Ex & I just can't agree on school choices

(102 Posts)
UnbridledPositivity Wed 26-Dec-12 19:55:48

What do we do to solve this? We agree on our third choice, but he wants school A as first choice, school B as second choice, and I want it the other way round.

Help! (To give the whole picture: all schools are more or less fine. I will be doing school runs without a car, school B is on my way to work, school A is opposite direction. This doesn't affect my choice really, it's more that I didn't like several aspects and the general feel of school A.

Ex is adamant he didn't like the feel of school B as it reminds him of schools he went to. I've heard many positive things about school B, some negative about A. Ex's boss is a governor at school A.

UnbridledPositivity Wed 26-Dec-12 19:57:08

Oh yes, some teachers at other schools have taken against school A, but Ex thinks they're just being silly/dismissive/don't like change.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 26-Dec-12 20:14:01

Which are you most likely to get into? Surely if A is a long shot it would be better to put B first.

learnandsay Wed 26-Dec-12 20:42:58

I think the local authorities publish rules on which parent decides in the case where the two no longer live together.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 27-Dec-12 16:27:51

Ultimately if you can't decide it will be a court who decides if you take it this far. I have been advised this by my solicitor.

naturalbaby Thu 27-Dec-12 16:31:25

ask your child!
Is there anything in the Ofstead reports that stand out - for and against? What about extra curricular provision? Forget about what you and your ex like - you aren't the ones going there. Look at which one stands out in areas your dc is interested in e.g my boys are really into sport so we chose a very sporty school.

prh47bridge Thu 27-Dec-12 16:39:09

I'm afraid Learnandsay is wrong. It is not up to the LA to decide which parent gets to choose.

If you and your ex both have PR you must agree the choice between you. If you are unable to do so it is open to either of you to take the matter to court where the judge will decide for you. You really want to avoid that.

Think about how likely you are to get in to these schools. If school A is a long shot you might as well put it as first choice as you are likely to end up with school B anyway. Putting school A first will not harm your chances of getting in to school B. It will simply mean that, if both schools have places for your child, you will be offered school A.

UnbridledPositivity Thu 27-Dec-12 16:41:06

Hmm. School A is too new to have had an Ofsted report - it's a free school. They get 'experts' in for sport & music extra-curriculars. School B seems pretty average, ie just normal. Some after school clubs etc. Good Ofsted report.

Our council's rules say if parents can't agree, they'll have to wait until after appeals are done, and then a place will be allocated at the closest school which still has one available. So that will not be an option. DD is too young to ask really (3), she says she wants to go to school B as she sees it every day on the way to nursery. Her dad has been trying to influence her towards school A, saying things like 'it looks just like my office', and trying to make it sound exciting. hmm

AnneElliott Thu 27-Dec-12 16:42:57

Surely if you are doing the drop offs you should get final say if both schools are similar? Unless he's offering to do them? My friend had this issue and I found it surprising that her ex had such an opinion without visiting either or knowing anything about it! I think in the end she applied on line as child lives with her. He wasn't aware which school she had put first and they got 3rd choice anyway which they did agree on.

GateGipsy Thu 27-Dec-12 20:46:09

what would happen if you put the application through anyway? My friend and her ex disagreed. He wanted school A, lovely and very middle class, but no after school, while she wanted school B, lovely but more diverse and with an after school. She had to work and there was no way she could do it without after school (and he wasn't about to give up work to do the school run) so she just put the application through herself for school B. I reckon he really wants School A to curry favour with the boss.

naturalbaby Thu 27-Dec-12 21:01:23

Have you actually been for a look round the schools?

I know they are too young to ask, it was a bit tongue in cheek but the point is it's down to which school suits your child. If you're really stuck then write down the pros and cons on paper and see if that helps.

prh47bridge Thu 27-Dec-12 23:58:05

Does your ex have PR? If he does you need to come to an agreement with him.

What are your chances of getting into these schools? If you are uncertain, PM me some details on the schools involved and I will try to advise.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 00:54:41

He has PR, and that is why, if I do the application online without telling him, he will go ABSOLUTELY mental. He would go mental even if he didn't bring this up again of his own accord until the day after the deadline and I had applied on the last possible day. He is absolutely solid in his opinion, I am slightly less solid, but quite certain about what I want. It's also annoying that his rigidness is preventing any really meaningful discussion of (dis-)advantages of each school.

School A seemed to be keen to produce lots of children who think they're better than others - this is really not how I want to bring up my DD. Ex visited the school in his suit and probably made a good impression, whereas I went in my normal mums uniform of boots, skirt & coat, and felt really not welcome. I know I won't go to school there, but rather my DD, but I don't want her to have daily interaction with people who seem to decide who is worthy of their effort and attention.

We have both looked at both schools on the same day but separately, but got completely different impressions. I have no idea about the chances of getting into either of these two schools - how would I find out? One doesn't have a catchment area as such, the other isn't our catchment school and is ca. 0.7 miles as the crow flies.

So the ridiculous thing is that DD might not get into either of these schools.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 28-Dec-12 07:11:24

The local authority publishes data about which categories of children got into the school and how far away the children came from this should help you find out how likely you are to get in .

Xenia Fri 28-Dec-12 07:27:31

No contest - the posher new free school. Why do you not want to advantage your child? How weird. Also why would you not want the child somewhere where it's father then has something in common with his boss? It will help him keep his job, bond him in at work and ultimately financially be in theinterests of you and your child surely?

Obviously academic selective private schools are better at this age than state schools anyway but if you have to go second best and into the state system go for the new free school.

BranchingOut Fri 28-Dec-12 07:38:52

Would the free school A come with higher expectations of parental involvement?

Is your ex prepared to play his part in this?

Is he going to do anything to support school run arrangements?

I must admit, I would avoid school A myself for the simple reason that new schools, until they settle down, can be rather hit-and-miss. I have taught in two schools that were less than ten years old and they were both affected by a lack of organisation (the wheel having to be reinvented at every school event) and atypical ways of doing things. Both schools had been founded by individual HTs with very dominant personalities and an apparent desire to carve out the school in their own image, which led to some unhealthy management practices.

I suspect that parents tended to be quite happy while the school was small and their children tended to get lots of individual attention, but once the schools grew and the odd ways of doing things were no longer workable, parents then found these HT very difficult to approach.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 09:06:34

Yeah, thanks for calling me weird, Xenia.

School A would come with expectations of parental involvement, and that's what I like about it. Ex works very set hours whereas my job is very flexible at the moment, so school runs will fall to me. Otherwise DD would be in breakfast/after school club for the sake of him taking her.

He says he's keen to be involved, but going by how he's been about nursery, I do all organisational and social things, he goes to the occasional birthday party and nursery event, but I have to remind him of the time, organise presents, costume etc. Which is fine because I enjoy it, but I wish he would stop pretending he's majorly involved. Eg, I looked up open days and told him about them. He might eventually have looked them up, but I'm pretty certain he wouldn't have told me about them.

I don't think his relationship with his boss is a valid reason to choose a school. Of course I want DD to go to the best possible school. I wanted to look into a private school as we might potentially have been eligible for a bursary, making it the same fee as nursery, but he refused to even seriously discuss this as an option. Yes, it's great that DD would be likely to get lots of individual attention at school A, but I have heard a similar opinion about the role of the headmaster before, and this particular headmaster doesn't convince me.

Several of DD's nursery friends could potentially end up at school B. I don't think that's the most important reason - friendships change all the time, but surely that's a bit more important than her dad's boss. confused

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 09:09:07

Headmaster definitely in the process of carving the school in his own image!

Will see if I can find some statistics about children's distance from schools.

CecilyP Fri 28-Dec-12 11:31:36

What a strange world you inhabit, Xenia. Surely if ex keeping and progressing his job depends on attending school A, his boss would be acting wholly unprofessionally.

School A will not be any posher until the 'posh' children arrive. Maybe that's why the Head was so welcoming of suited and booted ex while not being so friendly to OP - perhaps by seeing her in her civvies, he perceived her as common! There are no obvious advantages in school A, nothing that is tried and tested, it is all just talk at present.

I don't really know what to suggest if your ex is reluctant to discuss. Perhaps you could both first produce a written table for the schools with pros and cons of each, then take it from there. I would definitely approach it from the angle of getting into whichever school you put as first choice.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 28-Dec-12 11:35:34

Have you considered mediation? This has been suggested to me for resolving my own different school disagreement.

lidlqueen Fri 28-Dec-12 11:38:18

if you are doing the school run then school B obviously.

I would not go for the free school. I pulled dd out of one run by a business person with no teaching experience in which the staff were not supported.

Two of the four teachers were unqualified including the head who taught full time.

Dd spent a year being taught by an unqualified head teacher who wasn't experienced enough to do both at same time so dd spent her time helping the younger ones. it was a shambles.

We looked round a free secondary here and I liked the look of it but seven of the forty children have now left since September which worries me.

Xenia Fri 28-Dec-12 12:31:05

Sorry, I didn't mean the original poster is weird. Just the reasoning. It just sounded like the free school is the better one. Keeping in with your boss is never a bad idea at work. If people think that doesn't help you at work they need to go on a human psychology course.

I certainly agree that new schools can sometimes be a risk. We picked schools which had had good exam results for 30 years as a pretty good marker.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 13:30:48

Generations of people have been taught at school B, and so far I've not heard a single bad word said about it, that includes a former governor.

The head of school A has previously been a headteacher, but was signed off with stress before starting this school.

Is the school run a valid reason for which school to choose?

MotherOfTheBritishEmpire Fri 28-Dec-12 13:42:39

Is the school run a valid reason for which school to choose?

Of course, especially if you would need before school childcare or breakfast club to enable you to get to school A and then to work on time.

But friends living nearby is also v important, IME.

Do you have a good chance of getting a place at either school?

mrslaughan Fri 28-Dec-12 13:48:35

he is not prepared to do school run - you get to choose.

CecilyP Fri 28-Dec-12 14:01:23

Of course the school run is a valid reason for choosing a school, though not the only one, as I think if you had loved school A, it would not have been a problem. But it is something to add to your list of negatives about school A. As is the head's health, as (if one of my colleagues is anything to go by) absence through stress tends to be recurrent.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 14:04:32

Yes, I really don't see how opening a new school would decrease anyone's stress levels!

Still haven't managed to find out how likely DD might be to get into either school. Last year someone from further away than us got into school B. School A has no catchment area and pupils can be from 25+ miles away.

CecilyP Fri 28-Dec-12 14:15:00

Has school A actually opened yet, or will September be its first intake? If school B reminded your ex of the school he attended it is probably because it is a fairly ordinary school and many primary schools are pretty similar. Whereas school A being new and empty, or almost empty, will have seemed completely different.

ihearsounds Fri 28-Dec-12 14:30:47

You do the school run, so you get the final choice.
I assume you have main residency, and not 50/50 care? You get the final choice.
The HT health is a big concern. He was stressed previously, who is to say he will not be stressed again.
School B is an established school, with stable reports?
Free schools, anyone can teach, you don't need to be a qualified teacher.
It shouldn't matter if the school will help a parents carer. That won't help the child and their education. But even if you really want to help the parents carer in such a way, what happens if you have serious concerns about the school? Because of the carer, would you raise the concerns because of the fear of the carer?

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 15:11:27

September will be school A's 3rd intake. It's single form, reception to year 6, I think. At the moment, there is no year 6 yet. Does any of this make it too identifiable? I hope not!
School B has been consistently 'good' according to Ofsted.

Yes, good point, it might be awkward raising issues at school A if it could affect Ex's relationship with his boss.

I am the resident parent full time, DD has daytime/evening contact with her dad.

I'm really grateful for all these views and insights btw, I just feel so stuck knowing I can never convince him, don't like the person DD might turn into if she went to A, and we only have 2 weeks to battle it out!

Mediation is a good idea, but this seems so trivial - it's not even the school she will definitely go to, just the order of priorities. blush

mrz Fri 28-Dec-12 15:17:13

Do you have to tell your ex that one of your concerns is how your DD may become at school A there seem lots of other valid concerns

NaturalBaby Fri 28-Dec-12 15:30:06

Another big factor in my school choice was that ds went to nursery with a lot of kids that then went on to start school with him. Given the type of child he is, and that it took him 3months to settle into nursery, that has done wonders for his confidence and self esteem. He loves going to school and has done really well in his first term.

I would either do the black and white pros and cons list with you ex or play him at his own game - you want school B, you do the school run, end of. The head teachers of the schools in my catchment gave me a pretty good idea of how likely we were to get a place - our first choice had a huge sibling intake and we were just out of catchment so knew we had a very slim chance.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Dec-12 15:32:47

ihearsounds - No, doing the school run does not give the OP the final choice.

UnbridledPositivity - This may seem trivial but, as it seems you and your ex cannot agree, mediation is the only real option short of going to court. But you have very little time for that so it would obviously be better if you can agree the way forward with your ex quickly.

The reason I keep asking about your chances of getting places at these schools is that it may make the whole thing a non-issue. If there is no chance of your daughter getting into one of these schools it really doesn't matter whether it is named as your first preference or your second preference. So if there is no realistic chance of getting in to school A you might as well name it as your first preference. Equally, if there is no realistic chance of getting in to school B it doesn't matter whether it is your first or second preference. The order in which you put these schools only matters if there is a reasonable chance of being offered a place at both of them.

If you are uncertain as to your chances of getting in to these schools PM me with the details and I will look into it for you.

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 16:36:00

I wouldn't name a school that my child had no chance of getting into as my first choice because my LA makes an effort to place children at the parent's first choice. To be honest, and OP, don't take this as a recommendation, but if my ex was being a stubborn pain in the whatnot about which school to put down I'd tell him to get knotted and just put the schools in the order I wanted them. But that's just me.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Dec-12 17:46:56

learnandsay - I don't know what you think your LA is doing but the rules are clear. Admission is determined entirely by the school's admission criteria. If you come high enough up the criteria you will get a place. If you don't come high enough up the criteria you won't get in. The order of your choices only comes into play if you get a place at more than one school, in which case you will only be offered your highest preference.

The LA can encourage popular schools to expand and can also encourage parents to be realistic when applying to schools, but that is all they can do legally.

The only way I can think that an LA could make an effort to place children at the parent's first choice would be to operate "first preference first", i.e. give priority to children where the parents have named the school as their first preference. That is illegal.

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 18:19:59

Well, even if it processed, and discounted, those applications which are fraudulent or not within the rules, and discounted those who have dropped out of the process, that would free places up. I don't work in an LA admissions office but I'm sure some are better and more efficient than others without breaking the law.

mrz Fri 28-Dec-12 18:26:42

They all have to follow the same rules learnandsay but in some areas you are more likely to get your first choice simply because schools aren't over subscribed. Where I live there is only one school and it's unusual for applications to exceed the PAN, so parents get their first choice.
Unfortunately that isn't true for all areas which is why it is important to consider very carefully choices.

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 18:30:33

I'm sure all sorts of administrations follow the same rules. But I'm also sure they don't follow them with the same speed and efficiency.

mrz Fri 28-Dec-12 18:35:13

They all have to work in exactly the same time frame

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 18:39:13

And horses are not cows. The fact that football teams have the same numbers of players and both sides play for ninety minutes does not mean that they will score the same number of goals. And red is not blue either.

mrz Fri 28-Dec-12 18:41:31


UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 18:44:26

If I could just do the application 'secretly', I would, but he's made it clear that he'd make my life very complicated. And to be fair, I'd be livid if he did this to me. We both have PR, so theoretically we both have the same responsibility. It doesn't matter that he has no idea what DD's friends look like, what the adults at nursery are called/look like, etc. (Bitter, moi?)

I really don't know how likely she is to get a place at school B or A, but surely she's less likely to get into school B if I put it in 2nd place rather than 1st.

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 18:48:14

Does your LA use an online application system? If so, which of you has set up the child's account?

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 18:52:08

Yes, there is an online thing. Account not set up yet, as far as I can tell. Forms and info were sent to me.

learnandsay Fri 28-Dec-12 18:54:22

Hmmm, well, if it was me I'd be having a little log in around about now.

joanofarchitrave Fri 28-Dec-12 18:55:03

I think it would be well worth you going for at least one session of mediation. I think you have time. Of course it's important enough to go - what would be more important than this?

In these circumstances you have precisely equal but opposite opinions - very difficult. Hence why a third party would be so helpful.

I'm amazed how many people apparently simply make the decision themselves and cut out their partner - I'm glad you're not doing that.

I would hate it if children of my team members suddenly turned up at my children's school, personally - I like to separate my work and parental roles. And as you say, what if you had some sort of dispute with the school and a complaint against the governing body, perhaps while also under threat of redundancy at work or something? To me, that's a big argument for school B.

admission Fri 28-Dec-12 19:01:40

No it does not work like that, all admissions in England have to run with what is called the equal preference scheme.
In effect the LA will look at all the applications expressed for each of your three school preferences and put them in order, according to the admission criteria for each school.By law the school, at a normal admission point, has to admit up to the number that is the published admission number for the school. The LA will look at each of the three preferences that you have expressed and see where you sit in the admission criteria order. If you can then be offered a place at more than one school from these lists, you will be offered the school that you have ranked the higher of those that can offer a place.
So if you can be offered a place at both A and B, then if you put A as first preference you will get school A allocated. Whether you are less likely to be offered school B depends on as much how many people apply for the school that are higher up the admission criteria than what order you put them in on the form. That is why PRH keeps asking what chance do you think you have got for each of these schools. Quit frankly you could well not get into either if you are choosing them for all the wrong reasons. You need to look at the admission criteria for the school and what information is available from last year as to where the last pupil that was offered a place, came in terms of the admission criteria and the distance measurement. You need to get this information to then start to have a sensible conversation with the other half, simply bickering over which school is better is irrelevant when it comes to admissions.
PRH has made the offer and I will too, if you PM me the two schools and the LA I will look up the information on the schools and give you some independent advice on what I suspect are your chances of getting a place at the schools.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 19:06:39

Thanks for the offers of finding out details about the schools. Tbh, I'm not too comfortable divulging private information, but I do appreciate the offers of help, as well as the explanations. Do you work in a role to do with school admissions, or how come you seem to have access to special information?

mrz Fri 28-Dec-12 19:09:52

UnbridledPositivity I would take up prh47bridge's offer and send a PM. prh47bridge and admission are the experts on school admissions so if anyone can advise they can.

cumbrialass Fri 28-Dec-12 19:24:38

It's not special information ( although it is good information!), it's just how the system works! You need to look at the admissions criteria for the schools you are interested in ( the local authority website will have the details) and work out which school, if any, you meet the criteria for. It's only then that you need to worry about preferences!

admission Fri 28-Dec-12 20:11:10

I chair school admission appeals for a number of LAs and as such am completely independent of the school admission units in each LA.
As such I hear lots of confidential information about both parents and pupils at such appeal hearings, however I do appreciate and understand your comments about not wanting to divulge any private information.
If you go to the school admission section of the LA where these schools are located, you should be able to establish from the information there exactly how many pupils were admitted last year and under what admission category. The problem is that the information is not always the easiest to find. I would start by looking in the school admission booklet published by the LA, which will be on the website somewhere.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 21:32:53

Thank you.

School A admits 24, priorities are SEN, children in care, siblings, distance. (DD fulfils distance criterion.)

School B admits 60 and has the same criteria, except that siblings of the junior school are also given priority.
So DD is bottom of the list in each case.

Also, School A goes up to yr6, whereas school B requires transfer to junior school for yr3-6. Does that make a big difference?

Also managed to find out that school B was oversubscribed a few years ago (couldn't find anything recent), and school A has a paid PR adviser (a PR adviser, ffs!).

School A also has hardly any outside space, and relies mostly on 'community business partners'.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Dec-12 23:17:11

My involvement in admissions started with getting a place for my youngest at the local primary school after moving to my current address. The whole thing hinged on the fact the LA were misinterpreting part of the Admissions Code, although it took two appeals and two references to the LGO to prove it. Ever since then I have been advising parents on admissions issues and have helped a number win appeals. Many Mumsnetters and others have shared confidential information with me over the years. I can promise you that anything you choose to share with me will go no further.

Given those admission criteria it is likely that the last child admitted for both schools this year was on distance. The LA's website should tell you that for sure, probably in the Primary School Admissions Booklet or similar. The things you need to know are the distance for the last child admitted for each school and how far you are from each school by the method of measurement used by the LA.

The information about the distance for the last child admitted should be on the LA's website but you may have to ring them or email them to get an answer. They should be able to provide an instant answer. You won't be able to get an accurate figure for the distance from your house to the school but there are a number of websites that will be able to give you a rough idea. Make sure you pick one that uses the right method of measurement - some LAs use the shortest straight line distance, others use shortest walking distance or similar.

There are no guarantees but, in broad terms, if you are a long way outside the distance for the last child admitted this year it is unlikely you will get a place at that school for September 2013. So if the last child admitted for school A lived 400m from the school and you live 750m away it is very unlikely you will get a place there.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 28-Dec-12 23:25:50

Thank you, that is very helpful! I will ring them asap then, as I couldn't find any info on which criteria were used for children admitted this year. Have found out official distance, so that's something I guess.

admission Sat 29-Dec-12 00:06:42

The other thing that you need to check is what the admission criteria is for the junior school and what the admission number for the school is. Hopefully school B pupils will get priority at the junior school but in some cases they do not. If then the junior school is considered to be the "go to" school locally you could well find that there are far more applications than places, so it would be unwise to assume that the move from infant to junior school would be automatic.

The admission number of school A at 24 is not a normal number. What that suggests is that they either have 7 small classrooms, that are only capable of taking 24 in each class or as likely that they have only 6 classrooms that are capable of taking 30. Given they have only been open a couple of years, it might be quite difficult to be sure what the class size is, but if they are 24 at present I would not bet on them staying that way in the future as the school fills up in all year groups. It would be sensible to ask how many classrooms they have actually got. 6 says they will eventually have classes of 24 in reception, year 1 and year 2, with 31 or 32 pupils in the three junior year classes.

I actually admire school A for taking on a paid PR adviser. They realise the advantages of positive information about the school and need to have professional help in maximising this. That makes an assumption that what they are spending is not excessive, but bums on seats = funding, so it can be a worthwhile investment.

UnbridledPositivity Mon 31-Dec-12 00:23:49

Interesting points, thanks. Yes, I would be worried about getting a place at junior school.

Take your point about PR, the school was actually oversubscribed in its first year, so must have been successful. It just seems so naff in the context of the general impression I got.

UnbridledPositivity Wed 02-Jan-13 19:02:00

We still haven't come to an agreement. Arrrrgh! sad I really didn't want this time which is emotional anyway to turn into this stressful thing.
Have contacted a mediation person, we'll see if we can manage to get an appointment before the school application deadline.
Ex suggested one of us make the decision now, and the other one will make the next one. Is it me, or is that crazy? If I make this decision, I won't stop caring about subsequent decisions.

He also keeps harping on about strategies to find a compromise. Of course it would be great to come to some sort of compromise, but wouldn't it be much more useful to talk about the actual problem, ie schools?! I'm feeling quite manipulated now.
The annoying thing is that we actually more or less have the same values when it comes to schools - we just disagree on which school fulfils our criteria best. But his views of school A seem to be partly based on things which are not true, ie he hasn't looked up much background, whereas I have. When I told him this he said I was just trying to tell him he was stupid. hmm Not at all my aim, I just think it would be better to know the actual facts and not make them up. angry

I made a pros and cons list of each school and showed it to him. He didn't want to make his own list as 'that's not his preferred method for reaching decisions'. He disagrees with most points I put on the list, but made a big song and dance about how he'd accept 2 of them - 1 of those is that uniform would be more expensive for school A. So this again makes me feel manipulated as uniform cost can be sorted out somehow, I'll have a while to save up/he'll pay half etc, whereas other objections to school A cant be sorted out so easily. So it seems like he makes concessions where he can afford to do so without weakening his negotiation position, iyswim.

He also keeps buying DD presents - she's just had a whole lot of Christmas presents, she doesn't need something new every time she sees him! This, together with a few things he's said, makes me think he's trying to be some sort of father of the year.

GateGipsy Thu 03-Jan-13 14:29:03

How long have you been seperated? To me he sounds insecure. I take it he's not the resident parent. Even with generous access - every other weekend, an evening/day in the week, the non-resident parent will begin to feel it, even if they don't conciously realise it. That they don't have any control over a huge chunk of the child's life, that no amount of access makes up for missing out on the little things, the stuff we think of as mundane but actually make up a huge chunk of our lives. All those little five minutes here and there were information is exchanged. We don't tell each other about all that is going in our lives in one session each day, and this is particularly true with children. It is a little snippet here as they put on their shoes, something else shared while brushing teeth, something else as they hop from foot to foot waiting for you to get your coat.

I was part of a support group for many years when the step kids were younger, and this sounds like classic behaviour from the dad, who is the usual non-resident parent. He is feeling classic dad guilt, and he's pushing on his choice because there's not a lot in it, and right now he's feeling like so much else is slipping away from him. He has that fatherly need to protect his daughter but is realising just how much of her time is outside of his protection.

The absent parent guilt leads to the parent buying lots of presents, trying to be the fun parent, and making 'allowances'. Like letting children be rude to them, letting them eat ice cream for dinner, or stay up late, or do whatever they want at their house because it 'wasn't their fault' they have two 'homes' now.

It really helps for seperatred parents to have mediation anyway to help create ground rules to avoid these pitfalls and traps. So he doesn't create a rod for his own back (he's teaching his daughter to equate how much he loves her with how many presents he buys) and you don't build up to a fever pitch level of resentment in the future.

I could be way off base though - you know him and the situation best - so ignore if you like :D

CecilyP Thu 03-Jan-13 14:43:38

Ex suggested one of us make the decision now, and the other one will make the next one. Is it me, or is that crazy? If I make this decision, I won't stop caring about subsequent decisions.

It's not just you. It could definitely cause problems later on.

There can't be any 'strategies' to find a compromise because it is not a situation where a compromise can be made - either you get your own way or he does - there is no possibilty of a compromise so talking about strategies is ridiculous.

I must say that your ex sounds very intransigent to me. You seem to be making all the effort; making the lists, finding out more about the background - then he comes along and rubbishes all these efforts.

NaturalBaby Thu 03-Jan-13 14:59:18

Well your version of events seems very reasonable - look at both schools and try to work out which one will suit you all best. His version of events seems to be the complete opposite!
Tell him if he can't accept your points and look at both schools fairly then you'll choose the one that suits you as the parent who will be doing the school run - unless he wants to move house to do the school run himself. It doesn't sound like he's put across any points to convince you that his choice is the better school.

What is his preferred method for making decisions? Gut feeling? This is about his daughter, not him.

Ladymuck Thu 03-Jan-13 16:36:43

OP, if I read this right, neither school A or B is your catchment school (which I presume is your 3rd choice C?). And that if given a choice between A and C you would prefer A?
Also, I suspect that the admission for school A isn't simply on the basis of distance from school, but for all the children who apply living within a certain (largish) distance, a random lottery is held. I usually find talking to the school secretary useful as they often know how many siblings come on the school run etc. I know of one school local to me where there were over 20 siblings for a one form entry, so non-siblings didn't have much chance. You may discover from your discussion with the secretary how many non sibling places will be available which again may help you decide your realistic chances of a place. I would also be phoning the school B secretary to see what the sibling numbers look like. If I am right in concluding that there is a random allocation/lottery, this does of course give your dh his letout with his boss - you applied, but didn't get ranked high enough...
Again if you were to visit your council offices you could see the maps done for school B in terms of school admissions each year, and this would give you a good idea as to how often you would get an offer or not.

RummidgeGeneral Thu 03-Jan-13 16:47:32

You are going to be doing this journey to school for Seven Years. It needs to fit in with your life and not add to your morning and afternoon stress. You should be able to choose here.

UnbridledPositivity Thu 03-Jan-13 20:15:37

We've been separated for over 2 years - I found out about something awful he did, so had no choice but to request he move out immediately. He still thinks I did that only to punish him.

GateGipsy - thanks for those insights, that is quite useful. He'd never admit it if he feels insecure about anything or is worried about missing out. Instead he criticises me and turns into a bully. I understand that he might be trying to cling on to some involvement in DD's life, but I have always made it easy for him. But when I told him that of course I'd make sure he'd get letters etc from school by either telling them his address or passing them on myself, he immediately got angry and said that if I didn't do that, I'd be acting unlawfully. confused Erm... it wouldn't be unlawful, he could tell them our circumstances/his address by his bloody self in the first place, and it's then up to the school to keep him informed. And that was how he reacted when I was trying to placate/reassure him!! So yes, he's probably very anxious about being pushed out (with no reason), but the problem is that he turns this into aggression. So he can't let go of the school decision.

CecilyP - I absolutely agree, there can't really be any compromise. He wants to create a compromise by working out a 'fair' strategy. He says there is no reason why my school choice/opinion is more valid than his.Intransigent is what he is - absolutely.

NaturalBaby/Rummidge - I'm not really sure what his preferred method for making decisions would be, at the moment it seems to be working out what's most 'fair'. So is it common for the school-run parent to make the decision? It kind of makes sense, but if the best school was on the other side of the city or whatever, I'd be fine with that to ensure DD goes to a good school. But yes, 7 years is a long time to feel uncomfortable with DD's school environment...

Ladymuck - that is a good point about secretaries knowing best. You're right, neither is our catchment school. The don't have a lottery, but rather prioritise children by whether they are in care, have special needs, sibling etc, and then they look at distance. Tbh, even if there is only a minute chance DD might get a place at school A, I wouldn't want to risk putting it as her 1st choice.

Ladymuck Fri 04-Jan-13 00:26:49

Ok, well I've clearly guessed incorrectly as to which school A is! You can't be in Norwich then!

As prh and admission have made clear you need to think about your likelihood into getting into each of A and B, and what happens re waiting lists for each, if your objective is to get into either A or B ahead of C. If you would in fact prefer C to A then that is different from how I read the op. if you have a slim chance at either A or B, then how waiting lists work may make a difference to which is easier to eventually secure a place at. My concern is of course that you are arguing over something that may not be possible to achieve anyway.

Good luck in working out a solution!

UnbridledPositivity Fri 04-Jan-13 08:41:24

No, not Norwich... How would you say that one compares to how I've described school A here?

My preference is B A C.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 04-Jan-13 08:42:46

Definitely arguing about something which only has a small chance of actually happening! Such is the nature of separated parenting, at least in our case.

Ladymuck Fri 04-Jan-13 10:35:24

The Norwich Free School has a PAN of 24 with the same categories of priority except in the event of over subscription then the places are allocated randomly. But it is hugely oversubscribed so your chances of getting a place as a non sibling are very small, and I assume that there is no chance of getting in from the waiting list, though it is not clear what that is based on. I jumped to the conclusion it was Norwich because I seem to recall it is based in offices. As a school they gave out KS1 sat results so you could see whether your chosen schools do that? I wouldn't be jumping to get into Norwich Free School on the basis of its SAT results but obviously the school is setting itself up as every working parents dream (and as one of many working mothers who finally had to throw inthe towel once my youngest started school, I can appreciate that).

The school you are most likely to get is C. I would take up prh or admission's offer to make sure that you are maximising your chances of getting one of A or B in preference to C, which I would suggest means knowing exactly how the waitlists work for A and B (as you are most likely to be offered C in the first round).

Ladymuck Fri 04-Jan-13 11:25:19

And at the risk of over-emphasis, the information of numbers of applicants in recent years, the distance from the school for the last pupil admitted each year in both first round and final offers, and how the wait lists operate should be freely available to you, if not on the council website, certainly with a quick phonecall. If practically there is no chance in getting into school B then you need to consider how much stress this is all worth.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 04-Jan-13 16:48:14

Well, that's the thing, by now we have been arguing about it so much that I don't really want to back down, and there might be a tiny chance that DD might get a place. And surely if B is our 1st choice, she'd be more likely to get a place there than if we had it as our 2nd choice?

Our free school aims to cater to working parents too - it's great, and very necessary for some families, but ours seems to lack a specific educational aim, and that's one of the reasons it's not my 1st choice.

prh47bridge Fri 04-Jan-13 17:58:06

As both Admission and I have already explained putting B as your 2nd choice makes absolutely no difference to the likelihood of your daughter getting a place there. Everyone who names the school as one of their preferences is treated equally regardless of whether it is their first choice or last choice. The order of your preferences only comes into play if your daughter gets a place at more than one school. In that case you will only be offered the place at the higher preference.

So, to make it simple, if you put A as your first choice and don't get in there you will have exactly the same chance of getting a place at B as if you had made B your first choice.

Not wanting to back down is human but, with only 11 days to go, is likely to lead to the dispute ending up in court which will cost money and could lead to the LA treating your application as late. If that happens you will have no realistic chance of getting in to either school.

If your chances of getting a place at school A are minimal I would put it as first choice and put B as second choice. Just to emphasise again, your chances of getting into B will not be affected. It is illegal for schools to give priority to children just because the parents name the school as their first preference.

UnbridledPositivity Fri 04-Jan-13 19:42:11

I understand that, thanks for explanation!

As Ex's boss is head of governors, and governors decide admissions at school A, I'm worried that he might pull some strings to get DD a place though. (Of course this would probably break several rules and be extremely unethical, but I wouldn't put it past them...)

admission Fri 04-Jan-13 21:27:52

If the school is their own admission authority, then a committee of the governing body is responsible for taking all the applications received and putting them in correct order according to the admission criteria of the school. From what you have said previously it is going to come down to distance criteria and any attempt to some how put your application higher than is actually the case is going to stand out like a sore thumb, especially as it is the Local Authority who will be supplying the distance information to the school.
When the committee has agreed the order, the list is sent back to the LA in the correct order, who then decide who can be offered the places that are available. You might assume that if they can admit 30, that the first 30 on the list would be those that get offered the places but that is not necessarily the case. If they all put down the school as first preference then yes they will get the places, but five of those could be third preferences and have be offered a place at one of their higher preference, so numbers 31 to 35 on the list will then be assessed to see whether they can be offered a place etc. It is not so straight forward as you might think.
You need to make a decision here, you are running out of time and to miss the deadline because you can't agree is simply unacceptable and would show that this argument has nothing to do with what is best for your child and everything to do with two people trying to score points of each other.

UnbridledPositivity Sat 05-Jan-13 13:08:48

Oh, we will not miss the deadline, that would indeed be unacceptable. I am not trying to score points, I'm just trying to keep in mind what I find important for DD's education, and being taught that she is better than others is not on my list!

And when I think about doing the nursery run, doing the nursery admin (i.e. finding it, applying for a place, dealing with the paperwork), doing DD's washing, building up relationships with her friends' parents and the nursery staff, deciding on and organising activities/which groups we go to ... is it fair that Ex can now randomly decide that although he wasn't bothered about nursery, he wants to throw his weight around when it comes to schools?

Thanks for the further explanation!

GateGipsy Sun 06-Jan-13 08:57:28

If it goes to court then that's the sort of thing the family judge will take into consideration if it is presented correctly. But do you want this to go to court?

It isn't the judge you want to view this fairly but you ex, and is that likely to happen?

When my friend's cases went to court, it came down to the fact that she was primarily responsible for the school run, and would not be able to do this with the school her ex wanted. As both schools had good ofsted reports the judge was not impressed with her ex's claim that she was ruining their son's educational chances by choosing the other school as he had nothing to substantiate this other than a higher level of english as a second language at the other school.

You've got to do what you think is the best possible educational choice for your daughter, not on the basis of which parent knows the teachers, other parents better. Take out all your own personal aspects, apart from whether or not it is physically possible to get your child to and from School A (for my friend this wasn't possible, there was no after school club and the only after school facility required parents to arrange their own transport from the school to the facility!).

UnbridledPositivity Sun 06-Jan-13 10:04:01

I do think school B would provide the more rounded education.

I don't want this to go to court, neither does Ex. He has a 'thing' about everything being fair.

hoodoo12345 Sun 06-Jan-13 12:45:53

In your situation i would go with B, you are doing the day to day school run etc plus B is a proven school whereas A isn't.
Sounds to me your ex is being a awkward arse, he knows you want B so he is picking A.

NaturalBaby Sun 06-Jan-13 15:28:36

'He has a 'thing' about everything being fair.' He's hardly being fair though is he?!
You are right to make decisions based on his past behaviour and lack of nursery involvement, rather than potential empty promises. He's not going to change his behaviour/involvement overnight is he?

GateGipsy Mon 07-Jan-13 06:58:44

What other choice do you have other than going to court if you are determined to put School B first and he is equally determined to put School A? People have mentioned mediation too. No idea how long this takes and if you've got the time to do it.

annh Mon 07-Jan-13 09:32:28

So what ARE you going to put on the form this week? The deadline is this weekend! You have run out of time for arguments/compromise/negotiation!

Ladymuck Mon 07-Jan-13 11:18:28

I really think that you need to look at the admission criteria carefully. If you have next to no chance of admission at one of the 2 schools, then you are stressed about nothing. Alternatively if you would rather get either of school A or school B than your catchment school C, then you must understand how the waiting list works, and again your chances of admission. Bear in mind all of the data is publicly available, although for the maps of previous years you may have to visit in person.

Tasmania Mon 07-Jan-13 12:32:31

I think it would be unfair to form an opinion about your Ex's decisions on here without hearing his side of the story. And yes, School A may not have made you feel welcome, but things like that can really be subjective. Was your child with you during your visit? I'd be more interested in how they treated your child.

I know a mother who was bl**dy determined that her ds would not fit into private school simply because she did not feel she'd fit in with the other mom's at the school gate. Funny thing is her son would have fitted into the more academic private school a whole damn lot better than the crappy local school he was sent to in the end where, mum felt more comfortable. Her ds never quite got over that, because although his mum and the other mums at that school were alike, the kids were completely different to him. Basically, ds was more like his dad (very academic Oxbridge type) than his mom who left school before A-levels and wasn't really into academics.

So even if you feel you do not fit into School A, you have to think about your dd, and see whether SHE would fit in there. Do you know any of the other kids who go to that school? Which school is more academic, and how academic is your child?

But granted the previously overstressed HT at School A would ring alarm bells inside me...

UnbridledPositivity Mon 07-Jan-13 19:14:10

No, ex is not going to change his involvement, although that's mostly because his working hours are set in stone.

The mediator person (our previous Relate counsellor) couldn't squeeze us in at short notice.

After a bit of a screaming row (we're well classy), he grudgingly agreed to let me put school B first and A second, albeit stressing that he had made a 'compromise', thus ensuring I won't be able to tell him if there are any problems at whichever school DD ends up at, and using it against me in future decisions. No doubt he now thinks I have 'won' or 'got my way'. Somehow it doesn't feel like that to me though, probably because I didn't want to 'win'.

As for how academic DD is - I have no idea: she's 3, she likes skipping, jumping, drawing and having stories read to her. I want to make it possible for her to live in that kind of world for a little while longer - she'll have the rest of her life to focus on academic things.

BranchingOut Mon 07-Jan-13 20:57:16

Well done for getting the form done, hopefully it will be water under the bridge in a few months time.

UnbridledPositivity Mon 07-Jan-13 21:47:12

Yes, this will seem even more ridiculous when DD only gets a place at school C. Though never underestimate my ex's ability to hold a grudge and use perceived slights to his advantage! sad

BranchingOut Tue 08-Jan-13 12:20:23

Let us know what happens!

morethanpotatoprints Tue 08-Jan-13 14:14:18

Its solely your decision if you are the one doing school run, unless he wants to take turns.

GateGipsy Tue 08-Jan-13 14:36:19

OP you're still too emotionally involved with your ex. You need to disengage. So what if he holds a grudge, gets stroppy, won't talk to you nicely, and tries to use percieved slights to his advantage. All of these things only matter to you if you care about them. And you don't anymore. He is your ex and the only person who's feelings matter now is the child the two of you have and are looking to raise together.

Disengage, take a step back from him, and you'll be amazed at how much of his behaviour simply flies over your head in future.

UnbridledPositivity Tue 08-Jan-13 15:14:47

You're right, GateGypsy. How he reacts only matters if I care. I have already disengaged a lot, but not 100% yet. One problem is also that we don't have a lot of people around us, so we occasionally take the role of each other's agony aunt. All quite complicated and unhealthy.

prh47bridge Tue 08-Jan-13 19:03:41

morethanpotatoprints - As has been said up thread that is not the case. Everyone with PR has a right to a say in how a child is educated. The fact that one person is doing the school run does not mean their views take precedence.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 08-Jan-13 19:12:18

I've only read page one so far but wow xenia! I actually thought you were taking the piss as your reasons were so pretentious and shallow!

Op. To me the school you want sounds like the one i would go for as well. Have no idea how you both agree though.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 08-Jan-13 19:26:45

Just caught up and i see that you've decided on your favourite school. Good for you! His school sounds wank!

morethanpotatoprints Wed 09-Jan-13 11:37:11


I know that everyone with PR has the right to say how a child is educated. Irrespective of the couple being separated, registration and deregistration only requires one signature. Whats he going to do deregister their dc after she registers.

annh Wed 09-Jan-13 11:53:05

Potatoprints, he could submit his own application, nothing to stop him as you said. That would be an interesting one for the council to sort out!

UnbridledPositivity Wed 09-Jan-13 12:03:59

He could submit his own application, but then DD would go to the bottom of the list and be offered whichever place was left at whichever school after children with sensible parents have been allocated their places.

Yes, parents with PR officially both have a say. It would be nice though if sometimes the parent with pretty much no daily admin-type involvement (school run, GP, dentist, keeping an eye on shoe & clothes sizes etc) considered the impact of all of these admin things on the resident parent and dialled down their shouting about having the right to be involved in decisions. Is that an unreasonable opinion? Probably.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 09-Jan-13 12:43:57

I was just confused about the PR thing having anything to do with what happens in practice.
With all of our dc we sort of discussed options of schools but the decision was left to me as the person responsible for school admin etc.
I found this the same for most other parents the mum ususally filled in registration forms and other admin related paperwork.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Wed 09-Jan-13 14:08:10

Seeing as you will be the one doing the school run it does make sense for your choice to have been considered seriously by him yes.

He sounds a twat.

UnbridledPositivity Wed 09-Jan-13 14:11:29

I think that makes perfect sense, unless the mum hasn't informed herself about schools, then that wouldn't be great for the children. I do think it must be lovely when both parents are interested and on the same page.

It doesn't seem fair that some parents just pick and choose their involvement, eg DD was poorly at the weekend a while ago, and ex gave us a lift to the OOH GP (which was very helpful of him as I don't drive and this happened in 'my' time with DD). But he decided that he was 'tired' and buggered off home hmm while I entertained DD for about 2 hours in the waiting room with toys and books which I had packed. So it must be great when you can choose exactly when you absolutely have to be involved and ignore the rest of what needs to be done.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 09-Jan-13 14:36:34

morethan I guess you are not separated as often things that when you are in a relationship are small take on excessively large importance such as choice of school.
Unbridled I am glad you have made a decision.

prh47bridge Wed 09-Jan-13 18:54:44

morethanpotatoprints - After offers are made he still has the option of applying for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent his daughter attending the offered school. I'm not saying he would succeed, of course. That would depend on the strength of his case.

UnbridledPositivity Wed 09-Jan-13 19:02:42

Seriously?! Do people ever succeed in doing this?

prh47bridge Wed 09-Jan-13 21:17:54

That would be a long shot. They would have to convince the court that it was in the child's interests to go to the alternative school. At that stage any all the popular schools will be full so it would be difficult to show that the child will be better off by going to one of the unpopular schools. However, if the parent with care had applied for their preferred school in defiance of a previous order the absent parent may stand a better chance.

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