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How do I find out if admission criteria has been applied correctly?

(26 Posts)
GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 12:51:22

We didn't get any of our preferred schools, despite our first choice being our nearest school. The school have told me that we were 63 or 64 on the list of places, with 60 being the admitted number.

I rang the admissions team and was told that the distance of the last child admitted was e.g. 0.438 miles away from the school. Yet our distance from the school was given as exactly the same distance (0.438) as that by the LEA when I emailed last year for a list of our nearest schools. How can three or four other people all be ahead of us on the list, as well as those children admitted at that distance, all living exactly the same distance!?

I've also found out that a child ahead of us lives closer to a different school, but is higher on the list than we are, despite the school being our nearest. The admission criteria states that those preferring their nearest school are given priority. Then goes on to state that those living nearest to the school in a straight line are admitted. So, is it those living nearest, or those living nearest for whom the school is their nearest, who get the priority?

I'm wondering how I can find out if the distances and criteria have been applied correctly? Will the LEA give me that information or will they try to cover up?

Many thanks for any advice or experiences!

t4gnut Wed 20-Apr-16 13:56:09

You can ask them what category you were in and check you agree, and get them to confirm the calculated distance used for you, and you can check how the school determines distance (ie to front door of reception)

As to whether person ahead of you lives closer to a different school - that's irrelevant. Its distance to the school selected.

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 14:12:48

There's quite a few elements here:

1 Re distance - ask them to give you your calculated distance and the last distance offered. If they are indeed identical ask which tie breaker was applied.
It may be that they aren't quite identical. You may be 0.4389 and the other family may be 0.4381

Distances in my area are actually given to 4 decimal places!

2There may be 3 children ahead of you at 0.4381 if they are triplets or all live in the same block of flats or if 3 people moved to the area after the deadline and actually live 0.1 from the school but didn't get an offer initially because late applicants miss out.
Or there may be 3 children ahead of you who meet other criteria that has higher priority than distance. It doesn't point to a definite error and the council won't tell you about individual families but should be able to reassure you that your position is correct and they qualify more.

3The distance and nearest school thing entirely depends on which one has higher priority in admissions. I suspect living closer is higher priority and that's why the other family got in. It may also depend on how you define "nearest school" If you are measuring as the crow flies, it may be incorrect and they may use shortest walking route which actually makes you further away than you think (especially in the case of railway lines and rivers etc). It all depends on the order and the wording.

The council though should be happy to explain it to you and there is no harm in querying it

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 14:14:32

I know my decimals don't round up but you know what I mean - it could be a slight difference even though they seem practically identical

GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 14:24:39

Thanks for the responses.
I rang and queried the distance and apparently the person I spoke to yesterday quoted my distance as the one that was the last child admitted(!). They said that they won't have the information about the last child admitted until September, as there is another reshuffle and second allocation of spaces at the end of the month and then a waiting list is compiled. They can't tell me where I am on the list currently, as there isn't one, apparently. I am going by what the head told me about the last list she saw.
The person on the phone confirmed that nearest school is given as a higher priority. Two schools are next to each other and each have a semi-circle around them of where their admissions come from, iyswim. The other child is in the 'other' semi circle, with no other priorities or siblings.
Can you appeal at any time or does it have to be before the start of the school year? I'm undecided and might wait until September when I know for definite the cut off distances and other children etc. I feel like I only have suspicions and the council aren't forthcoming with information.
It doesn't affect me too much at the minute as I've decided that my daughter will be staying in nursery for an extra term as she is summer born.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 14:25:39

Ps distance is measured in a straight line from centre of dwelling to centre of school building.

GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 14:27:10

To add - by saying it doesn't affect me too much at the minute, I mean, I have time to play with, rather than her having to be in school in September.

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 14:30:39

If you think you may lodge an appeal, do so now and then you can always retract it later (appeals won't be heard until around June so it gives you plenty of time to decide whether to go ahead). If you appeal late, it is heard late - possibly not until after the summer holidays which, if there is a problem, would be very annoying.

You don't need to fill out your entire case just yet - you can just list bullet points one of which would be "I am concerned that an error in allocations denied my child a place"

GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 14:37:57

Ok thanks for the advice. Lots to think about!

golfball Wed 20-Apr-16 17:11:58

I rang the admissions team and was told that the distance of the last child admitted was e.g. 0.438 miles away from the school. Yet our distance from the school was given as exactly the same distance (0.438) as that by the LEA when I emailed last year for a list of our nearest schools. How can three or four other people all be ahead of us on the list, as well as those children admitted at that distance, all living exactly the same distance!?

It's not unusual for children to have the same distance as others. As Tiggy said, the number of decimal places is important, but even so it's perfectly possible for several families to have exactly the same distance. That is why admissions policies are supposed to have details of what they do in the event of a tie-breaker - e.g. random allocation. Do check that in the policy because if they haven't specified what they would do in those circumstances, and you know the distances are identical, I would expect you'd have grounds for appeal.

However, there is plenty of time for 3 people ahead of you to drop out before September, especially if you're in an area where lots go private, so you might be fine anyway.

TimeOfGlass Wed 20-Apr-16 18:40:32

I thought that the admissions teams could give information about the last child offered a space at this stage?

DS1 didn't get into our preferred school last year. I rang the admissions team to ask for more information, and they told me the distance of the last child offered a space, the distance they had for us, and that DS1 had been the third child refused a space at preferred school.

(3rd to be refused is obviously not necessarily the same as 3rd on the waiting list, as it doesn't take into account late applications, people turning down the offered space at preferred school, or people deciding not to join the waiting list. But it gave us an initial idea of where we might stand)

admission Wed 20-Apr-16 18:46:50

The reality is that if you appeal then your appeal will be in June / July and you will get to hear far more about the facts over the distance measurement at the appeal than you will by waiting for some list in September.
Make sure that you are on the waiting list for the school,don't assume you are and get it is writing. Then get the appeal form in. You only need to say you are appealing on the basis that the distance of the last entry is the same as your distance and you query whether you have been disadvantaged. You can then fill in the gaps when you know when the appeal is.
If the admission number is 60, then any appeal is going to be an infant class size appeal, so the only realistic way of winning at appeal is because a mistake was made. With regard to the distance, yes the computer software will easily go down to 4 decimal points but with that comes a need to be absolutely sure what has been measured. They say they are measuring from the seed point on your building to the seedpoint on the school, but have they actually done that is a question that needs to be answered by them at appeal.

yarpyarp Wed 20-Apr-16 18:53:39

Watching this with interest as also weighing up whether to appeal or not

GentlyGentlyOhDear Wed 20-Apr-16 21:05:05

Thanks for the advice.
I am going to put in a written request for the distance of the last child offered a space at this point and the distance they have for us, what category they have us under, and how they measure the distances.
Any idea how I can check whether their distances are correct? Do I use an online map or calculator?
Cheers again.

prh47bridge Wed 20-Apr-16 23:52:40

Any tool you use for checking the distance will be less accurate than the one used by the LA. All you can do is apply a sanity check to see if their distance is in the right region. If an online tool gives a vastly different distance to the one used by the LA it may indicate a mistake. Remember that most online tools measure from the centre of the area covered by the postcode rather than from your house. This can make a significant difference to the result.

Mamabear12 Thu 21-Apr-16 07:47:24

I do not think you can ever really know for sure. I just realised that they were not applied correctly for last year in nursery. I was speaking to someone in my daughters class who has a sibling in the school. She told e her daughter got in at last minute and was 7th on the list! I wa surprised as siblings get priority at the school. It is listed as the criteria for nursery. My daughter was number 1 on waiting list w no sibling there! I was very surprised. They other family live a little further then us, so maybe they only looked at distance, which is strange when she has a sibling there! And this year I spoke to someone who lives half the distance I do and said she is third on list. I was surprised and she said bc there were so many siblings this year! So the girl last year in my daughters class criteria wasn't looked at correctly. I'm going to question the mother this morning...mainly out of curiosity. Bc we both got I. Reception to this school at least! Thank goodness as it was a school I was okay for my daughter to go to. Still bummed we didn't get first choice though, as it was a bilingual school. And the fact u can't be sure about admissions makes me wonder...

tiggytape Thu 21-Apr-16 08:36:48

Mamabear - if someone with a sibling misses the deadline, they may not get an offer initially but will probably get one from the waiting list.
This is because people who apply late get put to the bottom of the pile so won't get into an oversubscribed school even if they meet the criteria whereas there is no penalty for late applicants on the lists so those with siblings are moved to nearer the top.

Perhaps a mistake did occur with her application but it also may have been something else like her applying late or not ticking the sibling box etc.

t4gnut Thu 21-Apr-16 08:58:06

The school gate rumour mill is the worst place in the world to get information on admissions.....

drspouse Thu 21-Apr-16 09:05:21

In our area there is a deadline for waiting list and appeal applications and it's the same date (end of this month). Check you don't have deadlines for these.

FishWithABicycle Thu 21-Apr-16 09:19:50

I've calculated that there would be an area of 7000 square metres where the distance to a school would be rounded to 0.438 miles - it's a narrow band only 1.58 metres wide stretching in a circle of diameter 1400 metres. The same area is equivalent to a square of 83 metres along each side so in a typical suburban area I would expect such an area to contain the front door of around 20-30 houses so it is entirely possible that several of these houses have a child of the same age cohort.

bojorojo Thu 21-Apr-16 09:31:16

Can you appeal for a place in September knowing that you do not want it until January and are delaying for a term? That seems harsh on others who do want the place in September and have been denied. Do the school have to keep places open for all children who want to do this? It could be 1/3 of the cohort!

tiggytape Thu 21-Apr-16 09:42:51

However you get awarded your school place (appeal or in the usual way) you do not have to send your child in September.
And that applies to 100% of the cohort!

Children born Sept - Dec need not start until January.
Spring babies need to start by the summer term
Summer babies need to start in the summer term (they cannot wait until the next term else they'd lose their place).

Nobody needs to start in Sept if they don't wish to.

Mamabear12 Thu 21-Apr-16 09:43:57

It was not a rumour mill. Criteria is on website, spoke w office today. And mother of daughter didn't send application late. Didn't make any big deal of course bc this was last year, but just asking out of curiosity. I see the daughters mother every day at achool gate. She would never mistakenly forget to tick sibling box! There is always room for error. But problem is proving that! I'm just giving my feed back that I do not think that whoever does the admissions is always following criteria 100 percent. Maybe not on purpose, mistakes happen. The thing is u don't usually know about them. I only found out this one by accident. In the end the girl got into the school. Thank goodness for that! And we actually benefited from mistake as we were number 1 on the list. I didn't know any of this until way into the school year after randomly talking to the mom about admissions etc.

tiggytape Thu 21-Apr-16 09:44:10

And yes - the school has absolutely no choice but to keep the places open of all the children who decide to delay their start date. Which is as it should be. School places are never first come, first served.

bojorojo Thu 21-Apr-16 09:52:40

If everyone delays, staffing must be a nightmare for schools and never mind the lack of money coming in! Who would be a headteacher? (Only joking!)

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