Today is national offer day, here's what to do if don't get into a school of your choice

National Secondary School Admissions Day
National Secondary School Admissions Day

Today is National Secondary School Admissions Day, the date when thousands of children across the country are receiving offers of places at secondary schoo.

Unlike many parts of the country, most areas of Lancashire are not suffering from a shortage of places, but not everyone will get into their first choice... and others may not get into any of their three preferred schools.

Early indications are that 95.3 per cent of Lancashire's pupils have been successful with one of their preferences. 83.6 per cent will get their first preference, 8.6 per cent will go to schools which were their second, while 3.1 per cent will attend their third preference school. 4.7 per cent have been allocated a place at other schools.

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said:

"School places are allocated fairly and objectively, and every application is agreed upon using the criteria which have been agreed for that school.

"Our admissions team do a good job advising parents how to use their preferences wisely, and what to do if they are unhappy with the place they've got. There's still a lot of movement with the allocation of school places between now and September."

If you didn't get a school of choice there are options.

Mike Pemberton , partner and head of the civil liberties & public law team at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, specialises in education law.

Here he offers advice for parents who may not have secured the preferred secondary school place for their child, ahead of national offer day for on-time applications.

if you don’t secure your first option, what steps can be taken to remedy this?

It is important not to panic, if you did not secure the school you hoped for your son or daughter, there may well be more merits in other options than you first realise. Before you start to worry, my advice is to:

Check the deadline to appeal: Take a look on the local admissions authority website to see what the final date is to lodge an admissions appeal. This is usually 20 schools’ days

Consider the second option: The school that has been offered may not the best in the area, but does it meet your child’s educational needs? Is travelling to the school feasible? Are any of your child’s friends going there? Is your son or daughter happy to be offered a place there?

Accept the offer to secure a place: Go ahead and say yes to this offer. You can withdraw this acceptance later if you do decide to appeal and you’re successful, but make sure you do accept a school in the interim. If you do not, then you may be left with no place in September.

Gather information: If you decide to appeal, gather together as much academic and extra curriculum evidence of your son or daughter’s performance in order to provide the best chances of success.

Appeal in time: If you decide to appeal you need to ensure you meet the relevant deadline. While it is still possible to appeal out of time, this may put you at a disadvantage. Practically, in time appeals are considered first and result in more places been assigned.

Do your homework

If you make the choice to appeal the decision, I would advise looking into the following first:

The admissions policy of the school. Check the school’s website or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed.

The published admission number of the school.

The oversubscription policy. Has it been applied correctly?

The School Admissions Code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.

An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time and consider whether you will need representation at the appeal hearing. I’d advise you speak to a specialist lawyer about your case for peace of mind.

Once an appeal is lodged, it must then be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline. As a parent you are entitled to be represented at an appeal hearing by a friend or lawyer. Representation by a lawyer is becoming increasingly widespread. A lawyer will help you understand the appeals procedure, assist you in preparing for the hearing and arrange representation at the hearing itself.

Securing a secondary school place, you and your child are both happy with, academically and socially, is an essential springboard for the rest of your son or daughter’s life.

Staff from Lancashire County Councillor will also be on hand to offer advice and details will be included with the offer.

This includes advice on applying to be put on a waiting list.

These lists are long, but a few pupils will be allocated places from them as sometimes pupils will move away at short notice and not take up their place. Follow the link below:

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/children-education-families/schools/appeal-against-an-admission-decision/waiting-lists.aspx