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Please help: didn't get any of our choices - been allocated terrible school over 2 miles away

(42 Posts)
BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 17:13:55

What can we do? There is no way DS is going there. What options do we have? I think I am going to be sick. Please help.

Northernlurker Tue 26-Apr-11 17:17:08

Define 'terrible' school? What are the markers that lead you to say it's terrible?

Aside from that you need to find out where you are on the waiting lists for your preferences and consider if you have any grounds for appealing. You can't appeal on the basis that you don't like his allocated school though.

BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 17:17:56

Fifth worst in entire city.

Can you be on the waiting list for more than one school?

LIZS Tue 26-Apr-11 17:20:21

"worst" as in ? You can be on as many lists as you choose.

Northernlurker Tue 26-Apr-11 17:23:10

Yes you can be on lots of waiting lists. I would urge you to go and look at this school as well though.You may find the Reception provision to be perfectly ok even if you move him in a year o two.

mrz Tue 26-Apr-11 17:25:09

Did you look at this school or are you basing your opinion on Ofsted/other parents?

Runoutofideas Tue 26-Apr-11 17:27:51

Betty - you're in Bristol aren't you? Are you prepared to give a clue as to which school you've been given? Anywhere near St Ursula's? They be will apparently be taking 60 which haven't yet been allocated. Maybe it might be worth investigating if there is a list for that if you are nearby? Otherwise stick your name down on as many waiting lists as you can. You can also look at South Glos or North Somerset if you are near the borders. A friend of mine 2 years ago from Henleaze got a place at Almondsbury for her son. They have since moved there.

Panelmember Tue 26-Apr-11 17:31:18

Ok, here goes. I'll try to make this as short as possible.

1. You can join as many waiting lists as you like. Stories are rife on MN at the moment of LEAs restricting people to a certain number of waiting lists or to the waiting lists of the schools they originally applied for. If they do this, they are in the wrong and you must insist on your rights.

2. The LEA should be able to tell you (if not today then very soon) which local schools (if any) still have places.

3. Where a child does not get a place at any of the schools listed on their application form, they will be allocated a place at the nearest school with a vacancy. If you decline the place you’ve been offered, any other school you are offered is likely to be further away.

4. You can appeal for any of the schools you applied for – or any others – but if this is an infant class size appeal (ie where the school admits in classes of 30) you will win only if you can show that there was an error which deprived your child of a place or the decision to refuse a place was so unreasonable that it should be overturned.

5. Why were you refused a place at your preferred schools – the letter/email from the LEA should provide some explanation?

6. Check that there are no obvious mistakes in the decision: was your child placed in the right admissions category? Was the distance between your home and the school(s) measured correctly and so on?

If you can tell us more, we may be able to help you identify the basis for an appeal but I’m afraid that on the little you’ve said so far, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason for thinking the decision was wrong. The fact that you don’t like the allocated school or that it is one of the weakest in the city doesn’t in itself give you grounds for appeal.

Panelmember Tue 26-Apr-11 17:34:31

Do also remember that a school with less than stellar results may nevertheless be meeting its pupils needs' very well. Comparing schools to their neighbours can often be misleading.

BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 18:51:58

Ok, we did not get a place because 'Unfortunately, your preferred schools are oversubscribed and when the oversubscription criteria were applied, your child did not qualify for one of the available places. I am aware that the school offered is not one of your preferred schools but is currently the nearest school to home with a place available.'

Our first choice has 30 places for reception. DS currently goes to the preschool there and we live 250 metres away. Catchment was 187m.
Second choice (60 places) is 550 metres away, catchment was 440m. Third choice is 440m away, catchment is 400m. So it appears we live in a black hole - 3 schools 550m away or less, and yet we don't fall into the catchment for any. Why is there not some kind of algorithm they can apply to avoid this??

The school we have been allocated was named 5th worst in Bristol in 2009 league tables, based on SATs scores. It is located 2 miles away from our home, in the opposite direction to where both DH and I work, and is one of the most deprived areas in the city and indeed the country. My son's favourite colour is pink. I am not sending him to that school - you can flame me if you want for this opinion, but that is the truth. I will do everything in my power to prevent this from happening for all the reasons mentioned.

Ok, so I will put his name down on all available waiting lists. Will the LEA tell me where we are on lists? Given we are 60 metres outside the catchment for our first choice, I have no way of telling whether we are next on the list or ten away....

If we are offered a place at a school that we consider to be better than the one we've currently been offered, can we take that place and still be on waiting lists for our top choices?

At the moment, we are considering home-schooling while he in on a waiting list, or possibly paying for Steiner kindergarten if we can borrow the money (and get a place!), but how long would we be waiting for a state place? We could only manage this in the short term. I know of two friends in the same boat so we could possibly share some schooling, although this would fall apart as soon as waiting list places became available.

St Ursula's is the opposite end of the city to us, Runoutofideas, but I would consider sending him there if all other options are exhausted.

Northernlurker Tue 26-Apr-11 18:58:49

Steiner is a massive con - your child would be better off in his assigned school than at a Steiner establishment.

Yes you can find out about where you are on waiting lists and afaik yes you can stay on waiting lists even if you accept another place.

Forget about league tables - tis bollocks imo. Go and look at this school anyway and then you'll know based on your own eyes whether it's a possible option or whether you need to home educate instead.

RitaMorgan Tue 26-Apr-11 18:58:56

Did you get Cabot?

What has liking pink got to do with anything though?

Northernlurker Tue 26-Apr-11 19:04:16

I think the OP means her son will be bullied?

BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 19:04:53

We got Greenfield.

He is enough of a target for bullying without sending him to a rough school where teachers have to pick up syringes from the playground every morning before class - this, from an ex-teacher!

BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 19:07:21

Steiner is not ideal, but I'd rather he was there short term than in the assigned school. His birthday is late July, he is young in his year, I don't want to put him through the stress of moving to a massive school in an unfamiliar area temporarily, would rather he went somewhere softer until a place comes up.

Panelmember Tue 26-Apr-11 19:11:20

You can accept whatever place you find that is acceptable to you and remain on waiting lists.

There is no algorithm that could be devised that would give every child a place at their nearest school and still respect the limit of 30 on infant class size places. Patterns of population movement and growth mean that schools are not always in the right places; some LEAs are better than others at planning school provision but it's never likely to be an exact science. Many LEAs do have the sort of no man's land you describe where the nearest school is too far away for a child to be sure of a place there (I live in one).

The LEA should be able to tell you where you are on waiting lists, but this is likely to be fluid for quite some time as people join and leave lists. At any point, people could join the list ahead of you if (eg) they live closer to the school. Remember that your son doesn't have to be in school until the term he's 5, so that may give you time to sort things out.

I really don't understand the remark about pink. I presume you are saying that he's not a stereotypical boy. That's great, but why should it make one school more suitable than another?

MumInBeds Tue 26-Apr-11 19:13:49

For what it is worth I work in a regular pre-school and we have had summer-born children stay with us (15h a week) while on waiting lists for schools and they can stay until their 5th birthday - it doesn't have to be private/Steiner.

Northernlurker Tue 26-Apr-11 19:14:54

Steiner is not soft - it's mental. From their Wikipedia entry 'Both historically and philosophically, Waldorf education grows out of anthroposophy's view of child development, which stands as the basis for the educational theory, methodology of teaching and curriculum. This includes the belief that humans possess an innate spirit that, having passed through previous lives, in the current life develops in a karmically appropriate environment before returning to the spirit world where it will prepare for a future reincarnation.[66] Waldorf pedagogy views the teacher as having "a sacred task in helping each child's soul and spirit grow".[67'
Really - is that what you'd want for your child? Also it's not just about school - there are expectations about the whole of your lifestyle as a family.

Panelmember Tue 26-Apr-11 19:18:26

Just seen your latest posts.

I am not going to flame you. I understand you are upset and you want to know what your options are, but you seem to be muddling some very different issues.

You describe the school as 'rough', by which I imagine you mean that the area or the families whose children attend the school are 'rough'. I don't see, though, that that necessarily means that staff there would tolerate bullying or that the school is less tolerant of difference than one in a more 'select' area. If by 'rough' you actually mean 'socially deprived' then the school's results (which I know you are concerned about) are perhaps 'better' in real terms than those of schools with much more privileged intakes. Have you looked at the contextual value added?

BettyButterknife Tue 26-Apr-11 19:19:47

How does the appeal process work? When can we start proceedings? How long does it take?

I know bullying can happen anywhere (I went to an independent girls' school where it was rife) but I know the schools I want DS to go to, am friends with the other parents, it's our local 'village' school - I feel connected to it and know that he would be relatively safe there. The pink comment may sound flippant but it is representative of the sort of boy DS is, and the sort of things I know kids get picked on for and I want to avoid this - think our local school best bet for this kind of thing.

RitaMorgan Tue 26-Apr-11 19:19:47

I wouldn't want to send my child to Greenfield either.

Bristol's lack of school places (and lack of good schools) is a huge problem. Another possibility might be looking at other undersubscribed schools and seeing if there's one you like better? I know lots of people are very sniffy about Cabot for instance but I've heard great things about the pastoral care etc.

I have friends with children at the Steiner School in Bristol, and while I agree that the philosophy is nutty, it's much less nutty in the kindergarten and gets more so as they get older - so I don't think just doing the kindergarten for a year would be a terrible idea. Not sure how easy it is to get a place though?

Panelmember Tue 26-Apr-11 19:21:35

I've just started a thread on general tips/advice for appeals. Have a look at that.

trifling Tue 26-Apr-11 21:48:02

This sounds drastic, but we have similar problems here, and the only people I know who got anywhere did so by moving - either to very close to the school they wanted, or to a new area with better schools, ideally with lots of kids going private at the last minute so places come up in Aug/Sept. Find out where you are on all the waiting lists, too, obviously.

thecatatemygymsuit Tue 26-Apr-11 22:22:20

Betty, just to say even though I'm in London, we are in the exact same situation as you; I feel your pain. My reaction to the 2 mile away, really rough school we were allocated for dd was to cry, frankly. I just felt she would be eaten alive there.
We have put our name down on all available waiting lists, even for schools as far away but not so terrifying a prospect. I'm new to all this and clueless but hopeful something will come up, even if not our preferred choice.
Good luck!

southofthethames Wed 27-Apr-11 19:24:03

Hey! A friend's DD is at a Steiner school and she is very happy, doing well academically and is a perfectly normal, polite and pleasant child! Really depends on the individual school, you can't generalise!

It is possible that the early education funding your son is entitled to (till he turns 5) can be used at the Steiner kindergarten or some nurseries/preschools that have certification for and can take children up to 6+ or 7. They could well be just private ones. Ask if they will take the funding - it may be just part funded, but, hey, any reduction in fees is good smile

Good luck, I kind of know what you mean, we are kind of in a similar situation. Property catchment area black hole...... this link might help:
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Preschooldevelopmentandlearning/NurseriesPlaygroupsReceptionClasses/DG_10016103

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