Secondary Allocation Day Results and Appeals Advice

Secondary Allocation Day Results and Appeals Advice

Following secondary allocation day on 2nd March, many parents may have received a secondary school offer they are not happy with, or in some cases may not have received an offer at all.

It can be very disappointing to have missed out on places at preferred secondary schools. If you are in this difficult position, you may well be feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, unsure and worried about where your child will end up going to school in September.

We understand that this can be an incredibly stressful time for parents who are now having to try to work out what to do next. The path ahead can be a minefield of waiting lists, second rounds of allocations, looking at alternative schools that may have places, trying to understand the appeal process and deciding whether to try an appeal – whilst at the same time trying to manage your own and your child’s expectations realistically, and also reassure your child confidently that it will all work out and they will be just fine, even when everything is still up in the air!

Appeals are not easy to navigate, there is a lot of work to be done to prepare and get things right. Securing a ‘back up’ school place is also a very important part of the process. Appeal hearings themselves can be quite stressful experiences, there is such a lot riding on the outcomes, emotions can run high, and how you approach the hearings and prepare for them can be crucial to your chances of success.

Our advice in a nutshell:

  1. Remain as calm as possible!
  2. Research alternative back up schools, and accept a place at another school somewhere.
  3. Request an appeal by the deadline given in your allocation letter – in most areas these will be heard around June time.
  4. Prepare your ‘reasons for appeal’ very carefully – consider getting advice on this from an appeals expert.
  5. Remain as calm as possible while on the waiting list, and through subsequent rounds of allocation while you wait for the appeal hearing. Very often places can come up from the waiting list at any point right up to September.
  6. Prepare for the appeal hearing by carefully reading all the paperwork sent to you about the school, and come up with some key questions to ask at the appeal hearing. An appeals expert can really help with this, and can coach you on your best approach.
  7. Attend the appeal hearing on the day in person, prepared and with appropriate questions to raise, and ready to confidently outline your reasons for appeal.

The good news is that we can help with all this!

At Bowker Consulting we offer bespoke advice for parents who need guidance on the school appeals process, and on what to do next. Our support for appeals is arranged on an hourly basis, so you can have as much or as little help as you need. We can arrange a telephone consultation call to talk it all through, provide help preparing your reasons for appeal, research on all alternative options, assistance with looking through all the appeals paperwork, and coaching on the best approach in the appeal hearing to ensure you go in ready and confident, to maximise your chances of success.

We have advised many families over many years through the appeals process, and though we can never promise a particular outcome that may be beyond our control, we know that families who have us working alongside them stand a significantly stronger chance of success at appeals.

More importantly – every single family we support ends up with a solution that they are happy with.

Click here to contact Bowker Consulting today, and find out more about how we can help you!

Article written by Deborah Gregg, March 2020

© Bowker Consulting Ltd. 2020 All Rights Reserved

Starting Secondary School

Starting Secondary School

As your child starts back at Primary school in the beginning of Year 6 you will become increasingly aware of the national deadline – 31st October – for applying for their Secondary school place. This is an important deadline, giving parents who apply on time the best chances of successfully applying for their preferred school.

The Secondary admissions process can be confusing and complex – taking time to understand it will make a big difference to the outcome, and make sure you ask for help if you need it.

How does the Secondary school application process work?

All local authorities use a computerised system to exchange details of applications with each other and co-ordinate offers of places to ensure each child is offered only one school with the aim of making the system fairer, with more parents being offered one of their preferred schools.

So what do you need to consider before you apply?

Make sure you attend open days/evenings for any schools of interest, and familiarise yourself with the admission criteria:

  • Not all schools give priority to siblings.
  • Faith schools will give priority to applicants that can demonstrate practice of the respective faith and normally require an additional form to be completed to support the application.
  • Some schools have a priority area and/or feeder primary schools.
  • Distance from home to school is often used as a tie-breaker, but there are schools that use random allocation (lottery). Councils will use their own in-house mapping system to measure distances and some have facilities on their websites which allow you to find your nearest schools.
  • Some schools require your child to sit a fair banding test and then allocate a percentage of places to each assessment band.

Note: if you are in an area with Grammar schools you will need to register your child for the test, usually in the May/June of Year 5. Tests are sat in early September so that you have the results before the application deadline and can prioritise your preferences accordingly. Admission criteria will be applied to all children that pass the test so it is always best to include a non-Grammar alternative as your final preference, especially if you live some distance from the schools.

Look at the allocation data from previous years:

  • How many people applied for the schools you are interested in?
  • How far down the criteria did the council go before allocating the last place?
  • How close to the school did the last child allocated a place live?

Make sure you will be able to get your child to school as usually no assistance will be given if a school is within 3 miles of your home address.

Once you have completed your research make sure you list the schools in the order you would prefer. It is always worth including your nearest non-selective school, or catchment school, as your final preference and make sure you list as many schools as you can, don’t leave a preference blank.

Checks will be made by councils to determine whether an address declared on the application form is that of a second home with the main home being elsewhere, and some residential arrangements will be considered to be temporary arrangements. If the council finds a fraudulent application is being made they will withdraw an offer.

Finally, the school preferences you make are treated equally. The offer you receive will be for the highest preference school that can offer a place to your child when the oversubscription criteria have been applied to all applications and they will be added to the waiting list for any higher preference schools that are over-subscribed.

Need some help or advice? 

Bowker Consulting has helped thousands of families over many years to navigate the school admissions process, and always deliver a friendly, personalised service, to ensure the very best possible outcomes for each family and each child. For relocating families, or those needing some help to understand how to maximise their chances of success for their child’s application, having an experienced Education Consultant working alongside them can make all the difference.

Click here to contact Bowker Consulting today, and find out more about how we can help you!

Article written by Debbie Bowker, October 2019

© Bowker Consulting Ltd. 2019 All Rights Reserved

Entry years deadlines – impact on relocating families

Entry years deadlines – impact on relocating families

Whether you are moving around or into England with children needing a place in a State school, the usual process is to make an in-year application through the council in the area you are moving to. These can be made at any time of year and are processed on receipt, meaning an outcome is usually known within about 20 school days.

However, if your child is due to start a new phase of schooling, normally starting Primary school age 4 turning 5 or Secondary school age 11 turning 12, the situation is very different. These are called entry years and due to the volume of families making applications they are processed in a very different way.

So how does it work, and what do relocating families need to know?

The entry year application process is co-ordinated across the whole country to make it as fair as possible and ensure no child misses out on a school place. As you can imagine this takes a long time to process and so there are set deadlines for making on time applications – October 31st of the academic year before starting Secondary school and 15th January of the academic year before starting Primary school.

All applications made by these deadlines are classified ‘on time’ and will be processed through the councils’ co-ordinated scheme before any ‘late’ applications made after the deadlines are considered. This often means the most popular schools have already allocated the places they have available, known as the PAN (Planned Admission Number), and are therefore full so any subsequent applications will result in the child’s name being added to the waiting list and another school being offered.

This can be a bewildering situation, say in April, for a family moving into or around the UK, to face. Their child needs a school place for the following September, but all the ‘good’ school places are gone!

This is where the advice and support of an Education Consultant from Bowker Consulting can make all the difference.

The Consultant will carry out specific research into how school places were allocated in previous years, and also liaise with schools and the councils regarding current availability and waiting list situations. Using their extensive knowledge and experience, the family are then guided towards areas where they stand a good chance of securing a place at a great school even though they are late to the process.

There is always movement in the school population between when the first allocations are made and when the children actually start at the school in September. Ideally, a relocating family will want to make strategic decisions about where to live, to ensure that their child is near to the top of their preferred school’s waiting list whilst still receiving an offer for a place at a great fall-back option.

All this can be achieved with the right advice and support.

Click here to contact Bowker Consulting today, and find out more about how we can help you!

Article written by Debbie Bowker October 2019

© Bowker Consulting Ltd. October 2019 All rights reserved.