Open Evening 2021
We recently held a virtual open evening. Have a look at our student and staff videos here:
Frequently Asked Questions: Admissions
If you have any queries at all after reading this information please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I completely understand that every family’s circumstances are unique, and it may be that you want a personal conversation with me for some individual advice. If so, please e-mail me with the details, or with your telephone number and the best time to contact you, and I will be in touch.
- How many places are available in Year 7 in September?
PCS has a Planned Admission Number (PAN) of 180, consisting of 6 tutor groups of 30 each.
- What is the ‘catchment area’?
PCS has a large Area of Prime Responsibility (APR) or 'catchment area', shared with Abbeywood and Bradley Stoke Community Schools (ACS and BSCS). Maps of the APR and the location of other South Gloucestershire (SG) schools can be found at the end of this document.
However, just living within that APR may not always guarantee a place. In recent years we have seen the number of children applying to PCS rising. All applications are ranked according to the published over-subscription criteria (see question 3 below).
- What are your over-subscription criteria?
Before any allocations into Year 7 are made, places are reserved for any children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) whose Plan names the school: this is a legal requirement.
If there are then fewer applications than the number of places left to allocate, everyone who applies will be offered a place. But where there are more applications received than places available the following criteria are used to rank the applications:
- Children in Public Care or previously in Public Care
- Children living in the school’s APR with a sibling already at the school who will still be on roll at the date of admission (Post 16 students do not count)
- All other children living within the APR, closest first
- Children living outside the APR with a sibling already at the school who will still be on roll at the date of admission (again, Post 16 students do not count)
- All other children
- Tie breaker
More detail on all of these criteria can be found in our Admissions Policy on the school website.
Please don’t rely on Google Maps or any other site such as gov.uk to work out your home’s distance from the school, as they may give misleading information. The only distance which will be used to rank your application and the waiting lists is the one provided by the Local Authority (LA) software. This tool maps to 3 decimal places and is used consistently for every application, to ensure fairness to all.
- What address should I use to apply from?
You should use the address where the child lives most of the time. Under our Admissions Policy, we cannot accept the address of a business, relative, friend, or childminder. We also can’t accept a temporary address, or the address of a house it is intended to move to, or where parents have acquired or leased a property purely to use the address on the application form without any intention of taking up permanent residence.
If your child lives at more than one address, the address on the application should be the residential address at which the child lives and sleeps (with a parent) for more than 50% of their time during term time.
When they receive applications, the LA admissions team runs checks on addresses. We and they also reserve the right to request evidence of the address used on an application, in the interests of fairness to everyone who wants a place.
- Do I have to think ‘strategically’ when I choose the order of my preferences?
No. There is an ‘equal weighting’ system in place, meaning that a child who has PCS as their 2nd or 3rd preference will be allocated a place before someone who has it as their 1st preference, if they are ranked higher under our published over-subscription criteria. What is important is that you put the schools in the order that you really prefer them. The LA will then offer you the highest preference they can, based on the ranking of your application against all the others. If you are unsuccessful in getting a place at your first preference school, your second preference will not be treated any less favourably just because you placed school 2 as your second preference. If your child qualifies for a place at more than one school, your highest ranked school with a place available will be offered. However, please bear in mind that putting preferences for 3 over-subscribed schools, if you don’t live very close/in the APR for any of them, is a very risky strategy.
- Do you have any ‘feeder’ schools, and do children attending an Olympus primary school get priority?
None of the secondary schools in the Trust have separate ‘feeder’ primary schools, and attending an Olympus primary school does not give priority at PCS.
- My older child will be studying in Post 16 next September, does that mean my younger child has priority as a sibling?
I’m afraid not, the sibling link lapses at the end of Year 11 when a child ceases to be compulsory school age. There is also no guarantee that they will choose (or meet the academic criteria) to stay on to Post 16. This is in line with the LA who also cease to give priority to siblings at the end of Year 11.
- I don’t live in South Gloucestershire but I want to apply for a place at PCS, what should I do?
You can name a South Gloucestershire school as one of your preferences, but you have to apply via your home authority. We would also strongly recommend that you name at least one school in your own educational area.
- I am moving house between now and March, what should I do?
You must put the address where the child is actually living as at the closing date of 31st October. If you move after that date but before 1st March, please let the SG admissions team know, but they will use the 31st October address for the initial round of allocations in March, and the new address for the 2nd round in May.
- What about twins?
Where one twin is offered a place, if necessary we will breach our PAN of 180 so that the other can be offered a place too.
- My ex-partner and I share responsibility for our child, who should apply?
The LA can only accept and process 1 application per child. You need to decide together which schools to apply for. Neither the LA nor Olympus can intervene in parental disputes. If you cannot come to an agreement by the deadline, the application may be treated as late.
- My child has Special Educational Needs, how will their needs be met?
If your child already has, or is undergoing assessment for, an EHCP you don’t need to apply via the standard route. The 0-25 team in your home LA is responsible for consulting with schools to see if they can meet your child’s needs. When a school is decided on, it will be named in your child’s Plan. However, if you want to discuss any educational need, whether your child has an EHCP or not, please contact our SEN team at email@example.com
- Can my child have free transport to school?
As a general rule, it is your responsibility as a parent/carer to get your child to and from school, so please think carefully about the distance from home to school and what travel options are available. The majority of children are not eligible for free travel assistance to and from school. If you do want to make an application for help with transport you need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What are the deadlines?
Admissions and Appeals Timeline for September 2021 intake
Deadline to apply for a place
31st October 2020
Notification of allocation by Local Authority
1st March 2021
Deadline to respond to Local Authority
15th March 2021
Deadline to lodge letter of appeal with the school
23rd April 2021
2nd round of allocations
Early May 2021
Appeals to be heard by an independent panel
June or July 2021
- What if I don’t get the school I want?
Firstly, please don’t panic. After the initial allocation in March, parents have 2 weeks to let the LA know what they want to do. At this point, some families’ circumstances have changed and they reject the place they have been offered, which frees up some places. People will also have moved in and out of the area. So there is a 2nd round of allocations in early May, which takes all of those changes into account, and some children who were not offered a place in March can be offered a place in May. Changes continue to happen all the way through term 6 and even during the summer holiday.
In the meantime, you can go on the waiting list, you can ask the LA which schools do still have places available in case you want to put in a late preference for an under-subscribed school, and you can appeal to an independent panel. This independent panel will hear your appeal at some point in May to July, and if they feel your child really needs a place at PCS they will direct the school to offer a place even though all the places are allocated.
Even if you refuse the place offered in March, it will be held for your child until/unless another school can be offered, as the LA has a responsibility to ensure that every child has a school place. No child will start September without a school place, even if it is not the school you preferred.
- How does the waiting list work?
Please don’t ask about the waiting list at the start of March, as it will not yet exist. The LA does not start to form the list until after all parents have responded to their offers. From about mid-April, if you want to check your child’s place on the list, please contact me. The list remains very fluid all the way through to the end of term, as circumstances change and people move in and out of the area. Please be aware that your child can move down as well as up.
If you have still not been allocated a place at your preferred school by September, we continue to hold waiting lists. You can contact me to check your position as often as you like. At the end of term 2, I check who wants to remain on the list. No-one is removed from the list without checking with parents/carers, so it is important that you let me know of any changes in your contact details.
- How do appeals work?
For ‘bulk’ appeals into Year 7 there are two stages. The first stage is where the school explains to all the parents and to an independent panel of (usually) 3 people why they could not offer places to everyone who applied. Assuming that the panel accepts that the reasons are valid, the process moves on to stage 2. Here, every family has their own, private, individual hearing where they have the opportunity to explain to the same panel why they feel their child needs a place. The panel hears all of the cases before making any decisions. Each child’s case is balanced against the school’s case, and not against the other children’s cases. When the panel makes a decision, it is binding on the school and on the family. Appeals generally take place between May and July.
- How likely am I to win an appeal?
Every appeal case is unique, as every child and set of circumstances is unique, so it completely depends on your grounds for appealing. As the Admissions Officer, I attend appeals to represent PCS, but I am not allowed to take part in the decision-making process so I do not have visibility of what exactly it is that causes a panel to uphold one appeal, and to dismiss another. The only advice I would give is to be completely honest and share all of your reasons with the panel, as they cannot take something into account if you do not tell them. Everything that you say is kept in complete confidence.SOME IMPORTANT DOS AND DON’TS:
- Put down three preferences. You can change your mind up to the closing date but you must remember to re-submit your application if you change your mind after that date. If the LA cannot offer any of your preferences, they will allocate your child to the nearest available school with places.
- Use the address where your child lives most of the time.
- Consider naming one of your local schools. It is a very risky strategy to put schools whose APR does not cover your home address.
- Miss the deadline. If you do, your child will not be allocated a place until May and most popular schools will be full by then.
- Name a school if you don’t want a place there.
- Assume that there is automatic priority for siblings. It depends on whether you live in the APR and which year group the sibling will be in when your next child starts.
- Assume that you will be offered a place at your closest school.
Here is the link to the application page on the South Gloucestershire website:
And here is the link to our published admission arrangements:
Finally, good luck with your application!
The Olympus Academy Trust
Shared Area of Prime Responsibility: ACS, BSCS and PCS
Winterbourne Academy (13) Area of Prime Responsibility
The area marked a shows Winterbourne’s First Area of Responsibility. The rest of the area in white shows the secondary, consortium Area of Responsibility shared with Downend (10), King’s Oak (11) and Mangotsfield (12) Schools.
The area marked b shows the First Area of Responsibility for Mangotsfield.
If you live in a First Area then you are automatically in the consortium Area for the other schools.
Secondary schools in South Gloucestershire