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Using a private school in a school shortage (state paid for) ? Is this allowed?

(52 Posts)
cswilliams78 Thu 16-Jun-11 12:55:45


Could really do with some advice. There is a shortage of school places in my local area and quite a few have been (including my DS) have been offered places outside of the area which we are obviously not happy with.

We have attracted the support of our local MP, Andy Burnham also shadow education minister and coverage in the local press, we have also formed a Facebook group to bring those effected together - so a bit of a campaign going.

The council are due to hold a meeting in which they say they are hoping to find 'positive outcomes' for us.

A local private school (which has spaces) have offered to help both the families and the council by offering places to the council at the same cost as they would pay a state school to educate the children (at no extra cost to the families). This seems to me like a brilliant win win solution but I am quite cautious that the coucil will agree to it.

Does anyone have any experience of this or know if it is possible or allowed.


beautifulgirls Thu 16-Jun-11 13:03:39

No idea if this is allowed but I would say you need some guarantee that the school are going to honour this fee agreement to the council until the children finish the school due to outgrowing it. You don't want them bumping the price up next year and then you being forced out when the council will not pay. You also don't want the school asking your children to leave so they can fill up with other children who come along offering to pay full fees. I would also have some concern for the financial situation of the school in the first place and look into that to try and ensure that the school isn't in danger of needing to close down if things don't improve for them.

IndigoBell Thu 16-Jun-11 13:04:09

Sometimes LEAs pay for Statemented kids to go to indep schools, if there is no borough school that will suit their needs....

So certainly there are cases where the LEA pays for kids to go private.....

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 13:12:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 13:15:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cswilliams78 Thu 16-Jun-11 13:32:27

Yes, veritythebrave we are in a town beginning with L. Are you close by?

All very good points you raise, I guess these are the kind of questions that the local council will be asking and considering before making a decision.

I think with the right agreements in place though this can work and although school trips and uiform may be more expensive it will be offset by not having the travel costs of the offered school. The independant school is within easy walking distance and all the other is almost 3 miles away and all the council offer is a bus pass for the child ...nothing for an adult to accompany them and they won't offer a taxi service or reimburse car milage!!

Guess I'll have to wait and see,

mummytime Thu 16-Jun-11 13:33:54

I have to say I would also be worried that the private school was in finacial difficulties (and or was trying to head off an unfavourable assement by the charity commissioners). Not all private schools are better than state schools, I have had friends who have worked at private schools and wouldn't recommend their own schools.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 13:55:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 14:00:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 14:02:51

Have the LA offered places within their borough?

If so I think it highly unlikely they will fund places at a fee-paying school. Just because the schools offered are not in your neighbourhood, does not mean there isn't a place for your child.

In our authority places are very very tight. We have had parents with primary children in 3 different schools, often miles apart in opposite directions.

It is a terrible situation, and I fail to see why authorities have not made arrangements in good time as these children were bron 5 years ago! angry

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 14:11:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 14:54:47

Then I don't think she has a case, sorry. School places have been offered within borough, and that is all a LA is obliged to do.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 18:18:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cswilliams78 Thu 16-Jun-11 19:09:49

Hi just to clarify we are not asking the council to 'stump up' anything over and above, the private school needs full class rooms and we need school places for this reason the owner is offering to provide us places at the exact same cost that the council pay to the state schools to educate our children, all the way through to year 6. As far as I can see it's a win win situation.

You are right the school isn't far and doesn't take too long by car (providing you have a job which allows you to start work after 9:30 and leave before 2:30 and pay enough to pay a mortgage) but there are major issues with the area and the bus is about once an hour, I am not happy with my 60 plus year old mum waiting 45 mins for a bus home in the middle of winter.

There are several very valid reasons why the school is not suitable but I am not going to going into them here, maybe the reasons are irrelevant to people on the outside but to us they are our every day lives and the futures of our children and not in any way irrelevant.

I can understand in some people's eyes we don't have a case but our (very high profile) MP seems to think that we do and the council have stated in the local paper that they are going to have a meeting soon to discuss solutions to the issue and are hoping for 'positive outcomes' for the families involved.

I believe there are 32 of us, so we're not talking about a small oversight here, also we have minutes of a council meeting held in 2009 acknowledging that this would happen and they have done nothing at all about it!


veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 19:20:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

meditrina Thu 16-Jun-11 19:23:55

How far away is the school you have been offered? Is it within same LA? Are there any families who have not been offered a school at all?

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 19:31:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 19:36:47

The fee-paying school do not 'need' full classrooms, they desire them. I would be very wary of a school that actually had vacancies for september as it would suggest to me that it isn't actually up to much! Fee-paying schools in our LA have waiting lists as long as your arm by this point in the year.

The problem is that the funding attached to your children is neede by the schools they have been allocated, otherwise they will struggle to provide the education they are supposed to be providing to those children. How is an underfunding school supposed to improve if it is starved of funding and has to lose staff?

Yes, I appreciate that some schools are dire, but unfortunately the system means either you move to the catchment of a better school, try and improve the one you're lumped with, or fork out for a fee-paying establishment. Another option is the possibilty of a group of like-minded parents get together and fund an extra teacher so their children can be admitted, though that can only happen if there is physically space for them.

I presume you have exhausted the appeal process for your closest school?

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 19:40:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 19:41:45

Sorry- typos galore above, but I'm sure you get the gist.

meditrina Thu 16-Jun-11 19:42:31

If you have been offered schools, then LA has fulfilled its duty and it would be wrong to pay private fees for a bit of additional convenience for a few families.

And I don't think it would be it be "cost neutral", or at least not benignly so - the schools where you have places still have costs to meet. A falling roll means cuts for other children.

peanutbutterkid Thu 16-Jun-11 19:43:56

Officially there are no school place shortages nationally. There may be shortages at desirable schools, but that's different. I suspect you don't have a leg to stand on.

cswilliams78 Thu 16-Jun-11 20:09:16

Swanker just to clarify the fee paying school is very new and trying to establish itself in very difficult times, it has a total role of 8 children, so yes for all kinds of reason it needs full classrooms.

I am not of the opinion that just because something happens to allot of people it is 'right' so therefore will continue to try to get the best for my child and for my family, as I am sure any other mother in my position would.


PanelMember Thu 16-Jun-11 20:14:40

I don't know what (if anything) the law has to say about LEAs buying in places from the private sector. There do, though, seem to be a lot of financial and other issues here.

It's not clear to me what you mean by a shortage of places in your "local area" - do you mean in the LEA as a whole or just in some pockets of it? If there are places available in the LEA's schools, just not in your immediate neighbourhood, I'd be very surprised if the LEA was able or willing to incur yet more cost by buying the places at the private school.

Apart from the cost, I'd also be surprised if any LEA was willing to agree that, because parents find a school unacceptable, they should be bought a place at a private school. In any other situation where parents have rejected the place at the offered school, the LEA would be under no obligation to offer an alternative, maintained school - it would have fulfilled its legal obligation by offering the first place - and would assume that the parents were making their own arrangements (private school, applying in another LEA, home education etc).

If there are 32 families in the same situation, I expect that the LEA's preferred solution will be to create a bulge class or two somewhere.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 21:05:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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