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Any benefit in applying for secondary school place asap?

(23 Posts)
hopebeyond Thu 01-Sep-16 18:22:08

Our dc is due to start Year 7 next year 2017. The secondary school applications open today but the deadline is not for another 2 months. Is there any benefit in applying now?

We live close to our preferred secondary but won't get in as we are not at a feeder primary (higher priority than distance). But will get on waiting list and hopefully have chance of getting in later in the year if there is any movement (as the feeder primary is no longer given any priority at that stage).

My understanding is that date of application has no effect on either initial place allocation or allocation from waiting list, am I correct?

(We have visited our preferred secondary but not the others yet so would like to take some time to consider the options before applying, but not if this delay will reduce our chances of getting in to our first choice!)

MidnightVelvettheSixth Thu 01-Sep-16 18:34:09

No speed won't make a difference to initial place allocation, if it did then you & I would be there in front of the PC at midnight the night before with our fingers on the submit button smile grin

tiggytape Thu 01-Sep-16 18:38:49

There is no benefit at all to applying early.
Everyone who applies on time (before the October 31st deadline) has their application treated just the same.

There is however a huge disadvantage to applying later than the deadline. Your application would be ignored until everyone else had been allocated their place so you'd probably miss out on any popular schools you happened to qualify for. Therefore don't hurry to do it now but don't risk leaving it too late.

Put the school you like best as first choice on your list even if you feel certain you won't get an offer.
Firstly, you never know - some pupils from the feeder school may go elsewhere or go private this year leaving moe spaces than usual for distance children.
And secondly - you are not penalised for putting an ideal-but-unlikely school first. If that school cannot offer you a place then the school you put second is treated just the same as if you'd listed it first (i.e. people who list a school first don't get any special treatment). You won't jeopardise your chances at other schools by listing the ones you like in the true order of preference

Try however to make sure you list at least one school on the form that is acceptable and that you are almost certain to be offered a place at.
If you only list ideal-but-unlikely schools and none of them can accept you, the council will be forced to find you a place from a school that isn't full up (this tends to mean either unpopular, far away or both).
If you have to sit it out on waiting lists, it is far less stressful to have an offer at a local school as your back-up than to have a school you've never heard of and miles away form home allocated to you.

OdinsLoveChild Thu 01-Sep-16 20:05:38

It wont make any difference applying early. All the allocations are sorted from 7am the following morning after the closing date (I remember that early start well and I'm glad I don't do it anymore).

Go and visit the other schools and make your choice ideally a few days before closing.

The LEA I used to work at never had a failure of their application website but several others did when too many people tried to apply at the same time (usually at 23.58pm on the last day) .

PumpkinPie9 Thu 01-Sep-16 20:16:51

You could apply now and then edit your application as much as you like before the closing date.

hopebeyond Fri 02-Sep-16 21:18:06

Thank you all, that's very reassuring to hear! We will take our time and look at all the options properly before submitting our application a few days before the closing date.

HPFA Sat 03-Sep-16 07:03:56

If that school cannot offer you a place then the school you put second is treated just the same as if you'd listed it first (i.e. people who list a school first don't get any special treatment). You won't jeopardise your chances at other schools by listing the ones you like in the true order of preference

I meet so many parents who don't understand this. Someone I know ended up moving her DD in her first term because she'd been afraid to put down her "real" first choice. I wish there could be a campaign about all the misapprehensions, although I suppose some schools are happy about them, ahem!!

SaturdaySurprise Sat 03-Sep-16 09:40:43

I met someone after the forms deadline, who told me that she'd put her real first choice second, because someone at her borough's admissions department told her that she needed to put the highly in demand grammar school as first choice. The misconceptions don't seem to go away.

The grammar wasn't her real first choice so she may have ended up in the bizarre position of hoping for her second choice and going on the waiting list for it if she didn't get it.

For anyone about to do the forms - put your choices in your genuine order of preference.

HPFA Sat 03-Sep-16 11:02:49

I went to one Open Day where the Head actually said "you need to put us first to get in". It really put me off that school that a Head would tell a straight lie.

My next door neighbour told me she spent one of her visits to a primary school impressing on the staff how religious the family were. Whilst it is a Church school they don't use faith in admissions. When I gently pointed this out she said "Oh well, it might help".

littledrummergirl Sat 03-Sep-16 12:49:50

HPFA
I went to one Open Day where the Head actually said "you need to put us first to get in". It really put me off that school that a Head would tell a straight lie.

This is true of ds1 school. Any school placed higher than his genuine choice would have been offered as they have 1000 candidates for 120 places and is considered the most academic school in our county. If you qualify there then you qualify for every grammar.

oklumberjack Sun 04-Sep-16 09:06:54

My dd is starting Y7 secondary school tomorrow and some very knowledgeable posters on Mumsnet helped me so much. I agree, I feel there should be a national campaign about how preferences work. I'm pretty clued up and even I had miscomprehension's.

I visited some schools who still told me that I'd have to put them first if I wanted a place. I know dozens of parents who only listed one school. Bizarrely, I also know someone who's dd is started at an extremely sought after school tomorrow - they didn't particularly want the place. Their real first choice was their 1st and 3rd choice. The sought after school allocates via a lottery system and they got a place. They were really shocked. They'd put it down just 'because'. I really hope it works out for them.

oklumberjack Sun 04-Sep-16 09:07:06

My dd is starting Y7 secondary school tomorrow and some very knowledgeable posters on Mumsnet helped me so much. I agree, I feel there should be a national campaign about how preferences work. I'm pretty clued up and even I had miscomprehension's.

I visited some schools who still told me that I'd have to put them first if I wanted a place. I know dozens of parents who only listed one school. Bizarrely, I also know someone who's dd is started at an extremely sought after school tomorrow - they didn't particularly want the place. Their real first choice was their 1st and 3rd choice. The sought after school allocates via a lottery system and they got a place. They were really shocked. They'd put it down just 'because'. I really hope it works out for them.

oklumberjack Sun 04-Sep-16 09:07:35

Sorry for double post. My phone lied about its connection!

OdinsLoveChild Sun 04-Sep-16 09:28:46

If you want a place at a specific high school you should really put them first so the schools that say 'you need to put us first if this is the school you want' is correct.

The admissions teams will look at your first choice on the form (not any random school off your list) and say, do they have space for your child using the admissions criteria? (distance/sibling/feeder school etc) If its yes you get that place first them the rest of your choices are disregarded and your form in effect 'thrown in the bin pile'.

If its a no then they ask, do they meet the admissions for the 2nd school listed? If its a yes you get that school place. If its a no then the same process goes for the next option you put on your form.

They look at the schools in turn not a random selection off your list. If you really want a school you put 3rd on your list then you are less likely to get a place there if you also meet the criteria for the schools you put 1st and 2nd.

Again if a school does a lottery system you wont be put into that lottery system if you had already met the criteria for a school you put 1st on the list.

oklumberjack Sun 04-Sep-16 10:05:50

At 2 schools I visited, in the head masters address they said that to be considered for a place they had to be put first on the list. Both state schools. Just plain misleading.

Thanks heavens for MN!

tiggytape Sun 04-Sep-16 12:08:19

It is misleading but they get away with it because technically some people qualify for many schools so the order they place them in has a bearing on which one they will get:

Assume you qualify for numerous schools by meeting numerous admissions criteria:
You qualify for school A because you've attended church for 2 years
You qualify for school B because you have another child there in Year 9
You qualify for school C because it is right next door to your house
You qualify for school D because your child just about passed the 11+.

You like school B the best.
If you fill in your form A,B,C,D it is true you have ruined your chances of a place at school B
But that's only because you qualify for school A and said you liked it best so they will give you school A. Each child only gets one offer so they won't offer you B,C and D as well.
The reason you don't get school B is nothing to do with being punished or discriminated against for listing it 2nd. They're taking you at your word that A is your top choice.

The danger is that some parents think the order is a gamble or tactical and end up losing a place
For example parents that want school D but are scared their child's score is so borderline that they might not get a place. So they get persuaded to put school B first (to secure the place) and then put school D 2nd.
Of course that means even if their child could be offered a place at school D, they won't get it because they will be offered a place at the school they said they liked better and that they also qualify for.
They worry that they had to list a "safe" choice first but that is not correct. If they had put D first and their child's score was too low, they would still have got school B.

You get the one you say you like best out of all of them you qualify for.

If you don't meet the criteria, putting it first will not get you a place.

And if you do qualify, putting it last will not deprive you of a place (assuming none of the school you said you liked better can offer you a place)

oklumberjack Sun 04-Sep-16 12:18:26

Tiggy, you should publish a pamphlet on this. It could make you a little fortune wink

tiggytape Sun 04-Sep-16 13:08:13

smile

mummytime Sun 04-Sep-16 22:23:21

OdinsLovechild - what you have described is totally incorrect and has been for all schools in England for at least 10 years.

What happens is each school gets a list from the LA of those who have applied and sorts it into order using their admissions criteria. If this s a lottery then the continue "pulling names out of a hat". The school does not know where they are ranked.
(If the LA is the admissions authority they do this ranking.)
Then the ranked lists are returned to the LA who then use the parental preference to decide which is the highest ranked school the child qualifies for.
Fortunately it's all done by computer as it would be a nightmare to do by hand.

oklumberjack Mon 05-Sep-16 10:11:23

The school dd got did know they were our second choice as I had a letter from them mentioning that we weren't there first choice but they hoped we would fully accept the place etc.

I was sent that letter along with all the forms to filling for going on a waiting list etc, telling furthest distances for each oversubscribed school.

This was in the South West in 2016.

tiggytape Mon 05-Sep-16 10:58:19

Some schools get to see your list order if for example you launch an appeal (or if they know you are the waiting list for another school, they might assume it).
However, the crucial thing is that it has absolutely no affect on your chance of getting a place. By law it is absolutely forbidden that any admission authority takes it into account in any way to discriminate against people.

It is highly possible that the school you got given as your 2nd choice was someone else's first choice and they didn't get a place at all.

This would be because they live further away than you do (or in some other way meet the criteria less well than you do) and once it was found that you didn't meet the criteria for the school you wanted most, you got priority for the school you listed second. You got priority because it is the highest school of all the ones you listed that you qualified for and the other person (who put it 1st) didn't qualify so can't have it.

And equally there will be people who got into your first choice school who didn't want it as much as you did but who didn't meet the criteria for other schools they liked better.

They beat you to a place even though they liked it less than you did because they live closer to the school (or in some other way meet the criteria better than you).

That's how waiting lists move. There will be people offered the school you want who don't want it as much as you do so, when someone further up the chain moves house or goes private creating a vacancy, they will happily give up their original offer and then it can be offered to you (if you're top of the waiting list)

HPFA Mon 05-Sep-16 13:59:27

If you want a place at a specific high school you should really put them first so the schools that say 'you need to put us first if this is the school you want' is correct.

Heads are being deliberately misleading by implying that if you put their school second you will have disadvantaged yourself with your other choices. I have met several parents who've said to me "I really want X school but I'm worried if I do that and DC don't get in I won't get Y school either".

From what I remember the Head at the Open Evening referred to earlier said "In order to maximize your chances of getting a place you do need to make us your first choice." Is there any interpretation of that other than an attempt to deceive?

tiggytape Mon 05-Sep-16 14:14:35

HPFA - you are right. Any hint that placing a school first alters the likelihood that your child will qualify for a place is an outright deception.

The rule is simply: no matter how much you like a school, you cannot get a place unless you meet the criteria. There is absolutely nothing you can do in terms of your preference form ranking to increase your chances if you are low on their criteria list.

And no matter how far down your list you choose to name a school that you do meet the criteria for, you cannot be denied a place at that school in favour of someone who likes it more but qualified less

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