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Have I messed up chances of getting into our designated school?

(32 Posts)
NickNacks Wed 31-Oct-12 16:38:06

Ok well it's middle school transition but Secondry Education topic is nearest relevant I could find.

Sorry if this complicated.

Our half of the borough is a two tier system and we have 4 middle schools to choose from. The area is made up a large town and several villages around it. We live in one of the villages.

3 middle schools are in the town, 1 is in another of the villages. This 4th one is the designated school for the first schools in the surrounding villages. These schools are named as a higher admission criteria than the first schools in the town probably because we would all lose out on distance criterias every time.

So one of the town middle school is very very good and therefore very popular. Most people in our village don't bother applying because it usually has a last admitted distance of 0.5mile. This (next) year they are extending the intake from 3 forms to 4 and we are 0.9miles away and have decided to chance it and put this school as our first choice.

We are happy with the designated school so this is our second choice. The other two in the town are ok but distance/direction/friendships/free buses make these less preferable for us.

So basically, has my gamble on the popular school hindered our chances in getting in the designated school? Many thanks.

NickNacks Wed 31-Oct-12 16:38:55

Error: we are three tier not two!!

tiggytape Wed 31-Oct-12 17:05:53

The answer is no - you haven't messed it up.
If you don't live close enough to get into the super-popular school despite the extra class being added, you will get sent to you designated school instead.

Even if someone else lists your designated school as their first choice, it doesn't matter. You are in the highest admission category so you beat everyone else not in that category no matter how much they love that school.

And the same applies in reverse for the super-popular school. Somebody living 0.8 miles from it who can't have their first choice schol for whatever reason but who lists it second would get a place before you did because they live closer. It doesn't matter that they want it less than you do.

All that matters for admissions is what is the criteria and do you meet it. If you meet the criteria of more than one school, you get the one you listed most highly on your form. If you only meet the criteria of one school, that's the one you get whether you listed it 1st, 3rd or last.

jojane Wed 31-Oct-12 17:16:43

In our county places get allocated according to everyone first choice, once everyone who can have their first place, they then look at 2nd choices and so on
School A (preferred school) has 30 places but you are 31st on list you miss out on place
School B (catchment school) as 2 Nd choice but 30 people put this as first choice (even out of catchment) means that you wouldn't get a place there either
Hope that makes sense?! Here we are advised to put first choice based on where we are most likely to get in as else you risk the chance of being sent to school z that no one ways To go to!

tiggytape Wed 31-Oct-12 17:18:09

That isn't possible jojane - that would be illegal.

It used to be the case years ago but if a county did that right now they'd be in a lot of trouble. By law - it must be equal preference.

tiggytape Wed 31-Oct-12 17:26:59

The law also forbids schools knowing where you have listed them.

I am sorry to sound harsh to jojane here but these sort of rumours scare people. They are NOT true.

Schools can NEVER give preference to people who put them as first choice over and above people who list them second or lower but who meet the admission criteria better.

It is totally, totally illegal and has been for years. It is in the School Admissions Code Feb 2012 and was in the old code too.

NickNacks Wed 31-Oct-12 17:43:03

Thank you thank you thank you! tiggytape

We're fairly sure he will get into the 2nd choice and that's absolutely fine but we didn't want to miss an opportunity to go to the really great school.

Great news smile

admission Wed 31-Oct-12 23:13:14

Tiggytape is correct that all LAs in england have to use the equal preference scheme when allocating places, which in effect means that in your case Nicknacks, you have a very good possibility of getting into you second preference and local school, if you are too far down the admission criteria order at the first preference school to be offered a place. There is also no way that the schools know in what order you put them down as preferences.

Regretably there is a lot of poor information about around school admissions and some of that does come from places where one would hope that it would not, that is the schools and especially the head teacher when talking to prospective new parents.

Jojane, tiggytape is right that it should not happen in england but would you be prepared to say either here or in a PM to me where about you are talking, because I do know that in some parts of the country this information is still quite widely talked about, even though it is 5 years plus since equal preference became the only allowed system.

BooksandBrunch Wed 31-Oct-12 23:40:33

Somebody, but somebody, has to get this message across to parents, that what Jojane posted is absolutely NOT correct (Sorry JoJane - no offence meant). But this totally inaccurate information that gave me so much willies last year, I'm cross with myself with the wasted stress it caused me.

What's more, it took ages to convince me otherwise, because some youngster who answered the phone at my local council admissions department and the admissions assistant at one of the schools said the same. Someone had to literally post me the details of the actual law, so I could see it in black and white.

The only thing that is worth mentioning, but please correct me if I'm wrong, is that the school is aware of the order they were placed in if it goes to appeal. This of course would be a bit of an issue if you were appealing to a catholic school on the grounds that a faith school was paramount to you for example, yet you had a non-faith school listed ahead of it.

5madthings Wed 31-Oct-12 23:52:02

there is lots of.misinformation out there! its like old wives tales!

a mum at toddler group was talking about schools admissions in relation to her two year old. she doesnt want her to go to her local school but instead to one where her sister works at the nursery. anyway its a normal state primary with a sure start nursery on site (where her sister works) the mum was totally convinced that her sister will be able to get her a place at the school! she is miles out of catchment! myself and another mum explained the admissions process and how it is all done through county council etc but she remains convinced thar her child will get a place!

even the children that go to the nursery are not guaranteed a place at the school, they have to go through the normal admissions which is done with usual rukes ie kids in care, adopted, catchment, siblings etc etc. this mum refused to believe us tho!

admission Thu 01-Nov-12 20:58:49

Booksandbrunch, the answer to your comment about whether schools will know when it comes to an appeal what order the preferences were is that it completely depends on what information is supplied by the Presenting Officer and by the parents. In some LAs I sit on appeals for part of the paper work is the original application form from the parents because actually this is part of proving that the LA have carried out the application procedure correctly. Other LAs do not.

If the school is a community school then they will not be involved in the appeal at all, it it the LA who provide the presenting officer, so the school will not know the preference order. If however the school is their own admission authority (including faith schools) then they have to provide the presenting officer and the written case for not admitting. In most cases that would not include the preference order but yes they may be aware of it.

However all admission appeal panel members are told that they cannot take into consideration where the school was on the preference order. If any presenting officer raised that as an issue, then the clerk or the Chair of the panel should shut that conversation down because it has no relevance to the decisions that the panel has to make. By the same token the panel is not allowed to know where an appellant is on the waiting list, (though if they are first on the list, then frequently the appellant says so, with the clerk trying to stop them saying that.)

admission Thu 01-Nov-12 21:05:41

5madthings, if only I had a pound for every admission appeal I have done where the parents thought that being in an attached (or not even attached) nursery gave them some kind of preference or justification for winning at appeal, I would be rich.

To be honest however the schools and nurseries do have to shoulder a lot of the blame. If the nursery is on the school site, they share the foundation stage outside play facilities and /or have the same school uniform, then actually the parents and more especially the child in question finds it quite difficult to understand why they are not going to the "big school". Even if it is the local nursery if the nursery has more places available over the day than the school can accommodate then there will also be disappointed parents.

However the rules say there is no connection unless the admission criteria makes specific reference as part of the criteria to nursery children getting preference.

catkind Thu 01-Nov-12 21:06:10

It's funny the strange rumours that go round. Even one of the head teachers at a school we visited said we should put it as first choice if we wanted to have a chance of getting in. We also had a persistent rumour about having to apply for nursery places as soon as they turned 2 (that's also done at the closing date on a priority system, so when you apply would make no difference at all).

catkind Thu 01-Nov-12 21:07:16

(Surrey, is that one of the areas you were talking about admission?)

CalmingMiranda Thu 01-Nov-12 21:15:48

A woman I know was persuaded by a relative that you list schools in ascending order of preference. So she was offered her last choice school.
This, despite having been to an illustrated talk about how admissions works and how to fill in the form.

It's all there in the booklet, and online. All we have to do is RTFM!

NickNacks Thu 01-Nov-12 21:27:11

I realise it's in the booklets, and I did read it, but it can be very complicated especially since our two top schools have their own admission criteria neither of which was in the booklet provided by the LA.
So we had 3 seperate documents to consult whilst making our choice. It's our first time doing this transition so just wanted to check I hadn't fucked up.

jojane Thu 01-Nov-12 21:44:50

We are in Wales and this is from the booklet I got when applying for my dd o start school this year

If your application for an out of catchment school is unsuccessful, it may not be possible to allocate a place in your catchment school as first preferences are given priority. In such cases, the Local Authority will be required to find a place for your child at the next nearest available school, should you have no further preferen

I take this to mean people who choose a school as first priority get a place over someone who chose it as a second choice regardless of admissions criteria??

prh47bridge Thu 01-Nov-12 23:36:11

The rules in Wales are different to those in England. All LAs in England are required to operate the equal preference system which means they are not allowed to give priority to people naming a school as first preference.

mummytime Fri 02-Nov-12 08:32:58

Surrey is definitely equal preference and has been for years. Although I have known some heads be rapped on the knuckles for misleading statements, but not that recently near me.

prh47bridge Fri 02-Nov-12 09:56:16

Everywhere in England is equal preference. It is stipulated by the Admissions Code and has been for years. Unfortunately there are heads everywhere who mislead parents by insisting that you need to make their school first choice if you want to be admitted. Some seem to mislead parents deliberately, making such statements even when they know they are not true.

prh47bridge Fri 02-Nov-12 09:56:47

So Mummytime is right but it is not just Surrey. smile

ManifestingMingeHooHoosAgain Fri 02-Nov-12 09:59:45

I am aware that my local school does know whether or not people put it as first preference or not. (community school not Academy) Is this rather odd then?

VivaLeBeaver Fri 02-Nov-12 10:00:03

What really annoys me is that in our town there is a very, very popular school. The headmaster stands there on the open evening and says if you don't put this school down as 1st choice you will not get in.

Its a load of bollocks and he must know its not true.

Nicknacks, we were in the same position as you last year. DD didn't get her first choice but we got the second choice. Some people who put our 2nd choice down as their first choice didn't get it - we got priority as we were higher up the admission criteria even though it was our 2nd choice. Good luck and dont worry.

tiggytape Fri 02-Nov-12 10:20:01

Manifesting - That is odd. How do they find out? All applications go via the council even for schools that are their own admission authority.
Some schools have extra forms parents must fill in eg to explain faith criteria but these forms are not allowed to ask parents where they will be listing the school in order of preference.

Even if a school did somehow manage to find out that you had put them last on your list, they would not be able to use this information to damage your chances of getting a place (in England).
If you are at the top of their admission criteria eg at a linked primary school, you can put them last on your list (if you want to) safe in the knowledge that if any of the schools your prefer cannot offer you a place then the linked school you qualify for but don't like as much will still have to give you an offer.

That is what the OP has done.

Some Heads though do mislead parents:
It is true that if you qualify for all 6 schools on your list, you still only receive 1 offer so whichever schools aren't your first choice won't send you an offer.
But that isn't because the other 5 schools are annoyed at you.
It is because they know you got an offer at a higher ranked school from your list.
If you qualify for every single school you apply to, you have to be sure the one you list 1st is the one you actually want because you only get one offer. You don't get 6 offers and then get to choose between them.

In reality most people don't qualify for 6 schools.
In those cases you can safely use up all but one of your options on dream schools that you have little or not much chance of a place at.
As long as your last option (or one option on your list) is a school that you definitely qualify for, you'll get a place there if none of your dream options can take you.
So people whose catchment school is awful put other schools for options 1-5 and list the awful catchment school as their last choice. If one of the 'better' 5 can take them, they'll get that.
But if they don't live close enough to one of the better schools, they haven't lost the guaranteed place at their catchment school and will get a place there (which isn't great but is better than getting an awful school 5 miles away which is what happens if you only list dream schools and no realistic ones at all)

ManifestingMingeHooHoosAgain Fri 02-Nov-12 10:24:05

I have, ahem, links to the school concerned and I heard a member of staff say that X number of children were starting in September, and Y of them put the school as their first choice.

Bizarre indeed.

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