School admissions - a lottery or are we all winners in Ealing?

Did you get your first choice school?

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Ealing parents had till Thursday to either accept or decline their children's secondary school place offer. Two weeks ago they had been told whether they had been offered their first choice place and close to 71 per cent will have been over the moon.

For many others it was a waiting game. Some could still now get their first choice as places are re-allocated on the back of places not being taken up. Others will appeal. Parents and carers have until the April 27 to lodge their appeal to have it heard by the end of the school term.

On the whole, Ealing appears to be getting the school admissions proceedure right - 70.54 per cent is not a bad success rate when you compare it with the reported national shortage of places. Only 48 per cent of parents in Wandsworth, 56 per cent in Lambeth and 61 per cent in Barnet got into their first choice school, while Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Brent disappointed nearly a third of applicants.

"It is becoming increasingly stressful each year with more and more parents having their expectations dashed," said Martin Rogers from the Children Services Network, a local authority think tank. "Politicians of all parties must take responsibility for stoking up this expectation of endless choice. What parents really want is a good local school and all the present system does is lead to more people being disappointed."

"I have slowly watched this build over the past few years," said Margaret Morrissey from the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations. "Many children are so worried about where they will end up that it is affecting their academic work while parents are frantically trying to do whatever it takes to get the best school for their children, often without success."

But speaking to parents from Grange Primary and Little Ealing Primary, everyone had got their first choice - either Drayton Green, Elthorne or for some, Acton High. But one parent wanted to make it clear that she'd only heard from middle class parents who she'd expected to 'get their own way.' Another pointed out that a large proportion of those who may have been left disappointed had opted out of the state system anyway, choosing independent schools.

So just who are the Ealing 29 per cent who have been left disgruntled? One Grange parent had heard of disappointment at North Ealing School, where a number of Year 6 students had been allocated places at Southall's Villiers High School for which they were well outside the catchment.

Did you get into your school of choice or are you one of the unlucky 29 percent? If you've got any views on this story email


Primary school place offers will be made on April 16.

March 15, 2007