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How much do waiting lists move really?

(15 Posts)
djini Mon 18-Apr-16 22:10:36

Just got our primary school offer for DD1 (south London). Sixth preference. Sixth! It's not our closest (4 others on our list were closer, and the same size intake), and it's not a great school at all sad No grounds for appeal (that we know of, yet) so onto the waiting lists we go.

Everything I read seems to indicate that there's a lot of movement on the waiting lists between the acceptances/rejections being received (by early May) and September (and beyond). But I don't understand how there can be loads of movement. Do people really get a place at an outstanding school and then pass it up? And does that mean people who are at number 5 in a list might be hopeful about getting a place or number 20? How much movement is "a lot"?

I know we can't know specifics until end may, but I'm itching to know whether to expect a lot of shuffling around and new offers or does this really only happen to a handful of people?

Also, how would we know if we got a new offer?

In the meantime, pass the wine

tiggytape Mon 18-Apr-16 22:15:40

* Do people really get a place at an outstanding school and then pass it up?*
Yes of course for all sorts of reasons (new job, private school, want a school near their work not their home so are waiting on lists, Home Ed, get another local school offered from the waiting list that they prefer)

Just one person declining their place creates loads of new offers in the system in a sort of cascade effect eg:

Somewhere a family planning to move abroad accepted their school place earlier today 'just in case' the move falls through. But when the move goes ahead in May they will relinquish this place. This creates a vacancy.

The person at the top of the waiting list for the Australian family's school gets offered that new vacancy which immediately creates a new vacancy at the school the new family were originally offered in April.

This new vacancy goes to the first person on the waiting list who then relinquishes the place at another school they've accepted previously which is then offered to a person who is waiting for it...... and so on.

You only need this to happen a few times for huge movement on the lists to occur but it does all take some time to trickle down.
If you add into that the fact that some areas open bulge classes creating 30 new offers overnight sometimes, you can see how much change can happen in the coming months.

tiggytape Mon 18-Apr-16 22:20:40

Sorry bold and typing fails all over there but hopefully you can see how it might work. One person rejecting a place and leaving the system in some way creates potential vacancies at many schools as a direct result.

The same applies where people were offered a school place today but already know they will go private. Some will tell the council this week that they don't need their state school offer so the people at the top of the list will be given it (and then those people won't need their original offer anymore so someone on another list will get an offer which means they won't need their original offer anymore....)

Some people hold on to their state school offer until they are sure they want to commit to school fees and this will create new vacancies later in the summer when they give officially give up their places. So even after the initial rush, new places can still come up right through to Christmas at least.

ChablisTyrant Mon 18-Apr-16 22:21:27

Yes, in London you'll go up and down all those waiting lists like a yo-yo as children get re-allocated all over the place. Annoyingly, many of the private school people don't relinquish their places for some time. Don't treat this as the final allocation. Get on a load of waiting lists and see what happens!

Witchend Mon 18-Apr-16 22:40:49

Can also depend on the year and what happens. Dd1's year accepted 4 off the waiting list before the induction days and by the second term in year 1 had 5 more left and places filled. A similar number left/joined in year 2.
Ds' year, same school had no waiting list places filled until one boy left in the spring term of year 2.

djini Thu 21-Apr-16 09:52:43

Thank you for those replies. Very helpful.

I'm still pissed off about the offered place of our sixth pref school (which tbh we only put down to avoid being given something miles away on the other side of the borough) but I have accepted the offer (begrudgingly) and requested to be on the waiting lists for the other five schools we applied to. Hope it helps. Am praying to the waiting list gods.

In the meantime, the offer letter from the council said that we could ask for details about why we didn't get a higher placed school, so I called them up. They told me to email and I did, asking about criteria applied and distance. I've just called to chase it up and they tell me that it's ten working days to get a response.

I don't get why it takes so long and why they can't tell me over the phone. They must know already, surely?

I also realise I'm being unreasonable and that knowing these details won't help until I can also know where we are on the waiting lists, and that information isn't available until late May (though people on MN seem to be getting that information much sooner! How??) but I just feel really frustrated and powerless.

Lindy2 Thu 21-Apr-16 09:59:52

I know a child who went on a waiting list for a very sought after secondary school out of catchment area. She was bottom of the list with at least 20 children ahead of her. She's just been offered a place there. It's an area where many will have gone private so that may have helped quite a lot.

TimeOfGlass Thu 21-Apr-16 10:11:15

I don't get why it takes so long and why they can't tell me over the phone. They must know already, surely?

Maybe it's to do with the number of similar enquiries they're getting?

When we were going through this last year, I was given all this information over the phone within a few days of offer day - but I live in a less populated area than London, where a high percentage of children got the first place school.

They will have information about criteria applied, distance etc - but - if they've got lots and lots of parents who are trying to find out information because they didn't get their preferred school, they may simply not have the manpower to get the information right away when a parent calls?

mrsmortis Thu 21-Apr-16 10:12:42

It's only anecdotal but it might help you a bit: my DD1 was 4th on the waiting list for her primary school 3 years ago when the lists came out. It is single form entry so there are 30 places. She was offered a place there in mid June, the week before the induction sessions.

djini Thu 21-Apr-16 10:22:02

Thank you for encouragement, sympathy and head wobbling. Sorry for ranting. Yes, I know I'm being unreasonable and they must be run off their feet. I won't call again until I've got this email response and some actual data.

I did just call one of the academies which was higher on our prefs (they deal with applications directly) and discovered that their furthest offered place was to a child less than 500m away. That tells you something about schools around here.

Petal26 Thu 21-Apr-16 12:56:38

We've been offered our third choice.
Our first two choices were both class sizes of 17 and then our third choice is the largest school in the area with an intake of 60 this year so we knew we'd get that one...
We are semi rural and within the catchment for last year's intake for our first choice so I was very optimistic.
I've rang our admissions team and they will not give any information about waiting list positions until 13th May confused, once everyone has responded and they have sorted the info...
The only information they could give me was the distance from the school of the last child that got a place and then they told me our distance. Was within metres for both...
I'm really hoping for movement on the waiting lists!

Vickster99 Thu 21-Apr-16 13:52:26

I'm North London and my daughter is in reception at a very sought after school. Not the sort of school you'd give up in favour of another local state school. So far we have had 4 children leave her class mid year, as far as I know all left the area, some to the home counties, others abroad. Things definitely move quickly in London so dont lose hope.

masy45 Thu 21-Apr-16 16:28:06

There's nothing certain about waiting lists. It appears that there is more movement in cities. We've been 1st on a waiting list (provincial town) for almost 2 years. No-one has left. In my daughter's school (60 intake) no-one left during reception year and no-one turned down a place. 2 have since left in Y1. Ironically her brother didn't get a place at her school, but the one we're still on the list for (out of catchment - missed by 100m - so did 11 other siblings), so we're still hoping for someone in the other school to leave. Fingers crossed for those waiting.

GingerC Thu 21-Apr-16 16:36:18

We emailed our admissions team and they told us our position on the reserve lists. How often do you think is it reasonable to contact them to check the new positions? I assume it's not worth it until at least May?
Would be nice if there was a website where you could check.


CointreauVersial Thu 21-Apr-16 16:39:55

It's a long game, OP - it may be a couple of months before you get news.....frustrating I know.

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