Waiting lists being regularly 'wiped clean'

(10 Posts)
Rattusn Wed 24-Aug-16 01:04:47

In our local authority, they regularly clear all waiting on lists, and send a letter saying that your child will only be put back on the waiting list if you fill another paper form.

This paper form is not sent to parents with the letter, neither is it available on the location specified on the website.

Is this usual practice? They claim this is as a lot of people on the waiting lists no longer wish to be, but why make the process so onerous? The application form also asks for proof of address (again!!) And a current head teacher's signature. Written requests to stay on the waiting list are not acknowledged.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Aug-16 08:38:06

They cannot demand the current head teacher's signature as a condition of remaining on the waiting list. Parents have an absolute right to apply for any school at any time. This amounts to an attempt to curtail that right.

I suspect appeal panels and the LGO would have something to say about their insistence on parents re-applying on an official form if it emerged that they had ignored a written request to stay on the waiting list and a child had missed out on a place as a result. There are also other potential problems. Your first paragraph suggests that a situation could arise where they have cleared the waiting list and a place becomes available before people have had a chance to re-apply. If they then allocate this place to a new applicant or to the first person re-applying for the waiting list the person who should have been at the head of the list would have a good case for appeal.

No, this is not usual practice. A few LAs seem to have started doing this recently but most do not. You may want to refer this to the Schools Adjudicator to see what they have to say.

Rattusn Wed 24-Aug-16 08:57:44

Quite apart from being onerous, getting a current headteacher's signature is an impossibility, as schools are currently closed, and only reopen on the day the waiting lists reopen.

It is possible people could see miss out on a place as a result, as the letters sent out do not give much notice, and this is a time when many parents are likely to be on holiday.

So overall not great. I did reply with a written request to remain on the waiting list, but this has been refused, as they want me to print out this hard to find form and send it to them.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Aug-16 09:49:09

If they aren't going to allocate any places until the start of term that takes away one concern, but if they then start allocating places immediately based on who has managed to get the necessary signature this would, in my view, be a clear breach of the Admissions Code. As per my previous post, insisting on the current head's signature is also a breach. What happens if the current head refuses to sign or sits on the application for several weeks? Not acceptable.

Is this the waiting list for Reception?

In the short term you need to jump through these hoops - you don't want to end up relying on an appeal. But please refer this mess to the Schools Adjudicator.

Rattusn Wed 24-Aug-16 18:59:39

This is a waiting list for all primary year groups, including reception. I am unsure of what is happening regarding secondary admissions.

I have emailed the school adjudicator. Our borough has a long history of poorly handling school admissions, and we have suffered as a result.

admission Wed 24-Aug-16 20:42:16

I can only confirm what PRH has said, this appears to be an LA who are bending the admission guidance to an extreme, especially in relation to expecting the current headteacher to sign your form. That is wrong, totally unacceptable and completely designed to stop movement between schools unless the head teacher wants it to happen.

QuiteQuietly Mon 29-Aug-16 10:00:37

Our old county used to do this. And the head at our school was a professional parent-avoider so getting the form signed was a mission. Didn't stop people leaving the school in droves though...

Ring them once term starts and ask them to email you the form and/or a proper link to the form. Point out how poor their website is. Email them and your local councillors and MP daily. Ultimately you need to make being obstructive much more work for them than simply dealing with your issue. Then in future they will send the form or a yes/no slip out with the letter.

countyhall Mon 29-Aug-16 10:37:52

My local authority does this and I can see the logic of making sure expressions of interest in school places and personal details are uptodate. Lots of people ask to go on waiting lists in reception and at the beginning of secondary as they didn't get first preferences etc but a year down the line when their DC is settled in the school that they were offered they no longer want to move. If waiting lists weren't kept uptodate you could end up with lots of people staying on them from reception until the end of primary which would slow down the process of offering places to those parents who were still genuinely interested.

The Admissions Code says that they can do this for all groups other than the new reception and year 7 (where they have to wait until December):

"Each admission authority must maintain a clear, fair and objective waiting list until at least 31 December of each school year of admission" .

admission Mon 29-Aug-16 17:39:49

Countyhall, all it says in Section 2.14 is "each admission authority must maintain a clear, fair and objective waiting list until at least 31st December for each school year of admission".

As such the Council can in theory do anything it wants to in terms of waiting lists for any other year group other than reception and year 7 (including not have them). That is section 2.21. The admission code does not give the Council specific clearance to do what it is doing in the code, it is making its own policy, which it is allowed to do. What it must do is have a proper written policy that it sticks to.

What is far more important in section 2.21 is the sentence. "Any parent can apply for a place for their child at any time to any school outside the normal admissions round." If the parent has to get "permission" off the current school head teacher that is hardly at any time to any school.

Rattusn Mon 29-Aug-16 18:15:34

county hall in that case why is a written expression of continued interest not accepted?

As admission pointed out, the form, and it's requirement for a signature is simply obstructive.

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