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" â€“ 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 andâ€¦ well, there's just too great a variety to discuss in a forum like this?
Here's one sort of example though â€“ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ a religious school where they have dubious provenance â€“ a far distant school they intend to take right down to the wire/ appeal for â€“ 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.