Pls help figuring out in-year school admission when moving from abroad

(49 Posts)
frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 00:24:16

Hello mumsandpals
We're moving from Canada to Clapham and I need help figuring out how to navigate the Wandsworth council admissions process. They say the children need to be physically in London or the UK before we can apply for a school. But then the kids will go through 3 schools in a 3-4 months period. They're in a school in Canada now, I pull them out mid-term, we go to London, place them in a somewhat local school which doesn't have a waiting list... until we place them in the school we really want which is oversubscribed but right next to our new house.

A bit more detail: 2 kids in Year 1 and 2. My husband is in London and is about to sign a lease within spitting distance of Belleville. Is it possible to keep the kids in Canada while the husband applies for schools in Wandsworth? We'd give our new address on the form. But then when they offer schools we don't want to go to, we decline and then the Council would say, You are legally obligated to put them in school so choose one until the school you want has a spot... (correct?)

What I'm wondering is, Is there any way around these requirements? I see that Belleville has just converted to academy status. I read they want to keep their old admission procedures, but would they have flexibility to have us on their list, waiting for "our turn" from Canada rather than from a local school?

Sorry so long!! If anyone has experience with in-year admissions from abroad, I would really appreciate it.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 06:13:54

First, yes you usually can't apply for a school until you are in the country.
Second, there may be no school locally which has any space.
For years R, 1 and 2, often shortened to KS1 (year R isn't officially Key Stage 1 but...), there is a maximum class size of 30! This is government imposed and applies to all state schools regardless of: academy, free, voluntary controlled, foundation or any other label.

Third, in London and the South East; there is not enough school places. There has been a huge population increase, and there is very little land (and until recently less money) to build new schools. New schools are now being built (crammed in) and existing schools are increasing in size.
This is important because:
A) you can be on waiting lists for years, even if you are at the top.
B) the LA may have to invoke Fair access protocol just to get you a place anywhere, and this place could be in another borough/LA. this is where an LA can make a school add children over 30 to its classes.
C) if a school has over 30 in its class, they are supposed to drop back below 30 before another student is taken.

In other words you are concerned about the wrong thing. You will not move here and be moving your children into any school within a week (unless you are very very lucky). You will probably have a wait of 4 to 6 weeks before you are offered any school.
It could be years before you are offered Belleville, if you ever are.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 06:15:44

Oh BTW if the council offer you a school and you turn it down they don't have to offer you another school.

Their legal obligation is to offer you a school.
You legal obligation is to have your children educated, in school or otherwise.

Am sure an admissions expert will be able to advise but our school required evidence of your residence at the address and the child's residence there. This for us was child benefit letter or registration with a Gp - you could try being on waiting lists with your dh here but you would need some evidence by the time you accept a place. If they are willing to tell you you can find out where on the list you would be - although it won't necessarily help as there could be 2 people who would definitely take the place or 20 who decide to stay put.

You can quite easily (well in terms of legally - reality might be harder) home educate here though, there are groups of local parents who get together too so they can meet other children. It will be a mixture of those who would always have chosen that option and those like you who haven't got a school they are happy with. Hope the move goes well.

meditrina Fri 20-Sep-13 07:28:41

No, you're not obliged to put them in school, you can educate your DC at home until you secure a place you like.

IIRC, Belleville and Honeywell are extremely close to each other, and ridiculously oversubscribed. They will be full.

But it's an area with quite a lot of churn. It doesn't matter when you join the waiting list, your ranking on it will depend on how well you fit the entrance criteria. So if you really are moving 'right next door', then you should be near the top of the list (inverted commas, because initial round applications can be a matter of a few streets, and so a metaphorical 'next door' if you're used to Canadian attitude to distance mit be utterly useless in London population density terms).

keepsmiling12345 Fri 20-Sep-13 08:09:47

Out of interest OP, why do you think your DC should be allowed to circumvent the rules so they can get into the outstanding school that you like and which, presumably, quite a few parents who already live locally and missed out on the school in initial allocations also want?

The rules are written in an attempt to be fair to all, including people moving from abroad, moving from within the UK and already living locally.

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 08:24:16

But then the kids will go through 3 schools in a 3-4 months period.

It is not automatic that you children will ever get into the oversubscribed school near your new house let alone within a few months.

unlike other countries, the UK does not have a pokicy whereby children have the right to attend their most local (or even any local) school.

When you have moved to London, you can apply to the council for the schools you want but the council cannot allocate you a school which is full.
If all of your choices are oversubscribed school, it will allocate you a school that has places. This may not be very local and it may not be possible to allocate the same school for all the children.

You will automatically be placed on the waiting lists of any schools that you chose but that were full. As and when people leave those schools, the children at the top of the waiting list will be offered their places. This can happen quickly, in a few months or sometimes it doesn't happen at all (if the school is popular and in an area that people don't move out of).

You cannot wait your turn from Canada. The children need to be physically in the UK to be part of the admissions process and there is no way around this (unless you are a forces family).

BranchingOut Fri 20-Sep-13 08:34:35

Are you able to consider independent schooling?

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 08:40:13

But then when they offer schools we don't want to go to, we decline and then the Council would say, You are legally obligated to put them in school so choose one until the school you want has a spot... (correct?)

No - this isn't really correct either. The council won't offer you a series of schools. You will get one offer. It will be either 1 school that has a space in Year 1 and a space in Year 2 or it will be 2 separate schools (if no school has a vacancy in both year groups - vacancies cannot be created since the class size is restricted by law).

If you turn down your offer then the council will not offer you anymore. You can still stay on the waiting lists for the oversubscribed school but if nobody leaves for months (or ever) then they won't offer you places either.
The council won't insist you send your children to school. If you turn down the place you are offered, they will assume you are Home Educating or going private.

The most realistic outcome is that you will move to London, apply for schools and get offered one as close to home as possible but not a super popular one.
Getting one child let alone both into Belleville after this is just luck. It requires a child currently in Year 1 and Year 2 at Belleville leaving the school and creating a vacancy for you at the exact same time that you are number 1 on the wait list. Some lists move fast. Some never move. And a space for one child doesn't guarantee a space for their sibling.

bonjourlondon Fri 20-Sep-13 10:10:41

Hello all,

Thanks for your posts, very interesting indeed, and very complicated to understand from abroad...I'm french and my husband english, we're living in the south of france but are planning to move back to London or Hove with our son who's 5years old (and 6 months!) at the end of the year. So this whole conversation is very helpful indeed....

My concerns are :
- where best to go, Hove or London (probably Beckenham)
- where do i find help to start home educating our son who is in the french schooling system which doesn't start reading, writing etc...until next year (therefore our son is late for the British education system) so that when we arrive he's ok to catch up
- In year application : is it best to apply (and therefore have moved) before Xmas or after the break in the new year? I'm thinking of the long delays that one of you has mentionned before applying and getting a place...when do we stand the best chance to get a space?

Any feedback or comments will be great, thanks a lot in advance.

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 10:28:40

Bonjour- you may want to start your own thread. But on area - I would start by looking into schooling and base your decision of where to live on that. You want somewhere with lots of good schools which are ok to travel to (so that you up your odds of one you like having a place, or a place coming free) and you want an area where there isn't a massive shortfall in school places. Ideally you want an area where some ok schools are not fully subscribed and might actually have places available straight away. London is bad for this at the moment, no idea about Hove.

Regarding timing, once you have missed the standard admission round for reception (deadline of January, with children starting school in the September in the academic year in which they turn 5) it doesn't make much difference when you move. If all the schools are full, it's generally about which schools happen to have a place because someone has left. I guess more children change schools/move house etc at the end of a term, so if a place was going to come up and you were going to be top of the waiting list for it, you might stand a better chance just before the start of a school term than just after. But that isn't a given.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 11:38:00

Bonjour I would also suggest you don't worry too much about HE to catch up. Just work on his English, and read to him a lot. Schools actually quite used to children coming in from other systems, and often with little/no English, so they should have systems in place to help him "catch up".

Apply as soon as you arrive! As soon as a vacancy arises it can be filled, if there is an applicant.

Jenny70 Fri 20-Sep-13 12:09:56

OP, I can't quite grasp the timing of your move, but in my experience you get offered a place within 1-2 weeks of applying for an in year place - not nec at the school you want or indeed the same school for 2 children, but an offer. If you refuse you need to prove what ed choice you,'re making - I had to register as a home educator, it wasn't assumed.

Going on waiting list earlier may get an offer sooner, but most likely as it is done on distance (after other criteria, like sibling) it won't changw your timing on preferred school.

Applying whilst not being here sounds a poor choice, you may be offered something you can't take because you aren't here and won't get you up the list either. I know how uncertain it all feels, but you have to cope andmanage as best you can.

bonjourlondon Fri 20-Sep-13 12:53:41

Thanks for your feedback all. Much appreciate it.
We're planning to move over the Xmas holiday as the dates are similar in France than in the UK, starting school for early 2014. So I was thinking that we might apply for a school place just before end of term, if we have all the relevant documents and proofs of address etc...
I'm under the impression that Beckenham has good reputation for schools and i like the area. What do you think if you know? I spoke to the Bromley LA Admission team last spring as we initially intended to move last summer, and they told me all schools in the Borough were oversubscribed, but they will find a space for our son as they have to. I got quite scared when they told me that a reasonnable distance from home to school could be 45mn away from home...any experience of that?
I want to have a chance to work later on once we've settled down so Penge/Beckenham appears good for transport to central london as I've got a media background and would probably work around the westend.
Thanks for your messages, it helps to read feedback as I feel a bit lost and obviously remote since I'm in the south of France.

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 13:00:58

Bonjour if your son is offered a school over 2 miles, the LA will have to offer him school transport. In London this can be just the free transport on buses (most other places it is a minibus or taxis with CRBed drivers).
I think the top on travel time is 1 hour, unfortunately.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 13:56:22

Thanks very much for all your helpful comments and suggestions. There was delay in responding because of time diff.

From what I've heard and read, there is movement in the waiting list throughout the year at Belleville. Notably because kids leave for private schools. There is no guarantee of a place of course until the following year, but I am hopeful to get at least one kid in during this school year.

I do want to minimise the stress of this move for my kids. My son in particular has behaviour problems and has a lot of difficulty dealing with change. For my kids to be in the same school while they wait for a place in the local school would be easier on them.
I wonder if I should consider independent schools for a semester, as suggested... I thought they too were oversubscribed and impossible to get into? I would really appreciate any suggestions of places we should try in Clapham or Balham?

One thing I don't understand is that Mummytime you say that
Oh BTW if the council offer you a school and you turn it down they don't have to offer you another school.
But then if they keep us on the waiting list for another school and a place comes up, then they do have to offer it to those on the waiting lists...?

Also, I wonder, if a parent turns down the first offer. Then asks for another offer, wouldn't the Council offer something else if they have a place elsewhere? I'm sure they are not vindictive in wanting to punish parents who didn't want to accept a school say 40mn away.

meditrina Fri 20-Sep-13 14:09:41

The under of children leaving Belleville may change a bit because there is a new secondary state school just up the road, so parents may well not feel the need to go private in good time to secure a competitive private secondary.

From your user name, I was wondering if you'd also considered the bilingual stream at Wix?

The LA only has to come up with one offer, and you can expect that to be at the closest school with a vacancy. If you turn that down, you can still enter a state school but it will be up to you to find one with a vacancy then you can reapply for that school and (unless someone else who fits the criteria better applies at the same time) you will be offered it. And you can be on as many waiting lists as you like.

Also, if one DC is offered and takes up a place at the school you want, it is likely that the other sibling then jumps up the criteria to the sibling category and wil probably be at/near the top of the waiting list for that year group.

Once an offer is made, btw, you have to take it up in a timely fashion, or the offer will be forfeit. So if you do decide to come later than DH, be aware of this so you don't get caught out by how long it takes you to actually move with the DC.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:17:08

Hi meditrina. Thanks for explanations. But I haven't really got it yet!
How do I find out where there are vacancies? The schools don't want to tell you where you are on the list or whether kids are leaving shortly... I imagined the council would notify people on the list that there is a vacancy. Does the school notify the parents of kid at the top of the list?

I would love to go to Wix! but that's very hard to get in - even as French citizen because oversubscribed too.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:24:34

Here's the list of independent schools in the area. Any comments on them are most appreciated. For one semester or so, I don't think a selective school is what we want, since we'd have to run through hoops and put DC through tests to get in (if I understand what selective means). I would like one that is likely to have two places and is welcoming, friendly environment. (We are catholic and french speaking, but not fussed about being in CoE or catholic school). Hopefully this thread can be useful to other mums too.
- Ecole du Parc (till 6 yrs old)
- Parkgate House School
- Eaton House the Manor (selective)
- Thomas's Clapham (selective)
- Bromwood Hall School
- Oliver House School (catholic, seems selective)
- Hornsby House School
- Wandsworth Prep School (small, seems nice, non selective at reception... after that?)

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 14:31:07

Someone calls you if you are at the top of the list and a place comes up -- I forget whether that's the school or the council. But then they want you to take it right away (one of DS's friends had a place come up at a school closer to his home (that he'd been on the waiting list for for a year) on a Thursday afternoon and they wanted him to start by the next Monday.

They can't tell you whether kids are leaving shortly because until they actually leave and are deregistered they can opt to stay. And people can jump over you on the waiting list if they are higher on the admissions criteria (e.g. live closer to the school, are siblings, are current or former looked-after children) so that's a bit of a moveable feast too. If you can get one child into a school you want then that will normally put their sibling higher up the list but you still have to wait for a place to come up.

What age are your children/what year groups are they going into? The bulk of children moving into private leave at the end of Y2 or the end of Y3, although there may be a few doing 10+ entry leaving at the end of Y5.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 14:38:00

Thanks Pachacuti. Really helpful. I think I got it!

It makes sense not to inform the parents too much about where they are on the list if they can drop down. That must be wrenching!

DC are Year 1 and 2.

Another independent school to add to my list
- Dolphin School (looks nice and welcoming!)

yetanotherworry Fri 20-Sep-13 14:39:16

We moved from overseas. A couple of weeks beforehand, I contacted all the schools in the area we were moving to in order to find out if there were any spaces. As soon as we arrived in the UK, I contacted the admissions dept in our area. I then spoke regularly to both. We actually rented in an area first and managed to get ds in to a school there, then moved to another area about 20 min drive away. Our local schools were over-subscribed. The LEA offered us a school 10 min away but we kept ds at the school he was already at, but stayed on the waiting list for our local school. I phoned admissions dept about once a term just to find out where we were on the list - we had to wait about 18m for a space. When this space became available I actually found out from the school head mistress, and was contacted a couple of days later by the LEA.
hth

AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters Fri 20-Sep-13 14:47:30

Can I just pick up on this:

"From what I've heard and read, there is movement in the waiting list throughout the year at Belleville. Notably because kids leave for private schools. There is no guarantee of a place of course until the following year, but I am hopeful to get at least one kid in during this school year."

I think you may have misunderstood what happens at the start of each school year. Once the school is full (i.e. has done its admissions for reception) the only way places open up is if someone leaves (or, very, very rarely, if bulge classes are added part way up a school). Your chances of getting into a school at the start of the next academic year are, unfortunately, no higher than getting in part way through a year. Though, as you say, if people leave for private schools they will normally do so at the end of a year, so more movement at that time of year.

frenchcanadianmom Fri 20-Sep-13 15:02:38

Yes, good point, AmandaPandtheNightmareMonsters
I had not thought of that.

yetanotherworry Thanks for explaining the process.
One problem I'm having is that the council won't give live info on the spaces in schools or where we'd be on waiting lists in different schools. They are overwhelmed and ask we email the question, which they respond to in 20 school days!!! We sent our email Sept 2. and still waiting.

Pachacuti Fri 20-Sep-13 15:04:46

If you're moving close enough to a school that has pupils leaving to go private then there's a good chance (though no guarantee) your DC1 would get offered a place for Y3 in September 2014. Then that would probably put your DC2 at or near the top of the list for the first place that came up.

Bear in mind private schools' notice periods -- you generally require one full term's notice if you are withdrawing your child. So say you put your DCs into a private school now and then one of them gets offered a place at the state school in mid-January because a family has moved away and given up their place at the school. You'd have to take up the state school place immediately or lose it, but you'd already have paid your private school fees through to Easter and you would still be liable to pay the fees for the summer term as well because you hadn't given notice right at the start of January. (You could put them into private now and give notice that your DC1 would be leaving at the end of this academic year, then wait until the summer to apply for a state place for him/her, gambling on the idea that the children moving to private will free up a place for him/her from September 2014... but then if a state place doesn't come up you'd risk being without a school place for DC1 at all next academic year and you'd still have the notice/fees issue with DC2).

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