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London parents going to ‘extraordinary lengths’ to get their child into primary school

PUBLISHED: 08:53 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:53 16 April 2018

Parents in London are going to 'extraordinary lengths' to get their kids into their chosen primary school of choice. Photo by Barry Batchelor

Parents in London are going to 'extraordinary lengths' to get their kids into their chosen primary school of choice. Photo by Barry Batchelor

PA Archive/PA Images

A new survey has revealed the often “extraordinary” lengths parents have gone to get their children into their preferred primary school.

"It’s reassuring to note that most parents will get the school of their choice, but for those who don’t it can be horribly disappointing."

Mumsnet founder and chief executive Justine Roberts

The survey of more than 1,000 users of parent network Mumsnet took place ahead of today, when parents discover which primary school their child will attend.

It revealed that it’s London parents who go the furthest with a quarter admitting they went to “extraordinary lengths” to get their coveted first choice.

Measures parents say they have taken include:

Spending extra on a house purchase or rent in order to be in the right area (18per cent).

Attending church or making other religious observances, when they wouldn’t otherwise: 4pc

Living close to the school in order to get an older child in, and then moving away once the older child was established at the school: 3pc

One Mumsnet user even admitted to making a Freedom of Information request to find out how many non-catchment places were taken up by siblings in previous three years, while another paid for private school until a first choice place became available.

Nationally 13pc of parents say they didn’t get their first choice school, but for London parents this rises to 21pc. And parents in the capital also say they found the process more difficult at 33pc compared with 19pc nationally.

Academic reputation and convenient location weigh heavily with parents across the UK. Among those who were unhappy about the school they’d been offered, 19pc said the school they were offered was not well-rated by Ofsted, and 14pc said the school they were offered was really inconvenient in terms of location.

But there is good news according to the Mumsnet team. 78pc of parents in London said their child got their first choice school. And asked if they were happy - whether the school was their first choice or not - 91% of parents (all with children in the first three years of primary school) said they were.

When it comes to changing the system, just over half say that children should be offered their nearest school, but almost a quarter say they are happy with the current process.

Mumsnet founder and chief executive, Justine Roberts, said: “With parents anxious to get their children into their first choice school we’re seeing more parents who maximised their chances by moving closer to the school before applications open or who use the schools’ sibling priority.

“It’s reassuring to note that most parents will get the school of their choice, but for those who don’t it can be horribly disappointing.

“The distilled advice from Mumsnet users is to: take a deep breath, see if you have grounds for appeal, double-check that you’re on the waiting list for your preferred school, and don’t forget to accept the place you have actually been offered (unless it’s somewhere you’re determined never to send your child). And to remember that almost all primary schools are warm, welcoming, and focused on helping children to socialise and learn.”

Mumsnet users completed a survey between March 16 and April 10. The survey was open to all UK Mumsnet users with a child currently attending a state-sector community school, free school or academy who are currently in the first three years of primary, or who are home-schooled but applied for a primary school place in the last three years.

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