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School admissions late applications rural schools

(10 Posts)
JackyJax Sat 01-Oct-11 10:22:55

Hello, We're planning on moving to a small village next year. It's likely that we'll miss cut off date for school applications. The village has a school with 150 children that is oversubscribed- last year they had 30 applicants for 20 Reception places.

I spoke to a person from the LEA and asked him what happened to people like us who were moving to a village in order to be part of that community ie kids go to the school, I help out in the school, we socialise with people in the village, etc. The whole point of us moving there is so that kids can go to a small village school.

The council man said 'village schools are designed to serve the village' and he said the council would consider our case and would keep that in mind. I asked what happened if there were 20 in a class but our child pushed it to 21. He said school would have to put on a new teacher. They had to do that this year. He also said that he thought it might be cheaper for school to put on an extra teacher rather than bus our child to another school.

We are trying to get a yr 1 child in to the school in approx April 2012 and then a reception one to start in Sep 2012.

The man from the council was really nice but I'm very confused. According to all the (great) info on this site, there's no debate with schools. You make the cut off date, satisfy the criteria, and you're accepted by the school (unless of course all places are taken by siblings, others live nearer, etc). You can only appeal if the LEA has made a mistake in admissions. If you don't make the cut off date and school is full then you have to go elsewhere.

But what this man seemed to be saying - and in fact did say- was that the council had some discretion on admissions to the school. This obviously isn't one of those London schools that everyone is buying properties in the area in order to get into, but it is a popular school.

What I'm asking is, can I rely on what I've been told by the council? The man made no promises, just said the council looked on these cases favourably. Are there different rules for rural schools? Why would you have a rural village school and not let a kid who lives on same road as school attend it?

Do I take what the man said on face value? Do rural schools have more flexibility. And also, in April (if that's when we arrive)...do I try to get Year 1 child in first to start in June 2012 and use that as a way of getting Reception child into Reception in 2012. Or should I try to get in Reception child (due to start September 2012) and use the reception child in order to get Year 1 child in?

Thanks so much for any help- really appreciate your input.

PS Typing at frantic speed whilst 3 year old 'helps' so apologies for typos!

eaglewings Sat 01-Oct-11 10:32:46

They can not promise anything, only tell you what has happened in the past

Our village school has a limit of 20 per intake. This September there were 70 people putting the school as 1st choice for their 4 year olds.

Only those in the catchment area and those with siblings in school got places.

A family moved I to the village after the cut off date. They spoke to the council and the head. The head wanted them to join the school and the council took months to say yes.

They found places for both kids but it was nerve wracking for them!

Good Luck

prh47bridge Sat 01-Oct-11 11:05:53

Is this in England?

Assuming it is and you move after the cutoff date you will be treated as a late application. That means your application won't be processed until all the on-time applications have been dealt with, so you are unlikely to get a place at a popular school. If the village school is oversubscribed you would normally expect to be admitted to the nearest school with places available, although if you move to a house near the village school you would be at or near the head of the waiting list.

You can then appeal against the refusal to admit your child. What will then matter is the class arrangement. If there are three classes in infants, one for each year, it will be an ordinary appeal and you will have a reasonable chance of winning even if the council haven't made a mistake. However, if they mix the year groups to give two classes of 30 it will be an infant class size appeal and you should only win if you can show that there has been a mistake. The council's comment that the school would have to take on an extra teacher suggests that there are in fact two classes of 30 so infant class size rules would apply.

The rules for rural schools are exactly the same as for everyone else. As long as the school is happy, the classrooms are large enough and they take on an additional teacher it is possible for them to admit your child rather than provide transport but by doing so they are potentially opening a can of worms. The school may struggle to make ends meet as one additional pupil will not fund an additional teacher. There is also the possiblity of appeals from other parents refused entry asking why a late applicant has been admitted ahead of their child, especially if there are other schools within a reasonable travelling distance (up to an hour each way) with places.

Unfortunately admissions departments do sometimes give incorrect information to parents but without knowing which LA is involved it is impossible to say whether or not that has happened here. If you would like to identify the council I may be able to find out more. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post that information publicly. If you do PM me, it may be useful to know which school is involved as well.

In terms of the practicalities, you should apply for both of your children at the same time. Sibling priority would only help you if there was a space available and there were several people applying. That is unlikely to be the case here. If the school is already full they won't admit a child even if they have a sibling at the school.

RunningAllDay Sat 01-Oct-11 19:31:43

Hi JackyJax

Sounds like you are further on in your deliberations than last time you posted! Just wanted to say that in our short experience of moving here and moving schools, it has all been with rural schools (we're in the SW) and the only contact I had about admissions was with the LEA. The schools had no ability to negotiate, although I did visit them and meet them etc (and tried very hard to make a favourable impression!!). They were very sympathetic, but they have no real say (especially if its for an intake of 30 and they would have no option of expanding because it is full full full). Its as prh47bridge above says, the same as for a city - people do also buy into villages for the schools (we did!). Good luck.

UnSerpentQuiCourt Sat 01-Oct-11 20:33:43

As prh4 said, one child will not find an extra teacher. If the school does this, they may have to make cut backs in other areas;eg no TA's in other classes, cutting back on professional music lessons, etc. For this reason, schools are relectant to do this.

JackyJax Sat 01-Oct-11 23:25:00

Oh dear. Thanks so much for your replies although it's not what I wanted to hear. I'm glad I've been on here because otherwise I would have taken what the council man said on face value. I have spoken to the (very) nice school but it's obvious that they have no power.

If I try to come back in time for school application date it means living in England with my nearly 4 year old whilst husband remains in Oz with 5 year old. Husband works 7am-8pm so 5 year old really needs his mum!

If we come back too late, however, it's obvious that it's really pot luck whether we get into school or not. As I've said, the whole reason for moving back is to be part of a village and for us, that means kids going to village school.

In terms of appealing on class size, I'm figuring that a precedent has been set if they've had 21 kids in Reception this year. Is this true?

Also, is anyone obligated to tell me how many kids are in each class? The school said they couldn't and getting this info from the LEA felt like getting blood from a stone.

Thanks again everyone. And, by the way, it is pouring with rain over here in good old Oz!

prh47bridge Sun 02-Oct-11 01:05:24

If, as I suspect, it is an infant class size appeal then I'm afraid it isn't possible to set a precedent. The law says you can't have more than 30 children with a single teacher in infants (although there are some exceptions). In order to comply with this an appeal can only succeed if a mistake has been made. The fact that the school may have been over the limit previously does not mean they can go over again.

If it is not infant class size that is another matter. Then you could argue that a precedent has been created.

I am surprised that the school won't tell you how many there are in a class. Both they and the LA should be able to give you this information. If you end up appealing for a place the LA must give you this information.

JackyJax Sun 02-Oct-11 06:29:10

prh47bridge- thanks for your reply. Will contact school again re sizes of classes. They did tell me that this year they have Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 but next year they'll have Reception/Year 1 and Year1/Year 2 classes - I'm not sure how this affects us.

Can I just clarify something from your post? The fact that the school had 21 children before- and were prepared to stump up for another teacher- could have been because that extra child was eg a child in care and they didn't realise it when they processed his application so they had to accept him even though he was late? If this is so, then obviously the school won't make same exception for us as we're not priority one.

Also, clutching at straws here, if we're coming over from Australia (huge move in itself) does the school consider social need of siblings?

prh47bridge Sun 02-Oct-11 08:59:18

With an admission number of 20 the class arrangement for next year clearly envisages 30 children per class. That means any appeal would be infant class size. This year they have had to employ an additional teacher to avoid breaching infant class size limits, hence the fact that they have 3 classes.

There are a number of reasons why a school can take an extra child even when it takes the class size over 30. The scenario you outline is one of them. In most cases the school is only allowed to run an oversize class for one year. If the class is still over size they then have to employ an additional teacher.

If the school has an admission category for siblings or social need getting one child admitted may push the other up the waiting list but I'm afraid that is all it will do.

I know it isn't ideal but in terms of getting a school place your best bet is for you and your children to move to the UK by the end of this year even if your husband has to stay in Australia for a few more months. It would be a little different if you or your husband is in the UK armed forces or employed by the UK government and your move back to the UK is as a result of an overseas posting coming to an end but I think we established on your previous thread that you aren't in that situation.

admission Sun 02-Oct-11 18:34:40

If the school has an admission number of 20 and actually has 150, then they already have 10 over the theoretical number of pupils (7 years of 20).
Having said that with 140 pupils, in order to meet the infant class size regs and the upwards through the school, the school will have 5 classes. 5 classes of 30 is 150, so the school is not really overful at present.
Normally 5 classes would be split two classes between rec/year1 and year2 and then 3 classes btween year3,4,5 and 6. If this was the case then the infant class size regs would prohibit any over the admission number of 20 in years rec/ yr1 and yr2. So the question then becomes what exactly are the school doing in terms of numbers in each year group. Any children over the 20 in infant classes would suggest that they are running a different class structure which could alter the likelyhood of winning on appeal dramatically.

The LA does need to abide the rules over admissions, so normally they cannot allow exceptions because they start a precedent which is then very difficult to stop. I would therefore agree with PRH that you cannot rely on the verbal information of the LA. Maybe you should try and get them to put something in writing but I suspect it will not come out reading anything like as positive as they said over the phone. It is possible to have more than 30 in an infant class, it is just that you need two school teachers and that would cost an extra £30K and is not affordable by any school.

The other thing to say is that you have information that there were 30 applicants for the 20 places, but are sure that there were actually 20 starting at the school. The way that the admission arrangements work is that parents put down 3 preferences. So they have one that they want and 2 that they do not want but put down as safety. So actually if there are 20 places then you might expect 60 applicants or more if it was a really popular school. Check with the school exactly what numbers they have got in recepion, year1 and year2 at the moment and how the classes are organised, or do you already know this?

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