Parents whose children are about to take the step up to secondary education are being offered advice ahead of the ‘big day’ today (Wednesday, March 1) when pupils find out if they have received their first choice of school.
Tony Lamberton , former head of Christleton High , issued words of comfort and guidance as chief executive of Christleton Learning Trust, an educational trust which sponsors both Christleton and Queen’s Park High schools in Chester .
He said: “March 1 is a big day for families, when over half a million children nationally will be notified of their secondary place for September. One in six children nationally will not receive their first choice due to rising pressure on school places.
“In Cheshire West and Chester we are much more fortunate but still face a future of rising school numbers and competition for places.”
Those who get their first choice school can rest easy and start to ‘adapt to the move from a familiar small school to a much bigger secondary’.
But Mr Lamberton continued: “What if you don’t get your first choice of school, however? Don’t panic! The Chester area has many good schools and an incredibly diverse choice of secondary education – small private schools, large effective comprehensive schools, church schools and specialist schools. We have choice in the area which does not exist in other parts of the country.”
If a place is not offered at the first choice school then there is ‘understandable’ disappointment but Mr Lamberton suggests it may be an opportunity to re-visit choices and priorities. He suggests considering the following before pressing ahead with an appeal:
■ Have you been realistic in the school preferences you put forward for your child?
■ Did the original reasons hold true and how strongly do you still feel about them?
■ As a family it is worth asking yourselves whether or not you know enough about your second or third choice schools?
“It might be time to reconsider and find out more,” suggests Mr Lamberton.
Parents who nevertheless decide to appeal must prepare thoroughly using the information in the admissions booklet. And the first step is to contact the admissions authority, which may be Cheshire West and Chester Council or the academy or free school itself and ask to be put on the ‘continuing interest list’.
Mr Lamberton added: “Over the years as headteacher of Christleton High School, I was concerned by how many families came to appeal, asserting that their children were kind, hardworking and talented but brought no new information and failed to address the appeal process.”
He concluded: “Wherever your child starts this September, it should be an exciting and happy time. We are very fortunate to have such high quality and diverse opportunity in our area.”