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Moving back to the UK - Told that we are not eligible for a state school place

(22 Posts)
lucyhughes2 Wed 20-Aug-14 19:39:30

Hi I have posted this on another forum here but was told i may have more answers here.

I wonder if anyone can shed any light on this for us.

We are British Citizens and two years ago my husband was offered an inter company transfer to work in the US. This was just for two years and they relocated me and our three children there. He was on a L1 Visa and the rest of us L2.

My sons were attending a British State school before we moved.

Two years have now gone by and we moved back to our old house in the UK three weeks ago.

We have been informed that we cannot apply to a state school as the home office has no record of us. The LEA seem very confused and this has been going on for nearly a month now and we don't seem to be getting anywhere with a decision as to whether our children can start school in September.

I spoke to the LEA before we moved back and they informed us that they would not be able to discuss a school place for our children until we were physically in the country, although we had an address (I can understand the logic of this though) They also mentioned they wanted to clarify with the home office whether there would be any issues with our British children attending a state school as we had been out of the EU for two years. I felt this wasn't necessary due to us not being immigrants and we didn't emigrate. This has delayed our children getting into the local school and within this time a new child has just started so one of the classes for my son is full.

I am not allowed to appeal or apply to a school now until they have a decision from the home office, who i also think are confused.

The person i have been dealing with at the pupil access team really seems confused and doesn't make much sense. He did say they wanted to know what visas we were on when we came back into the country but i kept telling him we didn't need visas to come back, we are still British Citizens!!. This just feels a little frustrating.

Am i missing something here?? Have the LEA got the wrong end of the stick or is it true that we are not eligible for a school place in the UK now we have been out of the EU for two years?. My husband was even paying some UK tax while we were away.

Any help and advice would really be appreciated


ElizabethMedora Wed 20-Aug-14 19:42:46

Sounds bizarre to me. I understand the bit about not applying until you are actually resident at an address in the UK, that's normal, but as British citizens who are ordinarily resident (as of the date of your return) in the UK there should be no issues at all about your children's eligibility for state schooling.

redmapleleaves Wed 20-Aug-14 20:49:10

Sounds bizarre to me too. We moved back from Kenya a year ago, - were paying tax while there - but none of this discussion. (We did have lots of difficulties with doctor's surgery though, - had to take in passports, birth certificates, council tax and the child, to compare with the passport, so I wasn't registering someone elses child - and at that stage the receptionist did say lots of the legislation has tightened up recently.)

If it were me I'd go back to LEA with passports, birth certificates, council tax statement. You're resident and will be paying tax again. Children have a right to education. Alternatively try the Complaints Team in the Council or the PA to the Director of the LEA or your MP? Or even, as it does seem pretty urgent for your kids, why not get the consumer complaints team of a newspaper involved. The Guardian/Observer have a good one, and often a little word via the press office sorts things out miraculously.

mateysmum Wed 20-Aug-14 21:03:35

This sounds bizarre. I assume you were still ordinarily resident in the uk? I don't understand why the Home Office needs to be involved. The reason they have no record of you is because they do not need one! Your residency and citizenship is not in question. You are not immigrants. The question about visas says it all.

I would ask them on what statutory basis they are refusing a place and also be prepared to seek legal advice yourself.

I know plenty of friends who have come back to the U K after more than 2 years out of the EU and have gone straight into a state school.

I think somebody who first dealt with you application has got the wrong end of the stick, set lots of hares running and confused everyone else.

Good luck

papooshka Wed 20-Aug-14 22:14:24

Sounds very strange. We are British citizens and have just moved back. My kids were born overseas but are British citizens and we have easily got spaces for them at the local primary school. We did have to be in the country and have an address but no other questions were asked. We did tell them that we had just moved back but no problem at all.

mateysmum Wed 20-Aug-14 22:33:06

Op look on, there is info on there about admission to schools and nowhere can i find you are not eligible. Your children have a right to an education.

I seriously suggest you start kicking up a fuss. Talk to your MP, talk to the CAB, or a solicitor. Try and talk to the Home office direct and as I said get the LEA to tell you the specific rule that says you are not entitled, not just some bollocks about being out of the UK. If that were true there would be a heck of a lot of uneducated children around.

Deverethemuzzler Wed 20-Aug-14 22:36:00

I don't understand it at all.
I work with families who have no recourse to public funds and their children are given school places.

I think its a paperwork thing with your family. Like they cannot prove you exist.

mateysmum Wed 20-Aug-14 22:41:34

Just seen your other thread. My worry is that as theHome Office have said they have nothing to do with it, they will just put it to the bottom of the pile. You must keep pushing.

mrsmaturin Wed 20-Aug-14 22:46:21

This is absurd. You are now ordinarily resident again and you have a right to be so. You may have recourse against the LEA now because you've been open and honest with them and their ineptitude (because it is inept to fail to understand that children of UK citizens living in the UK are entitled to apply for a school place) has cost at least one of your children a place at your preferred school.

ElizabethMedora Thu 21-Aug-14 07:46:24

Look up the local councillor who is the portfolio holder for Children and Young People/Education. Email them and your MP. THat is going to be the quickest way to sort this out. Someone at the LEA has had "foreign" triggered by the words "moved from the US" and has got some admin seriously wrong...

Hakluyt Thu 21-Aug-14 07:50:47

This has to be a mistake. My brother and his wife moved to the UK after living in Spain for 20 years. He is an Australian Citizen with "indefinite leave to remain" and she is Spanish. Their children are Spanish citizens. They were given school places with no trouble at all.

ThePoisonwoodBible Thu 21-Aug-14 07:55:54

Email your MP and local councillor. If you want to go nuclear contact the Daily Mail (who will love the story but only if you are white middle class).

Cheeky76890 Thu 21-Aug-14 08:03:44

Arrange an appointment with the manager of the pupil access team. Or email/ring him/her.

The person dealing with it has got muddled. You need to go above his head. He's involved agencies that don't need to be involved. You should just be able to put your kids in a state school straight away. Your kids will have birth certificates to prove their British.

raydown Thu 21-Aug-14 08:05:32

Contact the councillor who has responsibility for education and ask them to sort this out. Or contact your MP.

Hakluyt Thu 21-Aug-14 08:10:40

What Cheeky says. This is just a mistake. Honestly.

NewbieChewbie Thu 21-Aug-14 08:38:38

Get your local MP involved. We moved back after a year abroad to a different area and no problems. We were even able to apply for places with no UK address. Once we were offered a place we had 10 days to accept and then we had to have an address and be at school within 4 weeks.

MaudantWit Thu 21-Aug-14 08:51:21

As Admission said on your other thread, this is all nonsense on the LEA's point.

There is no point in going back to the Home Office, because this is absolutely nothing to do with them. If you want a government department's input, you could ask the Dept for Education to confirm that as returning British citizens you are fully entitled to places in a state school. But even that is playing along with the LEA's nonsense!

If you take your case to an admissions appeal, you can point out to the panel that the LEA's mishandling of the situation has cost one of your children his place (according to your other thread). The panel is likely to take a dim view!

lucyhughes2 Thu 21-Aug-14 09:40:05

Thank you so much for your replies.

It isn't just me that thinks all this is bonkers. I spoke to the home office myself and the guy just laughed and said they had no idea what they were talking about.

I managed to speak to someone senior today at the LEA who was lovely and actually listened to me and hopefully understood. Hopefully they will get this sorted soon. She is sending out appeals forms for us today too as the previous guys i spoke to refused.

I have the number of my MP now and have said if she doesn't call me back later today saying it is sorted then this is my next step and the papers if i need to. I agree someone has got carried away there.

Your responses made me cry with relief that i wasn't going crazy (i'm 7 months pregnant and hormonal, ha ha)

Thanks again, the replies gave me some great strength and advice

ohtobeanonymous Thu 21-Aug-14 23:36:04

I would have thought that if your current address is your primary place of residence then your children are automatically eligible for a state school place, be they citizens or not:

Surely there are records of your sons' attendance from their previous British school and copies of your passport and proof of address are enough to convince the LEA you are genuine residents.

Good luck sorting out with the bureaucracy!

HelloLA Fri 22-Aug-14 14:46:52

Once this is resolved, I'd put in a formal complaint about the LEA's pupil access team. There's no excuse for them being so ill-informed and causing you all this legwork. WTF are they even asking the Home Office about? What 'decision' are they awaiting?

Do you have a non-Anglo surname? Just wondering if that's what's prompted some idiot there to start asking about your 'visa' and feeling they need to check with the Home Office. (I have a 'foreign' surname, and have dealt with some similar 'but are you really British?' nonsense.)

tobeabat Fri 22-Aug-14 14:55:50

Definitely go as high and wide as you need, and definitely complain. This it totally bizzare. When you are applying for a school place, you have to prove that you are resident at your address and that your children are yours. nationality, visa status etc doesn't even come into it. Someone has really messed up. I hope it's sorted out for you soon...

insanityscratching Fri 22-Aug-14 14:56:31

Do contact the Local Government Ombudsman with details of your difficulties, when I was having a problem with our LA being deliberately obstructive the LGO did, at least, prompt them to shift the matter forward if nothing else. link here

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