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Is this legal? - school admissions - put us first.

(50 Posts)
steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 09:29:40

On the website of a local academy, they state that they have the intention of admitting any child into Y7 for 2014 who puts their school first on the CAF form

I thought that that wasn't legal?

This is very relevant for us, as we want to put a grammar first, he has passed 11+ but may not have high enough grades to get in. This Academy is our 2 nd choice, but we don't live very close and it is borderline if we would get in.

Anyone out there know if this is allowed? Is it because it is an academy?

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 14-Oct-13 14:49:24

their blush

friday16 Mon 14-Oct-13 15:23:02

it seems odd they can dictate based on post code rather than distance.

Catchment areas based on factors other than distance are explicitly permitted by the admission code. Paragraph 1.14 of the February 2012 edition.

admission Mon 14-Oct-13 16:52:52

OP The school in question has an admission criteria which is legal as far as I can see. What is illegal is the statement they have made, which sounds like something that someone wrote who does not have a good grounding in admission regs and is just plain wrong. It is going to be interesting if they get a very large number of first preferences because with that on the school website, can's see too many appeals going past part 1.
To also be clear they have a catchment zone as part of the admission criteria but it is not the whole of the county!
TheGirlFromIpanema Having an admission criteria that says we will only accept from a stated postcode area is in my opinion illegal, they have to accept all applications. They can give priority to one post code area but if they are not full, they have to accept all pupils who apply, no matter where they are based.

mummytime Mon 14-Oct-13 17:08:05

I went to a school visit recently, and was totally frustrated as they got the admissions proceedure totally wrong. (They implied that if you don't get your first choice you would have to reject the school offered and then go back into some kind of melting pot from which you might get a higher choice school.)

friday16 Mon 14-Oct-13 17:30:39

I went to a school visit recently, and was totally frustrated as they got the admissions proceedure totally wrong.

It doesn't help that there's so much school-gate gossip about it, almost all of it wrong. So if you do understand the process, in intricate detail, and are even in a position to sketch the allocation algorithm on the back of an envelope, the endless myths ("have to put that school first, if you only put one school down they have to give it to you, if you don't get any of your preferenced schools you'll get your nearest") won't go away. I pretty much gave up the second time around and left people to get on with it.

Bemused33 Mon 14-Oct-13 19:02:40

I went to an open evening where one head teacher pretty much said if you put us as first then you will get a place. A total misunderstanding as its admissions work off feeder schools after care places/siblings then it looks as distance. It will be our third choice but the way it works is that we would still get a place over a child with no sibling/care issues/ feeder school that lives further away even if they had put it first.

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 21:17:35

thanks for all your comments
I am not too worried if people find the school, just didn't want to name it in this thread.

friday - couldn't agree more about school gate, dd2 is in Y1, and remember standing at the gate saying the same thing over and over and people just don't want to hear what you are saying.
I think the one that annoyed me the most was ''I don't know anyone in the council, so I won't get my preference'' I did know someone at the council who did admissions appeals, and I know that the there was absolutely no chance that any of the admissions procedure was fixed

We are visiting the school on Wednesday and I might mention it.

We were always planning to put our Grammar preference first, this is our second choice.

hottiebottie Tue 15-Oct-13 09:17:03

I live in an area neighbouring a selective county and never cease to be amazed by the various rumours and myths surrounding the system, and the ridiculous stories that are circulated and perpetrated. It's not as if the information is being kept secret by the authorities - accurate details about selection procedures and allocations is there online, available for all to see, if people would just stop gossiping for five minutes and take the trouble to look! hmm

friday16 Tue 15-Oct-13 09:32:03

if people would just stop gossiping for five minutes and take the trouble to look!

You don't have to read MN (or DigitalSpy "advice" or Netmums or wherever) long to see that some people prefer what they are told by "friends" whom they can "trust" over what they might find out from the sources of real information. It's a combination of paranoia ("they would say that"), inability to access the material (LEA admission policies are not written for casual reading, because they have to resist legal challenge as well and inform parents), confirmation bias (Nethuns are hardly going to say "you know what, that's complete nonsense", are they?) and a certain amount of group-think.

I used to prowl Eleven Plus Forums. The amount of disinformation even there, where you might expect parents to have done some basic research, was horrifying. Essentially, everyone believes that what they believe is right, and seeks out (and invents) justifications for it being true.

Truthiness is a very useful concept. Lots of it about in discussions of education.

tiggytape Tue 15-Oct-13 09:47:42

And of course it isn't helped by people who use their own experience seems to back up their misinformation

eg a parent who firmly believes that listing the same school 6 times or only listing one school and no others shows the LA you're serious. Similarly the ones who believe the council must offer you a school from your list so just list 6 outstanding schools and no back-up.

Come offer day, they get the school they wanted and feel vindicated so tell all their friends that it worked for them.
Of course the truth is that they must have genuinely qualified to get a place (by living close enough or going to church or whatever) so would have got offered it even if they had filled in their form properly. But of course they believe that they have dodged the system and tell everyone else so it goes on in future years too

friday16 Tue 15-Oct-13 09:54:06

School admission is increasingly like the NHS, where most people's experience is positive but they believe that they were lucky, and their positive experience was amongst a general sea of poor practice. 85% of children get their first choice at 11, and 96% get one of their first three choices (source). Even in London two-thirds of children get into their first choice, and in other parts of the country 95% get their first choice (^ibid^).

So all the entrail-examination and gossip is pointless: most people get their first choice, end of. So what tiggytape says is absolutely on the money: "I did (weird thing) and got in" tells you nothing, because you probably would have got in anyway.

prh47bridge Tue 15-Oct-13 10:15:45

I would suggest that anyone who is applying for a place at this school prints a copy of this page of their website. As Admission suggests, it could be very useful for appeals.

FriendlyLadybird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:24:28

So many people are misreading this. It does NOT say that you will only be offered a place if you put it first. It says that if you really do want your child to go there -- in which case, you will have it as your first choice -- you can be pretty certain you will get a place. This is a positive message, not excluding anyone, and not illegal. You cannot infer from this what they are going to do about applications where they are second on the list.
The reason you are misreading it is because for some reason they included the vaguely threatening phrase, 'please note'.
Where the OP may have a problem, of course, is if so many people want to go to the school that it fills up its year 7 with pupils who gave it as their first choice, thus leaving no room for people for whom it was a second choice. But that's not illegal and it's just the way the cookie crumbles.

friday16 Tue 15-Oct-13 11:31:38

Where the OP may have a problem, of course, is if so many people want to go to the school that it fills up its year 7 with pupils who gave it as their first choice, thus leaving no room for people for whom it was a second choice.

Let's try all this again. That. Isn't. How. Equal. Preference. Works.

Take the instant school. Imagine it has two places.

Candidate one lives next door, and puts the school down first.

Candidate two in the flat upstairs from candidate one, and puts the school down sixth. Places one through five are weird choices they absolutely won't get into (say, grammars for which they haven't taken the exam, girls schools when they are a boy, etc).

Candidate three lives a hundred yards further away, but puts the school down first.

Who gets the two places? Candidate one, who put it first, and candidate two, who put it sixth. Candidate three, who put it first, doesn't get a place.

Schools cannot fill up with first preference, and then only turn to second preference applications. It would be illegal. They would lose any subsequent appeals.

tiggytape Tue 15-Oct-13 11:32:07

thus leaving no room for people for whom it was a second choice

But that's not true either!

If the people who put it second qualify more for a place than the people who put it 1st, the people who put it 2nd will get all the places (unless they got their own first choice school of course).

Nobody who puts it second will ever miss out due to the number who list it as their first choice. That can never happen. Even if a thousand people put it as their first choice, this has no impact at all on the people who listed it second but live very close (or have a sibling or whatever else you need to do to get priority)

tiggytape Tue 15-Oct-13 11:41:01

Seriously - people who post about schools filling up with parents who listed it first leaving no room for 2nd choice applicants really need to read the admissions laws or not post on these threads. It is wrong - in all circumstances it cannot happen and it just adds to the rumours that are hard enough to shift as it is.

ALL that matters in school admissions is one single fact.
Do you qualify for any of the schools you listed anywhere on your form?:

* If the answer is yes to just one school - you get a place at that school whether it was your 1st or 6th choice.

* If the answer is no - you don't get a place even if you love one school in particular, list it 1st and write half a page about why you like it so much.

* If the answer is yes to more than one school on your list you get the school you put as your highest choice. Even if it was only your second choice school and someone else loves it more than you - if you qualify for it and they don't, you will get the place and they will get rejected.

The 1st, 2nd 3rd choices etc ONLY come into play for the people who qualify for multiple schools (to ensure they don't get more than one offer). For all other people the order of the list isn't even looked at.

tiggytape Tue 15-Oct-13 11:43:59

X post with friday16 whilst I figured out how to shout type in bold grin

FriendlyLadybird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:56:18

OK. Got that bit wrong -- but the school can still say what their 'intention' is without being illegal. In our county, at any rate, there is a second-round rejig process during which most people get their first choice before having to go to an appeal. We, for example, got our catchment school (our second choice) first time round, but then got our first choice in the rejig. They are trying to make it an encouraging message rather than the opposite. The whole point about listing preferences is that most people who are not playing a weird game put the school they most want to go to first.
What I actually think is unfair is having to list a grammar, which has different entrance criteria, as part of the same process.

tiggytape Tue 15-Oct-13 12:15:28

Saying it though creates a false impression in parent's minds between listing a school first and having an improved chance of a place when no such link exists.

It might be true that they like the idea of people listing them first on the form but they shouldn't say this because it has nothing at all to do with the admissions process.

It is at best a bit of a poorly worded way of saying "don't list another school first if you really want to come here because you might get offered that one instead". At worst it is a cynical attempt to panic parents into thinking they will have less of a chance of a place if they list other longshot schools first and then fail to get those long shot schools - which is of course untrue. They won't have harmed their chances in the slightest.

titchy Tue 15-Oct-13 12:35:11

It also implies that they will be able to accommodate all applicants if it is their preferred school. Which will give them a bit of a problem if their PAN is 120 and 240 people put it first!

steppemum Tue 15-Oct-13 13:21:59

the thing about the grammar is that the selection process has already happened and WRT to the form it pretty much works the same as for any school

so ds has passed the 11+ and qualified for the grammar. He is not guaranteed a place, as there are more passers than places.

Anyone actually could put the grammar school first, but they wouldn't get a place because point 1 on their selection criteria is that you have a passed 11+.

So we put it first, grammar school does same process as any other school, taking qualifying children in the order of priority according to their entry procedure.
If he doesn't get a place, then second place school moves to first place.

Some people put 3 grammars on form, in order of preference, having qualified for all of them, but not guaranteed a place in any, as it has to go through same procedure as other schools

The mistake that is often made is to put grammar second, and then be surprised when offered place at first choice school and not grammar!

prh47bridge Tue 15-Oct-13 13:34:21

but the school can still say what their 'intention' is without being illegal

No they can't. Paragraph 2.1 of the Admissions Code specifically says that admission authorities (in this case that is the school) must not give any guarantees that a preference will be met. This statement amounts to a guarantee despite the slightly vague wording. And as worded it definitely implies that they intend to give priority to people naming the school as first choice in breach of paragraph 1.9(c) of the code.

It is quite possible (albeit somewhat unlikely) that they will get a glut of people high up the admission criteria naming the school as second choice, in which case it could be that no places at all go to people naming it as first choice.

However you look at it this statement is wrong. I have emailed the school concerned to point out the error of their ways and suggest that the Schools Adjudicator may take an interest if they leave that statement on their website.

steppemum Tue 15-Oct-13 13:58:09

really prh47bridge?

I would have appreciated it if you had said, as I would like to print/save a copy of the webpage before they take it down.

Are you legally involved in school admissions somehow?

Not sure why, but I feel somewhat gazumped hmm

friday16 Tue 15-Oct-13 14:03:51

It's still there to be printed.

steppemum Tue 15-Oct-13 14:12:14

thanks friday, I have now saved it

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