(1)you have exceptional circumstances - and if you don't know if your circumstances are exceptional, they almost certainly aren't! These include some heart rending cases of difficulty of travel, poor schools allocated, parental commitments, and children heading off in different directions, none of which are likely to be accepted as reasons for AppealPanels to break the rules they are bound to follow.
(2) A second possibility is where Infant Class Legislation does not apply, for example when instead of the normal class size of 30 children, the intake is not a multiple of 10 or 15 (these two numbers allow mixed age classes of 30).
(3) a mistake has been made and a child who is lower down the preference list than you, has been offered a place.
(4) A family has been offered a place on fraudulent evidence. This can be withdrawn, creating a vacant space.
(5) a very small number of academies may be prepared to break the rules!
DON'T FORGET TO PUT YOUR NAME ON THE WAITING LIST OF YOUR PREFERRED SCHOOLS.
At this point many parents ask what is the point of appeals? Purely and simply, because you have a legal right to appeal, whether or not you stand a chance of success. I am starting to hear of difficulties in capacity in all those four towns.
I was not prepared for the problems in the Bearsted area, although KCC will have known about their potential effect for some years, because of birth rate monitoring, and should have put contingency plans into place. The problem starts at Thurnham Infants, which has an intake of 90 children. Last year children were taken from a radius of up to 4.9 miles from the school. For 2012 entry, this has shrunk to an astonishingly small 0.6 miles, possibly because of a large number of siblings having priority. The other two schools in the immediate area, Madginford Park Infants and St John's appear equally under pressure, with the result that many children have been turned down at all three of their local schools, and allocated St Pauls, or Park Way, some way away from the area, and which both traditionally have vacancies.
I am currently waiting for detailed information on take up of places, from an FOI request, due by the end of next week, which will shed more light on the matter. Meanwhile, and I know it does not help, I feel desperately sorry for all those families whose children, just setting out for their first school, face such an uncertain future.