SECONDARY SCHOOL PLACES: What to do if you didn't get your first choice

Parents have been learning of their child's secondary school place.

Parents have been learning of their child's secondary school place.

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Parents across Derbyshire have been learning of their child's secondary school place today.

And for many families in the county, it's good news with 95.5 per cent of those who applied before the deadline receiving their first choice school.

But if you've not secured the school place you wanted, what can you do?

The Good Schools Guide has issued the following advice:

* It is your legal right to appeal to any the schools on your original application. There is no need for a solicitor but a number of organisations, including The Good Schools Guide, can provide assistance.

* It may go against your instincts but accept the place your child has been offered. However determined you are to find an alternative, if you don’t accept this initial offer, you run the risk of your child having no school to go to in September.

* Once you have accepted the place, get on the waiting lists for other schools you prefer – even schools not on your initial application. All kinds of things can happen between now and the start of the new academic year which could result in places being freed up.

* Try not to be too dismissive in front of your child of the school you have been offered. In the worst case scenario, that will be the school they go to come September and it would be easier for them not to start off thinking it’s a disaster zone.

* Take a moment to check out the school in greater detail. It might be better than you fear. Even if the local reputation of the school is bad, that could be based on out-of-date information. Look at its most recent Ofsted report. Check out last year’s public exam results. You could even speak to parents at the school gate.

Appeals

If you didn't get a place for your child in the school you wanted, you can appeal against the decision.

Appeals will be heard by an appeal panel, independent of the school and Derbyshire County Council.

For anyone told of secondary school places today (March 1), appeals will normally be heard by June 15.

If you are told of a secondary school decision after today, or it relates to an in-year admission, you should submit your appeal within 20 school days of being told your application was unsuccessful. Your appeal will normally be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

For more information, see here.