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LEA - can they remove our place?

(22 Posts)
MakkaPakkasWilly Thu 18-Aug-11 13:07:19

Hi All!

Ok - I had some questions about my DS starting school next month (breakfast clubs, start dates etc etc), so I tried the school and they (obviously, doh) are shut, so I tried the LEA thinking maybe they can help.

They asked me to confirm my address etc, which I did, and they said 'that's not the address we have for you', and I said 'oh you might have my old one, which is blah, but I sent you a letter a while back changing it'.

They then got really shirty with me saying that I should have called them, not sent a letter (?!) and that I am not entitled to keep the place as it was offered when we lived at a different address, and even though I said I told them by letter they wouldn't let me get a word in edgeways and said that they would 'investigate' me and call me back later.

So I'm a bit upset and confused...
what does this mean?
Can they withdraw our place with only 3 weeks til term starts?!
I sent them a change of address letter, but I didn't send it recorded (who does?!) so I can't prove I did. Is this likely to be an issue?
What will happen? Will he be offered another school?
Can I appeal?
Can I still go on the waiting lists fairly?

I have emailed nursery to ask if worst comes to worst can he stay on there until I get this mess sorted out, but I suppose I just want to know my rights really! Even if I don't have any?
I get a bit babbly and confused on the phone and I want to be armed with the right information before I get all wobbly on the phone again!!

I just don't understand the system and I am afraid I will smile and nod to whatever they say when actually it may help me to be armed with some actual policies/facts etc.

I am in Ealing LEA btw!

prh47bridge Thu 18-Aug-11 14:03:25

When did you move? Was it before or after you received your offer?

If it was after you received your offer you are definitely safe. They cannot take away your place just because you have moved.

If it was before the offer that becomes more complicated. They can take away your place if they believe you did not report a change of address and you would not have got the place based on your new address. However, if you would still have got the place even if they had used the correct address they cannot take the place away.

You can definitely appeal if they take the place away. The problem is it could then become your word against theirs unless you can find some proof that the council is aware of your new address. Note that it doesn't necessarily have to be the admissions team, so a council tax demand to your new address would be evidence that you have told the council of your move. It is then up to the appeal panel to decide whether or not you have done enough to tell the council of your new address.

I would be very surprised if the council were able to win an appeal if they take the line that you should have rung with your new address instead of writing to them.

MakkaPakkasWilly Thu 18-Aug-11 14:15:38

prh47bridge thanks for the response!

I moved before the offers were made (I think we moved end of april, and the offers were the first week of May if I recall correctly?)

So ok - it's a "he said she said" thing, and they ARE within their rights to remove the place from what you have said based on our circumstances.
I will appeal I think, because yes we did send a letter, but I am not exactly surprised to learn that they didn't get it. I have since discovered over the last couple of months that half of the change of address letters we sent never made it, and that's what you get when you use the office 'out' box hmm

However, that said - the address we have moved to is significantly closer to a school we would prefer (although either were fine - not in catchment however) - if they withdraw the place and we appeal for the place we lost, can we still go on the waiting list for the school we are now quite close to?

What a bloody mess!!

Mumwithadragontattoo Thu 18-Aug-11 15:41:09

I think the fact that you've moved closer actually means they cannot take the place away as it would have been yours anyway. There would be no benefit to you in not telling them the new address so they may huff and puff but I don't think they will or indeed can take the place away.

Mumwithadragontattoo Thu 18-Aug-11 15:42:48

Just stick to the line that you informed them in writing of change of address (I wouldn't mention the office out box though). And that you would still have got place at new address as is closer than old one.

EdithWeston Thu 18-Aug-11 15:46:54

Sorry for asking the bleedin' obvious, but how did you receive the offer of the place? Online - or did they post something out to you, which address and have you still got it?

MakkaPakkasWilly Thu 18-Aug-11 16:00:40

It was sent in the post - we had a redirection but obviously as we only moved a week before the offers it didn't really surprise me to see that they were using the old address, IYKWIM? I thought maybe it just hadn't filtered throughout the system at that point.
We aren't closer to the school we got, we are a bit further away, but we are closer to a school that was higher on our preference list so I was wondering about going on the waiting list there.
Does that make sense?

To be honest, I am just a bit screwed up as I just want them to call me back and tell me what's going on. They only take calls 9-12 so I am just sitting....waiting...!!

Do you know, it's all so confusing. I think the bit that annoys me is with only 3 weeks to go they are treating me like a criminal that masterminded some cunning plan?! Is this normal!?

SenoritaViva Thu 18-Aug-11 16:06:08

But if you moved only a week before the offers then they would not have made any different decision IMO. But the I suppose someone could argue 'but I moved into catchment a week before offers were made and called them'.

It sucks, but I don't think they can remove the place with just a few weeks to go.

MakkaPakkasWilly Thu 18-Aug-11 16:08:08

DH describes them as holier than thou twats grin

I can only think that they must get a lot of people trying to screw the systems and everyone is guilty until proven innocent.

Do you know what though - bloody wishing I hadn't called to find out about a breakfast club now!!

RueDeWakening Thu 18-Aug-11 16:13:24

Check when the offers were made, ours (Sutton borough) was on 4th April. I thought all offers on the pan-London system were done by mid April.

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 18-Aug-11 16:15:19

How stressful, especially if you can't actually get in touch with anyone at the moment.

How much further away from the allocated school are you now? Would you have been offered a place if that was the address that you applied from? Is the school over subscribed?

I think you can go on waiting lists for as many schools as you want, but that's no immediate help.

Mumwithadragontattoo Thu 18-Aug-11 16:15:29

Oh sorry misread that bit about being closer in your earlier post. It does make sense just my poor tired brain.

There was a similar (but slightly different as involved a waiting list place) thread about this recently. I thought that the LEA when allocating school places go by the address at the time of application. Now I was told on the other thread (by one of the very well informed posters, not prh I don't think) that this is slightly different where it a waiting list place and they do go by the address at the time the offer is made. But in your case I think they would go by address on application form. There is a cut-off after which you can't change your address details with the LEA, around here that's late Jan. Then they allocate the places according to application address. It seems to me that is what should happen here.

MakkaPakkasWilly Thu 18-Aug-11 17:18:48

Ok well from what you said they can't take away his place and that's the main thing.
They said they would call me back 'later'. I haven't heard from them yet today and at 5.15 I suspect I won't, so I am guessing they like to keep 'later' ambiguous!

I will let you know what happens... I suppose I was just upset because they said 'you need to prove you live there' and I said '...ok', then they said 'no actually you need to prove you lived at your old address and I said ok, I can prove whatever you want!! And then she got huffy and said they would need to investigate me and get back to me later.

I think perhaps there will just be some huffing and puffing as * Mumwithadragontattoo* said. Well fingers crossed anyway.

Poor DS. Seems unfair that he is caught in it!
Ahh how I long for a drama-free life grin

Mumwithadragontattoo Thu 18-Aug-11 18:18:55

Try first thing in the morning and don't let them make you feel guilty. You haven't done anything wrong.

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 18-Aug-11 19:47:52

From what you've just written, it sounds like a jobsworth who doesn't really understand the system themselves.

I'd call up tomorrow and ask to speak to someone more senior.

Saracen Thu 18-Aug-11 20:27:53

You could take the moral high ground about the fact that you've just been told that you ought to have called rather than sending a letter: are they suggesting that their own staff can't be relied on to deal with letters promptly and efficiently in the way that any well-organised business or government department would do? If this is the case, you might insinuate that this is a likely explanation for the fact that they have no record of your move.

prh47bridge Thu 18-Aug-11 23:51:16

What matters is what should have happened under Ealing's admission arrangements if they were aware that you had moved. This is something that varies from LA to LA. Some will stick to your address at the time of application even if it produces a ridiculous result such as allocating a school 20 miles away from where you now live, most will treat you as a late application from your new address.

Having said that, there are two lots of good news. Firstly, offers of primary school places were made on 4th April. If you moved at the end of April offers had already been made so they cannot withdraw your place.

Secondly, Ealing's admission policies state that if you move after 15th January, keep your original preferences and are offered a place you are entitled to keep the place. You only lose out if you change your preferences after moving as that would mean you are treated as a late application.

So however you look at it you get to keep the place and the person you spoke to was wrong to suggest they might take it away from you. In the unlikely event that they do you should have no trouble winning an appeal to get it back again.

The idea that you had to call about your change of address rather than writing to them is complete and utter rubbish. That isn't their published policy so they can't insist on it. Even if it was their published policy I don't think they would get away with such a ridiculous approach.

MakkaPakkasWilly Fri 19-Aug-11 08:50:26

Thank you prh47bridge!

You said this:
"Secondly, Ealing's admission policies state that if you move after 15th January, keep your original preferences and are offered a place you are entitled to keep the place. You only lose out if you change your preferences after moving as that would mean you are treated as a late application."

Can you please tell me where you got this from? I may find it useful when either speaking to them or preparing an appeal.

MakkaPakkasWilly Fri 19-Aug-11 09:52:55

OK

Spoke to a different lady today - much nicer!

She said that whilst she personally is happy for me to stay with things as they are, she needs to confirm with her supervisor and she will call me monday.
But it does look like I will keep the place.

I asked about waiting lists for our preferred schools as well and she said that if my new address gets us closer to a preferred school they will also consider that.

So the upshot is - I won't know til Monday, but it all looks 'ok', and I no longer feel like a bleedin' criminal!

Mumwithadragontattoo Fri 19-Aug-11 10:28:41

That's good news. I'm sure it'll all be sorted out on Monday smile

prh47bridge Fri 19-Aug-11 13:36:49

The information about Ealing's policies relating to a change of address can be found here.

MakkaPakkasWilly Fri 19-Aug-11 13:50:51

Thank you!

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