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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:30 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:23 pm
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Location: Dudley, West Midlands
Now looking at my sons secondary school transfer in the next round of applications.

On LEA secondary school application forms, is there a 'normal' number of spaces to express a preference?

Over here in Dudley six is usual, but a current "consultation" (DMML) from our council for *in-year* applications proposes a maximum of three. It's a worry that this might be the start of a change to our Y6 --> Y7 applications. It seems that allowing three options is all that's legally required. I forget, now, where I looked that up - perhaps I got that wrong? Any sort of national trend?

Am I being too cynical in thinking this would be tempting for an LEA trying to improve its first/second preference stats ?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:24 pm 
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How would removing choices 4 to 6 improve 1st/2nd preference stats?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:43 am 
It probably would because people would have to put their local certainty much higher up their list.

E.G. In Birmingham, girls will put the 3 KE's and Sutton before their local secondary. If they had only 3 choices, however, their local secondary would then be promoted to the the top 3 instead of coming 5th or even 6th (if they have done QMHS).


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:56 pm 
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Yes I agree with that as far as it goes, but I think it would mostly affect third preferences, it think it would have little or no impact on first and second for most people. Let's face it, most of us here are non-average - the vast majority of parents at our primary will put their local comp. Most of them won't even put a second because they know they are comfortably within catchment. It's only those of us who are unhappy with our choices and determined on a grammar school that will go beyond a second preference (and in our case at least, three of those 6 preferences are really clutching at ever less sensible straws, like Sutton Girls', and probably long before we got to number 6 we'd have to bite the bullet and go private).

Incidentally, Birmingham is supposed to be part of the group of LEAs co-ordinating with Dudley for this new in-year admissions system, which has to be in place (iirc) by Jan 1st. Having done a quick google, though, Birmingham don't appear to have published a consultation document as far as I can detect so it's anyone's guess what they intend to do - they're still saying you have to apply direct to the school after Jan 1st. [edit: On checking, the arrangements have to be "formulated" by Jan 1st, they take effect for school year 2010-2011.]

However, I did notice that the determined arrangements for voluntary aided schools describes the in-year process for the KEs which may be of mild interest to some:

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=Schools%2FPageLayout&cid=1223092746583&pagename=BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:29 pm 
You are probably right.

It is just where I live over half the children do the entrance tests and our local comprehensives are well down their wish list, if on at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:32 pm 
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I think we're a little further out than you, 5W would be closest for most at our primary with CH within reason for anyone prepared to go a bit further, anything else can be a bit of a stretch. Most are in catchment for one or other of four comps ranging from decent to excellent, and even for top-table kids I don't detect much ambition (I use the word advisedly) to put down more than the nearest grammar - if any at all, as far as I can tell only about half or a third of the top groups applied last year.

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:09 pm 
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Location: Dudley, West Midlands
mike1880 wrote:
How would removing choices 4 to 6 improve 1st/2nd preference stats?

Apologies for the ridiculous delay. I did read your posts promptly but was too ill to reply coherently.

Mike1880, I'm almost in a position to agree with everything you say but still be convinced I'm correct. Where you see "little impact" I might see "an impact" – and therefore, as this would be a zero cost option for councils, "a temptation".

I don't really want to be that pedantic and I'm thinking of a much stronger effect.

It all depends on what thought experiments we run in our head about local influences to parent behavior in filling out the form and… well, there's just too great a variety to discuss in a forum like this?

Here's one sort of example though – and it's important to think of the change being "removing choices 1 to 3" not "removing choices 4 to 6".

Here in Dudley we don't have catchments, we get a clue from the application booklet of "distance from school of last pupil admitted", but that's last year's of course, and it varies. It's easy to live where you stand a fair chance of getting into a "better" school – but certainly can't be sure. You might even have a slim hope of getting into an "even better" school in a very good year. It's all too easy to live where the closest school is hugely unappealing. Given six options parents might have put even remoter options higher on the list – a religious school where they have dubious provenance – a far distant school they intend to take right down to the wire/ appeal for – a grammar school - etc. In a three option system even the parents who are only slightly lucky (back at the start of the paragraph) start to be awarded their first/second choice schools and improve the LEA stats.

My impression is that we in Dudley face tougher choices than you describe Mike1880 and that, on average and mainly through necessity, parents I see are making more sophisticated decisions than you describe. Putting a lot of thought into the application form and, sadly, deploying the sort of "dirty tricks" more usually associated with the high academic end of this competition.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:20 pm 
No catchments in Birmingham either--as you, just a booklet telling us the distance of the last entrant the year before.

The 6 slots we now have in Birmingham are only truly useful for the grammar school aspirants.

Eight years ago we were allowed 4 choices and I still struggled to find one school I wanted to put down, being limited in distance to either one with 17% gaining 5 GCSE's at C or one which had reached the dizzy heights of 25%.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:00 am 
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Quote:
My impression is that we in Dudley face tougher choices than you describe Mike1880


I beg to differ! Our local school achieved 11% 5 GCSEs including English and Maths last year. It wouldn't be on our CAF if it was the last school on earth. Should ours fail to get into grammar we're totally dependent on the falling school rolls in Birmingham (which hopefully are set to continue for another couple of years yet) to push out the "last admitted" distances far enough to bring us within range of an alternative. If we'd had our kids a year or two earlier we wouldn't have had any chance of that at all, as it is we should be close enough to at least one alternative comp for our daughter next year although probably not the next nearest (an outstanding girls school, very oversubscribed).

Mike


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:10 am 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
Posts: 2095
Location: Birmingham
having looked carefully at ward population data by way of freedom of information requests etc- mainly to get my children into primaries, it appears that:

1998 - relatively high birth rate compared to previous years
1999 - birth rate slowed
2000 - low birth rate
2001 - lowest birth rate
2002 - birth rate increases slightly
2003 - pretty high birth rate
2004 - birth rate slows very slightly
2005 - ditto
2006 - birth rate starts increasing
2007 - super high birth rate - some say highest since the 60s!
2008 - again very high birth rate
2009 - birth rate slowing down again.

if you go into primaries you will find accross the board that many have plenty spaces in years 3 and often 4, but year 2 is full.
this bodes well for current year 3 and 4 children getting into the school of their choice, but not current year 2s age 6 and 7, and especially not those born in 2007!

i have a toddler born in 07 so i'd better get started with revision...only kidding!

sorry no caps holding baby

um


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