One in six children miss out on secondary school places

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The Good Schools Guide has predicted that more than 90,000 children in England will miss out on their first choice school on March 1, ‘National Offers Day’.

Many families will receive a satisfactory offer for a school lower down their list of preferences but for some, their children will be offered a school which is under performing or geographically inconvenient. The problem is expected to be worse than last year due to an increase of 16,000 applicants.

Families in metropolitan areas are most likely to be affected. In 2016, Local Authorities in Birmingham, Bradford, Liverpool and Slough all gave fewer than 75 per cent of applicants their first choice school. 69 per cent of applicants in London received their first choice.

Bernadette John, a director at The Good Schools Guide said: “We speak to parents every year who are disappointed and angry with the school offers their children have received. Families are complicated and there can be many reasons why a school is not a good fit for a child.

“It is not always ambitious parents eager for places at the most academic school. Challenging the decision can work but parents have to build a compelling case and provide documented grounds. Across the country we see about a 20 per cent success rate when parents do decide to appeal.”

For parents disappointed with their school offer but uncertain what to do next, The Good Schools Guide recommends the following:

· It is your legal right to appeal to any the schools on your original application. There is no need for a solicitor but a number of organisations, including The Good Schools Guide, can provide assistance.

· It may go against your instincts but accept the place your child has been offered. However determined you are to find an alternative, if you don’t accept this initial offer, 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 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.

· Try not to be too dismissive in front of your child of the school you have been offered. In the worst case scenario, that will be the school they go to come September and it would be easier for them not to start off thinking it’s a disaster zone.

· 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, that could be based on out-of-date information. Look at its most recent Ofsted report. Check out last year’s public exam results. You could even speak to parents at the school gate.