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School place outside of borough query(6 Posts)
Having made it through a long and gruelling approval process we are now in the matching process and have been shortlisted for a few children, waiting to hear more in January.
A few of the LAs (we are with a national agency) demand that the school our child would go to is at least Ofsted rated Good and preferably Outstanding. Sadly, this rules out the very popular, supportive and nurturing local primary within walking distance of our home - I had wanted our future child to go here not just because of its ethos but because I felt going to the local school was important for integration etc. The school has been downgraded from 'Good' this time because it does not stretch its most able learners. The children we have been shortlisted for have significant SEN and delay and are borderline mainstream/SEN school. It's a very popular and much-loved school and I feel disappointed that it is effectively ruled out.
Our nearest, potentially good/supportive 'Good' or 'Outstanding' school is walkable but across the boundary line in the next borough. We live in a crowded urban area, anyone have experience of a LAC getting a place at a school of choice even if it is out of area?
We will need to look at schools more closely in January when they open again, so any advice welcome when it comes to speaking to LA's, our own LA was quite pushy about where they might allow the child to go although when pressed on it admitted that a LAC was 'category A' but still insisted they would only be given a place at a school where there were already places...
While they might insist that your potential child attends a 'good' or 'outstanding' school, once the child is placed, you will be responsible for these type of decisions. Friends of ours were also told this, and expected some support to find a school of the required rating, but once their children were placed, they were on their own and told to accept at a 'requires improvement' school quite far away that they did not like. In the end they found another 'good' school that suited them. Our ds was offered a place at an 'outstanding' school, but is at an 'ri' school as it suits his special needs better. Note how I have used inverted commas to describe the schools: as you know, ofsted are only one opinion and there may be other factors that make different school suitable for your child.
At matching panel you will need to be able to talk about the schools you have looked at and show that you have thought about which might suit your child. A school won't be in a position to offer you a place until the child is placed with you anyway, so no permanent decisions need to be made before panel.
As for the out of borough school, your child will be given priority for school places when applying. If your child is already school age and the school is full, they are allowed to go over numbers for an adopted child. Some schools are prepared to do this and some aren't. You may have to appeal if the schools you really want won't go over numbers (but do you really want a school that is not prepared to put itself out for your dc?). It may be that when you are matched, certain school stand out as more suitable than others.
You seem to be doing the right thing by visiting then schools. Just be ready to talk about them and say what you have said about your local school at panel. Visit the 'outstanding' one and I that's what they want, have a sensible discussion with them about why you prefer the other school. Use the ofsted report and your visits and what you know about the child to make a case for the local school.
Good luck and I hope you get a match soon.
As your future child/ren will have been in care you will get priority of whichever school you want them to go. However, if the local authority have these rules about the type of school that the child will go to then they may decide to dictate which school that is, or what selection of school this can be while the child is in their care. This is not something I have heard of before.
I would GUESS:
If the child is not yet school age, don't worry, once adopted social services will not be able to tell you where to send your child.
If the child is school-age already or just about to start school you may want to look at all the possible local schools with the child in mind. EG are they into music, are they into art/drama/sport etc and which local school may match their interests best.
Once you have looked at all the local options make a decision based on what you think is really best for the child you will be parenting and then talk to the social worker about what seems to be the case and what they recommend.
I would say your social worker may well know very little about the child but the child's social worker may know more, if you can persuade their social worker (or your social worker) that a certain school is better then you may have a chance, but if it is rule, you may have to go along with it.
Please bear in mind that schools can change and it may well be that the lovely local schools gets 'better' in the eyes of Ofsted, or that another falls from glory!
Be aware also that small schools are not always best for adopted children. Being very close to your house may or may not be great, it could go either way. It may also be that the other schools which Osted approves of in the area are actually quite good.
Re * I had wanted our future child to go here not just because of its ethos but because I felt going to the local school was important for integration etc.* Just be careful about the assumption that what you had thought about a 'mythical' future child may not be best for a real life future child - it might be, it might not be. If you appear very rigid on this you can expect the social workers to maybe feel a bit defensive of their rules or whatever. However, if you come across as open and exploring then you may find they end up agreeing with you if this local school really would be best for your new child.
Finally, once your child is adopted if they are not happy at the local school you take them to or if they are not thriving there then if it is not working out for the child you can move them. Early in school careers the moving about is not such a big issue but as they get older it will be more important for them to find a suitable school and build a group of friends etc., IMHO. So it really does depend if we are talking about 4 or 5 or 8 or 9 or 13!! etc. I would say the older they are the more important it is to try not to make too many moved but if a school is not working and a child is not happy etc then moving is a choice, and once the child is legally in your care it will be your choice.
Cross posed with slkk, who said much the same as me in fewer words!
As pp have said once the child is place due, you can not be forced to send them to a particular school.
I would be smiling and nodding to the SW's in all the right places.
Personally, I don't think you can choose a school for a child you haven't yet met so I would suggest you visit your short list and then make the choice once you know more about your child and their needs.
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