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No chance to visit schools?!

(24 Posts)
undersoap Mon 06-Jun-16 14:26:05

Hi all
SW recommended that we look into schools for soon to be DC - youngest is a way off going but we're hoping for staggered return with eldest.

I was hoping that we could visit schools and get a feel for them, chat to key worker(s) and that would help us decide where to go. The first school I've spoken to doesn't do visits at all, the second said they only do visits once they've offered you a place (not sure how that helps with choosing where to apply!). Is this usual practice, should I just suck it up or push to be allowed to visit? It's difficult because lots of our friends homeschool, so not many people we can talk to about their experiences either.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 06-Jun-16 16:07:41

Did you explain you are adopting?

I feel that any school that isn't willing to let you visit and talk to them face to face before applying is unlikely to be very receptive to hearing about any issues later. So given the choice I would avoid them.

Generally you may not be looking for the best academically, but a nurturing one, possibly used to families with difficult backgrounds etc.

undersoap Mon 06-Jun-16 16:18:07

Yeah I did, explained the situation and both schools seemed to have no idea of what to do! One school has offered a visit, waiting to hear from another. Understand if they don't offer visits to anyone and everyone, but I thought they'd be slightly more laccommodating! Totally agree with you under, not visiting is a bit of a deal breaker!

tldr Mon 06-Jun-16 16:57:11

Is that admin staff that you've been speaking to? I think/would hope the head would be more accommodating so it's probably worth trying again if those are schools you think you may want.

Normally, yes, you'd call school, visit, apply, so visiting isn't at all weird. I guess if they're fully subscribed though they don't feel the need to let you visit. (Though of course LAC are special cases.)

If you don't get anywhere, involve your SW.

Italiangreyhound Mon 06-Jun-16 17:06:47

It's totally ridiculous and not the norm! In our area all school do visits, on set days for an intake or one to one visits, even multiple visits.

Maybe they are all oversubscribed and feel they do not need any new pupils!

You will get your pick (you can choose any school, you know that, yes, any state school) but can only make use of that choice if you know what to expect.

Please speak to head and explain all this. If no movement say i will ask my social worker to call you for a chat, I feel you do not really understand my situation.

As others have said, go for a school that feels right, caring etc. Once in the door you will get a feel for it. The person putting you off on the phone may or may not be representative of the school so try not to let this put you off too much.

Cleo1303 Mon 06-Jun-16 18:51:09

If there are schools you are thinking of you can always ask about them in the Education/Primary schools section.

Italiangreyhound Is it true parents of adopted children can choose any school? Is that secondary as well as primary? A friend of mine had an awful time getting her adopted daughter into a good primary school and I don't believe she knew that. Her DD is now in Year 5 so if she can choose a secondary school she likes I will let her know about that.

Cleo1303 Mon 06-Jun-16 18:52:37

I know "Looked After Children" get priority but I assumed that was children in children's homes or with foster parents.

undersoap Mon 06-Jun-16 18:57:20

Thanks everyone, good to know there should have been a better response as I was concerned I might be being too pushy! Will keep trying, and thanks for suggestion about getting SW involved if necessary - hadn't thought of that.

undersoap Mon 06-Jun-16 19:01:19

Cleo I think it has now been extended to previously LAC too, so applies even once children have been adopted (and therefore out of FC). I looked at the application form today and there was a tick box asking whether the child is adopted, presumably there would be something similar for secondary schools?

tldr Mon 06-Jun-16 19:05:29

Yes, it applies to secondaries too.

I think if you apply out of cycle they can still say no if they're full, but if you're applying using the normal process Lac (and former lac) get priority.

Cleo1303 Mon 06-Jun-16 19:28:13

Thank you. She may not know that or she may do by now. I'm pretty certain she didn't know about it when her daughter started at four because she was very, very unhappy about the school they were allocated and although she did manage to move her it took a bit of time.

tldr Mon 06-Jun-16 19:43:35

It's quite new - possibly it wasn't the case for someone in Y5 now.

Cleo1303 Mon 06-Jun-16 20:14:00

That could be it.

JellyBellyKelly Mon 06-Jun-16 20:42:29

The headteacher of 'our' primary personally spent an hour with us giving us a tour and answering our questions.

Our local authority didn't realise that we could choose the school and that it didn't matter how many children they currently had... The school had to make room for our children

You should absolutely be able to look round and I agree if you can't, that doesn't bode well

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 06-Jun-16 20:57:25

re staggered return for eldest.

I wish we had done that. DD1 was in y3 and DD2 was not yet nursery school age. DD1 went back full time.

With hindsight, it would have been better for her if she had had the odd afternoon off without DD2 around for 1-1 or even 2-1 time, but we couldn't do that as nowhere for DD2. DD2 was high needs / attention needing, and I do think it impacted my bonding with DD1.

In general, schools tend to do the maths and literacy in the mornings and other stuff in the afternoons, so you can miss afternoons without missing critical stuff.

(On the other hand, school had always been stabilising for DD1, so maybe it was good she was full time as it gave her the routine she was used to.)

Hope you find a sympathetic school.

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Mon 06-Jun-16 21:18:57

Just to mention that the school priority thing doesn't apply in Scotland, where no weighting is given, even to current LAC, other than for Nurseries.

undersoap Mon 06-Jun-16 22:09:39

Thanks everyone, that's really helpful. Glad I asked!

Jelly, do you mean we're guaranteed a place at whichever school we choose? I thought we had to apply for a few and then were just top of the list if a place opened up, rather than the school having to create a place. Is all this info available somewhere online? I've not been able to find much useful online for our LEA.

We're in England, Girls, but thanks for clarifying.

Finally, what questions did everyone ask as they looked round? did you request a meeting with the head/SENCO prior to turning up, and what did you discuss?

RatherBeIndoors Mon 06-Jun-16 22:53:08

I think that if you're applying in a normal admissions cycle, they have to take you. If it's mid-year and they're full, they have to defend why they couldn't make an extra space (and you can get the Virtual School in your LA to lobby on your behalf). When placed, your child will still be legally LAC, so that can give additional leverage.

I met the head and SENCO at three schools. I asked them how they responded to children with attachment needs, how they managed challenging behaviour (and how they would adjust that for LAC or adopted children), and what kind of things they did with their pupil premium. I also just had a good look round on an escorted tour, and went by the feel of the place. Funnily enough I did not choose the "outstanding" school where I saw lots of isolated glum-looking small children, and where the SENCO told me their practice was to isolate disruptive children by sending them alone to work at the back of another class, or for some time in the "nurture room"... I did ask the woman whether they found it effective, since it was highly likely to trigger shame and escalate difficult behaviour. She boggled at me but I think I saw a penny dropping. We still chose somewhere else - somewhere that had a lower official Ofsted rating, but instead of one shabby room with a battered sofa for providing nurture, the entire place felt caring and supportive.

PoppyStellar Mon 06-Jun-16 23:51:43

Similar to ratherbeindoors I ended up not choosing the well regarded 'inclusive' school that had a good local reputation for supporting kids with additional needs because when I went to look round it, it just didn't feel right, felt very cramped, overcrowded and felt as if quiet unassuming kids (like my DD, who wouldn't have said boo to a goose when she first started school) would easily get overlooked in favour of more obviously 'challenging' ones. Ended up choosing the school that everyone said was very academically obsessed and much less inclusive (it isn't in my experience) because ironically when I went to look round and spoke to them they had the best understanding of nurture and their ethos was the most caring. As it turns out there are a few other adopted kids at this school and the school are very supportive in asking us adoptive parents what we feel would be the best use of Pupil Premium funding. DD has settled there well and enjoys school because all the staff know the kids well and support them emotionally as well as academically.

Incidentally, the 'inclusive' school were the most helpful on the phone. The school I ended up choosing were less helpful at initial phone call but I called in to that school office in person and speaking face to face really helped. As italian says the person on the end of the phone may or may not be representative of the school so do trust your gut instinct when you get to have a look round.

fasparent Tue 07-Jun-16 00:18:10

As stated child will still be a LAC child untill final Adoption hearing, So would use the LA's Virtual Head , too help find a school , they will also be in reciept of childs pupil premium, too use in support for school untill Adoption hearing.
If a child no matter what age has some kind of disability problem , can contact School's statutary disability assessment team, Who will have referal information, also can establish a pathway plan assessment, (includes support services OT Physio speech and language educational phsycologist ect.) will find a school/nursary best appropriate and if need be school would start a Educational health care plan. statements for children do no longer exsist, can get support now without a statement.
Good luck

JellyBellyKelly Tue 07-Jun-16 09:34:49

under, I didn't realise until after the event but was advised on here that yes... Even if the school is full, they have to admit a LAC child.

Had a quick Google... Paragraph 59 on page 22 of the attached would appear to confirm this...

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/276468/educational_achievement_of_looked_after_children.pdf

JellyBellyKelly Tue 07-Jun-16 09:35:35

And don't forget... Until the adoption order is granted, he child is still a Looked After Child.

JellyBellyKelly Tue 07-Jun-16 09:38:30

And don't forget... Until the adoption order is granted, the child is still a Looked After Child.

Sorry, can see that has already been stated!

JellyBellyKelly Tue 07-Jun-16 09:40:49

Oh... And that's normal admissions routine and non-standard (i.e. Mid year admissions, which is when ours started).

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