Ds did not get his first choice for primary school. He got the second choice which is a sought after faith (Catholic-we are Catholic) school at some distance from our home. I was really shocked at this at the time as the school offered is so sought after I didn't think anyone would get it if it wasn't their first choice.
Anyway. I was happy enough with the offer. Today I heard that someone who was not Catholic and put it down as their first choice didn't get the school. I'm now worried that they will work out that it wasn't our first choice and our offer will be withdrawn.
Can this mistake have happened? And can they withdraw our offer?
Yes. Your order of preference only comes into play if you come far enough up the list of applicants for more than one school. They can only offer you one place, so they look at the order you placed them in, then offer you your preferred one and remove you from the list of your least preferred.
So in theory if I had put it as 4th choice I would still have been offered the school over non-Catholics who had put it as their first choice?
Yes the 1st choice, 4th choice thing is irrelevant here. All they care about is who qualifies for the school out of everyone who listed the school somewhere on their form - those people get offered the places no matter whether they listed it 1st or 4th.
The only time anyone looks at whether you listed a school 1st or 4th is if by some chance you happen to qualify for two or three different schools. You cannot be given more than one school offer so in those cases they use your list to give you the school you said you liked best out of the ones you qualify for.
There is absolutely no priority in the admissions system for a parent who likes the school more than you like it but who meets the criteria less well than you do.
So in theory if I had put it as 4th choice I would still have been offered the school over non-Catholics who had put it as their first choice? (Criteria is Catholics over non-Catholics) Absolutely correct Assuming that the schools you listed 1st, 2nd and 3rd couldn't offer you a place because you did not meet their criteria well enough then you have priority for the Catholic school you listed 4th and would have got an offer before every single non Catholic who listed it as their 1st (or any) choice.