Parenting tips from the professionals: What to do if you don't get your preferred choice of school

Parenting tips from the professionals: What  to do if you don't get your preferred choice of school

What to do if your child doesn’t get a place at your preferred school?

The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants have some good advice for parents that are applying for Primary School. If you don’t get your first choice what are your options?

London is a busy, heaving city, with a population growing at twice the speed of the rest of the UK. A cosmopolitan, fast-paced lifestyle attracts the educated and ambitious from around the globe to the banks of The Thames. And when Londoners become parents, they have high expectations for the schools they live near. Parents want their children to experience, ‘the wonderful education I had’ or ‘to go to a better school than I did.’ But whereas in the recent past when a fairly affluent, two-income family might have opted for independent schools, the sharp increase in fees  and the stagnation in earnings have left large swathes of the middle classes unable to look beyond state education.

Primary school offers day (17th April 2018) is often torturous for parents. In London, no one lives too far from a good state school, primary or secondary, but getting a highly sought-after place at one is another matter altogether. In 2017 14% of families in the capital did not receive a place at their first choice primary school; 2.5% were not given a place at any of the 6 schools listed on their application. Many parents find they have little choice but to assess their options.

The Good Schools Guide’s state school expert Elizabeth Coatman urges parents not to panic if they aren’t happy with their allocated school and to think very carefully before appealing. ‘Many children will again be placed in schools that parents feel are unacceptable but it is important to remember that the chances of successfully appealing are incredibly slim and over-sized classes, bad Ofsted reports, siblings at other schools and distance from home are not considered grounds for an appeal.’

The Good Schools Guide recommends the following to parents who don’t get their preferred choice of school:

  • Firstly, accept the place your child has been offered. However determined you are to find an alternative, if the initial offer is not accepted, you run the risk of your child having no school to go to in September.
  • Once you have accepted the place, get on the waiting lists for other schools you would prefer – even schools not on your initial application. All kinds of things can happen between now and the start of the new academic year which could result in places being freed up.
  • If your child has been given a place at a primary school you are not keen on, think carefully and take advice before planning an appeal – you only have a very slim chance of success. 
  • Instead take a moment to check out the school in greater detail. It might be better than you fear. Even if the local reputation of the school is bad, this could be based on out-of-date information which is no longer relevant. Look at its most recent Ofsted report and talk to parents who currently have children at the school.
  • Don’t let on to your child if you think the allotted school is a disaster zone. If you bad-mouth the school but then fail to get into another one, your child will start at the new school conscious of the black mark you have already given it.
  • If you do end up appealing, remember, you can only appeal to the schools to which you applied. Each school will require a separate appeal. The grounds for a legitimate appeal will be published on your local authority website: the bar for success is very high. In 2017, only 7% of appeals heard were decided in the parent’s favour.  You’ll need to prove a mistake was made when the admissions process was carried out, that the admissions policy is unlawful or that no reasonable person would come to that admissions decision – ‘reasonable’ being used in the legal sense.

If you still need advice and guidance The Good Schools Guide offers a telephone consultation with a school appeals expert who will listen to your particular circumstances, suggest ways of approaching your appeal, give advice on dos and don’ts and tell you what your chances of success are.

The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants offers tailor-made help and support on all educational issues and regularly advises parents on how to find the right schools for their children. Visit or call 0800 368 7694 to speak with one of our experts.

Released On 15th Jan 2018


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