Advice needed on admissions under fair access protocol please(7 Posts)
Appologies in advance as I may ramble on a bit!
DD went into yr7 last year after having a fab time at her lovely primary school. It's been a complete disaster, she was being bullied by a group of girls within the first week & her friends from primary distanced themselves as they seemed more worried about fitting in than helping DD. School didn't seem to think there was a problem and did nothing to help.
DD became depressed, wasn't sleeping and was often too ill to go to school. I was suffering with anxiety over the situation and by christmas time, enough was enough and I decided to move her. We looked at 2 schools that had spaces, one was an outstanding comp, which seemed fab but would have meant quite a journey each day. The other was a new free school quite close to us which offered a small friendly environment, I knew it was a bit of a risk as it had no track record but was just desperate to get DD out of the bad situation.
Unfortunately I made the wrong decision, the school had a lot of children who had moved because of problems at other schools and there was a high percentage of children with behavioural problems and SEN. Because the school was so small, the classes were mixed ability and because DD is quite bright, she was repeating work she had done at primary and the work seemed like the level of the lowest sets at the comp. DD found the descipline at the school was very poorly managed and a lot of the children were running riot in the class and the teachers were just shouting with no effect. Because DD was still struggling with her issues from the previous school, she found it really distressing and was soon showing signs of illness again. In spring she began refusing to go to school and I had to seek help through our GP and CAMHS. The school couldn't offer any help and when the GP recommened they involve an ed psych they refused as it would come out of their budget. They complained that DD's absence was affecting their attendence record and said I should force her to come to school even though I explained she was ill (and I was also really strugggling by this stage) so I felt I had no option but to home educate her. I sent in an official letter to deregister her which I found through the Home Ed forum and sent it attached to an email as well as a paper copy through the post.
DD soon began to recover and although it's been difficult to manage with my work, our home ed experience has beeen really positive but DD has started to feel isolated as she only really gets to see friends occasionally and is missing some of the aspects of school you can't get so easily at home.
I made an application for her to go to the comp which initially seemed too far away (this doesn't seem so important now) and had to wait quite a while to hear that they didn't have a place but that I could apply under fair access protocol if DD fitted into their criteria of which she fitted 2 having had attendence problems and looking to return to school after a period of home ed. The counsellor from CAMHS wrote in to back up my application and I hoped it would all be straight forward but the admissions team say that they can't continue the application as the free school has never deregistered her from their roll, nor have they contacted education welfare about DD's attendence issues so their is no proof that she has missed any school. Admissions have tried to contact the school by post, email and phone to get an explaination but have not had any response. They say I cannot apply under fair access without this proof but they have offered a place at the HUGE comp wich is close to us but has a terrible reputation I just can't risk putting her into another bad situation after all that has happened.
Thanks If you've read this far, I hope someone can offer some insight and advice.
when the GP recommended they involve an ed psych they refused as it would come out of their budget
The LA must provide ed psych services to free schools and academies as well as to community schools. Sounds like the school didn't realise this, or maybe this is one of the LAs that limits the number of pupils each school can refer.
Putting that to one side it is clearly unacceptable that you are in this position. I would be tempted to go in with all guns blazing. If it were me I would contact the head of the free school and insist that they deregister your daughter and reply to the LA regarding the other issues. I would tell the head that failure to do so would result in a complaint to the governors followed, if necessary, by a complaint to the EFA (Education Funding Agency).
I have reached the point of despair today. After a long wait I managed to speak to a lady in the home ed team who had visited us when I was planning on removing DD from school. I explained what had happened and she spoke to admissions for me to back up my claim.
Admissions then put in an application to our requested school under fair access. Roll on almost 2 weeks and today I hear that the school has again refused DD a place as they are 2 over pan in her year. The fair access policy states they should accept up to 5% over pan (120 pupils) and should accept pupils as a priority under fair access. The 2 extra they have are DC who have moved into catchment and have been given places by the school under their own admissions policy (academy).
I have again been asked to consider the dreadful comp and I explained that I felt this would be detrimental to DD's wellbeing. I also pointed out that The school have not followed their admissions policy as it states on their website they support fair access but apparently the only option is to wait another fortnight for a stage 2 meeting where DD will be discussed and they will decide where she will go I just don't know what to do.
The free school are being investigated by county for their failings in this matter and I hear they are expecting Ofsted this term so I think they will be doing things properly from now on.
I took did to visit another local school today to see how we felt about it. Dd really liked it looking round but we spoke to the deputy head at the end to see how they might be able to support her if she could get a place there. He asked about the issues did had previously had in school & when I said we were waiting for the fair access decision, he basically said he couldn't be sure she would be any better off in their school, "we have bullying going on here too", we were told, even though the head had been telling us they were a very inclusive school with a zero tolerance approach to bullying
Dd now has it in her head that she is a problem child and none of the schools want her...
Personally I would regard the deputy head's comments as positive. All schools have bullying. The ones that say they don't are burying their heads in the sand. The ones that know they have a problem are more likely to be trying to deal with it.
Regarding the academy, the LA should remind them that their funding agreement requires them to participate in the Fair Access Protocol. If the LA has invoked the FAP the school really should admit. Of course, if the LA simply asked them if they would take your daughter without invoking the FAP that is another matter.
I agree with PRH, all schools have some level of bullying, it is how it is handled that marks a good school from a poor school. Having a zero tolerance to bullying is not saying we do not have any bullying it is saying we sort it out when it happens, so I think the head and deputy head are saying the same thing.
I think that your daughter is in need of help to get into a school and create their own cohort of friends. Sorry but your posts to me say you are helping to feed her insecurity by your own concerns about the schools. I think you need to make a very positive decision to get her in to this school, be very positive about it and try and build your daughters confidence up, that she will succeed in the school.
We walked away from an (outstanding!) school that said they had no bullying. I can name personally 5 or 6 people who have left that school due to severe bullying-well documented, but the school refuses to admit it might be, because that would spoil their record of "no bullying".
The school we've chosen for dd1 said "yes we have bullying, but as soon as it's brought to our attention we deal with it." And they do. I've had two or three incidents where there were issues, and we've been speaking to the head of year within 24 hours (usually within 6), who has listened, taken our opinion on how to deal with it into consideration, and offenders have been dealt with strongly. And then we get follow up calls to check things are going okay.
The thing is any school that promises that incidents "won't happen" is talking rubbish. Even a small school with high supervision ratios cannot guarentee that. They can't guarantee that your dd won't be places in a form with someone who takes an immediate dislike to her for no reason. But they can say that if you bring it to their attention that they will deal with it as best they can.
What I would ask is what the protocall is for a bullying incident. Who would be your first point of contact? How do you contact them? How quickly would they try and contact you if you left a message? What they would do to sort it out?
Also, considering your dd's issues, I would also ask how they will try and build her confidence up towards her schoolfriends, and how they will help her integrate into the class.