School Admissions Myths Cracked


The deadlines have passed, offer day is just around the corner, and parents are bracing themselves for the decision over where their children will spend some of their most formative years. But many parents still have misconceptions over how the process works.

School Admissions

Our Education Law specialists at Simpson Millar help many families with the school admissions process and are well used to setting popular misconceptions straight.

School Places Myth Busters

1. Can You Cheat the System?

Many parents believe that by putting only 1 school down on their application, and leaving the others blank, their child will be guaranteed a place. Others put down the favoured school for all the options, or include schools that they believe are out of the question in the hope that the one they prefer will be the only viable option.

The truth is, doing this can actually really limit your choices if your child doesn't get into the only place you specified. Each application for a place is considered individually and in line with the school's admission criteria.

Other tactics used include renting out properties in catchment areas and listing this as your child's residence, in the hope they'll get a place at a school in a more desirable area. Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are getting wise to this and may check up to see if the child actually lives at the residence; your child's place would be revoked if they found this was the case.

2. Will the Place be Jeopardised if it's Not Listed as First Preference?

School Admissions MythYou can express a preference in the schools you list, with the most favoured at number 1 and the least favoured at number 5.

Some parents are concerned that, should they not get into the number 1; the other schools listed won't offer a place as they'll know you didn't put them down first.

This is not the case; schools don't find out if they aren't listed first preference and this won't put your application in jeopardy.

3. Are Siblings Of Existing Pupils Guaranteed a Place?

It makes sense for many parents to send their children to the same schools – you're already familiar with the school and you can do the school run in one trip. You might assume that your child will automatically be given a place at the school.

Parents are often shocked to find that this isn't the case. Whilst many schools do factor into account whether there are siblings already at the school, admissions criteria can vary and you won't be guaranteed a place.

4. Does Attending a Related Infant School Assure you Place at the Senior School?

School Admissions MythParents often send their child to a nursery or primary school with the intention that they'll be able to secure a place at the related senior school.

Whilst going to a related school (feeder school) can be taken into account in the school's admission criteria, again, this won't necessarily guarantee you a place. Everyone is given a fair and equal chance to apply.

It's still important to fully research your other options and include other preferences on your application so as not to limit your chances.

5. If I Reject My Child's Place, Will This Strengthen their Chances with Another School?

One popular misconception is that rejecting the place you've been given will give the child a better chance of getting into another school. It may seem ridiculous to keep a place that you have no intention of sending your child to, but this is often the safest option.

Each place is offered on the school's individual criteria, which means rejecting your allocated place won't make it easier to get into your preferred choice. What's more, if you choose to reject the place, you could be in a tricky situation if you don't get offered anything from the waiting lists or if you lose your appeal.

Contact Our Education Law Experts

Our Education Law team at Simpson Millar have proven expertise supporting parents going through school admissions appeals. School admissions can be a minefield, but our solicitors are familiar with many of the difficulties and uncertainties you're faced with.

If your child misses out on the right place on offer day, we could be able to help. You can download our free guide to the appeals process or call our specialists on 0808 129 3320.

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