Waiting Lists for School
There are some schools in the United Kingdom who have longer waiting lists than others and here we list some reasons why there are waiting lists and what you can do to minimise your waiting times.
PopularityIf you live in a rural area where the catchment area is quite small there may only be one secondary school. In this instance, if there are several primary schools, then the waiting list for a place for the secondary school is likely to be quite long.
This again is indicative of whether or not parents within a particular catchment area are in a position to be able to send their child or children to a school beyond the boundaries of their particular catchment area. Sometimes this is possible, but given that many families now live beneath what the government consider is an acceptable standard of living, transport can become an issue.
Also certain schools within a catchment area regardless of its location can be more popular than others given their resources and/or profile.
DistanceAs touched upon previously, distance is something that can cause long waiting lists to form, especially if you live in a rural or highly suburbanised area. Many parents are unable to commute with their children on a daily basis given constraints relating to finances and/or the location of their place of employment. Where this is the case then distance is an important factor and one that many local education authorities are powerless to do anything about.
If you wish your child to attend a school outside your designated catchment area, many local education authorities will tell you that if you are successful in getting your child a place then the responsibility for getting them to and from that school is yours as a parent or guardian.
ResourcesAlthough we might not wish to accept it, some schools are better financed and better equipped than others, which can put a strain on waiting lists as most parents want their children to attend a school where their education is more likely to flourish, given that the school in question has a larger budget, more teachers or indeed more up to date equipment.
Of course this in itself is something that the government and local education authorities are looking at constantly but is something that, unfortunately, cannot be avoided.
Special Needs EducationSome children require special needs education, beit because of a physical disability or simply because they have difficulty interacting with other children or adults. In this instance some special needs schools – the numbers of which are diminishing yearly – have long waiting lists and are unable to cope with the large intakes that are required of them annually.
As more and more mainstream schools are now attempting to deal with certain special needs issues the numbers are dropping but not at a rate which would impact greatly on waiting lists.
How to Deal with Waiting Lists?There really is no definitive answer to this question, although there are certain things you can do to try and minimise the time your child has to wait for a placement. Firstly it is important to have more than one school listed when approaching your local education authority initially. This means that you are more likely to secure a place for your child at a school of similar standard than if you were to just identify one school as a preference.
Your local education authority will advise you on which other schools in your catchment area – if there are any – that you should consider as an alternative and it is a good idea to take these suggestions seriously.
Another way to minimise waiting times is to start the process early. It may sound contrived but the earlier you start the more chance you have of securing that place for your child. Also, if you already have a child attending the school that you want your child placed, this may help as often the so-called Sibling Factor can be taken into account.
That said however it must be stressed that although this is something that can have a bearing on the end result, it is not to be taken for granted that having a child already in attendance will guarantee a place.
In conclusion, the best advice anyone can offer you is not to be too selective if you can possibly help it. There are many schools out there that can offer a high standard of education regardless of how popular they are.
Also start early in the selection process. Approach those schools you are interested in and ask about waiting lists and at what stage in your child’s nursery or primary education you should start applying for a place and bear in mind that there an infinite number of parents out there who want a place for their child and a finite number of places.