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Adopting a school age child in term time

(30 Posts)
MyDogEatsBalloons Thu 04-Sep-14 17:19:07

Has anyone done this, and would be willing to tell me how it worked for them? We're adopting a five year old girl (just started back in year 1), who's very happy with the school she's in, at the other end of the country from us. There's been a bit of a delay due to some legal issues, but we're ready to go now, and preparation should be starting with her this week (we've had matching panel). We're unsure how to go about the school application - is it up to us or the SW to do this? bearing in mind we're without an adoption order yet.My biggest question is how long she should have with use before starting school - our SW suggested we delay intros until near half term, which I'm pretty horrified by - I'd like at least a couple of weeks with her bonding with us rather than her classmates!

Any suggestions and stories of how it worked for you gratefully received!

TrinnyandSatsuma Thu 04-Sep-14 18:58:05

Hi congratulations!

Our son had already started school, was in reception. We delayed introductions by a week, so that he could finish the half term, say proper goodbyes etc.

As well as the week of half term, he was off school for about 2 weeks after he moved in. In that time we did lots of family time, just he three of us. We discussed with social workers, his foster carers etc and felt that a return to the school routine was best for him. He loved school and was keen to start. Conventional wisdom may be to stay off school for longer, but for us all, it was the best thing. It gave him a break from the intensity of getting to know us and really helped him settle. He grieved for his foster carers a lot in those first few weeks and I think it helped to be at school.

We applied for a school place as soon as we had a yes from matching panel, and had already visited the school to let them know he was coming. As a looked after child, he had priority for a place (not an issue as the school had spaces, but we would have used his LAC status if we had needed to).

Every child is different, but for our boy, I think it would have made bonding harder for him if he'd stayed off school for longer.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions.


UnderTheNameOfSanders Fri 05-Sep-14 14:28:39

DD1 joined us towards the end of y3, so older.
She missed about a week during intros, then a week with us, then half term, then to school full time. School was a good stabiliser for her, and I also had her younger sister age 2.5 to look after. But it did make it harder to bond and it might have been better to send DD2 to a nursery some afternoons and have DD1 at home 1-1 with me.

In your position I would be very tempted to go for 2 weeks fully at home (either including half term or not depending on when intros are), and then half days only until the end of term. That way you get to bond, she gets to make friends to help her settle. The important stuff, maths and literacy, is done in the mornings anyway.

You should choose the school and apply for it. If it is full you may find SW involvement helpful for getting them to break the infant class size regulations.

Remember that the ofsted-outstanding school may not be the best for your LO. Look for one who seem to listen to your concerns.

MyDogEatsBalloons Fri 05-Sep-14 15:09:19

Thank you both, that's incredibly helpful, and it does seem like we'll have to plan backwards from the start of the next half term. It means more delays, but it's not like I'm not used to that!

I'm still a bit bewildered by the school application process, but I'll get in touch with child's SW about it - I presume I fill it all in and forward it to her to sign and send off.

I did visit the school a while ago - the head teacher was fantastic and very understanding, and they're very used to a variety of different backgrounds and family circumstances (I'm in a pretty diverse area) and happy to stagger entry. Really useful to know maths and literacy are done in the morning, thanks again.

2old2beamum Fri 05-Sep-14 15:20:55

We were very bad, our DS was 5yrs 6months when he was placed with us in the April and due to the fact he is deafblind and additional needs we decided it would be best to keep him with us until the Autumn term. One SW was a bit po faced as it was against the law???? but on the whole most were supportive at both ends. 10 yrs on we know we were right.

Congratulations and enjoy!!

UnderTheNameOfSanders Fri 05-Sep-14 16:43:36

No SW signed the school application for DD1. Just us. Don't send it to the SW to sign unless you really need to, all that will do is delay things!

I would get the ball rolling now. Contact your LA and ask whether you can apply based on matching certificate or if not what they need. This will be an 'in year' application.

Normally you have 4? weeks to take up a school place once offered (you can check this with LA too and also whether they will be flexible if needed).

Also ask LA whether there is current vacancy in the year group. If not whether they will be happy to place anyway, or whether you need to apply, get rejected, and then appeal (primary threads have some good experts who can advise you, you can PM them if needed).

You will be top of the waiting list as a LAC, if you apply now there may be spaces from people who haven't turned up at the start of the year.

Once you start, make friends with the school secretary, they can be very helpful fonts of information for all the stuff that is 'obvious' but which isn't at all as a new mum into the school system higher up than Reception!

MyDogEatsBalloons Fri 05-Sep-14 17:18:13

I'm wondering if applications are different in different authorities - I've got the form in front of me here, and there's definitely no way I can complete it without the SW - there's a section for "Children in public care or adopted children who were previously in public care prior to their adoption", and I'd have to supply either a letter from the social worker, a guardianship order, or an adoption certificate. I don't even have a matching certificate, or know when the planning meeting is going to be.

Sounds like I'd better give them a ring. Thanks again, and for the great point about the school secretary!

IsThisOneTaken Sat 06-Sep-14 09:29:16

We did the application with their SW at one of their visits.

We brought them home in late May and were all up for keeping them at home until September in 'order to promote attachment'

Home LA were aware of this and ok with it.

In the end they went to school 4 weeks after we met them (3 weeks after the end of intros)

It was absolutely the right thing for them... They needed people in their life other than me and DH and were upset due to leaving all their old friends/not having new ones.

tethersend Sun 07-Sep-14 15:03:07

In terms of schools applications, it should make no difference whether the child is still in care or has recently been adopted when it comes to priority.

Children in care or formerly LAC are excepted children and do not count towards the infant class size regulations, so should be given a place at your chosen school whether they have places available or not. They should not be placed on the waiting list and you should not need to appeal for a place. This is set out in the admissions code.

The SW can make the school application through the LA of where the child is now; as distance is not a factor when placing LAC and formerly LAC, she should still get a place at your chosen school.

When she starts school is not as clear cut- as she is of compulsory school age, it may be worth talking to the school to see if they would facilitate part time schooling at first, with you home educating for the remainder of the time. It is also worth talking to your LA to see if they have a policy on this which would mean you were able to keep your DD at home without the need for protracted discussion if you felt it was the right thing for you all.

One thing I would say is not to undervalue the 'free play' time at school- this could actually be more important for your DD than the formal literacy and numeracy lessons, so getting a balance of the two is very important. It would also be worth talking to the school about using her Pupil Premium Plus to provide 1:1 tuition at home so she doesn't fall behind.

Good luck with everything smile

MyDogEatsBalloons Sun 07-Sep-14 16:30:50

Thanks again everyone.

Children in care or formerly LAC are excepted children and do not count towards the infant class size regulations, so should be given a place at your chosen school whether they have places available or not. They should not be placed on the waiting list and you should not need to appeal for a place. This is set out in the admissions code.

See, this is what I thought, and raised in a discussion with her current school, but they explained it as that would be the case when applying normally - but in the case of joining in year, the classes will be full, and it's not necessarily the case that they can go over numbers as they'd need an extra teaching assistant. Anyway, even if she does need to be at the top of the waiting list, it's a three form entry, so shouldn't be too long a wait.

^^ I may have all that wrong, of course!blush

Hopefully next week will clarify when introductions are going to be scheduled for, so we have a clearer idea when might be best for her to start school. I don't mind home educating for a bit (it'd be a different story if she were any older!), but this thread has definitely made me rethink keeping her home for as long as possible - I think I'm going to push for half days until I think she's up to coping with more, and that be at my discretion.

MyDogEatsBalloons Sun 07-Sep-14 16:35:43

Tethersend - am I right in thinking the school won't get any PPP funds for her now until next April?

tethersend Sun 07-Sep-14 17:11:37

"they explained it as that would be the case when applying normally - but in the case of joining in year, the classes will be full, and it's not necessarily the case that they can go over numbers as they'd need an extra teaching assistant. Anyway, even if she does need to be at the top of the waiting list, it's a three form entry, so shouldn't be too long a wait."

The school are wrong. Excepted children is a term which specifically refers to children admitted outside of the normal admissions round when the classes are full- otherwise there would be no need for them to be excepted!

Have a look at the code here, section 2.15 (b).

If a LAC or former LAC applied in the normal admissions round, they would get priority so would be admitted before the rest of the class (but after those with statements), and would count towards the 30 stipulated in the ICS regulations. Therefore they are not 'excepted'.

LAC and former LAC should never be placed on the waiting list. They should be admitted.

The school don't understand the admissions code- and TBH, neither do many LAs.

The school will not get any PPP funding until April, but as a vulnerable child, your DD should be able to access the generic Pupil Premium (PPG) funding in addition to the PPP.

MyDogEatsBalloons Sun 07-Sep-14 18:05:00

Oh Tethersend, I think I love you. Thank you so much for that!

tethersend Sun 07-Sep-14 23:10:44

I hope it all goes well smile

blossom101001 Tue 09-Sep-14 19:25:13

My children arrived during the holidays- they have been here for three weeks. The LA and I have agreed that they do not need to start school until after the October half term. We do have some but not a lot of attachment issues which we knew would be a problem for the oldest (5). I think that everyone agreed to the longer bonding time because I am a teacher.

Buster510 Fri 12-Sep-14 09:09:56

Hi there,

DS came home last October, he had just started reception in a school the opposite end of the country from us.

They tied his move in with the week of half term, so he spent the full week off with us then started his new school after the October half term.

There was a bigger delay then we'd have hoped through doing it this way, and I am not entirely sure if it would have affected him any differently if we'd have done it sooner.

But he did settle quite quickly into school, having a different accent etc too he felt 'new and different' for a little while but he's settled.

I hope this helps!

MyDogEatsBalloons Wed 05-Nov-14 11:11:26

Sigh. Well she's been home for two and a half weeks now, and we've been fobbed off by our LA for the whole time. We had to get the placing authority involved, and they've not been a whole lot of help either. The placing authority (200 miles away) have now just come back and told us that ther local school that I want her to go to (actually backs onto our garden) is full and she can't go there, and have offered us our second choice.

Although the second choice is also apparently a good school, it's further away, I've never seen it, and ... well - I want her to go to the school I'm happy with!!, as per everything above!

Apparently the placing authority now want to know on what terms we want to appeal!

We're both going stir crazy here - my husband has gone back to work, she's been off school for three weeks, neither of us are having an easy time being alone together, and frankly I feel like I'm going to snap.

Buster510 Wed 05-Nov-14 11:21:18

DS moved in with us shortly after he joined reception (a school the other end of the country). We had an intro week down south, then he came home which lead into half term. All in all he was off school 2 weeks to spend time with us. He then joined his new reception class after the Oct half term.

Our local school was also full, but as DS was looked after he got priority and a place in the school.. I initially completed the application and SS followed this up with full details. It was our choice for him to go to that school that was left up to us.

I would try to chase this up to be honest, and explain how important it is for her to be close to home etc?, she definitely should be provided with an opportunity to go to that school (as far as I am aware she should get priority).

I hope you get sorted soon I can only imagine how full on it must be the first few weeks in without that little escape for the two of you. It was a real blessing for us both.

SavoyCabbage Wed 05-Nov-14 11:21:56

It might be a good idea for you to start a new thread in Primary education so you can get some help from those posters who know about admissions.

blossom101001 Wed 05-Nov-14 11:35:21

My boys came home in the summer holidays. They only started school today. I filled in the forms- no SW. So they booys had 2 1/2 months at home before going to school. They were more confident to go off today then they would have been if I sent them in September. Even the school noticed how much more confident they were compared to when we visited in September. It was the best decision I made. BTW my boys are in reception and Year 1. They are only doing half days at the moment too.

TheFamilyJammies Wed 05-Nov-14 12:00:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MyDogEatsBalloons Wed 05-Nov-14 14:45:52

Thanks (again) all - I'll post in Primary Education and hopefully get some advice on appealing there.

And it is exceptionally hard going two and a half weeks in so be kind to yourself.

It really really is! She knows how to push all my buttons, yet at the same time be the sweetest little thing!

tethersend Wed 05-Nov-14 19:33:00

Have posted on your other thread smile

RationalSocialist Wed 05-Nov-14 19:57:44

Our LO came to us in January at the age of 5. Reception in our local primary was full, but he was accepted as a LAC. We emphasised the fact that he needed to be part of the local community and to have school friends living nearby was vital in this. The children at the other school that was offered generally go to a different secondary school to those from the local school, so he would be faced with making new friends too many times. Hope this helps a little.

TrinnyandSatsuma Thu 06-Nov-14 15:17:05

Can on,y do short post as not got much time to type, but worth checking admissions policy. My understanding was that LAC get priority, even if a class is full.
Sounds a if things are pretty tough and I do sympathise.

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