Is this legal? - school admissions - put us first.

(50 Posts)
steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 09:29:40

Hi,
On the website of a local academy, they state that they have the intention of admitting any child into Y7 for 2014 who puts their school first on the CAF form

I thought that that wasn't legal?

This is very relevant for us, as we want to put a grammar first, he has passed 11+ but may not have high enough grades to get in. This Academy is our 2 nd choice, but we don't live very close and it is borderline if we would get in.

Anyone out there know if this is allowed? Is it because it is an academy?

Ladymuck Mon 14-Oct-13 09:47:30

I assume that what the school is saying is that they expect to be undersubscribed, so if you have a preference for the school you will get in. The school of course cannot offer you a place if you have placed another school higher on your list of preferences and that school offers you a place. The academy of course will never know where you have put them on your list of preferences.

You are right OP, if you qualify for both schools, you will get a place offered at the one you put highest.

They cannot say - put us first or you don't get in.

Put the grammar first, Academy 2nd and a realistic back up school as your third choice - ie a nearby school that will do. So if you don't get the 1st or 2nd choices, you don't get a school you don't like that is miles away.

moldingsunbeams Mon 14-Oct-13 09:52:34

I thought school were not even informed which order you had made choices in for this type of reason.

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 09:53:34

ladymuck - we would put them second as we want the grammar place, do they really not know where they are?

I understand how the sytem works WRT if you don't qualify for your first place school, the secodn place moves up to first place etc, and that it is the LEA not the school allocating places. Which if why it seems like a very odd statement to me.

You might be right about undersubscribed, I have heard that this year is quite a low birth rate.

meditrina Mon 14-Oct-13 09:55:32

It's not legal, and it's worrying that a school sets out so publicly a big mistake in something that is pretty well known. What other laws and regulations might they be breaching?

I think it might be worth writing to the school and LA pointing this out, and stating that publication of unlawful criteria is grounds for successful appeal (even under ICS regulations) and perhaps they might like to correct it now.

bruffin Mon 14-Oct-13 09:58:33

What is their actual wording?

prh47bridge Mon 14-Oct-13 10:14:06

Which school is this?

They cannot say that. It is a clear breach of the Admissions Code. In any case the LA will not give them the information they need to implement such a policy. They will tell them who has applied but not whether they named the school as first choice or last choice.

If they are undersubscribed everyone who puts the school as first choice will get a place but they cannot guarantee that. Even if they were able to implement such a policy they are assuming that they have enough places to cater for everyone who names the school as first choice. So this is wrong on every level.

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 10:15:35

If you are intending to apply for a place at this school for September 2014, you should note that the School has the intention of admitting all applications where the School is placed as first choice.

I think they probably mean that if you choose us we have enough places, (so if your first choice falls through and we become first, we have enough places) etc. But that isn't what it says.

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 10:20:49

I am not prepared to say which school

At every other level this is an amazing school, we live in a city with poor schools, this is in a town about 15 minutes drive away. It is first choice for many parents in our city who are concerned about academic education. (they bus about 70 from North part of our city alone)

Normally, we would be right at the edge of qualifying, because we are quite far away, so it would be a gamble to get in.
It does have a huge intake (270) and I know there are too many secondary places this year for number of pupils in our area, so i am assuming they are trying to say, don't worry about being far away, we have the space, you should get in.

But as it stands it is a totally illegal statement. very worrying.

Ladymuck Mon 14-Oct-13 10:26:40

Certainly the school has an admission policy which does not refer to preference at all, so on the face of it the statement on the website is just wrong and misleading. If the POLICY stated it selected on the basis of preference, then that would not be compliant with the Admissions Code.

iheartdusty Mon 14-Oct-13 10:31:07

I read it slightly differently, it suggests to me that the school may be trying to bump up the number of first choices it gets in the face of possible over-supply of places across the LEA. In order to do so, it hints that you may have to put it first to get a place, but it doesn't actually say that. I agree it is misleading.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 14-Oct-13 10:41:26

Are you in Leeds Op?

I've heard this lately about a school I'm not applying for but friends are. Its a voluntary aided church school if that makes a difference. Sounded odd to me but they presume they will have several hundred applicants over and above the places and have said all places will go to parents who select as first choice only.

friday16 Mon 14-Oct-13 10:49:33

have said all places will go to parents who select as first choice only.

Either they don't understand the way the equal preference system works (few heads do) or they have a massive, burning urge to fight and lose dozens of appeals, probably culminating with the school being placed in special measures and new governors imposed. I suspect the former.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 14-Oct-13 11:27:33

Its certainly odd isn't it? I thought the first person who told ne must be mistaken, but now quite a few other parents have said the same so I assume they aren't all getting it wrong but maybe they are ?!

Luckily it doesn't concern me as ds has a place under sibling entry for my preferred school.

Our preferred school (which dd is already at) changed the rules this year too though and are only accepting applications from one postcode area. Doesn't apply to siblings though thankfully, but isn't this odd too?

I have a friend for whom its the closest school but she can't apply as she lives outside the postcode boundary hmm I think its odd that the royal mail seem to be able to dictate schools/distances! It's outskirts of a city, so presumably there will be people on one side of some streets able to apply bit others very close not able.
Is this normal does anyone know?

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 11:45:11

not Leeds
not voluntary aided
academy, not free school etc

friday - you haven't actually quoted what I said or the quote form the school website

I think it is a mis wording, based on the idea that they are trying to say, put us, down, you will get in, we have enough room.
But I am not happy that such a mis wording was allowed through, seems pretty fundamental

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 11:49:24

TheGirl

Probably they have introduced a selection criteria which is based on which LEA?

We have this on the edge of our city, there is one area/housing estate which is technically County LEA rather than City LEA. The criteria for schools in the county tends to go

looked after children/ SEN etc
then
county applications siblings
county applications non siblings
out of county (so our city) siblings
out of county non siblings

So if you live close, but our city LEA not county LEA, you come quite along way down the list.

bruffin Mon 14-Oct-13 12:11:29

*b. Preferences
Parents will be invited to state up to three ranked preferences. Each preference will be considered
equally. This means that ??? Council will consider all applications against the published
admissions criteria without reference to how the school applied for has been ranked on the application
form. As far as possible applicants will be offered a place at a school to which they have expressed a
preference, for example R????. Where the applicant has made more than one
preference the Local Authority (LA) will make an offer at the highest ranked preference school with
available places in accordance with the standard admission criteria. Where it is not possible to offer a
place at a preferred school, for example ??? and the applicant lives in
???, the LA will allocate a place. Allocations will be made after all expressed preferences have
been considered. An applicant will normally be offered a place at the designated school for their home
address. An alternative school may be allocated in cases where the designated school is full and the
alternative school is within the safe statutory 3 mile walking distance and has places available or it is a
school to which free home to school transport would be provided.*

This is from their admissions criteria for 2014 assuming i have right school.

steppemum Mon 14-Oct-13 12:16:15

bruffin - don't know if you have the right school, but yes that is same/similar to the official admissions criteria, which is same as the LEA criteria. (and anyway, don't LEA allocate places, not the school?)

so all that is correct. As someone upthread said, their official policy is correct, but they have this comment on their admissions page on their website. Which would appear to contradict their own stated policy.

moldingsunbeams Mon 14-Oct-13 12:41:05

Having re read it I think in a crappy badly written way they are trying to say they are hoping to admit every child who wants to come there (its known apparently this year was a low birth year) rather than saying we only admit people who want us as first choice.

I think its just badly written tbh.

tiggytape Mon 14-Oct-13 13:12:14

I agree with molding

The school don't know where you listed them so they simply cannot promise to give you a place if you put them first or threaten withhold a place if you don't. You send your CAF to the council. Only the council sees it. The council tells the school the names of everyone who has applied and asks them to rank those candidates according to how well they meet the admissions criteria.
This results in the school producing a list where some "first choice" applicants are placed below many "second choice" applicants because for example the second choice people live closer. The school just have the names and addresses and sibling details - no clue about preference.

The school sends the finished list back to the council. The council uses this list to offer places starting at the top and working down. As you can see, there is no room in this process for the school to be able to swing things to ensure all the places go to people who listed them first.

I suspect the poor wording refers to the fact that they are undersubscribed. Therefore, if you list them more highly than any of your other viable options, you will almost certainly get an offer there.
If you list them last, and none of your higher preferences work out, this won't stop you getting an offer there.
They are worried that if you really want a place, you shouldn't list them second since, if your first choice can take you, you won't also get offered your second since no child can have 2 offers no matter how many criteria they meet.

SuperwomanOnAgoodDay Mon 14-Oct-13 13:37:47

Step I have found out which school through googling the quote, you might want to get MN to change your post if you're worried about privacy.

difficultpickle Mon 14-Oct-13 14:16:34

Our local comp has the same. It is usually oversubscribted too.

friday16 Mon 14-Oct-13 14:23:38

Our local comp has the same. It is usually oversubscribted too.

Heads say this, and sometimes even write it down, because they fundamentally misunderstand equal preference. It's especially toxic in areas with selective schools, where badly informed parents either don't enter their children or submit ludicrous CAF applications with non-selective schools above the selective ones.

The point is that if you don't put a school first, and you meet the criteria for some school for which you expressed a higher preference, then you go to the school you put higher up the form. The only way to be certain you will go to a particular school is to both (a) put it first and (b) be confident that you definitely meet the entry criteria. But if you put down, say, your local comp where your brother goes and you live around the corner first, and a selective grammar second, you're wasting your time taking the exam because you will never be going there.

Preferences need to be filled in exactly as it says, in the order you would like to consider the schools (if I can't go there, then there, then there, then there). Heads do talk bollocks, and it's hard to argue people out of some of the misconceptions the heads give.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 14-Oct-13 14:48:48

Steppe sorry for the mini hi-jack grin But no, the school is in city LEA but is an academy, does that matter?

Like I said, its ok for me luckily but it seems odd they can dictate based on post code rather than distance. The post code area stretches northwards from where the school is so applications can be made from a few miles away closer to another town, yet can't be made by someone 3/4mile away as there post code is not the stipulated one! Her next nearest school is just over a mile away (as the crow flies based on LEA map) so she really is disadvantaged by the new policy!

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