School Places

Many families will be disappointed to be told that their child will be going to a school they do not want. As many as one in six children failed to secure a place in their first choice school. In London it rises to one in three. They have the right to appeal against this decision. This is where appeals come in. Each year about 60,000 school admission appeals are heard. Only one in three [34%] are won by parents.

HINT NUMBER ONE Make copies of every communication you receive and send. Log every phone call.

What was said?

Who did you speak with?

What date?

What time?

So who decides which child gets a place and which doesn’t? The admission authority has to draw up and publish a list of admission criteria; that is, a series of priority categories. These will vary in detail depending on local circumstances and in the case of faith schools, for example, will reflect the distinctive nature of the school. Typical admission criteria will favour:

children with a brother or sister at the school;

children living closest to the school;

children attending a named feeder school;

children who are members of the faith the school serves.

Where there are more applications for a place in the school than the school has to offer, applications are put into rank order by being matched with the school’s admission criteria. Places are then offered to the highest ranking applicants.

Fears are increasing that proposed changes to the laws controlling school admissions could make it all too easy for sought after schools to make sure that it is they who choose the pupils they want, not the other way round.

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HINT NUMBER TWO Find out the details of numbers on roll at the school now. Check out the number in each year group. Do your research via: o school website o school prospectus o telephone the school or visit in person Write everything down and keep copies.

You are determined to get a good education for your child. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world; sometimes it is the loneliest. When the letter arrives telling you that your child is being offered a place at a school you do not want, you may experience a lot of negative feelings: perhaps, even, that you have let your child down. But remember that appeals are won, by being organised, focused and determined.