Choosing a school

School places - Myth busters

There are always a lot of rumours or myths spread about the admission process, and a lot of parents find it hard to find out what is true and what is false, particularly if you hear it from what may seems to be a reliable source. So what to believe and what not to believe, that is the question.

Here are some answers to some of the top rumours that are regularly heard around playground gates!

"If I live in the catchment area for the school, I'm guaranteed a place"

To be offered a school place at ANY school, you MUST complete an application form. In the vast majority of cases, parents who want their catchment area school will be eligible for a place, as long as they include it as one of their preferences on their application form. However in certain areas of the city, there may be more children living in the catchment area for a school than there are places. Therefore, it is always worth putting at least one other school down as part of your preferences.

"If I put my catchment area school down as my 3rd preference, that's what I'll get"

This is not necessarily true. If there are more applications received than places at a particular school, places are allocated for each school based on a set of over-subscription criteria (you'll find this in the School Admissions booklet).

Here's an example of how it could work; You've selected School A, School B and School C (your catchment area school) on your application form.

  • School A is oversubscribed (more applications than places). The admissions authority can only offer places to those in the catchment area of the school - therefore, as you are not in the catchment area, they cannot offer you a place.
  • School B is also oversubscribed, and can offer places down to the distance criteria. The furthest distance they offer a place to is 1.8 miles, but you live 2.3 miles away - therefore they cannot offer you a place.
  • School C (your catchment area school) is also oversubscribed, but they can also offer places down to the distance criteria.

Therefore, as you are in the catchment area, you will be offered a place there. So yes, you've been offered a place at your catchment area school, but it is not simply because you put it as one of your preferences. If you had lived 1.7 miles from School B, you would have been offered a place there. All preferences are looked at equally.

"If I only put down one preference, I'm more likely to get it"

No. All places are allocated depending on how you meet the criteria for that school. Only putting down one school will not increase your chances of getting a place there - if you can't be offered a place there, you won't be considered for any other schools. The same can also be said for anyone including a school more than once on your form - it will not increase the chances of you getting a place.

"My daughter goes to the feeder school for Caludon Castle"

There are no "feeder" schools for any schools in Coventry, except for the three Catholic Secondary schools (Bishop Ullathorne, Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Wiseman). Your child may attend a Primary school next door to a Secondary school, but the only thing that is used to allocate places is the child's permanent home address. Therefore, you will only get catchment area status if this address is in the catchment area of the school. You can check your catchment area on the main admissions website.

"I don't want my child to go to a 'bad' school"

Each school has pupils who achieve to very high standards academically. However, a good or a poor reputation can often be gained by schools based on evidence/memories from many years ago. Things can change in schools very quickly, so a school that you went to 20 years ago, may be very different to the school as it is today! Also, many people look at SATS/GCSE results tables to see how well a school is performing - however, this is only an indicator of a school's performance and may not give the complete picture. Unless you have personal experience (and even if you have!), go and visit the schools. You may be surprised at what you find.

"Some schools don't accept applications from certain areas of the city"

You can apply to any school within or outside of Coventry. Schools cannot refuse to offer a place to someone because of where they live. Your application can only be refused if the school is oversubscribed and more people meet the oversubscription criteria better than you.

"Catholic schools are only for Catholic children"

This is not true. Baptised Catholic children do get priority for places in Catholic Secondary schools, but if there are places still available then non-baptised children can be offered a place. Places have been allocated to non-Catholic children on a regular basis over the past few years.

"I handed my form in on time and now they're saying it was late"

A form is considered on time if it is received by the closing date (for 2020 admissions this is 31 October 2019 for Secondary school and 15 January 2020 for Primary school applications) either completed online or at your child's primary school or by the admissions team at Civic Centre 1. You will receive a receipt to confirm its arrival (the email should arrive within 1 day). If you do not receive one within 21 days, then contact the admissions team on 024 7697 5445.

"People lie on their application forms to get a place"

The process tries to be as fair as possible to all parents, which obviously can be affected by people putting false information on their application forms. Each form is carefully monitored when it is received to look out for any of these issues, including investigating false addresses. If someone is found to have provided false information to gain entry to a specific school, then that offer of a place will be withdrawn and given to somebody else.

"I don't have to fill in a form as she's going to independent school"

Even if you intend to send your son/daughter to a private school, it is still recommended you complete a Common Application Form for an Academy / Church / Trust / Free school. If you subsequently decide not to send them to the private school, you will have a better chance of getting the school you want by applying before the closing date. If you remain intent on going to the private school, you can simply decline any place you are then offered by the Local Authority.

"My child has an Special Educational Needs plan, so I don't have to apply"

A "final" Education Health and Care Plan (EHC) will name a school setting in section I, and preferences will be asked for by the EHC co-ordinator as part of this process. Therefore, you would not have to apply through school admissions. However, this is only the case where there is an EHC Plan in place.

If your child is having an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) this does not mean that there will be an EHC plan at the end of the assessment - therefore, you should still apply as normal for a school place through school admissions. If an EHC plan is produced, then the plan will then confirm the school place (and this can be different from any place applied for/allocated by school admissions. For example, if you had initially applied for a mainstream secondary school through school admissions, but on receipt of your EHCP, decided that you wanted a special school placement, the school named on the EHCP would become the allocated placement.

These arrangements only apply to children who have an EHC plan. Schools may also use "My Support Plan" for youngsters with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), but this does not mean anything when applying for a school placement. You will still have to apply through school admissions for a new school place.

SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS)

Open Mon - Thurs 9am - 5pm. Fri - 9am - 4.30pm

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 024 7669 4307

Fax: 024 7669 5627


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