure distances. If it says they use postcodes you should refer that to the Schools Adjudicator as that is not acceptable. If it says they measure from your property to the school and you think they have got it wrong you should do as Tiggy suggests and ask them for a map showing the datum points.

steppemum Thu 13-Feb-14 09:38:23

couthy - they didn't complain, but actually it wouldn't have made any difference at all, their whole estate was in a school wasteland, fell between all the schools in terms of distance and they all got offered schools miles away. Even a detailed map wouldn't have helped. The council had failed to plan for the extra kids on the new estate, no extra classes put on to the local schools etc.

Councils comment? We didn't think that families would move into all these 2 bed houses hmm

tiggytape Thu 13-Feb-14 09:52:43

Our council say the same about flats steppemum! Flats that are located right next to very popular primary schools.

And they are also surprised when anyone who currently lives in a flat has a baby and doesn't immediately move out of London to the countryside!
And they assume that the people who could afford to live in houses before having babies are all going to turn down their good local school and go private.

Our council employs a lot of wishful thinking to magic away the school place shortages!

littlemrssleepy Thu 13-Feb-14 10:03:13

Cambridgeshire this year did this - you should be able to find the rules your area uses on their website:

Distance within Cambridgeshire is calculated by measuring a straight line
from the reference point of the home, as determined by the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) or OS AddressBase Premium™ after
October 2014, to the reference point of the school.

For families who live outside of Cambridgeshire, straight line distances are determined using a combination of local maps and on-line resources.
Distances for transport purposes are measured by the shortest available
route.

In the event of (a) two or more children living at the same address point
(e.g. children resident in a block of flats) or (b) two addresses measuring the same distance from the school, the ultimate tiebreaker will be random selection, witnessed by the Council officer, independent of the Admissions
Team.

BlueDesmarais Thu 13-Feb-14 10:25:14

Some do it in a straight line on a map. This is considered to be one of the fairer methods.

Some boroughs still do a 'safest walking distance', which means they can choose to ignore a walking route they consider unsafe or are unaware of, such as cutting through an alley or a park.

You should be able to go on your council's website and have a look at your area-specific rules. You might also be ale to see the kinds of distances that get into certain schools. For example, we have one that fills up within 200 metres of the door, but others might have taken kids from up to 700m away, even though they're popular - not a lot of children on the nearby streets, for example. It'll give you an idea of schools you have a chance at, and ones you may as well kiss goodbye to (although, who knows, if there's no reception-starting-age kids around you could have a lucky year.)

itsahen Thu 13-Feb-14 17:43:37

Thank you everyone. Application is in, I had the data for the last few years etc but was not sure how they got the exact distance if loads of people are similar for the reception intake. I know 4 other families all very slightly further from us, but all around exactly the same distance. April 16 will be interesting !!!

itsahen Thu 13-Feb-14 17:44:33

Our school also has big grounds and us big generally so where it is measured from will make a big difference.

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