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National Offer Day: What to do if you didn't get your first-choice primary school

National Offer Day is when parents find out if their children have been allocated places at their preferred primary school.
National Offer Day is when parents find out if their children have been allocated places at their preferred primary school.

Today is National Offer Day - when parents find out whether their child has been given a place at one of their preferred primary schools.

The majority will be successful, with most local authorities in the North East able to satisfy more than 90 per cent of requests.

There will always be some parents who are left disappointed, and they may wish to appeal.

Elizabeth Coatman, a state education consultant at The Good Schools Guide, said: "Children are still being offered places which their parents consider to be inappropriate.

“Appealing is an option, but with huge regional disparities in the success rates, you shouldn’t count on it going your way.

“However unfair it may feel, the length of your school run, having siblings at other schools, super-sized classes and poor Ofsted reports are unlikely to be successful grounds for appeal."

Ms Coatman recommends the following to parents who don’t get their preferred choice of school:

* Top of your list should be to accept the place you’ve been offered. You may well be able to track down an alternative over the next month, but if the initial offer is not accepted, there’s a chance that your child won’t have any school to attend come September;

* So you’ve accepted the place. Now write down the schools you would have preferred and attempt to get onto their waiting lists – this can even be schools to which you did not originally apply. There is a big shake up between now and the beginning of the new academic year and some places are bound to materialise.

* Have a closer look at the school you’ve been allocated. There’s a chance that you have been making a judgement based on out of date information. When was the most recent Ofsted inspection and have things improved since? Perhaps the local reputation of the school is based on a previous headteacher or board of governors and is now unjustified. Go to the school gates at pick-up time and talk to parents with children already at the school.

* Try not to let on to your child how much you hate the school at which they’ve been given a place. If you’re negative about the school but then fail to find another one, your child may start at the new school feeling they’re starting a five year sentence.

* If you feel you have no choice but to appeal, you must remember that you can only appeal to the schools to which you previously applied. Each school will require a separate appeal. The grounds for a legitimate appeal will be published on your local authority website: the bar for success is very high. You’ll need to prove a mistake was made when the admissions process was carried out, that the admissions policy is unlawful or that no reasonable person would come to that admissions decision – ‘reasonable’ being used in the legal sense. This entails proving the negative impact on the school caused by going over numbers is out-weighed by the potential disadvantage to your child, and that only this particular school can meet their needs.

* If you still need guidance and advice, The Good Schools Guide offers a telephone consultation with a school appeals expert who will listen to your particular circumstances, suggest ways of approaching your appeal, give advice on dos and don’ts and tell you what your chances of success are.