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or just overly entitled? school places...

(54 Posts)
kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 20-Aug-13 06:25:09

We moved back to the UK last week. A month or so ago, I applied for a school place for our 12 YO DD.
The day after we arrived, me and DH visited the council offices to see which school she'd been allocated to. The man in the offices told us he didn't know, but could we go to one of them and ask.
We did. The school itself didn't know since the admissions officer was on holiday, which in my opinion is ridiculous.
Yesterday, we went to county hall. A round trip of 140 miles. We found out that DD 'may' be placed by the end of September. That is a whole month after school starts.
So, AIBU to think I should know where she is going for the next five years.

RegainingUnconsciousness Tue 20-Aug-13 06:33:59

Don't people normally apply for school places about a year in advance?

And the school admissions people will still be on holiday till the beginning of September.

waltzingmathilda Tue 20-Aug-13 06:34:28

Quite normal. Schools are closed at the moment and 99% of the LA staff will also be part time/term time employees. A couple of casual admissions and transfers will not make it worthwhile employing people just in case.

You will know where she is going for the next five years, eventually.

But of course you could have started the whole process much earlier.

HotCrossPun Tue 20-Aug-13 06:37:23

I think YABU.

If for some reason you couldn't get round to applying until a month ago then you should have been chasing it up before you got to the UK.

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 20-Aug-13 06:37:38

No, I couldn't have started it any earlier. We were living overseas and made a late decision to return to these shores.
We'll just have to suck it up I s'pose.

englishteacher78 Tue 20-Aug-13 06:40:19

I would say should, not could. Schools operate with just a skeleton staff in the Summer - with key people in for the two results days. Admissions officers have most of their work September to when places are offered (and then dealing with appeals). This is the best time for them to be on holiday.
YABU everyone's entitled to a holiday.
However, I find it strange that was the advice the council gave you. Is this because most of your local secondaries are academies?

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 20-Aug-13 06:44:10

Neither are academies. From what I can work out, there is a lot of movement in this county, so school places are in short supply.
I know IABU, but my DD is a worrier. I would have liked to have got her uniform sorted out before she starts and had her meet her peers on the first day. Especially since she will be entering Y8.

antimatter Tue 20-Aug-13 06:51:27

I think you interpreted is wrong - if there's a lot of movement in the county there will be places freed in the first weeks of September - you are likely to get a phone call that the school place is available and please come and join tomorrow in around 3 weeks time

entitled - not sure, perhaps you were unaware how the system works, because you apply in october year previously for a place in Y7, you didn't tell us which year your dd is going to

mummytime Tue 20-Aug-13 06:52:25

She will not be starting school on the first day of term in September. I'm sorry but you will have to accept it (then if amazingly a place becomes available it will be a bonus).

Your DD will also not necessarily be going to either of those two schools you expect, she could end up being transported miles or at one in another county. You may also need to appeal to get her a place.

It will be further complicated as I believe waiting lists are being held by schools from this autumn.

Sorry but the way school admissions work in England is not very friendly to mobility, but is the best that can be done with no money for any excess places. Like most things in England it works out pretty well in the end, but you need patience.

DropYourSword Tue 20-Aug-13 06:54:25

I can see exactly where you're coming from and I don't actually think YABU to want to know where your child will be going to school. Moving countries is incredibly stressful, and so is starting a new school. Of course you want to know where she's going so you can start to prepare.

Yes, everybody is entitled to a holiday also, but I would have thought that maybe some sort of holiday cover could be arranged so that these queries could still be answered. Not every one lives in a perfect world where they can plan things out 12 months in advance!

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 20-Aug-13 06:54:41

Noooooooooo smile. As I've said, I know IABU, but she's my only child. In the past, she's attended DHs schools (he is a teacher), so it was all taken care of in advance. This time it isn't.
I can't even get her some uniform. All the schools wear very different colors.

IrisWildthyme Tue 20-Aug-13 07:06:08

When you only applied a month or so ago? Yes YABU.

Why on earth are you going in person? I know that getting through by phone is a nightmare but going in person doesn't get you to the top of the queue for attention any quicker, and going in person isn't going to magically make a school place become available.

Dial back on the stress a little, it's not helping anyone. Your DD needs some time to adjust to the UK anyway, and once she starts school it's going to be an unremitting exam-oriented slog for the next 5 years so this could be her last month or two of freedom and real childhood, it should be cherished not frittered away with fretting. Starting this year a little late isn't going to do her any harm, spending extended periods with two parents who are stressed out really is.

If one of you or DH are able to stay at home, plan for what educational and interesting things you could do with her between now and the end of September - also allowing her the time and freedom to explore on her own within reason. If there is no choice but for you both to work, then investigate other non-school-based childcare options - I bet you could find an amazing "lets-not-call-her-a-nanny-because-this-child-is-12-for-heaven's-sake-so-lets-call-her-an-aunty" who could take her on adventures and give her a brilliant couple of months until the school situation is resolved.

As far as the schools go - phone up once a week to see if there's an answer yet, and if there's no answer within 6 more weeks then start writing to the local paper/your MP/any other authority you can think of to complain, but stop with the 140mile round trips!

antimatter Tue 20-Aug-13 07:09:23

all staff return to school within the last week of school holiday - start phoning schools after Monday Bank Holiday

LoremIpsum Tue 20-Aug-13 07:11:42

Kreecher, I get where you're coming from. Where we live now, if you're in a school's zone, your children have a place at that school. It would be inconceivable to not know where, or even if, your child would be allocated a place in, well everywhere I've lived, except the UK.

There's so much I miss living away, but the crazed system that is education in England is not one of them. The threads about them on MN are often this weird mix of desperation and exhaustion on one side and an odd air of censure from the other side. It all seems terribly stressful and divisive.

waltzingmathilda Tue 20-Aug-13 07:17:02

There is a lot of movement in Y7 right up until October half term. Although your child is going into Y8, that (and Y9) are incredibly low birth cohorts country wide) there really shouldn't be a problem getting her into a school of your choosing.

But by the time the school/s have interviewed you both and made an offer it won't be too long.

mummytime Tue 20-Aug-13 07:33:57

State schools are not allowed to interview, if they have a place they have to offer it to the person at the top of their criteria/only applicant.

LIZS Tue 20-Aug-13 07:36:40

Agree you'd be better calling next week when dust has settled form holidays and exam results.

iloveweetos Tue 20-Aug-13 07:37:35

I applied for schools a month before DD started and it's mostly about luck. Keep ringing the admissions in the council and email too. Good luck

waltzingmathilda Tue 20-Aug-13 07:49:21

Ours do - perhaps interview is the wrong word? 'family chat' to ascertain if there are any issues at home, whether any support is needed, the personality of the child concerned, and find an appropriate pupil for him/her to shadow for the first couple of weeks.

I forgot, everyone is so literal on these forums

gazzalw Tue 20-Aug-13 07:56:10

Thursday is GCSE results day is it not? Why don't you see if you have more luck with the Admissions bods at the Council then? Worth a shot and may get you further on in knowing where your DD may end up going to secondary school....

Good luck! Lower birthrate or no, I still don't think there's much 'slack' in secondary school places anywhere, unless the schools are particularly poor.

englishteacher78 Tue 20-Aug-13 07:57:29

The reason students don't just go to their nearest school is there was a demand for 'choice'. Which actually results in stress and not much choice - but that discussion/argument is for another thread!
I hope you get the news you want soon, but it's GCSE results on Thursday so I wouldn't expect anything before then.

grumpyoldbat Tue 20-Aug-13 08:17:10

Whilst I know you have to accept it because that's the way it is I don't think you are being entirely unreasonable. The more I read about it the more I think the English schools admission system is horrible, stressful and inefficient. I don't think it's good that there are children not knowing if or where they'll have a school place until well after the school term starts. Here all children are automatically entitled to a place at their local school. You can choose to put in a placing request which depends on places being available.

marriedinwhiteisback Tue 20-Aug-13 08:19:58

Isn't it better to take this in a careful measured way than to accept the first offer because you want to buy the uniform? Also, aren't the authorities obliged to provide an education? I think I'd work this from a different angle and just send a little letter to say you understand how pressed everyone is but you would be grateful if they would please confirm what arrangements they will be putting in place to do so pending the offer of a place for your daaughter.

NarkyNamechanger Tue 20-Aug-13 08:25:57

Also even though you applied a month ago, the would have only considered your application once you'd actually moved and became eligible. So after a week YABU.

We applied for our son's next school on time, in catchment and still had to wait a month after all places were allocated ( 6 months after application) to receive a place at his much wanted school.

RegainingUnconsciousness Tue 20-Aug-13 08:30:10

Grumpyoldbat, normally applications are made a year in advance. This is only a problem because the op applied just before/during the holidays.

She's not going to change the education system with this. god knows we've been trying from the inside for decades

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