Don’t play Secondary School Roulette!

Don't limit your chances!

Don’t limit your chances!

On the recent visit to Walthamstow Academy I sat with my darling friend Sil and a gentleman I shall call Ra. Both have daughters in the same primary school and year as Inny. It’s inevitable that we meet each other at the secondary school open evenings and end up having discussions about our thoughts on the matter.

Ra told us that he was only going to list two schools on the secondary school application form. He had a little stubborn attitude of these are the only two schools that I want her to go to and that’s that.


The two schools he has chosen are great schools and definitely described as oversubscribed.

This strategy is brave……………….or extremely foolish.

We told him as much and asked him to consider carefully before going through with it.

His daughter does not fill the first two criteria for selection in either school. She’s not ‘in’ care and she has no specific medial or special needs.

So it comes down to the third criteria …………. Distance.

Ra lives a mile away from the Academy and just over a mile from the other school of choice.

I spoke to the borough representatives earlier in the visit  and was informed that the 2013 intake of children had come from a mile radius of the school but that the 2014 will most likely be no more than ¾ of a mile radius. Apparently the applicants have increased this year by a third but the available places have remained the same. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that as I lived just over a mile and a half away I would not get a place for my child.

I shared this with Ra and asked him if realised what would happen if he did not get a place at one of the two schools on his list.

He wasn’t sure.

We filled him in.

Someone, in a government office somewhere, will assign a school to his daughter and the chances are it will be the undersubscribed school closest to you.

I’m not sure why anyone would take that risk or think that the system is forced to assign one of the two or three schools listed. I was told by the borough rep of parents who fill in all six slots with the name of one school and end up with a school they’ve neither visited nor looked into.

Not filling out the form with as many viable options for your child is like playing a game of secondary school roulette.

In total I’m visiting nine schools. Four are in the borough that I live in and five are in two other boroughs. At present it seems that my first preference is a school in my borough and the second, third, fourth are in a different borough (two of which are the same distance away!)

It seems I will be listing at least 4 schools, two of which I know she won’t get into., but I’m trying to find suitable schools 5 and 6 to list so that all my bases are covered.

Hopefully Ra will have a rethink on his strategy and give his girl the best possible chance to get into a good school!


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