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Whats the law about keeping child at home whilst waiting for school place

(11 Posts)
MerryMo Sun 21-Dec-14 10:45:08

We have to move (300 miles)at very short notice and will be in January.

As soon as we knew we were moving we contacted a few schools regarding spaces. Our nearest (one of 2 in our catchment and seemingly the "better" school) got back to us middle of last week to say they they didnt think they had any spaces in my sons year group (yr 9) but that may change after Christmas and to come and look around and then they would give us an application form. That is the only way they allow in year admissions.

My husband is already where we are moving to (started work in the area last Monday) and had an appointment to go and view the school and apply for a place last friday (last day if term). They cancelled first thing in the morning and we have rescheduled for the 1st week of term (which means we can all go, so better apart from needing to make a 600 mile round trip 3 days before we move house).

However, when we read the small print for the admissions criteria,it says all applications for in year spaces are considered at a meeting once a month (last week of the month).

This means that they won't even consider our application for 3 weeks after we have moved house. This means our child will be at home for the whole of January (1st week of term at current school until we move) whilst we just wait to see if they can offer a place.

Obviously, this is far from ideal but What is the actual law in these situations?

We could apply for a place at the other school which we are not keen on. Poor Ofsted and I have been in touch with several people with pupils at the school and only 1 out of 7 parents say they are happy with school. The brand new OFSTED also makes depressing reading tbh.

1 other school out of catchment but commutable has also advised they are full.

Not sure what to do. Start child at "not so good school" school initially and move if we get a place at so say "better school". Or hold on for a month to see if we get a space at the nearest and so say "better school" but risk having lost a month if they cannot offer a space.

Any words of wisdom and legally what is the law if we dont send our child to school whilst waiting?

Finishing Sun 21-Dec-14 14:03:46

As a parent it is your duty to provide and education to your child which is suitable for their age and ability, either by sending them to school or otherwise. (Education Act 1996, S7)

What you are suggesting is home educating your son for a while until he can get a place at the preferred school, which is entirely reasonable and possible. MN has a home ed section with more about different styles and approaches.

When I applied for school for DS2, he was home educated (he was 5) and I only applied to the school we wanted, stating on the application that he was HE and doing fine at home and we would rather wait for the right place, so don't offer us somewhere else.

educationotherwise.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&Itemid=2
Here is a link for Education Otherwise who are a home education orgaisation.

MerryMo Sun 21-Dec-14 15:31:25

Thank you Finishing. I will take a read.

prh47bridge Sun 21-Dec-14 15:50:48

You are very unlikely to get into trouble for keeping your son at home while you wait for the school to decide whether or not to offer you a place. However, if they don't offer a place you will either have to HE as Finishing suggests or accept a place at another school. Taking a place at another school will not affect your son's position on the waiting list for your preferred school.

Hedgehogsbuzz1 Sun 21-Dec-14 19:17:41

It's perfectly acceptable to home educate till a space arises. Home ed is a very vague term and you could really use the time for him to follow some interests/projects (musical, sport, artistic, languages) and read lots.

AugustRose Sun 21-Dec-14 19:38:42

My DS left one school at the end of year 9 and we were told there was no place for him at another school to start year 10. We had to wait for an appeals process to take place so he wasn't in any school for the first 6 weeks of the new term until the other school could take him.

I got plenty of approriate stuff online and he covered what they would be covering in history so he wouldn't be behind, he did maths and read lots.

Saracen Sun 21-Dec-14 19:58:47

The simplest option is to home educate while you wait to see whether you'll be offered a place at your preferred school. Legally, this is very straightforward. You do not have to get permission from anyone or go onto a register. There are no mandatory inspections or required subjects.

For a short time home educating, it might be OTT to go out and buy books for lots of different subjects. You could do some project-based work, or get to know what your new area has to offer by visiting some museums and historical sites. You could focus on an area you feel your son needs to catch up on, or branch out and let him enjoy something which appeals to him which wouldn't normally be covered at school, such as architecture or robotics or the statistics relating to cricket.

If you end up doing home ed for longer, then you can get in touch with other HE parents and have a think about how you'd like to tackle it. There are many approaches.

Saracen Sun 21-Dec-14 20:14:51

"However, when we read the small print for the admissions criteria,it says all applications for in year spaces are considered at a meeting once a month (last week of the month).

This means that they won't even consider our application for 3 weeks after we have moved house. This means our child will be at home for the whole of January (1st week of term at current school until we move) whilst we just wait to see if they can offer a place."

I don't understand this; can any admissions experts explain? I thought a school with a vacancy was obliged to offer a place to any child who wanted it, with a few exceptions such as children who've been excluded from several schools already. Either they have a vacancy or they don't - though I do realise they may not know for sure until January. If they have no vacancy then they can't accept the OP's child unless the LA directs them to. If they do have a vacancy then they must offer it to whichever child on the waiting list meets their admissions criteria most closely, which is meant to be a straightforward and transparent process.

So what's with the meeting?

whereismagic Sun 21-Dec-14 21:59:50

A boy I know of spent almost 2 months at home while his parents tried to find him a place at a decent school. London is like that at secondary level.

prh47bridge Sun 21-Dec-14 23:30:22

I thought a school with a vacancy was obliged to offer a place to any child who wanted it

Where a school is its own admission authority the Code specifies that applications must be considered by the governors or an admissions committee appointed by the governors. So this school is complying with the Code. Personally I think this requirement is over the top if the school has a vacancy and only one applicant but it is what the Code specifies.

Saracen Wed 24-Dec-14 19:49:17

Ah I see; thanks prh!

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