London parents are most likely to go to ‘extraordinary lengths’ to get their child into primary school

children in playground

A survey of over 1,000 Mumsnet users revealed that it’s London parents who go the furthest when it comes to primary school admissions, with a quarter admitting they went to ‘extraordinary lengths'. Comparatively, suburban parents were almost 34% more likely than average to say they go to such lengths for that coveted first choice

Measures parents say they have taken include:

  • Spending extra on a house purchase or rent in order to be in the right area: 18%
  • Attending church or making other religious observances, when they wouldn’t otherwise: 4%
  • Living close to the school in order to get an older child in, and then moving away once the older child was established at the school: 3%

One Mumsnet user even admitted to making a Freedom of Information request to find out how many sibling non-catchment places were made in the previous three years, while another paid for private school until a first choice place became available.

Nationally 13% of parents say they didn’t get their first choice school, but for London parents this rises to 21%. And London parents also say they found the process more difficult – at 33% compared with 19% nationally.

Academic reputation and convenient location weigh heavily with parents across the UK. Among those who were unhappy about the school they’d been offered, 19% said the school they were offered was not well-rated by OFSTED, and 14% said the school they were offered was really inconvenient in terms of location (14%).

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The good news

But there is good news. 86% of parents said their child got their first choice school. And asked if they were happy – whether the school was their first choice or not – 91% of parents (all with children in the first three years of primary school) said they were.

When it comes to changing the system, half (51%) say that children should be offered their nearest school, but almost a quarter (23%) say they are happy with the current process.

Mumsnet Founder and CEO, Justine Roberts, said: “With parents anxious to get their children into their first choice school we’re seeing more parents who maximised their chances by moving closer to the school before applications open or who use the schools’ sibling priority.

“It’s reassuring to note that most parents will get the school of their choice, but for those who don't it can be horribly disappointing. The distilled advice from Mumsnet users is: to take a deep breath, see if you have grounds for appeal, double-check that you're on the waiting list for your preferred school, and don't forget to accept the place you have actually been offered (unless it's somewhere you're determined never to send your child). And to remember that almost all primary schools are warm, welcoming, and focused on helping children to socialise and learn.”

Read the full data here.