LAST week it was reported that almost two thirds of children in South London got their first choice of school to begin secondary education in September.
However, for an unfortunate collection of parents – whose children didn’t manage to secure a place at their first or even second choice of school – this is where the real struggle begins.
Of course, some are opting to simply accept the school they have been allocated, with many booking first-time visits.
More often than not, parents won’t have even visited their third choice school, writing it off based merely upon its reputation or less than convenient location.
However, some have been pleasantly surprised by what they have seen at schools they originally ruled out.
Mike Lawson, father of 10 year old Shira says “my wife and I were originally deeply unhappy with the idea of Shira attending the mixed gender school she was allocated. But, we’ve been to visit the grounds since, and after chatting to existing parents and students and getting a feel for the place, we’re feeling a lot more positive.”
Not all parents, however, are as willing to accept the school’s decisions, with some taking drastic measures in order to get the decisions reversed and have their children attend their first choice of school.
Linda Rowsey of Sell House Fast said: “You’d be shocked at the amount of calls we got from parents wishing to sell their family homes quickly in order to move into a certain secondary school’s catchment area.
“The lengths some are willing to go to secure that place at their favourite school is astonishing.”
It’s no surprise then, that many parents are determined not to accept defeat, and are therefore currently in the process of appealing to the authorities or in some cases directly to the school’s governing boards.
These appeals are often a hugely stressful process, and victory is far from guaranteed, but it may be worth doing as success rates differ year to year, from place to place.
You can win an appeal in one of two ways; by showing that the school or local council published incorrect admissions rules (ie not making clear how to demonstrate religious adherence, for a faith school) or by
demonstrating that the “problems caused to the child by not being admitted would be greater than the problems caused to the school by admitting them”.
This means studying a school’s admissions criteria thoroughly is necessary in order to come up with a plan of action. When making an appeal, parents should match their children’s strengths with something the school offers, such as drama, sport or languages.
If this all sounds a bit too much, another option is to call all the schools in your area and ask you’re your child to be placed on the waiting list. You can do this for as many schools as you wish. It’s worth contacting the schools you originally put down as your choices too, as contrary to popular belief, you don’t automatically go onto their waiting lists.
In 2005-06, the year for the latest available figures, there were 41, 650 appeals against secondary school offers, and just over 36 per cent were successful. Those are pretty tough odds and, according to Ofsted’s 2014 annual report, it’s only going to get worse.
England’s schools are going to have to provide places for an extra 880, 000 pupils by 2023.
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Interesting facts:The London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) is a separate school board in south-western Ontario, Canada. It serves students from Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties, and also those from the cities of London, St. Thomas and Woodstock.