Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): reception and junior schools

FAQs for parents of children due to start reception or junior school in September

Q1: Why can’t I call to speak to someone in the School Admissions Service regarding the school I have been offered?

A1: Whilst the team will continue to deal with your enquiries during this period of disruption following the outbreak of COVID-19, unfortunately they will not be able to take phone calls, so please send any enquiry to annual_schooladmissions@sandwell.gov.uk and a member of the team will aim to respond to you within five working days.

Q2: Why am I unable to get into the system to accept my child’s place?

A2: If you are unable to accept your place online, pleases email annual_schooladmissions@sandwell.gov.uk with your child’s name, date of birth and the name of the school you would like to accept, and one of the Admissions team will do this on your behalf.

Q3: Why have I not received my offer?

A3: If you have not received an email informing you of the outcome of your application, please check your spam/junk emails as it may have delivered here. The email will come from ECS-Adtra.

If you made a paper application, these offers will be sent 2nd class post on offer day. You will need to allow up to five days for the letter to arrive.

Q4: How do I know where my child is on a school waiting list?

A4: If you send an email with your child’s name, date of birth and the name(s) of the school waiting list(s) that you want to know, we can provide this information. Please be aware that waiting list positions can change and your child can go up and down each waiting list.

Q5: Why didn’t I get my first preferred school?

A5: We always endeavour to meet as many first preferred school places as possible, but unfortunately this is not possible in all cases due to the number of pupils that have requested a particular school. In these cases, the admission priorities for the school have to be applied to ensure the allocations are done fairly and accurately.

Q6: I don’t want the school I have been offered, what do I do?

A6: If we have been unable to offer your preferred school, you are entitled to appeal against this decision to an Independent Appeals Panel. To do this download an appeal form and return it to the address on the form.

We are awaiting further guidance from the Department for Education on how appeals will be managed this year during the current period of disruption following the outbreak of COVID-19, but if you have submitted an appeal, we will be in touch with you as soon as we have further details.

Q7: Why has my child been offered a school place at a school I did not ask for?

A7: We must by law make an offer of a school place to all children who have applied. If we are unable to meet any of your preferred schools, an offer will be made at the nearest Sandwell school to your home with a place available.

Q8: My child attends the nursery of the school, so why have I not been offered a place in reception?

A8: Attendance at a nursery school is not a guarantee you will get a school place; therefore, this cannot be considered when the allocation of places is made.

Q9: I live in the catchment area for the school, so why have I not been offered a place there?

A9: None of Sandwell’s primary/junior schools have a catchment area. Though home to school distance forms a key part of all Sandwell schools’ admissions priorities, it is important to remember that distance (i.e. the furthest distance that a child lived from their preferred school but was still offered a place) will vary from year to year, dependent upon how many people apply and where they live.

If you have not been offered a place it is because we have not been able to offer places out as far as you live within the last priority places were offered from.

Q10: What happens if I provide false information?

A10: Each year a very small number of parents give intentionally misleading information to obtain a place at their preferred school, e.g. the address of a relative living nearer the school.

Information from parents is verified and if found to be fraudulent or intentionally misleading, places offered will be withdrawn.

Last year, and in previous years, the verification process revealed a number of preferences involving false addresses. These were investigated and in proven cases places were withdrawn.

Q11: Can my school place be withdrawn once it has been offered?

A11: Once we have made an offer of a school place, we would only withdraw the offer in limited circumstances. These include:

  • if you have not accepted the place you have been offered within a reasonable time (if applicable);
  • if you have made a fraudulent or misleading application (for example, you have falsely claimed that your child lives at an address that is closer to your preferred school, which means that a child with a stronger claim has not been offered a place);
  • if your child has been offered a place by mistake.

Q12: What happens if I want to change my preferences or my circumstances have changed?

A12: If you want to change your preferences you will need to put your request in writing, including your child’s details, what your original preference(s) were, what you would like to change your preference(s) to and the reasons why. Please do not complete a new application. There is a limit of six preferences on an application so if you have already applied for six schools you will need to inform us which school(s) you would like to be removed.

Please email any changes to: annual_schooladmissions@sandwell.gov.uk

Q13: How many children have been offered places at each school?

A13: Every school has a "Published Admission Number". This is the number of children the school can offer places to in that year. This can be found in our Determined admission arrangements.

Q14: What happens if my child qualifies for a place at more than one of the schools I made a preference for?

A14: If your child was able to be offered more than one of the schools you made a preference for, you will have been offered a place at your highest-ranked preference, as children are only allowed to be offered one school place.

Q15: Why can’t Sandwell residents be given priority for Sandwell schools?

A15: Often parents/carers live in one borough but are closer to schools in a neighbouring authority. In 1989 the Court of Appeal ruled (the Greenwich Judgement) that priority may not be given to children simply because they live within the area of a particular council. This means that applications for Sandwell schools by parents/carers living outside Sandwell must be considered equally.

Q16: Can a school let me know the outcome of my application?

A16: The school is not allowed to give out information in relation to school admissions as the process is run by the School Admissions Service