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Long Story - but still no place and missed reception.....anyone offer advice?

(27 Posts)
monkeychambers Wed 24-Aug-11 12:11:34

Where to start. We started buying a house near a school we wanted DD to go to back in 2009.....due to delays (the house was tennented, tennet refused to move so the owner at the time had to do go though an official eviction notice.)

We eventually moved in in July 2010.....we had notified with schools admissions and applied for a place (in the January) with a solicitors letter confirming that we would be resident in the house eventually....

Fast forward.....she has now missed reception entirely as we decided to hold off for a place at the school over the road as she was no. 3 on the list.

We are now facing a new school year starting - she should be in year 1 next week - we have no current offers - and they can't tell us what place she will get if any or where she is on any waiting list until at least term starts.

We have written to the mp / had conversations with councillors.....spoken reapeatedly to the education department.....

Have been advised there isn't much point in an appeal as the classes are full and we weren't residents in time.

Is there anything I am missing that I could be doing?

I am 34 weeks pregnant with our next child and would love for the first to be in school. Am finding this so stressful especially as she keeps asking when we are going to buy her school uniform and I keep seeing ads for back to school stuff which makes me burst into tears....hormones? definately.

I guess this has been a really long moan.........sorry...........not sure what I am looking for but any advice would be really welcome.....

RueDeWakening Wed 24-Aug-11 13:29:00

I thought there was something about fair access to school (?) policies that mean they have to offer you a place within a reasonable time, though perhaps not the school you want I guess.

Hopefully someone who knows the facts will be along soon!

Saracen Wed 24-Aug-11 13:30:07

So you have been on the waiting lists of specific schools, is that right? Presumably you were offered a Reception place which you turned down at some point. If you didn't actually turn it down then I suppose the offer must have lapsed eventually, because there are limits on how long they were allowed to keep the offered place waiting for your child.

Since then, have you formally told the LA that you require a school place for your daughter? If not, you need to do that now. Otherwise they may think you are still willing to keep your daughter out of school until a place becomes available at one of the specific schools for which she is on the waiting lists.

Of course, they aren't obliged to provide a place at one of your preferred schools. They might do that, if everywhere else is full anyway, but it's more likely that they will offer you a place elsewhere.

There is probably no point in appealing for a specific school. However, the LA must provide a school place somewhere for your child. If it isn't at a school which is reasonably near, they will provide transport.

Do you know what your LA's policy is on dealing with applications outside the normal admissions round? (This is what your situation is, since you were offered a place, turned it down, and have now reapplied. You're in the same boat as someone who has recently moved to the area.) You might like to ask them for a copy of that so you can understand what procedures they are supposed to be following. They certainly aren't allowed to refuse to place your child at all just because you are applying outside the normal admissions round.

monkeychambers Wed 24-Aug-11 14:22:07

Thanks ladies - I will definatley ask about the policy for admissions outside of normal. Thanks for the tips - and for managing to read through the whole saga and respond.

cjbartlett Wed 24-Aug-11 14:24:52

Surely you need to get your child into whatever school they are offering you?

prh47bridge Wed 24-Aug-11 14:43:10

Which LA are we talking about? Had you exchanged contracts on the new house by the time you applied for a place? Their admission arrangements relating to change of address could be very important here. Without knowing what their published arrangements say it is impossible to tell whether you have grounds for an appeal. The fact that classes are full up does not make an appeal pointless. The classes are always full up when someone appeals. If the classes were not full up there would be no need to appeal!

Did the LA offer a place which you have rejected as you wanted to hold out for the school over the road? If that is the case the LA was under no obligation to find another place for your daughter. However, if you apply again now they have to come up with a place somewhere. It probably won't be the school you want but it will be something. And if there are grounds for an appeal you may still be able to get into your preferred school.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Aug-11 14:45:39

P.S. If you don't feel comfortable identifying the LA on a public forum you can PM me.

monkeychambers Wed 24-Aug-11 14:59:10

cjb - we now just want to know where we can get her in but they have said they won't know until the term has started

Prh47 - We did reject other places as we thought we may as well hang out for the nearest one as we were so close to the top of the list (plus the ones they offered were totally dreadful) Its Enfield by the way.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Aug-11 15:55:21

Looking at Enfield's admission arrangements they should have used your old address for sorting out your school allocation. If they allocated a place based on your old address there is no evidence that they made a mistake. You can still appeal if you want. It will probably be an infant class size case which would mean your chances of success were low but you may get a sympathetic panel. If you had exchanged contracts before applying you could, for example, argue that the LA should have accepted your new address. It would be a long shot but it may be worth a try.

It is also be worth checking whether any other children have been admitted to Reception since last September, especially if you have been stuck at No. 3 on the waiting list throughout. It is just possible that the school has admitted children who should have been behind your daughter on the waiting list. If that has happened it could form the basis of a successful appeal depending on the number of children involved.

The LA should know where you are on any waiting lists for community schools, assuming that waiting lists are still in operation. They should not have to wait until the start of term for that. The situation for church schools, academies, etc. is a little different as the school is responsible for the order of children on the waiting list so the LA may not be able to find out waiting list positions until term begins.

They may be trying to help you by telling you to wait until the start of term. It is quite likely that some schools will find that children have left without telling them. They may therefore be able to come up with a better place after the start of term than they can today.

If you still don't have a place a week or so after term starts I would suggest you submit a new application to force Enfield's hand. They should then come up with a place somewhere. If it isn't at your preferred school you would still have the right to appeal.

monkeychambers Wed 24-Aug-11 16:08:00

prh - many thanks for your help.

plinkplonk Wed 24-Aug-11 19:36:01

Ring Admissions every day when term starts - and ring the schools you like to ask whether any spaces have come up. Ask any other mothers you know in the relevant schools to tell you about anyone who is leaving as well.

Ask the admissions team to tell you all spaces in the area.

admission Wed 24-Aug-11 21:08:17

I think the other thing to say is that legally your child should need to go to school, so you cannot just keep holding out for your preferred school. You need to make appropriate arrangements and I would suggest that the first is to formally ask the LA for a place at your preferred school - there is a possibility that given the time period involved that you are now no longer on the waiting list for the school.
I agree with PRH that appealing for the school, especially if it is going to be an infant class size case, is going to be a long shot however it may be useful in establishing whether or not there have been any changes since your moved in July 2010 and also which address the LA have been using for this period of time.
By formally applying for a place in year 1 in the school and saying that your child needs to legally be in school it will at least force Enfield into making you an offer of a school place, even if it is a school that is not one that you want. Given the legal necessity for your child to be in school, you need to accept the place offered.

IndigoBell Wed 24-Aug-11 21:33:15

Given the legal necessity for your child to be in school, you need to accept the place offered. - No, she can continue to HE if she wants to.....

annh Wed 24-Aug-11 21:55:13

Yes, she could HE if she wants but the OP has given no indication that that is what she has been doing so far or is planning to do if a space does not come up.

BlueArmyGirl Thu 25-Aug-11 08:54:16

It might be worth checking that the Enfiled arrangements come up to scratch with national guidelines - i don't know because I haven't read them!

prh47bridge Thu 25-Aug-11 10:46:16

Been there, done that. In this respect there is nothing wrong with Enfield's arrangements.

BlueArmyGirl Thu 25-Aug-11 21:07:26

Good to know. The reason I suggested is because in our LA if you write to them with appropriate letter from solicitor or such they will take your intended address - but obviously letter has to say the right things - and I would have thought that in this case it would have.

monkeychambers Fri 26-Aug-11 10:29:50

BlueArmy - I have heard of other LA's doing this, would you mind saying which LA that is. Grasping at straws - it may be a bit of leverage for us.

We have said for a while we just want to know where there are spaces and take it from there.

HE - as I am due to have next baby in the next few weeks HE isn't really an ideal option at present and DD is desperate to go to 'big school'.

Thanks all.

yellowsubmarine41 Fri 26-Aug-11 12:00:51

Our neighbours (in a neighbouring LEA) moved into the area after applications and allocations. They just wanted to know which schools had places, though the LEA was very insistent that they submit their preferences so that the form could be processed as per application procedure.

The LEA did tell them which schools had places after a couple of phone calls, so they could make an informed application (there were a couple).

Anecdotally, a friend of mine's application got lost in the post and she was 3rd on the waiting list for the school just over the road. People assured her that there would be lots of movement during reception and that she'd definitely get a place. Unfortunately, times have changed and she's now kicking herself for not looking further afield when she had the option (schools now all full and she still doesn't have a place).

Seriously, you need to be throwing you net a bit wider, although I appreciate that that's not what you want to hear.

prh47bridge Fri 26-Aug-11 14:17:35

I strongly suspect that BlueArmy is referring to the fact that most LAs will accept a solicitor's letter confirming exchange of contracts as evidence of a house move, which is why I asked in my original post whether or not you had exchanged contracts when you applied for a school place. I do not know any LA that will accept a solicitor's letter saying that you expect to move eventually as evidence of a change of address. And at the end of the day this is a question for individual LAs. If they don't want to accept a solicitor's letter as evidence of a change of address they don't have to, regardless of what other LAs do.

yellowsubmarine41 Fri 26-Aug-11 14:54:49

Also, to back up what others have said, the LEA will have information about any available year 1 places and your position on the waiting lists NOW. I guess they said September anticipating some movement, but this may not be the case.

In your position, I would ask for her name to go on every list possible and/or take the best offer NOW. As admissions points out, you are legally obliged to educate (school or home) your child from the term after they turn 5.

Saracen Sat 27-Aug-11 02:46:23

I still think if you want to improve your chances, you should formally ask the LA for a school place. This is different to just asking where there are spaces. If there actually are no spaces at any school within reasonable travelling distance then they will have to make a place available somewhere (for example, by offering a place even though it would take a school over its usual limit).

You wouldn't have any choice about which school they offer, but that way you would get offered something. It might happen to be a school you like. If it isn't, you can turn the offer down and keep waiting. Obviously you'd need to home educate if you choose to keep waiting. That doesn't have to be incompatible with a new baby; feel free to drop in at the home ed board if you want to chat about it. But I understand you'd rather have her in school and she'd rather be there! It must be very frustrating.

admission Sat 27-Aug-11 19:14:12

Whilst I agree with you that it might be better to ask for a school place, the reality is that what might be unreasonable as a distance to go to school is not unreasonable in law. So the LA can offer a school a good hour's travelling away and that is still perfectly OK legally.
The In-year fair access protocol, which is what you are referring to in order to get allocated a place, tends not to get used for "normal" applications unless it is a very desperate situation, it tends to get used more for pupils who have been excluded etc. Given the circumstances of this case, I would not see Enfield LA being keen to invoke this protocol as they will quite rightly say that part of the reason why the child has not got a place is because of the actions of the parents in not accepting a school place.

Saracen Sun 28-Aug-11 23:34:59

Oh yes, I think it's quite possible that what the OP is offered won't be acceptable to her and I agree that what the LA considers "reasonable travelling distance" may not seem that way to parents. But it's possible that she'll be offered a school which she can live with, so I don't see why she wouldn't want to find out what they'll offer when pushed.

I'm very confused by the idea that an LA would claim that the child should be left with no school place whatsoever because her parents declined a place they were offered last year. There are several reasons why this puzzles me:

Legally - As far as I know, there's nothing in law which absolves an LA of its responsibility to provide a place to a child because of actions taken by parents in the past.

Morally - It seems very harsh to suggest that declining a Reception place which was offered some 18 months ago should doom a family to keep their child out of school forever if they now want her in school. Besides, if she is only just now reaching compulsory education age (I don't know her birthday so I don't know whether this is the case) then it cannot be right for an LA to say the parents have forfeited their right to send her to a state school now by declining the LA's offer of a year of optional early schooling last year.

It isn't as if the OP had been offered a place only last week which she rejected, and is now being "difficult" and trying to play the system! Now that she wants a place, surely she has just as much right to be offered a place somewhere as a family which has just moved into the area?

prh47bridge Mon 29-Aug-11 00:49:29

Saracen - Legally the LA has discharged its responsibilities by offering a place. If the parents reject the offered place the LA is under no obligation whatsoever to come up with an alternative. However, that was last year. If the OP applies again now the LA will have to come up with a place unless all the schools in the area are full, which is why both Admission and I have recommended that this course of action. If the OP again declines the offered place the LA will again have discharged its legal responsibilities. It would then be up to the OP to find another school with places (the LA would be able to advise which schools have places), home educate or go private.

The point Admission was making is that the In Year Fair Access Protocol, which you refer to (although not by name) in your earlier post, does not apply in this case. The Protocol must cover finding a place within a reasonable distance for parents who move into the area when all the local schools are already full. It is not required to provide for finding a place within a reasonable distance for parents who already live in the area and who rejected the offered place. The LA is entitled to offer them a place at the nearest school with places available, even if it is miles away.

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