DD didn't get in because they sent letters to wrong address??!

(151 Posts)

OK so this is a good friend of mines daughter. We live in a tiny village with one playgroup/pre-school and a primary that goes up to age 11.

My friend has moved 4 times in as many years, and has been here for a year now. She was asking and asking about when the letters for primary would come and I said I couldn't remember,so to ask at playgroup, when she did, they said she should have had the letter last year!!

Turns out they had been sending them to her address 4 moves ago?! so 2 x children that live miles out of catchment area have been given last remaining places. She can't drive, we are reeeeeaaaally rural, and the bloke from council said the schools all around this area were full, so her Dd would have to go in a taxi on her own every day, with no one she knows?!

School says they can only take 14, and they have that many.
does anyone have any ideas? The little girl will be devastated to not go to that school with all her friends from the village.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 12:32:31

What do you mean, your friend didn't make a school application at all because she hadn't had a letter to tell her to? Did she not realise that all the mums at playgroup were talking about making their applications?

What an awful situation.

Hersetta Fri 19-Apr-13 12:34:23

Are you saying she didn't make a school application for her daughter at all?

I think the LEA use the address you have registered at your doctors surgery but I could be wrong in which case it was up to her to update her address.

If no application has been made she she need to make a late application and accepy distant school and stay on waiting list for village school.

So she made no application shock

mybelovedmonster Fri 19-Apr-13 12:37:08

I never got a letter either (god knows what happened to it)...

Why on earth didn't she make an application anyway? shock

No, she was waiting for letter, which (I think) is generated by your playgroup? to give her her preference options, and she waited and waited, she doesn't talk to any of the Mums at playgroup, she's very much in and out, I'm at a bit of a loss TBH that she never overheard anything or asked anyone but there it is.
she is registered with local docs, and health visitor.

I know it's a mess isn't it? I just feel so sorry for the little girl, she's already had to adjust to the new playgroup and had finally settled and looking forward to 'big' school, she hasn't told her yet sad

mybelovedmonster Fri 19-Apr-13 12:39:31

Oh dear, what a mess.

Letter isn't generated by playgroup (otherwise what would happen to kids who don't go to a playgroup)

Who generates the letter then mybeloved?

mybelovedmonster Fri 19-Apr-13 12:40:37

Don't panic yet - the ones out of catchment might not accept their places. Has she been on the phone to ask about it?

Pozzled Fri 19-Apr-13 12:40:38

I don't think there's anything she can do, except get on the waiting list for the local school. Some authorities don't even send letters, I believe- it's up to the parents to make the application.

redskyatnight Fri 19-Apr-13 12:41:24

What letter are you talking about? The LEA don't send out letters pre-se. Pre-schools/nurseries can be used to circulate information - I presume you mean info was sent out via them and it went to their old address.

Lots of people don't get letters though, I'm afraid your friend has been a bit naive in not finding out for herself - wasn't everyone at pre-school talking about it?

In terms of what she can do, she can go on the waiting list for your local school and also on any others that have places. I suspect if she's not applied at all she will need to do a late application first.

NickNacks Fri 19-Apr-13 12:41:29

Of course they aren't generated by your playgroup- what about guilders who don't attend one.
Unfortunately it is entirely the parents responsibility to apply on time. If she joins the waiting list though, presumably she would go to the top.

mybelovedmonster Fri 19-Apr-13 12:41:38

God, I can't remember - local government?

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Fri 19-Apr-13 12:42:01

We're we meant to have a letter?!
I found the application dates by accident on the council website.
Sorry that doesn't help your friend I know.

NickNacks Fri 19-Apr-13 12:42:06

Guilders= children

Here we don't get letters inviting us to apply for primary places at all - there are posters up at play groups and nurseries, libraries and health centres. Parents are expected to realise their child will be rising five, contact the Council and apply themselves.

I don't think there is much your friend can do apart from go on the waiting list. (unless she looks over the admission policy and finds the LEA have mad a mistake)

The man from LEA said someone may drop out but it's doubtful. He is supposed to be ringing back, as he couldn't find any school within 10 miles that had spaces.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Apr-13 12:42:35

In our local authority it is the parents responsibility to request the form or download in from the website. There is no general mailing to parents of children of a correct age could this be the case?

NickNacks Fri 19-Apr-13 12:43:59

I've never had a letter either. (3dc) You just apply using the online application or ask lea for a paper version.

Ours go up from 4 here, and we all got letters with all the schools in our area, and we wrote our top 3 preferences down, then we got another letter to say we had been successful.

Guitargirl Fri 19-Apr-13 12:46:37

Am afraid this is not the fault of anyone but the child's parents. Why did they not make an application for their child to start school? We didn't receive any letter to tell us to do this.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 19-Apr-13 12:48:08

It's a stupidly disorganised system in my opinion and there must be many people who fall preyt to assuming the authorities or school will get in touch....and then they don't.

In my home village, the school puts up posters around and about saying "is your child turning 4 in X month?" and then go on to say how to apply for school....but....the area has a BIG traveller population and many women can't read...how the feck are they meant to know?

It's not only that....it's the lack of one way of informing parents about schools and choices and how to apply. Poor people.

WeAreEternal Fri 19-Apr-13 12:48:41

The letters are sent by the council/ local education authority.

They are sent to the address which you are registered at the doctors with.

I don't understand how she can have got to April without realising she should have registered for a school place by now.
Even if she doesn't have any friends with children the same age and doesn't speak to anyone at nursery/playgroup she must have hear something somewhere.

It's been on tv/the Internet/news Facebook about school places.
It would only take two seconds to go onto the directgov website and check it out.

I feel bad for her little girl, but really she had nobody to blame but herself.
I know that sounds harsh but nobody can be that naive that they sit waiting for a letter all this time and do nothing else to enquire about it.

MrsMelons Fri 19-Apr-13 12:48:41

I have never heard of anyone receiving letters reminding you to apply for school places. I am not sure there is anything she can do other than wait for spaces as it is her mistake.

At DSs pre-school they would remind parents but it was not obligatory for them to do so.

Awful situation for her but I am some what surprised she did not think about it knowing her DD was coming up to school age - the applications had to be in by January I think - I am a bit surprised the pre-school did not mention it at all.

TBH As my boy went up last year, I never thought about it, we got the letters, filled them in, sent them back, I had no idea some places don't do this, or that you had to do it for yourself.

she hasn't mentioned it for ages so I never thought to ask, as if you live here, your child goes there (normally!) yes, I guess it is her fault, but a note in her DDs school book at pre-school might have helped her.

she never watches the news either!I asked her what she thought about the Boston bombs two days after, she knew nothing about it!

OK thanks for your thoughts, seems it's a done deal. Thanks though.

Maybe there's some small hope in that LEA can't find any schools with places in 10 mile radius - perhaps local school could be persuaded to take her in, by someone ? - fingers crossed for her X

Yes, thanks juggling she is going to be heart broken, and picked up/ dropped off by a taxi driver instead of her Mum at a strange school sad

piprabbit Fri 19-Apr-13 12:59:41

In my area the LEA sends out letters (from NHS records) to everyone, outlining the process and giving you unique login details for the online system.

But these letters come out months before you need to apply, and everyone was talking about them and making school visits etc. I'm slightly at a loss that your friend did nothing proactive at all. She could have spoken to the school, looked online, asked you, something, anything, instead of coasting along.

I hope the LEA manage to find her child a place, for the sake of the child, and that your friend learns that she needs to be a bit more forceful on behalf of her family.

coppertop Fri 19-Apr-13 13:02:16

I got a letter from the LEA way back when my now 12yr-old was pre-school age, so it certainly used too happen. Two years later the system had changed again, so I can understand why it could be confusing.

I know pip I would never have got this far without knowing, as you say everyone's talking about it, we get the online codes too, and the boring conversations of how you're applying would have been all over surely? Really don't know how she missed it all, but she did.

MiaowTheCat Fri 19-Apr-13 13:02:40

I'm not surprised - had one year in reception where we had two parents just show up first day having made no applications at all! Thankfully we had spaces (this was before the birth rate boom hit through into primary)!

PatriciaHolm Fri 19-Apr-13 13:02:53

She needs to apply to her preferred schools now. As they are full, she won't be successful, but she can then appeal.

Appealing for the local school won't be under ICS (infant class size rules) as they have less than 30, which makes it easier, but she will still need to make a good case as to why the detriment to her child not to go there is higher than the detriment to the school to admit. Have any other years got more children? Can she demonstrate that the reception class has historically had more than 17?

There is nothing else she can do right now. She made a big mistake, her error I'm afraid, and the only way to try to deal with it is to appeal.

ah right patricia didn't know there was an appeal process, do you think she'd have a good case since she didn't gt the letters and she doesn't drive?

5318008 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:08:36


I do feel a bit sorry for your friend, if it's your first you kind of think that things like school allocation happen by some kind of automatic magical process.

Amazing that the father hasn't questioned it either, don't lets heap blame all upon the mother's head, eh.

(slightly hmm-faced at the parents not keeping pre school up to date with their current address/es though)

Pre-school have got her current address, so have the doctors, I don't know how it's happened, oh she's a single Mum BTW.

5318008 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:11:45

oh sorry, I thought they 'they' was preschool, my mistake

mummytime Fri 19-Apr-13 13:11:52

Around here the LA do not send letters you have to collect them from schools, the library or playgroups, or apply online.

The Taxi will be one with a CRB'd driver.

5318008 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:13:35

well a big raspberry to the father for not getting it sorted himself, git.

Poor friend, she must feel really beleaguered sad

PatriciaHolm Fri 19-Apr-13 13:16:55

Not getting the letters and not driving are not grounds for appeal. Thousands of people don't get letters yet managed to apply on time, and transport would be provided.

She needs to concentrate on proving that the prejudice to the school is lower than the prejudice to her child, which is about the school having the facilities to cope, anything that makes the school's facilities specifically good for the child (e.g, child is county standard swimmer and school has pool), etc. Nothing negative about the school she has been awarded.

Khaleese Fri 19-Apr-13 13:19:04

Patricia, it will be infant class size, they class share with the upper years in small schools.not 14 to a class but often 28 that is their capacity.

Really no excuse for this, it's very poor parenting ( sounds mean i know) pre schools have posters on the door and give out reminders! Its also a hot topic.

Good luck to her.

narmada Fri 19-Apr-13 13:20:10

As a PP said, your friend needs to apply NOW and also find out on what basis the school is saying they can only admit 14 children. IIRC the appeal may be an infant class size appeal - e.g., if the school is tiny and runs mixed-age classes due to a small intake.

The LA will be able to provide her with details of how to apply and how to appeal the decision not to offer a place at the school.

PatriciaHolm Fri 19-Apr-13 13:20:29

Khaleese, ICS rules kick in at 30, not 28, so it shouldn't be.

PatriciaHolm Fri 19-Apr-13 13:21:35

Though as narmada says, she needs to contact the LEA about exactly how classes are organised to make sure!

narmada Fri 19-Apr-13 13:21:54

It would be an ICS if they had mixed-age classes and had offered to 14 reception children and 26 year ones, wouldn't it?

narmada Fri 19-Apr-13 13:22:26

14 reception children and 16 year ones, dearie me, maths never was my strong point...

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 13:22:55

Even 28 is not an infant class size matter, though. It would still be balance of prejudice, I think (with the school's case being about the prejudice in terms of lack of space etc)

yes, they do class share actually, my Ds is in reception now so will be in the same class but yr 1, will try and find out how many there are in the class all together. They did say they were full when she asked the playgroup though, I asked her if there had been posters up at playgroup, she said no, really can't see her just not bothering, I genuinely think she thought the letters came out just before summer break up hmm

Khaleese Fri 19-Apr-13 13:25:42

The school has limited capacity, it can't take more than a set number. Ours takes 100. Some years they intake two more some years two less dependnt on the numbers through the school. The last class can only hold a set amount. You can squeeze them in as they do not have room.

Lots of the rural school here have 70 -100 puplils, i'm sure lots of people would love to force a place but the schools just can't cope.

They have a set pan, unless someone wins an appeal ( admission error) the numbers are set in stone.

Bramshott Fri 19-Apr-13 13:26:15

14 seems an odd number. Is it a mixed YrR/Y1 class? If so, they should be able to take 15 (or even 16 if they only have 14 in Y1).

Khaleese Fri 19-Apr-13 13:27:24

Can'tvsqueezecthem in.:-)

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 13:28:20

14 does seem a funny number. Because if they took 14 last year that's only 28, not 30. But maybe they took an extra two last year for some reason? If there are currently 16 in reception that may make it ICS appeal.

CockyFox Fri 19-Apr-13 13:30:02

I really feel for her, when my DS started school I was sent an application pack in the August before he started in the following September so 13 mobths ahead. I applied for DD this year and was sent nothing only because I knew when I had applied for DS dud I know to look online and find the online only new system.
There are no signs at the clinic or doctor's. There is one at the library and at the pre-school but that assumes all parents are going there.

Will ask DS teacher at pick up how many are in reception this year, I know 14 are going up from preschool, so if there's less than 16 in there now, she may have a chance?

flowery Fri 19-Apr-13 13:31:35

Where is the father in all this? Just because she lives with her mother doesn't mean he isn't equally responsible. Seems weird neither of them thought to check.

PatriciaHolm Fri 19-Apr-13 13:32:51

No, Khaleese, sorry but they aren't.

The school will admit to it's PAN.

If PAN is 30, then appeals will be under ICS rules.
If PAN is less than 30, and reception class will have less than 30 children per teacher, then appeals won't be ICS. They might still be very hard to win - as you say, if a classroom really has no more space, there is no space to eat lunch etc, it might be very hard to win anyway, but it's possible.

The LEA can force schools to admit over PAN, if someone wins an appeal.

Infant Class Size appeals don't relate to admitting over PAN, they relate to more than 30 per teacher.

Yes, flowery Father is in prison, and I think she knows now she should have been more active, but she was told to wait for the letter by pre-school and so she did.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 13:35:00

I do feel sorry for her. It's easy to wonder how someone misses school applications if you live somewhere they are a big deal. But if you live somewhere where everyone goes to the local school, it is easy to think it's a pretty automatic process. Particularly if you aren't someone who goes in for researching and keeping up with news. Also, if people with older children have been saying 'oh, you get a letter' in a vague fashion, she'll probably have filed it in her mind under 'no need to do anything'.

flowery Fri 19-Apr-13 13:37:59

Oh I see sad

lborolass Fri 19-Apr-13 13:47:31

Are you in England? There must be a all kinds of different systems in different areas, we don't get letters for primary but you would have to go out of your way not to realise that you have to apply by a certan date - posters up at playgroup/nursery etc and I think probably mentioned when you go to look around the school.

Ime its not unusual for small schools to have set numbers for reception intake, the 30 in a class isn't the main issue it's how big the school is i.e they have a total maximum number they can fit and simply divide it by the no of year groups to get to intake number.

I'd advice your friend to put in an appeal (and do it now so she doesn't miss the deadline) and get herself on the waiting list. In my area catchment children who apply late go to the top of the list (may not be the same everywhere) and keep her fingers crossed.

It doesn't sound like she has grounds for an appeal but the school may be happy to have her anyway

Good luck

Yes, we're in England, I'll tell her, thanks smile

Wishiwasanheiress Fri 19-Apr-13 13:56:50

How do u not know to look into this stuff? All my friends are doing so now and kids are only 2!!!! Not ur fault obvs I'm just so incredulous at her obliviousness..... She should look up appeal process immediately it's all available on web. Can she use a computer?

Does it use a uniform? Someone better tell her or kid will turn up in pjs. She might not think to check herself..

5318008 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:03:52

WishIwas don't be so horrible and nasty, not necessary

noblegiraffe Fri 19-Apr-13 14:15:42

I've applied this year for my DS and I have had no information from the LA and haven't seen a single poster anywhere about applying for schools (and we go to pre school and the library). The website was bloody useless and the application form, which was online, was very confusing.

I can really see how it would be very easy to miss the deadline, I was appalled to be honest. If you aren't online and proactive, in my LA, you would have been left clueless.

givemeaclue Fri 19-Apr-13 14:19:59

Where we live we don't get a letter telling us to apply to school.

Surely your friend knew it was time to apply, people mustbeen talking about it. Basically she hasn't applied to any schools so she will have to take what's left and learn from it.

flootshoot Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:22

It is confusing IMO, the whole system relies on enough parents being proactive enough to find out what happens and then it gets passed on by word of mouth to the others. If you're the sort who doesn't really chat to anyone it could be easy to miss a deadline. On the other hand it seems incredible no-one mentioned it to her, I've noticed our preschool giving subtle nudges to parents who are known to be 'slack' for want of a better word. Obviously she'll have to go through the motions now but I think it'd be worth mentioning to the LEA that they need to publicise the dates more clearly. Now I think about it the only reason I'm well informed about our admissions timetable is because I went and looked, not because I've been given any info.

givemeaclue Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:43

Even if she was waiting for the letter, when the letter didn't come you would think would query it.

I do feel sorry for the child though, dad is prison, constantly moving, doesn't get into local school. Its not hard to anticipate that life is chaotic for this poor child

JenaiMorris Fri 19-Apr-13 14:27:47

My friend managed to do this. Not with her first but with her second child!

I'm not sure she can appeal as she didn't apply - you appeal against a decision and there wasn't one, iykwim.

I imagine she'll have to put her daughter on the waiting list - she'll probably be very near the top. Don't forget that children don't legally have to attend school until the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday, so she could carry on at preschool. Or home ed off course until a place comes up.

There's no need to panic about having to send her off in a taxi to a school miles away yet.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 14:31:47

Jenai, if she gets in a late application now, then in due course decisions will be made that she can appeal.

I think if I was her I'd prefer the idea of daughter continuing at pre-school at least until she's 5, whilst I got my application in, appealed decision if necessary, and got her on local school waiting list.
Idea of going off on your own in taxi (at 4) to strange school with no friends seems less than ideal sad - though hopefully someone friendly would meet her as she arrived at the school ? And I'm sure she'd soon make some friends.

JenaiMorris Fri 19-Apr-13 14:43:57

Yes there is that!

Either way, she doesn't need to panic.

CinnabarRed Fri 19-Apr-13 14:49:07

Our local authority wrote to us because we didn't accept a state school place for DS1. (Because he goes to the local private school; in fact I did tell them that we have accepted a place at a private school - twice - but apparently that wasn't put on file.)

AFAIK, they cross-referenced against GP registration, so they knew there was a local child not attending any of the local state schools.

So it seems really odd that no-one contacted your poor friend. How inconsistent.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 19-Apr-13 14:53:58

We didn't get letters. It is your responsibility as a parent to either download the application form, or fill it in online or request a paper form from the council.

How on earth can she be so clueless? Does she not ever speak to the staff at playgroup, or think to speak to the school?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 19-Apr-13 14:55:41

Didn't read the second page.

That is pretty awful of the preschool to have told her to wait for a letter. Why didn't she chase it up?

What a nightmare sad

Does seem to me like it would be an idea if it was someone's responsibility to make sure that all parents are told of what will be necessary to apply for a school place, the procedure and the deadlines. Possibly the Health Visitor could do this - checking that everyone has been given info by pre-schools ? It does all sound a bit messy organisation wise ATM.
And aren't the government in the process of training lots more HV's in the next few years ?

wigglywoowoo Fri 19-Apr-13 15:03:19

We did receive a letter application form and a book with information about all the schools in the city in October before theJanuary deadline. I chose to applied online.

I really hope she gets it sorted!

wonderingagain Fri 19-Apr-13 15:11:54

If the British Public weren't quite so tetchy about privacy and the laws that are designed to protect it every local authority would know the age and whereabouts of every child and this sort of thing woulnt happen.

piprabbit Fri 19-Apr-13 15:15:12

Also, I really think it is the parent's responsibility to inform themselves about important stuff that impacts their child (schooling, vaccinations, internet security etc.) instead of relying on someone else to tell them what to do...

kungfupannda Fri 19-Apr-13 15:23:05

Is the fact that they've moved so often related to the father in prison by any chance?

Might help an appeal if so.

But pip don't you think some families will do better with just a little support ? Surely it makes sense for Society to facilitate this ?

flootshoot Fri 19-Apr-13 15:31:14

Some text on school admissions could easily be incorporated into the 3 year check stuff sent out by HVs. That's a start.

piprabbit Fri 19-Apr-13 15:31:52

I think most families could use some support at one time or another. But there is a difference between society providing support, and HVs being made responsible for ensuring that all parents apply for a school place.

Yes, I can see you might want to keep the final and basic responsibility for applying with the parents. But I think different agencies in child and parent's life should do all they can to inform ...
Pre-schools, GP surgeries, HV's, Local Council (ours produces a booklet for all households which I think may have an ad in about school applications) and schools themselves (notice board ?)

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 15:40:14

They don't do three year checks in my area...

cece Fri 19-Apr-13 16:23:53

TBH I can see how it happens.

I work in a school. With my PFB I had no idea that I had to apply for a place. I too was expecting some sort of letter from LA or HV. It was only because my DD went to a CM and she asked me which schools I was applying for that I realised I actually had to go and get a form myself to fill in (pre-online application days) and that I would not be getting a letter. blush

flootshoot Fri 19-Apr-13 16:41:26

Oh pip I agree responsibility must lie with the parents. But a reminder could be added to the sort of stuff that's sent out as standard - eg. preschool vaccination reminders. Just something simple saying something like 'did you know in this area school applications are available online on x date, you WILL NOT get a letter'.

I can see how some families slip through the net though, particularly with a chaotic home life.

flootshoot Fri 19-Apr-13 16:44:27

amanda they don't in my area either, but we get a letter with a checklist and contact info for if we have any concerns. Perhaps not every area does that though?

piprabbit Fri 19-Apr-13 17:03:47

I don't think we have any standard contact with the HVs after the 2 year check. Although it is possible that they have more regular contact with chaotic families who may be more of a priority for them.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 17:32:35

We don't after the two year check either. We didn't get a letter or any sort of information.

This happened with my neighbour.

In our area you have to contact the 1st choice school or the LEA and get an application pack off them, deadline in October, place allocations are notified in April for the following September. there were notices at preschool, nursery, library, sure start etc.

When we got our letter I wandered up the street to ask if her dc would be going to the same school as ours, so we could share walking them in the mornings etc.

She said 'oh I haven't had my letter yet' and rang the LEA the next day. When she rang them they said 'who is this child?'

Turns out she thought her preferred school 'knew he was coming' because he was at a pre school that shares a name with the school (just because they are both named after the street they are on) and thought the two were connected and the preschool would tell the school who was turning 4. No consideration in her mind for children who went to day nurseries etc but who lived in the catchment.

She tried to appeal on grounds of things like 'but you should have known there was a child in the area aged 4' and 'but me and my bother came to this school and when I was pregnant we deliberately moved into catchment for this school'.

The LEA said they can't write to all children as so many move, or come into the area etc that they could not possibly keep such a list up to date.

She had to just wait to see which schools had places after all the allocations had been done, and was at the back of any waiting lists because the people on the waiting lists had applied in time. Ditto appeals, as she had no grounds to appeal anything.

She ended up, in the July, being offered a place at a school 1.5 miles away - its an urban area and there are 4 schools within that distance.

hope your friend is able to get something closer than a taxi ride away.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 17:44:23

Deadline in October for notifications in April? So the deadline is almost a full year before admissions? That seems bonkers Flibberty. shock They must end up with loads of additional in-year reception applications that way. Our deadline is January.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 17:46:22

Cinnabar, did you do a state school application too?

BranchingOut Fri 19-Apr-13 19:36:10

Unfortunately, this is one of the ways in which children from disadvantaged families end up missing out on school places or ending up in schools that are a long way away. Some of the remarks on this thread show a lack of awareness of the barriers that some parents face in trying to do the best for their child. Not knowing, a chaotic home life, cultural misunderstanding of the system, not being part of the 'mums network', being too afraid to ask, lacking the language to ask...

I used play a role in admissions at a popular primary school (large middle class intake), but we ended up with a situation where several nursery children had completely failed to apply for Reception at all, because they had assumed it was automatic. This is despite being handed a form and brochure, plus being reminded the previous year. The parents of both children were from a minority ethnic background, with EAL and could probably be described as very disadvanged in comparison to the rest of the white, mc, professional intake. We then decided to ring round and remind every family in the current nursery intake - you would be astounded at the proportion who had still not filled in the form in the week or so before the deadline.

CinnabarRed Fri 19-Apr-13 19:43:28

Yes we did. But then withdrew it.

givemeaclue Fri 19-Apr-13 19:43:53

No three year old checks here either

givemeaclue Fri 19-Apr-13 19:44:58

Kungfu panda,shes can't appeal as she didn't apply so there isn't anything to appeal

Hullygully Fri 19-Apr-13 19:51:11

wot branchingout said

MegBusset Fri 19-Apr-13 19:59:07

Ditto Hully. I have met people (intelligent, English-speaking, rational, middle-class people, in the nursery/playgroup/mums loop) who believe all sorts of crazy things about the admissions process (eg you have to put your child's name down for a school when they are born, or their child is guaranteed a place at an oversubscribed, out-of-catchment school because a family member works there, or priority is given to older children in the year, or the school can bump children up the waiting list if they like the parents, or if they only put one choice down then they can't be sent anywhere else, etc etc) and refuse to be told differently. It is really not a surprise that many more disadvantaged families slip through the net and fail to apply in time.

thegreylady Fri 19-Apr-13 20:04:33

I have never heard of playschool being in any way involved in school applications.As far as I know the parents have to apply by letter or online and it is their responsibility to chase up the relevant forms.
If by playschool you mean the nursery class of the school it still doesn't follow that they will do anything at all about reception applications.

JenaiMorris Fri 19-Apr-13 21:02:30

Yes, yes, yes.

Every bloody year there are threads on MN where people have only named one school on the form because they thought it would help their case, assumed that a school being on their route to work would work in their favour and so on and so on. Most normal people don't know a great deal about school admissions - why would they?

Poor OP's friend. I refer again to my earlier posts though re compulsory education age and home ed. Branching's school were unusually proactive - and imo it was a bit shit of the VILLAGE school in the OP to have been so laissez faire.

JenaiMorris Fri 19-Apr-13 21:15:53

And another thing.

Are people really OK with the idea that a 4yo child should lose out on a place at a school within reasonable travelling distance/time because their parents (for whatever reason) were unaware of the application process?

lborolass Fri 19-Apr-13 21:41:38

The system might not be ideal but I'm not sure how feasible it would for local authorities to try and track down all the eligible children. Afaik councils are cutting staff and there isn't enough joined up information to allow an automated process.

I don't think it's completely unreasonable to expect parents to take some responsibilty, ringing the nearest school to check isn't too much to expect.

I agree that the current system isn't ideal, but most children who are 'outside the system' have parents who want to keep them that way, and will not be going to state schools. Imagine if all children going to be HE'd or to private were automatically allocated a school place - nightmare! And how would councils even know that there was a child living in a particular place.

lougle Fri 19-Apr-13 21:55:42

The trouble is, that the law says that it is the parents' duty to educate, or arrange education for, their child. There is no legal duty to send a child to school, so the LAs can't force an application, nor can they apply for a place for a child - they don't have the right.

All they can do is publicise the process and wait.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 22:00:48

Also, added to which, immigrant children aren't necessarily in the system. Especially if they can recently come from elsewhere in the EU. So imagine, private and home ed children allocated, immigrants and others who have slipped through the system not. The parent who got confused about what to do allocated a place in their old county.

But I agree that there should be better information. A standard process across the country would enable better general communications. I don't see why you couldn't have general reminders like we get bombarded with for tax returns, etc.

choceyes Fri 19-Apr-13 22:10:50

Oh your poor friend op. I hope something works out for her dd.

I live in a major city in England and we did get letters with the application pack back in October, saying you can apply online too. Also early December I got a reminder, a letter saying I've still not applied for DS' s place (I applied late dec deadline mid jan). They might even have got in touch nearer the deadline if I still hadn't applied. I thought this was standard?

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Fri 19-Apr-13 22:13:09

Nope, not standard. In both my old and my previous area, you got zilch. For various reasons, we didn't apply until a few days before the deadline. The only reminders we got were because we had set up the online form and we got a reminder that we hadn't clicked submit on a partially completed form.

UniS Fri 19-Apr-13 22:31:54

what letter - there is no mythical "letter" in this county - nor I expect in many others. County council have no idea at all about which children will apply for school places , some will be home educated, some will be privately educated, some will apply for a school place.

Posters are sent to pre schools with the application deadlines and the web address and the phone number for asking for a paper application .

I've worked in pre-schools and am pretty sure parents were given some sort of brochure about school application. System needs clarifying though IMO.

Also private school and HE only account for a small proportion of children. Most will want a school place - and the best one they can find for their child. I think there should be basic help for all in achieving this such as through sufficient publicity and support where possible.

Zingy123 Fri 19-Apr-13 22:51:16

No letters are sent out here. They do put up posters at schools, playgroups, nurseries, GP's, post offices etc.

This happened to a Mum in my Dd1`s year. She had 3 already at the school but didn't apply for her twins. They ended up at a school 2 miles away. She claims not to have saw anything about applying but to pick up the other three from school passed a huge poster in school noticeboard. Also one on the playgroup door the twins attended. They are now in Y2 and still hasn't managed to get them in.

difficultpickle Fri 19-Apr-13 23:26:34

No letters here either and no posters that I saw (ds had a CM who did the nursery run) . I just knew that children have to go to school so rang the LEA when ds was 2 to ask what I needed to do to ensure that I received the relevant paperwork and also to ask when it would be sent out. In the end I chose not to complete it. It wouldn't have occurred to me that a letter would magically arrive at my address at the right time to apply.

I'd say it is surprising that with the availability of the internet that parents can make mistakes like this and not bother to check when school applications should be submitted, however I know someone who did the same and she had an older child (whom she had remembered to obtain and fill in the forms for at the appropriate time).

kungfupannda Fri 19-Apr-13 23:33:44

givemeaclue - she can make an application which will no doubt be turned down. She can then appeal that decision.

BranchingOut Sat 20-Apr-13 08:30:27

Another of the issues is that, surprisingly hmm, not everyone has access to or can use the internet.

Yes, that's right branching she doesn't have internet, she comes round here to use mine sometimes. I know it sounds really lame, but she honestly thought the letter would come, thinking about it, if the letters are sent out in may of last year, she wasn't living here then, she moved in in June, however they sent the letters to her address of four moves ago, so there really is no excuse, (yes, yes I know she should have done more, she knows that too now, and feels a right idiot!)

She can't even tell her DD yet, because she's got nowhere to go, the LEA still haven't found her a school sad

JenaiMorris Sat 20-Apr-13 08:40:17

Lib, tell her what I said about home ed and compulsory school age. She doesn't need to panic.

ProfYaffle Sat 20-Apr-13 08:40:30

We have the same system as Flibberty, you have to apply a year before your dc will start at the school and there are no letters, reminders or anything. When I was applying for dd1 there weren't even any posters up at nursery etc although I did see one or two when dd2's time came.

The only reason I knew what to do was because when dd1 was a baby I was flipping through a file of baby group info at the library and happened to come across an LEA booklet explaining the process.

flootshoot Sat 20-Apr-13 08:44:28

They're standardising the dates next year aren't they? Perhaps they need to advertise - for the two weeks after Christmas, during the day when most parents of preschoolers are home, in much the same way they do for tax credit deadlines. Yes it would cost money, but when you balance it against the savings on the resources needed to deal with all the late applicants perhaps it would even out.

I'm no expert though, as it probably obvious smile

Yes, I'll tell her jenai the little girl is 5 in December though?

LIZS Sat 20-Apr-13 08:53:21

So does she not socialise with other mums locally who might have been discussing this ? Think she needs to check she has updated her address for all other public departments as LA won't have plucked that address at random - child benefit, gp, council tax etc . Around here you don't get sent a letter, there are booklets in libraries and posters at schools, surgeries, libraries, public noticeboards etc . Was there really nothing up at the preschool ?

UniS the letters are not mythical in my area, they are very much real, and there's no need to do anything until they arrive, hence the problem.

Closing date fot applications is 31 october. I dont think 5 months is excessive for the lea in a densly populated area to process all the applications.
But having said that, I initially thought the application deadline was april. We were moving from my house to dps which we were renovating and doing a loft conversion to fit us all in. We are still at dps house and are here for good so it was not one of 'those' moves.... but we learned august that we'd have to move 5 months earlier than planned so spent the coldest november on record with no heating or hot water.
Thank goodness we did it properly though moving from my house before the deadline. Cos when my neighbour found out her child had np place, the first thing she did was accuse us, via the admissions people, of not living here at the deadline.
She still tells anyone who will listen that my son stole her sons place as we are 50 yatds closer to the school. Which is utter bollocks as the school was oversubscribed that year so there were already children who took priority over hers for a place on the waiting list due to their application being processed.
Sorry for woffling but this just shows what a hot topic school places can be.

She keeps herself very much to herself at preschool. I asked her yesterday if there had been a poster up at preschool, she said after the discussion with the teacher telling her she'd missed out, the teacher then showed her where the poster was, nestled in with all the fire evacuation posters etc.

I find it hard to believe how she didn't hear anyone say anything, but I think on the occasion she did ask about where the letter was, people may have presumed she meant the confirmation letter. As these were sent out late.

Hulababy Sat 20-Apr-13 08:58:41

I'm in Sheffield and we do get letters sent out, but I don;t know if it is for everyone or not. hmm DD doesn't go to a state primary but we received a secondary school application form and letter through the post at home. Had that arrived we would not have received anything from anywhere else as her school does not issue them and there are no notes up.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Apr-13 09:15:27

Poor little girl and her mum. I'm very glad she has a sympathetic friend in you, Libertine. Hopefully it will all work out. I think that when she does get her late application in she might have quite a good case for naming the school on social grounds, if she felt up to explaining how tough things have been for her daughter with her dad being imprisoned etc and the serial moving. She could get her GP or a health/social care professional to write a supporting letter, maybe?

Agree a million percent with branchingout's posts.

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 10:37:39

I haven't read the entire thread but just to clear up a couple of points:

- The closing date for primary school applications is 15th January. The date quoted by Flibbertyjibbet is the closing date for secondary school applications. From next year the national offer date for primary school places is 16th April.

- LAs are not required to send letters to parents reminding them to apply for school places. Some do but most do not, partly because there is no reliable way for the LA to identify all the families in their area with children who may need a school place.

- As has been said, the OP's friend is entitled to appeal. With a PAN of 14 this is unlikely to be an infant class size appeal. She therefore does not have to show that a mistake has been made. She needs to make the best case she can as to why her daughter will be disadvantaged if she doesn't go to this school. The fact she didn't receive a letter telling her to apply is not grounds for appeal, nor is the distance for the allocated school.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 20-Apr-13 11:19:00

Also, I heard this talked about once at nursery pick up - one mum saying she must get round to it and me saying - yes, deadline is X - she thought it was a week later. Pure luck, not lots of conversations.

Rainbowinthesky Sat 20-Apr-13 11:24:06

I find it hard to have much sympathy although agree it's a horrible situation. If you have moved 4 times in 4 years surely you would want to make doubly sure the LA had your most up to date address. A simple phone call would have confirmed this and avoided all of this stress.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Apr-13 12:42:29

I feel very sorry for the little girl, rainbow.

Her dad is in prison. Goodness only knows what for and how his criminality, trial and conviction has impacted on her and her mother in her crucial early years. She has moved 4 times. Now, just as she has finally settled a bit into a nice-sounding community with supportive people like libertine in it she faces further stress and disruption. It isn't her fault.

literarygeek Sat 20-Apr-13 13:44:44

Completely agree with branching.
I think school admissions should be treated like vaccinations, with letters and reminders and phone calls to follow up if you don't attend. I can see that huge numbers of people wouldn't know what to do. It is likely that those kids most in need that will miss out- chaotic home life/no social support/don't speak English: mild/ sub clinical intellectual disability (not enough for SS support) etc.

my dd is the first among ANY of my friends' dc's to go to school, nursery said nothing to me about applying, no letter came from the council, I have a very busy job and not really friends with nursery mums. I was educated here and am switched on (to an extent!). If this were not the case, I can totally see how you could miss it. Sadly, it's the kids that miss out.

BoffinMum Sat 20-Apr-13 13:55:58

Can you prove the Local Authority had her current address in some form or another, but made a careless mistake in reading her data and used an old address to send her a form that everyone else received because it was sent to to correct address?

If so, she can claim damages from them under the terms of the Data Protection Act if her child's education or welfare has been compromised as a result (and having to travel 10 miles in a taxi is arguably just that). This could be cited during an appeal, and may end up being the deciding factor in whether they manage to squeeze her into the local school or not (i.e. if it saved them ££££).

The key point is - did other parents get paperwork sent to the correct address, that she did not, even the local authority had the correct address for her on their database?

You may need to do a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act in order to establish what addresses they held for her, when documents were sent out and so on.

difficultpickle Sat 20-Apr-13 15:12:19

Sorry I assumed that your friend would have access to the internet. Even so, when I had to enquire with the LEA on when I needed to apply for a school place I did that by phone and gave them my details. I then called again nearer the time to when they would be sending out the application forms to check that they had my correct details. The only time I accessed the internet was when I had received the application and saw that it could be completed on line. However in the end I had already made an alternative schooling choice so chose not to bother completing the form.

I didn't rely on anyone else to tell me when I needed to apply as I only ever went to ds's nursery for end of term parties, performances and it didn't occur to me that that would have been the right place to ask. I also have a busy job, work more than full time and the only way I can keep track of things concerning ds was to put them in my work diary. I don't have anyone else to do anything for me either (single parent). It is always hard to balance home and work life but it is just something that has to be done.

I am now planning to look at senior schools for ds. To ensure I don't miss deadlines I have done a spreadsheet with key information, dates etc and put those dates in my diary (plus reminders leading up to deadlines). Just the same as I would do if it were a work project. I have access to a computer but if I didn't I would just put that info on a notice board at home/on the fridge etc so I have a visual reminder.

That sounds very organised but I struggle to keep it so and I have to make a real effort.

difficultpickle Sat 20-Apr-13 15:14:26

Out of interest how did your friend get a place at a pre-school? That must have involved making an application, phone call etc?

AnnandBarryAgain Sat 20-Apr-13 16:24:32

Everything acrylic said

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 16:30:58

BoffinMum - No the Data Protection Act would not allow her to claim damages in this situation. Apart from anything else the law is clear that it is the parents' responsibility to ensure their child receives an education. The LA is under no obligation whatsoever to send out letters reminding people to apply. Even if they did send out letters they may be lost in the post or parents may bin them as junk mail and then claim they didn't receive them. The LA has no liability here. There is no case for damages and an appeal panel would be entirely unmoved by this argument.

literarygeek Sat 20-Apr-13 17:03:57

bisjo that's great. Most pe

literarygeek Sat 20-Apr-13 17:05:02

Oops sorry. Most people on here are organised / aware of the system and switched on. It's those that are not for whatever reason or circumstance where the problem arises.

difficultpickle Sat 20-Apr-13 17:49:48

True smile. I've only been organised at home since I had ds. At work I have someone who organises me and I know what a tough time they have blush

wonderingagain Sat 20-Apr-13 18:01:15

In many countries you need to register everyone in your household when you move. A similar scheme here would avoid all kinds of problems regarding service provision but us Brits don't like to be monitored too much.

DeepRedBetty Sat 20-Apr-13 20:11:11

I applied for places for dtds when they were three. By a long distance the nearest school. Got a letter back to say I'd been a bit enthusiastic and actually I didn't need to apply for another year yet, but not to worry, they'd noted the application and would be in touch.

A year and a half passes. They don't get in touch. Other families are talking about their places, I'm thinking that I really should get a letter to confirm place soon. Maybe it's because they're late spring babies and I'd arranged with school for them to start in January. I haven't moved or anything, no excuse to send letters to wrong address.

So I call. No record, and extremely unhelpful staff at LEA. Start to panic...

Call school. Who fish out their copy of letter from LEA, confirming places had been applied for. LEA continue to wriggle on hook. Finally insist on seeing proof that I've lived at this address since date of original application. Fume quietly and send photocopies of driving licence, passport and electricity bills dating back to mid nineteen eighties.

LEA finally give in and agree to look in files. Find copies of original applications, and their replies.

Never did get apology for the stress. But did get our places!

BoffinMum Sat 20-Apr-13 20:25:01

Dispute that.

If all other parents had received letters, and she had not because they had used the wrong address when they knew the new one, then I think there would be a strong argument for redress.

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 20:49:24

No case whatsoever. Many other parents may have received letters. It is unlikely all did as the LA has no way of identifying all parents with children who may require school places. The parents who do not receive letters do not have any case against the LA whatsoever. And I repeat - the law is that education is the responsibility of the parent, not the LA. The LA has therefore not failed in any way.

BoffinMum Sat 20-Apr-13 21:38:38

Repeat - if it had several versions of her address and used an old one without checking, because it was being inefficient, whereas it used the correct addresses for all the other parents on its database, explain to me in what way she is not disadvantaged and therefore does not have a claim for distress? This would be a case under the DPA and nothing to do with Education law, by the way (I think you are conflating the two).

From ICO website:


As an individual you may go to court to claim compensation for damage or distress caused by any organisation if they have breached the Data Protection Act.

When can I claim compensation under the Data Protection Act?
You have a right to claim compensation from an organisation if you have suffered damage because they have breached part of the Act.

You can normally only claim for any distress you have suffered if you have also suffered damage. However, if the organisation broke the law when they used your information for journalism, artistic or literary purposes, you can claim for distress alone.

How do I make a claim for compensation?
You do not have to make a claim to a court if an organisation agrees to pay you compensation. If you cannot reach an agreement with them, you can apply to a court for compensation alone or you can combine your claim with an action to put right any breach of the Act.

By law, the Information Commissioner cannot award compensation, even when he has said that in his view the organisation did breach the Act. You would still have to make a claim to a court.

How do I go about taking a case to court?
For guidance on what you need to do, please read Taking a case to court.

Will it help me in court to have asked the Information Commissioner whether the Act has been breached?
It may do. You can ask the ICO to assess if the organisation breached the Act and we will tell you whether, in our view, it was likely or unlikely that the organisation broke the law. You can give a copy of the ICO’s letter to the court together with the evidence you have to prove your claim. However, a court will take their own view of the law and the judge may not agree with the ICO’s view.

You may want to ask our helpline first to see if it is worth asking the ICO to assess your complaint. Whether you complain to the ICO or take a case to court, you will need evidence to back up what you say.

How much will the court award me if my claim is successful?
There are no guidelines about levels of compensation for a claim under the Act. It will be up to the judge hearing the case and they would take into account all the circumstances, including how serious they thought the breach was, the impact it had on you, particularly when assessing the distress you suffered. Even when you can show the court the exact sum of money you have lost as a result of the breach of the Act, it is still up to the judge to make the award and the judge may reduce your claim or award nothing at all.

It is also important to remember that even if the court awards you compensation, the organisation may refuse, or not be able to pay. If this happens you should ask the court about what you should do to enforce the judgement.


Of course if they did not have a policy of sending letters out to all parents in the Local Authority then that would be different. We would need to hear more about that.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Sat 20-Apr-13 21:48:47

And I guess it depends too whether the letters are 'this is how you apply to school' or 'as you fall into the group for whom we have records on our database, here is a friendly info pack'. If the letter is presented as just one of many ways of conveying information, I think it would be harder to argue you lost out because of the error.

Also not sure about the financial loss to award damages, if the authority are paying for the taxi?

ShadowStorm Sat 20-Apr-13 22:18:23

Poor OP's friend and friend's DD. It sounds like a horrible situation for them.

We don't get letters here either - DS not old enough for school applications yet, but there was a huge poster in the window of the local post office for months telling parents that they have to go on-line to apply or contact the council to ask for an application form, because otherwise the council won't send them one.

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 22:39:39

BoffinMum - I am well aware of the Data Protection Act. It forms a significant part of my job and I occasionally advise people on here how it applies to various situations.

Compensation is intended to make good any loss. In this case there is no loss as it is legally the parents' responsibility to ensure their child receives an education. There is therefore no damage to the mother or her child through the LA's failure to send the mother a letter inviting her to apply for a school place as it was her responsibility to apply regardless of whether or not the LA wrote to her. I can guarantee you that no court in the land would award a single penny in compensation simply because the LA has sent a letter to the wrong address.

BoffinMum Sat 20-Apr-13 22:42:38

Did you read the bit about distress?

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Sat 20-Apr-13 23:00:27

I thought distress was only an add on to compensation for financial loss unless it was one of the 'special purposes' processing situations - like journalism? We don't generally go in for compensation for distress only in this country - employment legislation takes the same route.

Or am I out of date? It has been a while...

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 23:52:03

As the ICO's guidance correctly points out, you can normally only claim for distress if you have also suffered damage. You can only claim for distress alone in limited circumstances. This is not one of them. A claim for damage would fail so a claim for distress would fail with it.

The reasoning of the court would be as follows:

- It is the responsibility of the parents to apply for a school place at the appropriate time
- The LA is not required to send letters to parents reminding them to apply
- A parent might not receive a letter for all sorts of reasons - it might be lost in the post, the LA may not be aware of their child, the parent may throw it out thinking it is junk mail and so on
- Many parents in this LA and elsewhere will have applied late despite receiving a letter. There is therefore no proof that this parent would have applied on time even if a letter had been sent to the correct address
- Many parents in this LA and elsewhere will have applied on time despite not receiving a letter. There is therefore no reason why this parent could not have applied on time
- It is therefore far too much of a stretch to blame the LA for this parent's failure to apply on time

So even if there is a breach of the DPA (which is by no means certain) there is absolutely no way any compensation would be awarded.

prh47bridge Sat 20-Apr-13 23:52:51

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate - You are absolutely correct regarding distress.

Can she not put in a late application and go on the waiting list?

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