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Help please!!!How hard do they try to get you a place in your first choice school?

(6 Posts)
Steamroller Fri 19-Sep-08 09:00:59

Does anyone know how the choice element of the admissions process REALLY works? The admission form says put 3 schools on it. If you put 3, or 2, do they move on to your second or third choice of school as soon as your first choice school is full? Or do they REALLY try and get you into first choice before moving on to second and so on?
Our 1st choice is walking distance, and is definitely the school we want dd to go to. It is always oversubscribed every year.
There is a 2nd choice but it is not really where we want her to go. It is not as good, and would mean a long walk and bus ride there and back.
(I haven't got a 3rd choice. )
I know lots of people locally just put this 1st choice school, and don't give a 2nd choice school on the form.
BUT the admissions people told me that if you just put 1 choice,and dd doesnt get a place there, she could end up being given a place at any school with places left over(could be on other side of town).
So do I A) put a 2nd choice school in case she doesnt get into 1st choice, so that at least she should get in to a school that I know something about, and is ok, although not my 1st preference or
B)just put 1st choice, on the thinking that the admissions people will try harder to get children into 1st choice school if they have no other school choice listed?

infin Fri 19-Sep-08 09:09:21

I'm no admissions expert but...
1) Look at published admissions criteria on the websites of the school of your choice. Number 1 will be 'Looked after children'. Then criteria can vary. Work out where your daughter would come.
2) Call your LEA education office. Explain that you've looked at admission criteria and ask them to tell you whether or not your child would have gained a place for the last 5 years.
3) You will then have a much better idea of your chances.

It's not a case of them 'trying hard' to get you your first choice of school. Finite number of places and following the admissions criteria admits children in a clear sequence.

SorenLorensen Fri 19-Sep-08 09:17:00

It depends how your admissions procedure works. In Cheshire (where I am) they use the Equal Preference system. So you put the school you really want your child to go to 1st choice, the 2nd second and so on. When they consider your application they look at all your choices equally - if you meet the admission criteria for a school, you get a place - simple as that. If you qualify for a place at more than one school, they allocate the school you have put highest on your list.

If you don't meet the admission criteria for a school and that school is oversubscribed, you will be allocated a place at the next school on your list (that you meet the criteria for).

Our LEA published a booklet with each school's admission criteria in - so you can have an idea of whether you meet it or not.

If your system works like this - then put your 1st choice first. If you meet the criteria (one of which is very often distance, ie., catchment - but that might not be the no.1 factor in getting into a school - sometimes it's being at a feeder primary, sometimes it's having an older sibling there. Actually I think no. 1 criterion is always Special Needs or being a child in care - but look at the list after this if this doesn't apply to you).

I would put your second choice school as second choice - because if you only put one school, and don't get a place - your second choice may have filled up with people who fitted the criteria and placed it on their list of preferences - and then, as you have been told, the LEA will simply allocate your child a place at the nearest available school.

I hope some of that helps - I think the system varies from place to place - but, if you have an admissions booklet it will tell you if your LEA uses Equal Preference - and if it does, then put your 1st choice 1st and your 2nd choice 2nd. Then if you don't get a place at your 1st choice it doesn't prejudice your chances of a place at the second - because your preferences are treated equally.

Good luck - it's such a stressful time - I nearly had a breakdown doing ds1's secondary applications this time last year smile

AMumInScotland Fri 19-Sep-08 09:20:55

They won't "try harder" to get your child into your first choice school because you haven't put on a second choice. They will look at all the applications for the school, and if it is oversubscribed they will use their set of rules to decide which ones get offered a place and which do not. What other choices you put on the form is not one of the criteria they use to work out how high up the list you are.

You should always put second and third choices on the form, unless you really have no preference between all the other schools they might allocate you to. If you don't put any second choice, and don't get your first choice, then your application won't be looked at again until after all the applications which have a second choice on them. Then you'll get offered a place wherever they have them left over!

PrimulaVeris Fri 19-Sep-08 09:27:50

What the other posters said

There is no such thing as "try harder", there are only the LEA rules which are followed to the letter

I was in a similar position to you last year, and will be again next year. You really need to put down 3 choices, one of which should be your nearest school even if you don't like it. Otherwise you will be allocated a place in different town at a school in special measures or similar.

cory Fri 19-Sep-08 16:18:53

What the others have said. Basically, they have to do their best to allocate places according to children's needs, not according to how upset the parents are going to get if they don't get in. So naturally, children with statements or medical needs are going to get priority. The criteria should be published in the admissions booklet.

Refusing to put down a second and third place is simply trying to bully the LEA into giving your child what you want. Having sat through a recent appeals process, I got the feeling that this is not something the LEA are very impressed by.

The only time you can force the LEA to give your child a place is if you can prove that they have not been following their own admissions procedures.

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