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Nobody wants my kids in their school

(54 Posts)
ScummyMummy Thu 01-May-03 09:35:16

So much for my championing of state education! We've heard this morning that our twin scunners have been rejected from 3/5 of the local schools we applied to (and I have absolutely no hope of them getting into the other 2 since they are religious schools and I did not pretend we were religious.) What happens now? I'll ask for their names to be kept on the waiting lists. Is there any point in appealing? Can the LEA now send them anywhere in the borough where there are places left, even if this involves long journeys or separate schools? I'm feeling slightly gutted that this is going to be such hard work. Any words of wisdom?

griffy Thu 01-May-03 09:41:05

No words of wisdom - just commiserations

Jimjams Thu 01-May-03 09:48:06

Why have they been turned down? Are you in one of those catchment blackspot areas? I'd find out where they are on the waiting lists as there's probably a good chance they'll get a place if they're near the top (as those with several offers begin to choose).

I think you can appeal against separate schools- after all your really can't be in two places at once! That happened to twins locally - they were in the paper! They did eventually get places in the same school.

ScummyMummy Thu 01-May-03 09:56:22

They've been turned down because they don't live quite as near as the other kids to the 2 community schools and don't meet the religious criteria of the religious ones. I can't see any grounds for appeal in terms of the criteria being incorrectly applied. There are no other schools in the local area but we live in a huge London borough so I presume they could theoretically be allocated places miles away...

bells2 Thu 01-May-03 10:02:07

Scummy that's awful. We didn't have a place for DS until very recently. We started off on the waiting list but through a lot of phone calls, contact with other parents and DH attending a salsa dancing evening with the headmistress (yes really) have now secured a place. Surely they couldn't send your boys to different schools?

Jimjams Thu 01-May-03 10:02:23

I think theoretically they could, but if they are numbers say 2 and 3 on the waiting list then I would expect them to get a place.

My friend's twins were 2 and 3 on the waiting luist of her first choice school. She was told the only way they could move down the list was if someone moved into the area closer than them before they had been offered a place. Once one had been offered a place the other one would be next even if someone moved closer than them.

Ring the schools and see wherabouts they are on the lists.

WideWebWitch Thu 01-May-03 10:04:36

Oh scummy, what a pain. I don't know what to sugest other than ringing the LEA and asking them what you're supposed to do now. Bells2, blimey about the salsa evening!

Kyliebump Thu 01-May-03 10:22:21

Sorry about your stressful news Scummymummy.

Agree with Jimjams - find out why they weren't offered places and see if their reasons fit in with the stated admissions criteria.

Definately ask as soon as possible for their names to be kept on the waiting lists - these lists can really move quite fast as there will be parents who are being offered places at more than one school (great system isn't it!!) and they will then be dropping out of places. Keep in regular (but not obsessive!)touch with the schools to find out where you are on the waiting list.

I would talk to the LEA about what happens next in terms of securing school places - do they pick up the job from here, or do you need to start contacting other schools to see what is available? Although the LEA has the ultimate responsibility to provide an education, if it is left to that point then the only places available might be miles away from you and in two different schools. The LEA will have fulfilled their obligation to provide education, but not in a practical way - as Jimjams says you can't be at two places at the same time!! Does the LEA have any special admission arrangements for twins?

Sorry Scummymummy but I don't know the age of your twins - are they about to join primary or secondary school? If it's primary an appeal will be unlikely to succeed if the class size is already 30 unless you can prove maladministration in the admissions process. If the class size is not 30 then the argument will be around individual circumstances and whether another two pupils will physically fit into the classroom. If it's a secondary school appeal then I would definately go for it as there is more scope at this level to take individual circumstances into account. I would not count on the appeal being successful though and continue to look at other options in the meantime and then have a major celebration if the appeal succeeeds. Appeals need not be as stressful as they are thought to be (most of the stress is due to the emotive nature of the subject, not the appeals process itself) - I've been on both sides of appeals in the past and have had more serious reservations about joining in some mumsnet threads than appearing at an appeal!!

Have another think about some of the schools that you didn't apply to the first time. Although none of them were your first (or fifth!) choice, there will be some that fall into the 'well it's better than nothing' category, and others that fall into the 'absolutely no way on earth' category. Get the twins names on the lists for any of the 'better than nothing' schools - if a place comes up you can always turn it down at a later date if one of your 5 comes through for you.

Just a word of caution having worked for an LEA - many parents at this point threaten to keep their children out of school unless a place at their preferred school is offered. This is fine if you are happy to home-ed and this is a practical option for you, but if not then you can still make the threat and see if the extra pressure helps to get the place, but at the same time explore other options so that you have your least worst option as a fall-back - does that make sense. I just know of many cases where parents have held out for the preferred place, threatened to keep out of school, still don't get a place, can't keep out of school and then at the last minute have to accept the final option given to them by the LEA.

Sorry this is long - I always seem to go on and on and on when it comes to LEA admin stuff - must get a life!!

WideWebWitch Thu 01-May-03 10:29:45

Scummy, don't know if this will help or not, but the dfes site with the bit about admissions is here It seems to be saying you should appeal but you've already said you don't think that's likely to work. Let us know how you get on.

Jimjams Thu 01-May-03 10:31:22

Oh scrummy- if you live near an LEA border have a look at schools in a different LEA as well. DS1 is going to school in a different LEA- no admin problems - and he'll have a statement which will specify full time one to one.

Twink Thu 01-May-03 11:15:49

Oh, Scummy what a complete pain for you and them. There's a website here which has quite a lot of info on it which may be of help. Good luck.

Kyliebump, I started a thread yesterday asking for help/advice on secondary appeals, please could you have a look as you seem to have a lot of experience (don't want to hijack Scummy's thread)

Marina Thu 01-May-03 11:27:53

Oh Scummy, London is such a nightmare for schools admissions . No words of wisdom (other than that I think Kyliebump is absolutely right and the LEA will think it quite in order to shoehorn them - separately if necessary - into schools anywhere in its area) but huge commiserations.
Is there no chance at all that given your lack of luck with the community schools, you might be considered higher priority for a foundation place at one of the two church schools? I ask this because most church schools have some places allocated for local children of "different faith or none", and our local CofE primary allocates these specifically to people nearby who have been unlucky elsewhere or just arrived in the borough because of refugee etc status. It might be worth a begging approach to either of them...

janh Thu 01-May-03 13:29:13

Scummy, no helpful advice but lots of sympathy, I'm not surprised you are gutted. Hope you are near the top of the waiting list and can get them in to a school you want!

Batters Thu 01-May-03 14:36:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ScummyMummy Thu 01-May-03 15:09:35

Thanks so much for your thoughts and commiserations, everyone. I'm afraid a phone call to the local authority has not filled me with confidence though. It seems that I must just wait and see what happens with the waiting lists in the next month or so and try not to panic. Hmm, will do then.

Kyliebump- please don't get a life! Your wisdom on these sorts of problem is utterly invaluable and just now I very nearly suggested to poor Gary from Westminster Schools Admissions office that he log on and have a read of your posts if he wanted to know what sorts of thing he should be saying! My twins are due to start primary reception in 2003/04 and and part of the problem is that we are in a part of the borough where 7 out of the 9 local primaries are religious and we are not. I was therefore in a bit of a quandry when applying since the 2 that are not religious are not our nearest schools. In the end I applied to two C of E schools because they are very near to our house, one C of E school because I thought it was a really lovely school, and the two community schools, one of which is also IMO a really lovely school. I didn't apply to one C of E school because I missed their deadline, which was different from the others and didn't apply to the remaining 3 religious schools as they are consistently MASSIVELY oversubscribed. Basically we've been refused places at the C of E schools because as a non-religious family we come very low on their criteria list and I did expect that. But we've also been turned down by the community schools because places were allocated on a siblings first then distance criteria and there are people nearer than us. I wouldn't have thought that needing places for 2 children at once helped any either but as far as I can see the criteria have been correctly applied and I therefore have no grounds for appeal since legally they can't take more than 30 into the class and must take the first 30 to meet their criteria.

So I'm not really sure what to do next, given that it isn't the case that we've rejected any of the local schools in an "over my dead body" way- in fact I was pretty impressed with all the schools I went to visit and, though I certainly have a mental hierarchy for an ideal world, we would be happy for the boys to attend any of these 9 local schools. What I really, really, really don't want is for them to have to attend a school that is not in the local area, since getting them to somewhere a bus ride away and then getting ourselves into work would be a nightmare and, perhaps even more importantly, I want them to be able to make friends with kids who live nearby, walk to school on their own in due course etc etc. As for two separate schools two separate bus journeys away and probably in opposite directions... well it's best not to even start thinking about that or I may have to join the "smoking again" thread!

So I'll just have to hope that lots of parents have been offered multiple places and that patiently keeping them on every waiting list will eventually pay off. It should at least be clearer who's accepted places where in a couple of weeks time.

Thanks again, everyone. Sorry this is so long!Posting all about my woes has certainly made me feel a bit better, anyway.

Kyliebump Thu 01-May-03 15:49:53

Scummy - the only other thread I'm on at the moment is the "I'm a Celebrity.." one - are you still sure I don't need to get a life??!!

If your twins names are down at all the local schools then just sit tight for a couple of weeks and then see where they are on the waiting lists as schools should know by then which parents have accepted the places offered. There is so much movement in the first couple of weeks, it's unbelievable. This might sound stupid but make doubly sure that the schools know you want to be on the waiting list (and for two places) - don't assume that they will automatically put you on the list if you didn't get offered a place(s) - spell it out to them!!

It might be worth asking the LEA which schools currently have vacancies and think about whether to get their names in there as a fall-back. Might also be worth looking at the local bus routes etc to see if any journeys are less ridiculous than others, and get their names down on the lists at those schools to.

Whereabouts are you in Westminster? I actually have a bit of experience of Westminster and am very curious about the schools in question - you don't have to tell me if you don't want to - I keep my location anonymous for fear of my LEA background coming back to haunt me!!

Please let us know of any progress and good luck.

By the way Tinker, I'll respond to your thread asap.

Kyliebump Thu 01-May-03 15:52:03

Sorry, meant Twink, not Tinker.

MABS Thu 01-May-03 16:04:37

oh Scummy - no advice , just major sorries and keep us posted.

chanelno5 Thu 01-May-03 16:16:43

Really sympathise, scummy. I've had problems with getting my kids into schools too in the past - it is a total nightmare! You sound like you're doing the right things - definitely get their names on the waiting lists as places can, and do, become available as time goes by. And why not appeal too, can't do any harm and then at least you will have done all you can. Hopefully, with them being twins, that should strengthen your case. Hope you get things sorted soon.

miriamw Thu 01-May-03 16:29:27

Scummy, sorry that you're going through this. We're in funny catchment area too - there are 6 schools around us, any of which I would be happy with, but we're not that close to any of them. My neighbour got rejected by all of them, but then 2 weeks later got an offer (co-incidently from her particular favorite). Could either of the community schools let you know a) where you are on the list; and b) whether that would have got you in last year. It may help during the "sweat it out" period.

Tinker Thu 01-May-03 16:29:29

Scummy, hope you get good news. My daughter was rejected from 3 of my 5 choices but days before due to start got called up by 2 of them to say she had a place. She was about 16th on the list. Good luck

tigermoth Thu 01-May-03 19:13:30

scummy, agree with all those who say keep phoning. Make sure each and every one of your chosen schools know you want to stay on the waiting list. Ring every few weeks. Find out where you are on the list each time. Remind them that you have twins, so if two places come up you will get offered both. Take the name of the school secretary, keep a dairy of conversations. Above all, don't give up hope.

My oldest son has got into two primary schools after being on the waiting list. In each case we were told he had little chance of a place. We waited, we phoned, (we didn't go as far as bells dh and salsa with the head and hey presto we got a place in the end. Some families move away and forget to tell the school, some families don't bother to confirm they have a place elsewhere. I get the impression that lots of decisions are made in the last few weeks before term begins - or especially at the end of the previous term before the secretary goes on holiday. Ask when the busy time is for each school. Keep phoning right then. Ask when the school office is open during the holidays, too. We were offered a place right at the last minute - a week before term began. A friend who was on the waiting list for longer than us but had not phoned to check was not offered a place -her name had just disappeared. You are not being pushy by phoning every so often, you are just making sure that the busy secretary faced with these ever changing lists has not forgotten you.

My son has been on the waiting lists of 4 or 5 other schools but we didn't phone because these schools were not our first choice. We didn't bother to ever phone to check on progress. We were never offered a place at any of them.

Also remember, at the start of term, it's possible that some pupils just don't materialise. (This happened to me - I wanted to do a college course but it was full up until the first day saw a no-show and I got in by the skin of my teeth)Schools have to wait 2 weeks, I think, before offering the place to another pupil. Check this with your LEA. So even if your sons start going to a school that's not high on your list, keep phoning the other schools the first few weeks of term to see if there have been any drop outs.

If the worst happens and you are faced with a bus journey to a distant school, remember it may be for only a term or less even. School places do come up IME remarkably often. Keep phoning those schools!

Kyliebump has said this and much more useful stuff, so I'll stop rambling.

Sorry that your twins path to school is a rocky one at present but keep optimistic, scummy. It will work out.

Claireandrich Thu 01-May-03 20:02:24

Rhubarb - I also object to being told that I don't care about other people. If that was the case I wouldn't stick teaching in the school I do, where I am verbally abused on a daily basis, and have evn been physically abused whilst 7 months pregnant. If I didn't care about the education of children at my school (okay, maybe not the ones who cuase me so much grief or actually try to injure me as much) I would b out. I don't have to work. I choose to becuase I care about what I do. However, after my experience at this school I am just not prepared to risk putting my child in such an environment (and my local catchment school is not a good one at all). If you had seen the disruption caused in classes because of these children then you may undertsand. I know most people know that it happens but do they all really understand how bad it can be. And, please don't think that it is just me who has these problems. It is almost every teacher in my school, regardless of age or gender or experience. These children (and often their parents too) have no respect for us or even the head. I can't risk disturbing DD's education if I can help it.

If I had a chance of getting DD into a good school then I would - it'd save me money. But we don't. And the chances of affording a house on the better houses are unlikely in the near future. So, I choose to pay for a school rather than a dearer house. I don't see much difference, except that there is one less space being used in the state school for someone who needs it.

Claireandrich Thu 01-May-03 20:03:33

Sorry guys - wrong thread. How did it get here???

Batters Thu 01-May-03 20:07:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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