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How does school allocation work?

(23 Posts)
Snowcatrunsthehouse Tue 19-Jun-18 17:34:31

Can anyone explained how the system works?

DC primary school is out of catchment for us so the link secondary is in a different town. We don’t want DC to go to that secondary anyway so no concerns.
But our local town has 3 secondary schools our catchment is the weakest of the 3.

If we put our 3 preferences all not catchment school or the link school for primary what will we be allocated if not given our preferred schools?

Will we be automatically given our catchment school? Is there any risk of the primary schools linked school despite it being much further away?

Just to be clear we would rather have catchment school if we can’t get into preferred schools. We don’t want the school linked to primary school.

OP’s posts: |
RedSkyAtNight Tue 19-Jun-18 17:50:24

If you don't list your catchment school, you won't be allocated a place there if you don't get any of your preferences - unless it happens to be undersubscribed.

The best thing to do in your case is to put the schools you like best in preferred order on your application form, and put catchment school as a fallback option in last place.

xyzandabc Tue 19-Jun-18 17:57:19

If you get none of your choices and your catchment school is not full, then you will get a place there. If you get none of your choices and your catchment school is full, then you will be allocated the next nearest school with a place. This could well be somewhere as bad as, or worse than, your catchment school but with the added problem that it's very far away.

Unless you are sure of getting a space at one of your choices, it's always best to list your catchment school in last place, unless you are willing and able to go private or homeschool.

If you do get allocated your catchment school, you can still accept that place but go on the waiting list for one of your higher preferences.

Snowcatrunsthehouse Tue 19-Jun-18 17:59:34

Our concern (or rather DH thinking) is that if we put our catchment school even in 3rd place we will just be allocated that school and no chance at all of our preferred, oversubscribed and out of catchment schools.

So where would we be sent?? Can they send us to an out of catchment undersubscribed school?

We just don’t know how it works and feel we don’t really have a choice of school at the moment.

OP’s posts: |
MarchingFrogs Tue 19-Jun-18 18:01:02

Your local authority's website should have a whole section explaining the secondary transfer procedure - you apply for all state schools via your own LA's Common Application Form, even if some or all of your preferences are in another LA.

List the school's in your true order of preference. If your DC qualifies for a place at more than one of them, the one you listed highest up is the one you will get (DON'T try to second guess the system - 'I'd better put that one first even though we don't want a place there, because we have a better chance of ifto it', for example, is indeed a very good way of getting what you don't want). If only one school you listed can offer a place, you will get that. If none, you will get the nearest appropriate school with a place, appropriate being, mixed or your DC's own gender etc.

InNeedOfALieInNow Tue 19-Jun-18 18:04:04

There should be information on how it works on the council website.

AFAIK they will allocate in order of preference. So if there is a place in one of your preferred schools you will be offered that before the catchment school. If there isn’t a place in your preferred schools and you’re offered the catchment school then you will go on the waiting list for your preferred schools. If you don’t put down the catchment school at all and there isn’t a place in your preferred schools you could literally be offered any school at all - you won’t have any control over it

LIZS Tue 19-Jun-18 18:06:34

Not necessarily your catchment if it is oversubscribed. It could be whichever is the closest with space after all preferences have been considered.

Snowcatrunsthehouse Tue 19-Jun-18 18:07:49

My concern is very much that we will not get our preferred 2 schools then be allocated a school in a different town. Our catchment school is actually very good but in comparison to the other 2 schools it is the weaker in GCSE grades the top school is 71% whilst catchment is around 56% so quite a difference. That’s the league table number btw progress 8 etc all above average.
We are getting increasingly stressed and I’m worried DH will land us in a bad school by playing games with selection.

This is a comprehensive area so no grammers and we will not be going private.

OP’s posts: |
Tinseltower Tue 19-Jun-18 18:14:06

Always put schools down in order of true preference.

Your catchment school should ideally be one of them (to make sure DC has a place somewhere not far away)

If you use all preferences on your form and don’t get allocated any, you will be given a place at the nearest undersubscribed school - this could be a failing school miles away.

Some people use all their preferences and don’t put their catchment school down. On allocations day if they haven’t been allocated a school from their preference list, they apply immediately to their catchment school. They will be very near the top of the waiting list and most often get a place by September. People do this to use an extra space on the form. It is risky to do, and relies on the fact the the catchment school isn’t very oversubscribed.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Jun-18 18:15:06

Our concern (or rather DH thinking) is that if we put our catchment school even in 3rd place we will just be allocated that school and no chance at all of our preferred, oversubscribed and out of catchment schools

No, it doesn't work like that.

They put together a list of applicants for each school. That list is then put in order according to the school's admission criteria. Note that it makes no difference whether you named a school as first choice or last choice at this stage. For each school, the people at the top of the list have a place.

Once they have done this, some people have places at more than one school. This is where your order of preferences comes in. If you have qualified for more than one offer you keep whichever offer is from the higher preference and the other place goes to the next person on the list for that school. So if you qualify for a place at your 2nd and 3rd choice schools you will keep the place at your 2nd choice.

Once they've got to the point where no-one has more than one offer, there will be some people left who don't have any offer at all. They will be allocated to the nearest school with a place available. Yes, that could be an out of catchment undersubscribed school.

If you put your catchment school as your last choice you will only be offered a place there if you didn't qualify for your 1st or 2nd choice. By law they cannot simply offer the local school and ignore your other choices. However, if you don't put your catchment school as one of your choices you could end up with an unpopular school that is miles from home.

Tinseltower Tue 19-Jun-18 18:15:27

How many preferences do you get? I’m your case if you only have 2 schools you want you can put your catchment school as last preference. At least you will get a local place if the others aren’t offered.

Snowcatrunsthehouse Tue 19-Jun-18 18:30:14

We have 3 places only. I assume if we are on waiting lists that carries on after they start school? We would consider moving DC after he starts school as he is our eldest of 3.
We are trying to move but market is flat here so that’s not going to happen in time now.

OP’s posts: |
Dermymc Tue 19-Jun-18 18:32:26

I'd put your catchment third. Otherwise you could end up anywhere.

titchy Tue 19-Jun-18 18:39:30

Check your council for actual admissions criteria. Often people talk about 'catchment' and 'feeder' when in reality these things don't necessarily exist.

But the order only comes into play if your quality for more than one of your three choices. Otherwise putting a school third makes no difference to your offer - you either qualify for it or you don't.

ScrubTheDecks Tue 19-Jun-18 19:08:05

“if we put our catchment school even in 3rd place we will just be allocated that school and no chance at all of our preferred, oversubscribed and out of catchment schools.”


There is no way to ‘game’ the system, the LA are not allowed to vary from the system which is actually law.

Here is some more mythbusting to save your DH from himself;
- The schools have a list of everyone who listed them, whatever position. The school tells the LA which people from the list they can take, according to their admissions criteria. This is the only criteria tne school use. An applicant can list them last, and be offered a place because they live nearer than an applicant (you, maybe!) who listed them first.
-I.e Schools DO NOT look at everyone who put them first, then everyone who put them second etc.
- If more than one school can get you a place, let’s say your second choice and your 3rd choice catchment school, the LA will allocate your highest preference.
- there is no point listing your favourite school 3 times. You either meet their criteria or not. The LA is obliged to find you A school place, not ‘a school on your list’.
-There is no point just listing one school if first place and leaving the rest blank. See above, same explanation.
- List your catchment in last place. The schools rank everyone who has applied. If you haven’t listed them they will fill up with everyone who did list them. For example the parents who really don’t want the ‘link ‘ school you want to avoid.

List your 2 favourite school in the genuine order you prefer them, list your catchment in last place.

If you get allocated the catchment, ACCEPT IT (this gives you no disadvantage, but declining means you might end up with worse), and go on the waiting list for your top 2 schools and any others you fancy.

Waiting lists are held I tne order in which you meet the criteria.

Do not let your DH pull stunts with this.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 19-Jun-18 19:42:47

The LA should publish so info on the last few years of allocation.
So if say you are in group 7 for your favourite school, and for the past 3 years they have only offered down to group 3, then you may wonder whether it is worth listing them at all if there is another school you are more likely to meet criteria for that you prefer to catchment school.

ie No point listing the massively popular catholic school 15 miles away if you aren't church goers and for the last 3 years all places have gone to children of faith within 4 miles of the school.

Whitecookies0609 Tue 19-Jun-18 21:30:38

As others have said it is a good idea to include your catchment school even as your last choice. I know 2 families who this year thought they would be clever in avoiding being allocated with the catchment school by listing only 2 non-catchment, good and over subscribed schools. Come 1st March they were allocated with a worse school further away than the catchment school as they didn’t get a place at the choices 1 and 2. They weren’t expecting this and are now in a worse position than if they had been allocated the catchment (and obviously choice 1 and 2).

MarchingFrogs Tue 19-Jun-18 21:58:18

Please, please, please, sit yourself down with the the relevant area of your local

MarchingFrogs Tue 19-Jun-18 22:19:23

(oops!) authority's website and read it from cover to cover, so to speak. And get your DH to do likewise. It will all be there.

The system is largely computerised - it really does work the way it says it does. The system doesn't know that you have tried to game it - it just allocates the highest ranked of your preferences that it can, if it can, so if you apparently most want your grotty local comp that practically no-one else does, that is what you will get, because you put it top of your list and it is undersubscribed. The system doesn't know that you really wanted the Outstanding church school you listed third even though your DC actually qualifies for a place there because instead of reading the LA's information, you listened to similarly ill informed school gate gossip that told you that you won't get your catchment school at all if you don't put it first (for example).

steppemum Tue 19-Jun-18 22:25:08

The allocation is very simple actually and very rigid, it is done by computer allocation.

You put down the schools in the order you WANT.

If you are not eligible for school 1 (eg you live further away than other people who wanted it,) then your school no 2 moves up to first place and your second choice school is considered AT THE SAME LEVEL as if it was your first choice.

You should always always put in order of preference.
If you are not eligible for any of the 3 schools you list, then the LEA will give you a place in the nearest school with places. That may be miles away.

Snowcatrunsthehouse Tue 19-Jun-18 22:30:36

Thank you all. DH has finally seen sense. Obviously we will still try for preferred schools and will be doing waiting lists but at least our local school will be our worst case senario rather than the failing schools in the next town.
This is seriously stressful.

OP’s posts: |
Atthebottomofthesea Wed 20-Jun-18 22:44:38

I did not want dc to go to my admission zone school, but I was pretty much guaranteed a place there, so it went in spot 3 as I would rather that than the under subscribed schools I could have ended up with.

1 and 2 were pretty much on an even pegging - school 2 was better results wise, but school 1 was a better location.

She is at school 1.

You will read many myths in the run up to submission day. If in any doubt ask here, you will get correct advice rather than 'advice' from people who are convinced that they managed to beat the system.

I will add that there was nothing really, really wrong with school 3, it just wasn't where I wanted to go, the ethos that others loved, I really didn't. By all accounts those from her primary school that did go there are doing well.

ScrubTheDecks Thu 21-Jun-18 08:48:14

To be fair, given that your catchment school is a perfectly reasonable option, it sounds as if your DH causes more stress than the Secondary Transfer system! wink

Good luck, OP, try not to stress. Places do come up all through the summer.

Go to the open days, be realistic to your Dd about the chances for the preferred schools and positive about the catchment school.

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