No – it’s not fair but it is!
I read a post yesterday from a very distressed Mum. Her son is due to change schools in September and he has not been given a place in the school they choose. As with all situations like this (and there are many thousands each year) there is an appeals process. This allows the parents to put a case for their child and to hear the reasons from the school as to why a place was not given.
It is heartbreaking when, even after this, the answer is still no. The writer was distraught and wrote that the authority did no care for her son and in a way she is right. They cannot care about the individual because they have the mass to consider.
School admissions are always difficult because there never seem to be enough places in the schools that parents want. To cover this, all authorities have to have admissions procedures and most are set down by statute. Certainly in my experience there are usually 3 categories. Firstly, if the child has a statement of special needs which states a particular school. Then places will be given to children who have a sibling already at the school but the bulk of places will be allocated by distance.
Now this measure seems very cold and cut throat but it is totally objective. It is not possible for authorities to compare one appeal against another.Who can say that your circumstances are more urgent than the next? If the place is being decided mid-year and there are only one or two children seeking places, then it is possible to look at individual circumstances. When you have hundreds applying at the beginning of the school year, such subjectivity is impossible. Sadly schools do not have elastic walls so have to put a finite number on places.
So to the Mum I say – yes, you are right. They don’t care for your son as an individual because they have to care for all the children and are trying to make a very difficult situation as fair as possible.