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school says they will only take those for whom this school is first choice?!

(57 Posts)
Chandon Fri 19-Oct-12 10:20:33

Can this be true?

We have two good schools (lucky us) but our first choice is oversubscribed, and we cannot be sure of a place. Our second choice says they only take kids who have them as First choice!

Dilemma. But also, can this be true? that would mean we can end up with No school.

Are we being bullied into putting them down as our first choice? Can schools actually say they only want people who have them down as a first choice? Isn't it up to the LEA to decide where we are placed?

Bonsoir Fri 19-Oct-12 10:22:26

"First choice" is an American concept. When you apply to schools in New York, for example, you write a special letter to your first choice school explaining why.

Chandon Fri 19-Oct-12 10:27:37

I mean when applying for y7, you have to write down first, second choice etc, right?

The HT said, if we want DS to go to their school (local comprehensive), we can't have them down as their number 2 or 3 choice. They only want people who had them as their first choice.

Whereas I thought it went through the LEA, and they allocate a school?


We are in the South East

Bonsoir Fri 19-Oct-12 10:29:32

Why don't you call your LEA to check what the rules and decision process really are?

FoofyShmooffer Fri 19-Oct-12 10:32:42

That head is spinning you some utter bollocks. They have no say in it. The LA have a system. Yes the school might have specific criteria say if it's a faith school or voluntary controlled but ultimately the divvying out of places is done by the LA.
And no, 1st choice or no place cannot be one of the criteria.

Bonsoir Fri 19-Oct-12 10:34:22

If the head is lying about that, what else is he going to lie about? What kind of leadership is there at that school - corrupt and self-interested?

parachutesarefab Fri 19-Oct-12 10:35:16

Check with your LEA. It should be clear on their website, but phone if it isn't. In our area, and the surrounding LEAs, that isn't true.

Imagine Child A and Child B are both the same priority for school X (so both looked after, or both in catchment, or both have siblings at school X etc.). Child A puts school X as third choice, but doesn't get their first two choices.
Child B puts school X top of their list.
If Child A lives closer to school than Child B, Child A would get the place.

ObiWan Fri 19-Oct-12 10:35:28

Might they mean they are so oversubscribed that if you don't list them as 1st choice, you have no chance of getting in?

FoofyShmooffer Fri 19-Oct-12 10:35:38

Our first choice school have told us that if we don't put them first we won't get in purely on the basis that it is oversubscribed so beyond that your chances are none existent. Could he have meant that?

InterpretativeRepertoires Fri 19-Oct-12 10:37:54

In my LA, you pick three schools. The LA does the allocation, and the preference only works in your favour - if there are places at all three, you get your first choice. However, if there are only places at your second and third choices, you have the same treatment as those who put the school down as first place. It all boils down to meeting the criteria and how many spaces there are. In the event of over subscription, my LA operates a lottery. The school itself has no involvement - they get told who has been successful in applying to them, and don't get any input at all.

Maybe the school was trying to get across the message they they want people to actively chose them, not be full of kids who are disappointed they didn't get their first choice? In my area, the second-choice school is full of kids who didn't get the 'better' school, and the head of the second-choice school is very prickly about always being the bridesmaid...She is trying to change peoples' opinions, but every year she gets about 405 of kids who want to be there, and 60% kids who are only there because they dodn't get the 'better' school and so come in a bit grumpy about it all.

becstargazeypie Fri 19-Oct-12 10:38:04

Tell the LEA admissions contact. A primary head at a church school said this to me during a tour and I said 'Oh, that's weird. Well I'm going to the LEA admissions seminar at SureStart tomorrow, I'll ask them about that' and she started blustering and going all pink. We didn't apply to that school. They can take their 'Ofsted Outstanding' and take a running jump with it - I don't my son in a 'morally flexible' environment. Christian ethos my foot.

Blu Fri 19-Oct-12 10:40:39

It's complete bollocks.

Some schools say 'if you wnat to come here be sure to put us number one on your preference list' - because of course the LEA wll offer you whichever avavilable school place is highest on the list.

The system used to be different , but there is a law now called the.....I forget... but basically the LA send all the applications to the schools, the schools know who has applied, but not where on the list they are. The scools go through all the applications and judging them strictly against the published admissions criteria tell the LA who they can offer a place to. The LA then collates all the offers and if more than one school says it can make you an offer, they give you the offer from the school highest in your preference list. Then the computer does that a few more times, using up all the places and working down the schools lists until everyone has a place. Hopefully!

afaik it is against the law now forstate schools to use position on list as criteria, and anyway, if it isn't in their published admissions code, it won't be able to be a factor. And the LA doesn't tll them, anyway!

Which school is this?

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Fri 19-Oct-12 10:41:28

Chandon, if the school are doing this, it breaks the 'equal preference' rules, and will be grounds to win an appeal.

This is true up and down the country.

The HT is talking out of their arse.

I am under Essex LEA - is it the same LEA, or a different SE one?

The equal preference rules mean this :

The LEA look at your first choice. If you meet the admission criteria, but all the places are filled with people who meet the criteria but are closer, or you don't meet the admissions criteria, then you will not be allocated that school. You WILL however be put on the waiting list for that school.

The LEA then look at your second choice. BUT they treat it as if it had been your first choice. if you meet the criteria but all the places are filled by people who also meet the criteria but live closer than you, then you won't be allocated that school. You WILL however be placed in the waiting list.

The LEA then look at your third choice. BUT they treat it as if it had been your first choice. They see that you meet the admission criteria for that school, there are places left, so you get offered that school.

So what would happen in the case above is that on allocations day (1st March), you would get offered your third choice, but be placed on a waiting list (administered according to those school's admission criteria) for your first and second choice school.

You may be offered a place in your first or second choice school up until the 1st September - and sometimes later.

MissKeithLemon Fri 19-Oct-12 10:41:36

Church Schools may say this and mostly for the reason above. If they are oversubscribed already on 1st choice applications, the second & third choice won't even get a look in.
Its how my local church high school does it anyway and I can't see a way round it tbh.

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 19-Oct-12 10:43:06

It's not blackmail. It just means the school is always over subscribed so only people who put it as first choice will get an offer. It's quite a common thing.

Blu Fri 19-Oct-12 10:46:19

Foofy - but that info (^Our first choice school have told us that if we don't put them first we won't get in purely on the basis that it is oversubscribed so beyond that your chances are none existent^ ) isn't accurate, either.

If for example, an an atheist non-church goer put a highly oversubscribed faith school 8 miles away top of the list, followed by another equally unlikely option, and the local oversubscribed school after that, IF they live really close to the oversubscribed school, and therefore leet the local school's criteria of being admitted because they live closer than other applicants, then they will get in despite having put them 3rd.

You must put your preferences down in the actual order you really prefer. Because it will not affect your chances of getting in, but in the event of more than one school making an offer, the only offer you will get is the one highest on your list.

EdithWeston Fri 19-Oct-12 10:47:06

MissKeithLemon if you have a school which is doing this, then you need to make a formal complaint, for it is a breach of the Admissions Code, and an indication of malpractice by both LEA and school.

There must be an equal preference system for allocations. Schools should not be told where on the form they appear. They should only have the details which allow them to rank applicants by how they fit the published criteria. They then return the ranked lists to LEA who deal with turning those lists into one offer per pupil, at the highest preference school they qualify for.

marquesas Fri 19-Oct-12 10:47:06

Obviously it's not true but I don't see why the HT would bother to lie.

If the school is oversubscribed all the places will get taken anyway so why bother to try and get even more people to put is as their first choice?

Are they assuming that the pupils whose parents put the school as first choice are in some way a better quality of pupil?

Blu Fri 19-Oct-12 10:47:08

Tantrums: BUT IT ISN'T TRUE. See my post below.

swanthingafteranother Fri 19-Oct-12 10:50:25

Not true for State secondaries. They don't know where on the list you have put them, but the place gets allocated in order of the choices you have, if a place at that school is available. The computer cascades down the list until it gets to an available place in a school you have listed. If there are no schools with places, from the 6 choices you have listed, you get allocated a place from somewhere else entirely...shock Which is why is important to put down a school that you might stand a chance of getting into, even if you don't like it as much as all the other schools, rather than lots of completely oversubscribed schools. Round here people have refused to put the local school on their list at all, and then to their horror found they were allocated place at equally unsavoury (in their eyes) school at the outer reaches of the borough, because all the choices on their list were oversubscribed. In the event they might have found the local school an "alright" solution.

We had one school saying, You must put us First Choice, but that was an idiomatic use of the phrase, rather than a technical one. Lots of parents misunderstood, (English is often a second language round here) and I suspect it is to their advantage that parents should misunderstand.

What all schools hate is being the backup, B team! They want the best families in their school, so they want to imply that you have to make a decision. In fact you don't have to worry about anything except what is genuinely your first choice, and you CAN have your cake and eat it grin

Blu Fri 19-Oct-12 10:52:22

The Equal Preference System is part of the Schools Admission Code and has legal force. It applies to primary and secondary admissions for state schools.

There is so much mis-information, misunderstanding and mythology about this.

swanthingafteranother Fri 19-Oct-12 10:59:30

marquesas if you can persuade the parents who would otherwise have selected a more popular possibly more academic/bells and whistles school to chose your school, you are getting a "better class of parent", because those are the children whose parents are ambitious about their education. Of course the comprehensive wants those children.
I am sympathetic to the way that some schools struggle with having an intake skewed by the presence of a more popular and oversubscribed school which is stealing all their "talent". We have this locally, and it operates on every level. Even the oversubscribed schools are trying to stop the best students going to other oversubscribed schools or even Independent schools, hence the hardsell on Open Days and general marketing of schools in general. OF COURSE you are going to attract the most "aspiring" intake you can.
I've noticed that the three Catholic schools round here, although they are all oversubscribed are subtly making digs at each other...even though they are completely oversubscribed they still want to make sure of their "aspirant intake" because the raw talent is going to affect their results. It is extraordinary - surely they should just rest on their own laurels rather than seeking to undermine the others?

tiggytape Fri 19-Oct-12 11:01:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Madmog Fri 19-Oct-12 11:06:04

At my daughter's school they have to sit a fair banding test, the top 50 are put into the top band, the next 50 into the next one and so on. This is so they take in a range of abilities. Children in care/special needs automatically get a place though in their band as it's important they have less distruption.

The school will offer a place to the first 35 in each band on distance from the school and where it is a first place choice. There are no spaces for second choices because all school places are taken up by first choices. They have about 100 children who don't get a space a year, some parents take it to appeal which is an option if you feel it's unacceptable for your children to go to the school offered.

MissKeithLemon Fri 19-Oct-12 11:08:51

Edith but to apply for his particular Church High School you send a separate appplication form to them as well as sending a regular LEA application to the council education dept. They have separate entrance criteria to LEA and seem to have the pick of the kids who have applied. Its legit as the church school is voluntary funded rather than LEA control. (Or so I was told)

I decided not to btw, and went with my (first choice) LEA school which I wasn't sure I'd get (due to distance from school, its not my closest etc) but thankfully I did get it grin

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