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My son still has no school place - what do I do now?

(13 Posts)
extremepie Mon 08-Aug-11 10:23:10

My DS1 is 4, DS2 is 3 and they should have been starting school (reception & nursery) in September but after much to-ing and fro-ing plus staying on the continuing interest lists and an appeal, they still have no school places.

I am really not sure what to do next.

I've been told to stay on continuing interest, which I am doing, but my HV suggested applying for a funded (15 hours free) place at a private nursery in the mean time.

I've tried this too and the only nurseries near me have no places for funded children. It seems my only option is to pay for places (which I can't afford to do).

My other problem is that even if I can get my DS1 into a private nursery he will have to leave when he turns 5 in Feb.

What do I do! After all the upheaval he's had DS1 is already not keen on school and I don't know if sending him somewhere new for 6 months only for him to have to leave again will do more harm than good? Or is 6 months better than nothing?

I'm so upset by all of this, every time I see school uniforms in shops I just want to cry because my little boy should be doing this with all his friends at the same time and he can't sad

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 10:36:32

I'm sorry, you may have posted a history of this elsewhere, but just for clarification:

Did the LEA offer your DS1 a place in a school somewhere (even if it wasn't a school that you chose)? Or have you never been offered a school place anywhere (for DS1 - there is no requirement for anyone to find a place for DS2 until next year)?

If the LEA has never offered a place, then it is the LEA you need to be chasing, as they MUST by law offer you a school place for DS1 somewhere.

However, if the LEA has offered you a place which you declined, then essentially on your own as they have done their part.

Have you established whether there are any schools in and around your area that you could get to that do have places, or very short continued interest lists? If so, it would probably be better for DS1 to start school at a 'non-preferred school' while you remain on the interest lists of your preferred school than to go to a nursery, from which I should imagine almost all the children of his age will have left.

extremepie Mon 08-Aug-11 12:14:32

I did get offered a school place but it was at a school which is well known for being a bit crappy, is literally miles away from my home and was none of my choices. The distance is the major problem for us because we don't have a car and cannot afford 4+ taxi/bus journeys a day.

There are no schools left in the area with school places now as far as I'm aware sad

Unfortunately the schools for which he is on the continuing interest lists he is number 4 on one and number 23 on the other sad

DS2 did not get offered a nursery place anywhere but, like you said, they are not obliged to.

I just feel completely stuck now as there doesn't seem to be any situation which works out well for my son. At the moment is seems best case-scenario is that he will be in nursery until 5, then possibly start at a different school half way through the year where he doesn't know anyone and will already be behind. sad

That's best case, I don't even want to think about worst (actually worst would probably be that next year,his younger, autistic brother gets a school place before he does, as special needs children have priority!)

It sucks!

titchy Mon 08-Aug-11 12:36:15

You might have been better accepting the crappy place - if the journey is over two miles the LEA would have been obliged to meet transport costs, or provide them itself.

You can either keep him at nursery, home school, or see if the crappy school has places still. Home school might be the best option at the moment if possible for you.

stickytoffee Mon 08-Aug-11 12:40:05

Sounds like an awful situation but the only thing I can add re friendships and starting late is that even if he does get on a list - he is still so little - children of this age are very accepting of new faces. I wouldn't deny that friendships forms quickly but they seem to be in groups rather than 1 on 1. At DS's school a handful of kids didn't start school til January and they were all fine.

Stick it out as once DS1 is in DS2 will follow as long as you don't move.

cjbartlett Mon 08-Aug-11 12:40:47

Blimey poor you

I'd seriously consider moving so you can get him near to a school you're happy with
In the long term sort out the car situation
It sounds untenable where you live not to have your own transport

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 12:42:47

Extreme,

It is tricky, I appreciate that - but then you must have known that this was the most likely outcome when you turned down the original offer of a place. I do sometimes think that the 'illusion' of actual school choice - rather than what it really is, a possibility of expressing a preference - is actively unhelpful in many ways, as it can encourage parents to apply for their 'wish list' of schools and feel hard done by when the reality (that they did not realistically stand a chance of getting into any) comes to pass

Is Home Ed a possibility? Then the time factor doesn't matter so much. Do you know how much movement there is in the continued interest list? At my children's school, for example, it has taken 4 years for a single place to become available (first new child admitted in mid Year 3) but in other areas there will probably be more movement.. And is the school where you are highest also your closest school, in which you have the highest possible position in the continued interest list? If not, I would suggest that you add yourself to the list at those schools where you are highest in the admissions criteria to give yourself the best chance.

If your DS2 gets a school place next year through having a statement of SEN that names a particular school (that is normally the only way that SEN gives priority - simply 'having a special need' does not, it is having a statement that names a school as being the only one to meet a child's needs that will give priority in most admissions arrangements) then that may in fact help as your older child will become a sibling and may get sibling priority!

prh47bridge Mon 08-Aug-11 14:32:30

You are in a very difficult position, I'm afraid. The LA has fulfilled its responsibilities by offering you a place. They are under no obligation to find another place for your older son. However, if the school offered was over 2 miles walking distance away they would have been obliged to provide free transport for your son if you had accepted the place, but I know that isn't helpful now.

All I can suggest is to make sure you are on the waiting list for as many schools as possible, concentrating on schools where your son will be at or near the head of the list.

As teacherwith2kids says, being autistic will not necessarily give your younger son priority for your preferred school. However, she hasn't quite got it right. A statement of SEN naming the school guarantees admission even if the school is full. The school named on the statement must admit the child. Without a statement you may still get priority if the admission criteria include a category for "special medical needs" or similar and you can convince the admission authority that this is the only school for your son. Simply having special needs doesn't give you priority. You have to show that your son's needs can only be served by this school.

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 14:44:52

Apologies for wrong information blush.

I have never lived or worked in an area with a 'special medical needs' category in admissions, so have only been aware of the priority given if a child has a statement naming the school in question as the only one that can meet their needs. Thanks for sorting that out prh - I am the more mortified because I was feeling sorry for the OP because she had been given worng information earlier in this saga where a poster had said that she would get priority in waiting lists and in appeals if she turned down her originally allocated place.

To add some anecdotal information, though - a parent of my acquaintance with a child with a statement for hearing impairment tried to get the statement to name to most popular and over-subscribed school in the area as she wanted her child to go to 'the best school' (and had 2 younger siblings who she wanted to get in in following years). However, this was refused on the grounds that a less popular local school in fact had a long-established and very successful attached hearing impaired unit with specialised staff, and that that school would in fact meet her child's needs better. So the statement named the second school instead, to the parent's fury...

So I hope that I am reasonably right in saying that you should probably research schools for your DS2 carefully, to find the one which would best meet his needs (with or without a statement depending on the admissions categories in your area) - do not assume that your desired school for DS1 will necessarily be accepted as meeting DS2's needs best.

extremepie Mon 08-Aug-11 15:26:14

Fortunately it appears that our closest school (553 metres away!), which DS1 is 4th on the waiting list for also has a special speech and language unit, which would suit DS2 perfectly as he is currently non-verbal.

The main problem is getting into that school and what to do in the mean time! I have no idea about mobility in terms of the list, not sure where I would be able to find that out....

I did actually ask at the appeal if my DS2 would be more likely to get a place at a school of our 'choice' first because of his special needs and they admitted this was quite likely. The other problem is it is more difficult for his special needs to be catered for if he doesn't have a statement, as they need to show evidence that his needs are greater than the average child and how it affects him, and to do this he needs to be in school (or nursery)!

It's very frustrating, in order for him to get into school he needs a statement but to get a statement he has to be in school! Grrrr! Well, he doesn't have to be in school but it's very difficult to gather the evidence necessary to give him a statement without him being in school as they can't observe him properly.

Still not sure if putting DS1 in nursery for 6 months just to take him out again would do more harm than good....

The school they provided a place at was juuuust under 2 miles (by about 70 metres) so they were not obliged to provide transport. There were 2 other (better) schools with places further away but we did not get offered one of those for obvious reasons!

IndigoBell Mon 08-Aug-11 15:33:24

Speech and language units often don't take ASD kids.... The one near me doesn't...... And you certainly won't get into a S&L unit without a statement.

Apply yourself for a statement. If he's non verbal it's not going to be that hard to prove he needs a statement......

teacherwith2kids Mon 08-Aug-11 16:48:26

Is one option for the short term, therefore, to see if the places in the better-but-further-away schools that you mention are still available, and to research cost-effective methods of getting your DS1 there in the short term (2 miles is cyclable, with your DS1 on a tagalong or similar, as my understanding was that your DH is a SAHD so could look after the younger one? You'd just need to find a reasonably safe cycling route.)

It would almost certainly work out cheaper than private nursery.

extremepie Mon 08-Aug-11 20:13:15

You are right, it is certainly cyclable, we don't have a tagalong or similar at the moment, although getting one has been on my list for some time!

My DH is a SAHD but the problem there is that I am usually out of the house as I work part-time and go to college full-time, so we would need a method of getting both kids out with one adult sad

Sadly if we had to pay, private nursery would not be an option as we just can't afford to send both or even one son - it would be about 200 quid a week per child for a full time place.

It is looking more and more likely that nursery won't be an option at the moment, as all of my phone calls so far have come up with 'sorry, we don't take children just for the funded hours, you have to pay full price and get 15 hours discount'. That is just not going to work sad

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