last year we were offered our 3rd choice school (a Suffolk school) and declined it for an independent school. The acceptance form from Essex LEA asked which higher preference schools we wanted to stay on the waiting list for. I only put one down - our 1st choice GS. But on 19th July right at the end of term I had a call offering us a place at our 2nd choice (declined it as it was so late in the process, uniform purchased, deposit paid and DD did not want to change) will still be on the waiting list for all higher preference schools, it is worth phoning the LEA and asking.
Thanks Sleeplessinhalstead - sounds like you were in a similar position
Good to hear Essex LEA will ask our preferences, and I will call them to check ahead of confirming any decisions. We spent the w/e discussing the various options, and as we have only put 4 grammars as options, if nothing comes up in March will make a selection between the 2 Indies(leaving it tight though). Tbh, we know we are lucky to have the options we have, but it helps to understand the process and make the right decisions.