Sandwell schools are quite mixed! Worth thinking about academy entrance - you can get places with music/sport aptitude at some of them, so if there is some inclination instrumental lessons might be worth a whirl - they're also a great thing for kids to do anyway. Most schools have detailed admissions criteria on their websites, so you can read them and work out how it works. You can also phone and ask the distance of the last admitted child, which can help you work out catchment areas. They are often quite small, especially for good/popular schools eg when I asked about Q3 academy a few years ago, the last admitted child lived about 1 mile away from the school. Also note that a few schools have quite complex distance measuring criteria (Sandwell Academy & the new Birmingham University Academy fall into this category).
If you're in Bearwood (guessing from your name) remember you're not just restricted to Sandwell schools - you're free to look at Birmingham schools if you meet their criteria too, so depending where you are a Birmingham school might be a solution. The LA just administers your applications.
Thanks Turtlegirl. I have a spreadsheet on the local schools (sad I know) and it is not looking promising in terms of distance of last admitted child. The only Birmingham school nearby is one I want to avoid.