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Secondary allocation anomoly

(39 Posts)
candlelight22 Sat 12-Mar-16 09:20:36

I find it curious that a local over subscribed academy, which states in its admissions document that it allocates purely on a fair banding process, always manages to offer places to all the children who apply from its fee paying prep school.

With over 700 applications for places how come year after year all the existing year 6 children that apply for year 7 get a place!

I've spoken to the prep school and they say their children are in no way favoured and being in the prep is no guarantee of a secondary place. So is it just coincidence that they all get a place every year?

How would one go about checking this curious statistic?

Bluelilies Sat 12-Mar-16 10:14:39

How do you know they all do get a place? If you have the data, does it also tell you how they were allocated? There is usually data the LA webpage which should tell you numbers allocated in each band, etc.

Are they banding by ability and taking a quota from each band? If they are, could it be that they're oversubscribed by kids that do less well in the entrance exam but not by ones who do better (eg their prep school kids)?

It's unusual to have a state secondary with a private feeder school, is that what you mean?

MyNightWithMaud Sat 12-Mar-16 10:29:54

That does sound odd. Schools here that use fair banding then use distance to allocate places within each band. Pupils at prep schools tend to live further from school than they do at state schools, so it is curious that all the prep school pupils are (it seems) also those living closest to the school within their respective bands. Of course, there may also be a sibling effect here (again, within each band and assuming that siblings get admissions priority).

It's difficult to see, though, how you could obtain the data to check this out. The academy will be its own admissions authority: have you asked them for (anonymised) data?

candlelight22 Sat 12-Mar-16 11:49:26

Yes, it is a private primary school. It was all fee paying until a few years ago and the secondary school took academy status. Fair banding by ability.

I know because I am in touch with parents at the school who say that all their child's classmates got in this year. I know from past years because I've had a few friends whose children went there. So no official figures.

Even taking into account siblings it's a bit odd. I know for a fact they don't all live near the school either.

Would they have to share their data with me (or anyone else)? Where is the transparency?

MyNightWithMaud Sat 12-Mar-16 14:41:17

Well, there's freedom of information about admissions but there's also data protection around individual pupils' details.

Assuming that they use the standard application form, they will know which primary school children are applying from. I would ask them what proportion of applicants from the prep school got places against the proportion of applicants across the board getting places, and take it from there.

candlelight22 Sat 12-Mar-16 17:12:45

I could try that.

Have a feeling they will tell me that it's confidential information/ not in line with their policies to release such stats etc... If it's all above board they'll be happy to share info with me, yes?

I'm not the only one who has noticed this - just that no-one knows what to do about it.

RandomMess Sat 12-Mar-16 17:15:40

What is their stated admissions allocation? Does it have a category for those attending a feeder school?

Under FOI you should be able to find out what number of pupils are admitted by each allocation category - that is usually published LEA data as it is.

Bluelilies Sat 12-Mar-16 17:17:59

Have you looked at the LEA website? Where I live they have all the data, including for academies

ChablisTyrant Sat 12-Mar-16 17:18:08

Can you name the school?

tiggytape Sat 12-Mar-16 17:36:26

Even with a fair banding system there has to be some extra layer of selection. It cannot be "purely fair banding" - there has to be an extra way of allocating places because there may only be 180 places on offer and there are 700+ applying for them.

So the school will test all children applying, place them all in the relevant band by ability and then take a specified number of people from each band. They will publish details of who gets priority for a place from each of those bands so that would be the place to look for any obvious advantage.

Perhaps the standard to be placed in the top band is very high and relatively few children end up in that band. And perhaps the prep school makes sure it prepares its students to get full marks by doing endless preparation for the test to make sure their students end up in one of the emptier bands (or maybe it tells them to get 0% on purpose so they all end up in the relatively empty bottom band!)
Perhaps there is a priority admissions area for each band in operation which happens to be where many prep school children live?
And of course prep schools end to be small so a 100% success rate in getting places this year might still only equate to 12 or 15 places overall and might therefore be a genuine coincidence

clearlynot Sat 12-Mar-16 17:59:16

Have a feeling they will tell me that it's confidential information/ not in line with their policies to release such stats etc... If it's all above board they'll be happy to share info with me, yes?

As a state funded academy they have to comply with the Freedom of Information act. You could use this website to submit a FoI request or send one directly to the school by email - www.whatdotheyknow.com/. They need to reply within 20 working days.

They won't be able to send you anything that personally identifies individuals but they would have to have a very good reason not to send you information like how many applied from each primary school and how many got a place from each primary school. You could also ask for the numbers in each band by primary school, but that could identify individuals in cases where numbers are low, so they might refuse that one.

prh47bridge Sat 12-Mar-16 18:13:17

If you would like to PM me the name of the school and LA involved I will be happy to take a look and see if I can advise.

Bolognese Sat 12-Mar-16 18:56:43

We have one of those ex private schools that uses fair banding in our city, (not going to name it, and my DC does not go to it). It has a PAN of 120 and last year zero pupils got in under the banding admissions criteria.

Oversubscription Criteria
a. looked after / previously looked after
b. Probationer Chorister 10%
c. Music Specialism 10%
d. Siblings
e. Medical and Social Need
f. Staff's children (included all teaching and non-teaching staff, full and part-time)
g. Random Allocation using Fair Banding

You can already see how easy it would be to fill 120 spaces before you get to fair banding. But its an open secret with mums who lunch that under category e. all you need is a letter from the head of the right primary to say it would negatively impact the child's social needs if they didn't get into the school with their friends. There is three people on the panel that decides medical and social needs and nudge nudge wink wink your in! All above board apparently.

Fair banding is a joke.

Marmitelover55 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:57:32

I assume that must be Bristol cathedral Choir School, due to the chorister criteria? I believe they have had their admission criteria investigated and it was found to be fair.,,--although it doesn't sound it--

Marmitelover55 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:58:44

Oops strike out fail

Bolognese Sat 12-Mar-16 21:00:35

no comment

Bolognese Sat 12-Mar-16 21:01:36

not nice to 'out' people in real life.

Bolognese Sat 12-Mar-16 21:02:40

I haven't reported comment but please dont get more personal.

Micah Sat 12-Mar-16 21:06:39

Someone complained to me last year that "x school is a feeder school because all the children in that school got places at y secondary, but they dont tell anyone". And none of the children at his dc's school got a place, despite it being first choice.

He still didnt get it when i pointed out that after musical ability, places were allocated on distance. School x is physically much closer, and as the selection policy for the two primaries is distance, the children at school x likely lived closer to secondary y.

Have you read the admissions criteria thoroughly?

tiggytape Sun 13-Mar-16 09:46:14

Distance can also be a funny thing to judge when it comes to school admissions.
If house A is a 30 second stroll across the park from the school and house B is 10 minute walk away, it is perfectly possible that house B is classed as closer because, whilst some admissions policies use "as the crow flies" others use "safest walking route" and exclude shortcuts and parks and alley ways. So if walking all around the park takes 20 minutes, the distance of house A from the school will be judged to be twice that of house B.

And of course, few people know the personal circumstances of all who apply. Anyone adopted from care should get first priority. Children with medical needs or additional needs may get some priority (or definite places is they have a EHC naming the school). It is possible that those circumstances or needs aren't known to all the other parents.

candlelight22 Sun 13-Mar-16 10:48:45

It is fair banding through random allocation. Policy states "places will be allocated on a random basis" with 20% from each band.

Distance is not a criteria at all. There is test and maybe the prep school do engineer it so that the children do well. But then there is still the random process to go through which seems to "favour" the prep school children.

Yes, there is only a small number of them (less than 15) but how do they all get offered one of the 120 places. I think I'll work together with a few other mums and approach the school. Would just like to know which feeder schools year 7 is made up from.

HarrietSchulenberg Sun 13-Mar-16 11:02:13

I think, Bolognese, that you just outed yourself there. There's a school that sounds very similar in Liverpool, and I'm sure there's others.

MyNightWithMaud Sun 13-Mar-16 11:14:19

There is a school near here (much discussed on MN) that uses random allocation, and yet somehow it seems that "naice" children have a better chance of bring randomly selected. Many local people raise an eyebrow at that.

As I said earlier, I would go down the FOI route and see whether that confirms that the selection rate for the prep is very different from the average.

meditrina Sun 13-Mar-16 11:19:55

Is there anything in their Admissions criteria which states that children in the prep at the time of conversion will be allowed to transfer to the secondary school?

There are state schools round here which aspects of their admissions, but families with children in the schools before the date of change had 'grandfather' rights to the old arrangements.

Also, it's also possible that most/all prep families apply to the school and the DC go there is offered a place. Their other choices might all be private secondaries, so you wouldn't hear of them going to other state schools.

Bolognese Sun 13-Mar-16 11:22:19

nah it was a double bluff

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