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Secondary application - I don't understand something about the process

(35 Posts)
OuiOuiMonAmi Sun 28-Oct-18 11:50:01

I underdstand that putting several choices down does not reduce your chances of getting your highest preference. But does it reduce your chances of getting your 2nd preference?

We've put a pipe-dream as a 1st choice but are happy with our realistic 2nd choice. But, when looking at our 2nd choice school, does the computer go through all the people who have put it as their first and then it could get filled up before it gets to those who have put it as a 2nd? Hope that makes sense!

OP’s posts: |
Bestseller Sun 28-Oct-18 11:54:07

No, the priority you put makes no difference. If you don't qualify for choice 1, but do qualify for choice 2, you will get choice 2. You will take priority over people who have put your second school first, and if they (e. g.) live further away

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 28-Oct-18 11:57:15

What best said.

Head teachers may well tell you that you need to put them first. But they actually have no idea where u listed them or if you even listed them at all.

The list position only comes into play if you qualify for more than one school. Then they will get The one you put highest up the list.

OuiOuiMonAmi Sun 28-Oct-18 12:01:45

Great, thanks guys!

OP’s posts: |
OuiOuiMonAmi Sun 28-Oct-18 13:10:58

Hmmm, actually, no, I don't get it after all grin

How does the computer work out whether a school has places or not?! Surely it can't do that until everyone's places have been met - which is obviously contradictory! <brain hurts>

I understand how the system can rank on distance and I understand how it can rank on preference - but I don't understand how it can rank on both!

OP’s posts: |
TheFirstOHN Sun 28-Oct-18 13:21:09

For each school, the algorithm lists the pupils in order of who meets the admissions criteria. This is often done by distance, but it will depend on the individual school's criteria.

It only takes preference into account from the pupil's point of view. For each pupil, it will only look at the schools where the pupil meets the admissions criteria (see above). If more than one of those schools is listed on the pupil's application form, it will allocate the one that is highest.

TheFirstOHN Sun 28-Oct-18 13:27:45

How does the computer work out whether a school has places or not?! Surely it can't do that until everyone's places have been met

For each school, it starts at the top of the admissions criteria (children looked after etc) then down the list (children living closest etc). For each child, the system checks which schools she meetd the admissions criteria for, sees if any of those schools are on her application form, and allocates the one she put as highest preference. At the schools where she met the admissions criteria but will not need a place, everyone below her on the list moves up one position.

It would be extremely time-consuming to do manually, but that's what computers are for.

Lougle Sun 28-Oct-18 13:31:36

The LA puts each applicant in order according to the admission criteria for each school in a list. Then with each applicant, they look at whether they got a place at any of their schools, and if so, which school was their highest preference.

So, for you they may have schools 1-6, Yes (Pos. 25/60), No, Yes (Pos. 13/90), No, No, No.

Because you wanted school 1, you get school 1, and you are taken off of the list for schools 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. The lists are rejigged.

This is happening simultaneously across the country prior to National offers day. The lists are examined and rejigged over and over, until everyone has their best offer, or all places are taken.

Soontobe60 Sun 28-Oct-18 13:33:00

I was told by the LA that they look at first place choices, then if there is still room, second place and so on. So where a school is very oversubscribed, they always get filled up by first choice pupils. If you live right next to a school, you won't get a place just by putting it on the form.

meditrina Sun 28-Oct-18 13:42:19

It's like a giant game of candy crush

It's fine by looking at the ranked list that each school prepares, based on how well you fit the criteria (they do not know what position you have ranked them as a preference, just that you named them somewhere on the form)

The LEA then looks at school A and draw a (metaphorical) line under the last available position. All those above the line who listed it first have their offer place confirmed and are deleted from all the other lists, so they all shuffle up. This goes round each school, as many times as it takes for there to be no more movement. So all who qualified for their first choice school have an offer place for it.

Then they do the same thing for those who do not yet have an offer, but looking at second choice places, then third etc. Until there is no more movement and they have gone through all listed preferences.

At which point they can see which schools still have places, and which applicants still don!, and they start to marry those up

Greenleave Sun 28-Oct-18 13:45:42

Thanks so much TheFirstOHN, you answered all my questions too, we are filling the form tonight.

titchy Sun 28-Oct-18 13:50:23

I was told by the LA that they look at first place choices, then if there is still room, second place and so on. So where a school is very oversubscribed, they always get filled up by first choice pupils. If you live right next to a school, you won't get a place just by putting it on the form.

Categorically incorrect and illegal.

It's a fairly straightforward algorithm for a computer. Rank all applicants for all schools in order. Additionally once ranked add the preference position. So Billy Jones, Town High, position 23, preference 2. Billy Jones, City High, position 35, preference 3. Billy Jones, Country High, position 400, preference 1.

Then where an applicant has a place in more than school, save the highest preference and remove from lower preference lists (but keep on higher preference lists). So Billy Jones gets a place at Town High and City High, so comes off the City list, but stays on the Country list. This happens concurrently for all applicants, then once each applicant is on their highest preference list, and removed from lower preference lists, repeat the whole process as the removal will have meant those left move up the ranks. Billy finds after loop 3 that he is in position 100 at Country, so gets a place.

TheFirstOHN Sun 28-Oct-18 15:08:08

It's like a giant game of candy crush
grin

eddiemairswife Sun 28-Oct-18 17:32:17

People in the LA rarely know how it works, neither do school staff. Often the only people who understand the process work in admissions or are on Appeal Panels.

Soontobe60 Sun 28-Oct-18 21:43:57

Titchy
If what you say is correct, how come time and time again, children who don't put the most popular school down as their first choice end up not getting a place over others who live further away but did put it as first choice? I've taught enough year six classes to know this is what happens, every year!

eddiemairswife Sun 28-Oct-18 21:54:02

* soon to be* if this is happening in your area, then something is seriously wrong. The School Admissions Code expressly forbids 1st choice 1st as a way of allocating places.

Escolar Sun 28-Oct-18 21:56:32

Soontobe I agree with Titchy. You are not more likely to get a place if you rank a school higher.

Spamfrittersforeveryone Sun 28-Oct-18 21:58:59

Soontobe the only way this can happen is if they are offered a place higher up their preference list.

Otherwise it’s illegal. It’s literally all done by algorithm.

Clayplay Sun 28-Oct-18 22:05:17

Watching with interest

titchy Sun 28-Oct-18 22:06:45

Errr because they get a place at the one they put as top preference...

OuiOuiMonAmi Sun 28-Oct-18 23:06:21

Thanks again, guys - I still don't entirely get it but I'm closer smile

Can I give you a scenario? Imagine these are my preferences:
1st choice: School A
2nd choice: School B
3rd choice: School C

Say I don't get a place at School A because others live closer than me. Couldn't there be now be a situ where School B places have all been taken up i nthat round by people who put it as their 1st choice, so I get School C? Or does it not work like that? Sorry, I'm trying really hard to understand but it's been a looooong week :D

OP’s posts: |
Escolar Mon 29-Oct-18 07:07:48

OK, let's say each of those schools take 200 pupils and have 300 applicants. Here's what happens.

All three schools arrange ALL the children who have applied in order from 1 to 300 according to their admissions criteria. Then they send the list of the top 200 candidates off to the central computer. Maybe at this point your child is in the top 200 for school C, but not for A or B.

The central computer has the information for all three schools. It can see that there is a child X who is in the top 200 places for all three schools (eg a child in care which is usually a priority admission), so it allocates that child their first choice and removes the child from the lists for the other two schools. Then it sends the shorter lists back to the schools, with some children such as child X removed from the lists. School B now has only 180 children on the list, because of the 20 who have been removed as they got on to the list but put other schools higher. School B sends back its new list of the existing 180 plus 20 new children (nos. 201-220 on the original list of 300). The central computer again compares lists and removes the children who appear on more than one list (again due to having got into a higher ranked school on the new set of lists) and sends the lists back to the schools, again with some places free at the bottom. This process is repeated again and again (maybe about 12 times) until there is no more movement and the lists can be finalised for each school.

The important bit is that you will never move from your original position in the ordered list of 300 children who applied to School B. You will always be above a child who put school B first but lives further away (because the 300 children are ordered according to the admissions criteria, with no consideration of where they ranked a school). The thing that changes during the process is the cut-off point in the 300 of which children get a place at that school.

So the hypothetical child who lives further away from School B but put it first will never be allocated to it ahead of your child. In the first round of "accepted" lists they would either be allocated to a completely different school or to no school at all (if they are below the 200 cut-off for all of their choices). But hopefully they would have got a school by the end of the process.

Does that make sense?

clarrylove Mon 29-Oct-18 07:12:00

The simplest way of looking at it is, if you don't get your first choice, your second choice automatically then becomes your new first choice. It's called 'equal preference' and they're are lots of examples online.

EduCated Mon 29-Oct-18 08:44:03

OuiOui No, there is no situation where you would get School C because School B was full with first choicers.

The only reason you would get School C would be if you didn’t come high enough up in the criteria for A and B (e.g. others live closer, are siblings etc).

Equally, if you didn’t come high enough up the criteria for School C either, then you would get none of your preferences and would get offered a place at the nearest school with places after everyone’s preferences have been taken into account, i.e. whatever’s left. This is the only point where you can be disadvantaged by not listing a school in your preferences, but it is about having listed it as a preference at all, not whether it is your first, second, third etc.

A pipe-dream first choice with a realistic second choice (and presumably a back up third choice?) is a sensible approach!

Lougle Mon 29-Oct-18 09:31:57

"Say I don't get a place at School A because others live closer than me. Couldn't there be now be a situ where School B places have all been taken up i nthat round by people who put it as their 1st choice, so I get School C? Or does it not work like that? Sorry, I'm trying really hard to understand but it's been a looooong week :D"

No. The way it works is that the computer looks at who is successful at gaining a place at all the schools. Then it looks at preference. So it will take out all the children who put it as first choice and were successful in gaining a place. Then everyone else moves up the list. School B could only be full of people who were higher up the list than you and had it as a higher preference. In which case, you would never have had a chance anyway.

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