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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:16 am 
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Hi all - I thought I had this clear in my mind, but now I'm confused... :? I have a question about preferences and transport provision: is an-in catchment applicant listing a school second given priority over an out-of-catchment applicant ranking it first? Or are all the first choices dealt with before the system moves on to the second choices?

To summarize: applicant listed the following schools in order of preference: 1. School A, catchment grammar, about 6 miles away. 2. School B, a local community school but regularly oversubscribed and with virtually no chance of a place. The applicant would have been happy with this school but did not put it as the first choice because she felt that ranking School A second would lessen the chances of being offered a place there as it is also regularly oversubscribed, but all in-catchment qualified applicants are generally offered a place (presumably on the proviso that they make it their first choice, hence the question). Child qualified and has been offered School A but the council is refusing to pay for transport as School B is closer, despite the fact that it would not have been able to offer a place there anyway. So – should applicant have put it as the first choice, on the basis that the council would then be duty-bound to offer free transport to the next school on the list? Or would the applicant have lost out by putting School A second? In other words – when allocating places, is a catchment applicant who puts a school for which they are qualified as their second choice ranked more highly than a non-catchment applicant who puts it as their first choice?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:31 am 
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I am not in your area but our council will only provide free transport to the nearest school. We wouldn't have been given our nearest so I applied for free bus pass to the grammar my DD was allocated. They refused on the basis there were 3 other schools geographically closer. So if we had gone to the next nearest we would have got free transport but not to any other.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:17 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Bucks operates an equal preference system, so that there is no tactical advantage to be gained by "gaming" the choices. Put simply, a parent's first choice is exactly that and if a place can be offered it is. If a place can't be offered there, it effectively disappears from the list and the second choice becomes the new first choice. The schools do not know where on the form an individual parent placed them so no-one at the school or the council sits there thinking "they only put that as second choice so we'll move them down the list".

In the scenario you outlined, school A was first choice and was able to accommodate the child, so that's it. Had school A been put in second position and school B was unable to offer a place, the child would still have been offered school A because it would become the first choice. I'm not up-to-date with Bucks transport policy but I believe that they will only contribute to travel costs for the closest school and only if it's beyond a certain distance away from home. By choosing school A, the parent has willingly applied to a school further away and so travel isn't subsidised. If they chose school B in first place and a place was allocated, travel costs might have been funded if they met the distance criterion.

As to your last question:
Quote:
...when allocating places, is a catchment applicant who puts a school for which they are qualified as their second choice ranked more highly than a non-catchment applicant who puts it as their first choice?

I think the answer is yes or no! If the catchment applicant wasn't able to be placed at their first choice school, the second-placed school then becomes their first choice and yes, they would be ranked more highly than the non-catchment applicant (I'm assuming the non-catchment pupil lives further away than the catchment applicant). If they were able to be placed at their first choice school then no, because they wouldn't be ranked for the other school.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:43 am 
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Thanks - that clarifies things a bit. I know it's not a case of "gaming" the choices here, i.e. "you only put that school second", more that I was concerned about all the first choices being allocated before moving on to the second choices. But in this instance I think the applicant should have put School B as the first choice because by not doing so they've scuppered their chances of getting free transport anyway. I'm not sure it would have made a difference in this case though, as just to complicate matters there is another school (an upper) which is fractionally closer than School A, so it's likely transport would not be allocated anyway despite the fact it's the same bus going to the same stop... :?

BTW in case you haven't guessed, we're talking about STFS in Winslow and RLS in Buckingham (with Buckingham School being the upper school that is slightly closer).

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:47 am 
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anotherdad wrote:


As to your last question:
Quote:
...when allocating places, is a catchment applicant who puts a school for which they are qualified as their second choice ranked more highly than a non-catchment applicant who puts it as their first choice?

I think the answer is yes or no! If the catchment applicant wasn't able to be placed at their first choice school, the second-placed school then becomes their first choice and yes, they would be ranked more highly than the non-catchment applicant (I'm assuming the non-catchment pupil lives further away than the catchment applicant). If they were able to be placed at their first choice school then no, because they wouldn't be ranked for the other school.


Actually, they would have been ranked by all the schools named on their CAF, but if a school they ranked higher on their CAF can offer a place, where they were ranked by the school(s) they ranked further down becomes irrelevant

Until they realise that they put the wrong school down on the CAF :shock: (yes, it happens, and the 'blind' equal preference system isn't going to ask, 'Did you really want that one?'). Or have an unexpected house move. Or just change their mind about their preferences.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:51 am 
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They could try putting their postcode in this: https://services.buckscc.gov.uk/school-admissions

I think STFS has no catchment and just allocates on distance? I know there were rules to 'protect' current students of RLS and Buckingham from having to pay transport costs. Now STFS has a permanent site perhaps that has changed?

However, I've put a few postcodes in and it seems to still give free transport to RLS/Buckingham to some that are nearer Winslow ..


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:16 pm 
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ToadMum wrote:
Actually, they would have been ranked by all the schools named on their CAF, but if a school they ranked higher on their CAF can offer a place, where they were ranked by the school(s) they ranked further down becomes irrelevant.

I didn't realise that. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:27 pm 
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anotherdad wrote:
ToadMum wrote:
Actually, they would have been ranked by all the schools named on their CAF, but if a school they ranked higher on their CAF can offer a place, where they were ranked by the school(s) they ranked further down becomes irrelevant.

I didn't realise that. Thanks.


As it's an equal preference system, all the lists of applicants are ranked at the same time - all the school knows is that an application has been made. Any given school might be ranking a few hundred DC who all put it first, last, or any combination of rankings.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:05 pm 
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ToadMum wrote:
I think STFS has no catchment and just allocates on distance? I know there were rules to 'protect' current students of RLS and Buckingham from having to pay transport costs. Now STFS has a permanent site perhaps that has changed?


That probably was the case for existing students at the time, but this is for a newbie joining this September. The family lives too far away from STFS to get a place, so didn't put it on the list despite the fact they would have been happy with it. Therefore they were not refused a place as they never actually applied and are now having to pay transport costs for RLS, which presumably wouldn't have been the case if they had been refused by STFS. They only did this because they didn't understand how the equal preference system works.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:10 pm 
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Get them to try the link I posted as it tells you whether you get free transport or not.


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