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Should I put as first choice a school my son has no chance of getting into?

(72 Posts)
GreenVelvet Thu 24-Oct-13 20:05:26

Because he is well out of the catchment area and it is a very, very oversubscribed school?

I know it sounds a daft dilemma. But my son told me today his friends in our small neighbourhood were applying there which made no sense to me hmm. But I suppose they have nothing to lose if they put it on their list. If they put it as a first choice and the answer is no, they can still go straight to their second, third choices etc assuming they get a "yes" there?

But something about putting a school as first choice you have almost zero chance of getting into feels weird to me confused.

Retroformica Mon 28-Oct-13 05:14:14

Ps. Only a third of children in our catchment area go to the local catchment school.

Retroformica Mon 28-Oct-13 05:12:59

Have you seen the school?

Use your parental choice to choose the right school for your son regardless of friends/catchment/gcse results. Do consider transportation though.

There is no way my son is going to our catchment school! It's not even in our list.

ChippyMinton Sun 27-Oct-13 08:46:42

Lots of over-analysing going on here!

The simple message is;
List the schools in your preferred order.
And include your 'safe bet' as the final choice.

BTW miracles do happen. Last year I put:
1) The school that had been our preference for several years, but now a long shot due to our primary no longer being a feeder, and only sibs plusa small handful on distance getting places
2) Our favourite but an even longer shot - only 2 sibs from our primary have got a place in the last 7 years
3) Our 'safe bet'.

DC was offered 2), due to a combination of it being the lowest year for ages, but most signicantly, a new school opening some way from us but that diverted man of the competing families. I nearly fell off my chair! A handful of others that had bothered to put it on their forms also got places. Most didn't, and are kicking themselves.
Interestingly, this year, I saw most of the current Yr6 at the open evening at school 2, and it's firmly back in parents' sights.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 27-Oct-13 08:20:33

Further scenarios:

1: A, B, C (only A&B would get in)
2: B, A, C (only B&A would get in)

A & B both chose school 1, leaving us with:

1: A, B
2: C

A had chosen school 2, B had chosen school 1:

1: B, C
2. A, C

(Then C chooses 1...)

Both A & B had chosen school 2:

1. C
2. B, A


MinesAPintOfBlood Sun 27-Oct-13 07:36:56

Can I do a simplified explanation?

There are 2 schools a mile apart, 1 and 2. Each school can take 2 pupils this year.

Then there are 3 potential pupils:
A who lives opposite school 1 and would rather go there
B who lives opposite school 2 and would rather go there
C lives 2 miles further up the road from 2 and wants to go to 1

Because they are sensible they all also list their second choice of school.

In the first allocation round the schools order every person who applied by the allocation rules. These are purely distance as no siblings:
1: A, B, C (only A&B would get in)
2: B, A, C (only B&A would get in)

As A and B both have two place on offer they take their highest preference and remove their applications to any lower schools. Thus leaves us with:
1: A, C
2: B, C

C now had 2 places offered so rejects their lowest offer (and takes school 1).

Its just that instead of multiple rounds of people bidding for lots of schools then rejecting offers every time they get more than 1 its done in a single form.

Disclaimer: written on phone screen so sorry for typos.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 23:31:24

That is what I meant Claydavis and it was a load of nonsense so not really worth discussing blush. It would be a massive coincidence if all the 120 applicants accepted to a school based on its criteria had also put the school as no1...

I have heard 2 Heads in their speeches say "Put our school at the top of your list if you want the best chance of getting in". It really riled me. They know full well that's not how it works. Had they gone on to explain - because, if you do get accepted by the school but had a different school higher on the list you would get that one instead... then fine but no, they made it sound like the preferences make a difference to your application to the school itself.

Interesting to hear there are stats i can google re % of 1st choice given etc... off to google now!

ClayDavis Sat 26-Oct-13 20:54:49

I did mean to add it was unlikely but technically possible. Although that does depend on where you live. Here, you are unlikely to not be given your first choice of secondary school so most schools are actually filled or almost filled by people who put it first. Very different for family of mine living in London.

I wasn't thinking of people who had been given good advice to have guaranteed school somewhere on their list. More like the thread a few weeks back where the HT had implied at an induction meeting that you had to put the school first in order to get in or where there are widespread myths in the community about 'first preference first'. That gets corrected on MN, it doesn't always outside of this forum and people end up putting a popular school first because they think they should or not putting it at all because they think they won't stand a chance of getting in if they don't put it first.

HSMMaCM Sat 26-Oct-13 20:46:42

DD's school was like noblegiraffe said. Massively over subscribed the year DD applied, so the following year loads of people didn't bother to try and get in and it was undersubscribed.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 20:40:27

technically a school might fill up with people who put it at number 1 if all the people who put it lower on their list also qualified for a school they had a higher preference for.

Yes that is true but unlikely. It would be a huge coincidence if all the people who liked it best also qualified the most and all the people who liked it slightly less also qualified for it slightly less.

In reality, the popular schools are listed number 1 by more people than there are places and are also listed 2nd,3rd,4th or 5th by plenty of others as well.
The people the popular school takes will be the people with siblings and living close by who listed it somewhere on their forms who either wanted it a lot or couldn't be offered a higher choice.

it's more likely to happen if people are encouraged to 'put a school first because you won't get in otherwise

People are encouraged to do this for choice number 6 (the safe option, the back-up school) not choice 1. Choice number 1 on your form is for the one you love best if distance / siblings / faith were no object and if by some miracle they decide to take double the number of students overnight. Number 6 is the one that is realistic but possibly not a nice option but better than nothing at all.

ClayDavis Sat 26-Oct-13 20:32:59

I think what threetomatoes meant was that they would get it because it was number 1 on their list compared to the other schools they put on their list not where it was on other people's list.

So technically a school might fill up with people who put it at number 1 if all the people who put it lower on their list also qualified for a school they had a higher preference for. I think it's more likely to happen if people are encouraged to 'put a school first because you won't get in otherwise' because a far greater proportion of their applicants will have put it as first choice.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 20:12:57

London is about 70% on average but there are huge variations eg in Hammersmith and Fulham it was just 56.67% this year even though the current Year 7 is the lowest birth rate year in the area for ages.

No London borough really gets above 80 or 85% because there is a school place shortage so by definition some people cannot go to a local school no matter what they list.
When boroughs say that 97% (or whatever) got one of their choices you also have to bear in mind that the school place crisis forces parents to list schools they don't really want just to be sure of getting any place at all. So although technically most people got one of the schools they listed, that doesn't mean they got a school that they chose freely but one they were obliged to choose.

It is totally different nationally and region to region of course. There are areas where people have a free choice of at least 2 schools and know they can get into either ((wistful sigh))

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 20:06:39

Interesting comment re the whole extra class, we had something along the same lines going on down here. As I said before, we only know what we know. wink

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 20:04:52

Somerset figs, steppe. HT of our first choice said persistence pays, at least 15 over PAN were admitted (I know personally of 1 more recently) and a sizable amount were out of catchment and bottom of criteria, IYSWIM.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 19:59:27

I saw those figures too forever. I always got the impression that loads of kids got 2nd/3rd choices or worse.and I was really surprised to see how many got their first choice.
I know the figures are slightly less good for London (not sure if yours are the London figures or the country as a whole, if they are are for London, then the figures for out of London are even better)

I was surprised by some of the things we discovered in the process too, our second choice has a pan of 170, and they took in 300 last year, basically agreed to take in a whole extra class, and by doing so accommodated all the children who had put them first (I think others got their first choice schools anyway) I hadn't realised that a school could/would do that.

In a way the long wait is easier than short wait. We had 7 days between tests and result for 11+ and it was awful. Much easier to think forget about it until March!

(but I will be on here agonising at the end of Feb!

ForeverProcrastinating Sat 26-Oct-13 19:48:23

Thank you, tiggytape, that is mainly what I thought. Going on the last figs I can find on a quick trawl, in Sept 12, 96.1% of children got their first choice of school, with 98.8% getting 1 of their 3. I'm fine with all three of my choices, I just listed my preferences as instructed. My 1st choice let in 15 more than their PAN, so total out of catchment allocated places was 44. We have a chance and we can appeal twice, many others have and have been successful. I have sweated over this for so long now, but application is now submitted and I'm not going to worry away the next 5 months.

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 17:44:12

I think my post stands if ALL the kids applying to that school fit the criteria - if there were enough kids who put it as no1 AND fit the criteria, then those who put it at no 2 etc wouldn't get it....

It is brain-melting stuff I agree but that's still not it sorry Tomato
The people applying cannot all meet the criteria equally unless they are all living in the same house and have the same sibling status. Some are bound to live closer than others even if it is only 6cm closer - that still counts.

The people who get the 120 places are:

- the people who listed the school somewhere (anywhere) on their form
- but who didn't qualify for any of the other schools they listed higher up than this one
- and do qualify for this one more than other applicants probably by living a bit closer to the school than other people who applied.
- which is how someone who listed it 1st can easily be rejected in favour of someone who listed it 6th (even if they live nextdoor to each other!)

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 17:36:27

*ok i meant if ALL the kids, say 120 of them, applying to that school who had put it as 1st choice, were kids nos 1-120 on the schools list grin and 121 onwards had put it as 2nd.
what bollocks my example was
i'll shut up now

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 17:34:52

Yes I know all that, my brain was beginning to melt when I looked at my previous post while i wrote it and thought 'hang on a minute it depends on how they fit the criteria'... but then i couldn't be bothered to think it all through further grin
I think my post stands if ALL the kids applying to that school fit the criteria - if there were enough kids who put it as no1 AND fit the criteria, then those who put it at no 2 etc wouldn't get it....
But that's a highly unlikely scenario
So, ignore me... grin

tiggytape Sat 26-Oct-13 17:17:31

No ThreeTomatoes - that's not how it works

Each of the schools you list will know you listed them but not WHERE you listed them. So academies get a list from the council with each child named and they prepare a list to send back placing with all the sibling / top priority people at the top of that list and all the people who live 7 miles away at the bottom of that list.

The person who lives 7 miles away with no sibling will always be treated as the lowest priority for that school even if they listed it as their absolute 1st choice.
And a sibling (assuming the school has sibling criteria) will have a virtually guaranteed place at secondary school even if they listed the school last and put 5 totally impossible choices above it.

All that matters is how well you qualif i.e. do you meet the criteria?
How much you like it is never an issue except if you are lucky enough to qualify for 2 or more schools in which case the council refer to your original list and give you the school you placed highest out of all those that you qualify for.
If you only qualify for 1 school, you get it even if you lisrted it last and even if people who listed it 1st have been rejected for not meeting the criteria as well as you do.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 17:15:26

sorry NO was a bit shouty

how about No! grin

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 17:10:28

NO! You stand same chance if you have put it 1st or 6th

John has put school A first, but lives 3 miles away
Jane has put school A 2nd, but lives very close.

School gets sent list of all the names of all the kids regardless of 1st, 2nd etc.

School looks at kids plus criteria. Both Jack and Jane are eligible, they go on the schools list which is ordered according to criteria (siblings, looked after kids, faith kids, and then distance or whatever their criteria is.)
Jane goes at no.20 on the list and Jack as no. 300, because of distance. School has 170 places.

LEA gets school list back.

Jane could be offered a place at school A. LEA look at her form and find she prefers school Z. She can't be offered place at school Z, as she is too far away compared to others, so she is offered place at school A.

John cannot be offered place at school A as there are only 170 places and he is no. 300, he is no. 30 for his 2nd choice school so is offered that one.

It isn't first choices and then second choices, all the choices are all considered at the same time. Then if you qualify for more than one school (eg your first and fourth choices) the LEA looks at your form and sees which one you prefer. Offers you the place at first choice place and cancels the place at school no. four.

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:54:37

steppe, well i suppose it's true that a popular school that is most likely on the top of lots of people's lists would fill up quicker, meaning you wouldn't get it if you had it lower as those with it as no 1 would get it over their lower schools? confused
It's all very complicated.....

ThreeTomatoes Sat 26-Oct-13 16:51:54

Fiscal one school I never even considered for my list, here are my reasons:

1. A year ago it was all boys, with very bad rep, it is now an Academy (so presumably will improve but still, a Federation i am very sceptical about and whose ethos I am uncomfortable with) but it still has a bad rep...

2. It has poor GCSE results.

3. It currently has a 70:30 boy:girl ratio, I have a dd.

4. There was recently a news article about the school inflating grades, that sort of thing.

I think those are reason enough for me to avoid it, when i have 5 other decent choices, albeit a few long shots?

I may ask for the post to be deleted later, to protect the school.

steppemum Sat 26-Oct-13 16:43:25

That makes more sense 3toms!

Ellen - yes it comes into effect in that if you are accepted by 2 schools, you will get offered a place at the one higher up your list.

But there is still a 'school gate' myth that school A will only accept people who put them first, or that school B will fill up with first place applicants and so if you put them second there will be no places left and so on.

As tiggy says it is LEA that offers place. School doesn't know if you have put them 1st or 6th


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