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School allocations.

(26 Posts)
CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 11:44:58

I am posting on behalf of my cousin. She lives in Suffolk.

She daftly only put two choices on her form, not three. She chose on the basis purely of which schools her DS's Nursery picks up from for their after school childcare, as she doesn't want to move him as she gets a discount for the fact that he has been using that Nursery since her DS was 5mo.

She works FT.

Her DS has not been allocated either of these schools, he has been allocated the ONLY school in her town that has NO after-school care. She cannot find a childminder who will do a pick up from that school that has spaces.

She isn't bothered about Ofsted ratings or popularity of the school, purely that she can get affordable after school childcare.

The school she has been offered is her catchment school, therefore closest to her home, but is impossible for her to continue working if he attends that school.

She has been told that there are not waiting lists, what she would have to do to get a different school is to put in a new, LATE application. Surely this cannot be right?

I thought that after offer day, the LA was meant to operate waiting lists based on the admission criteria? She would be quite high up on the admission criteria for a school near her home, that the Nursery picks up from.

Am I right in telling her that an appeal is unlikely to be won on the basis of childcare when it is an ICS appeal?

What should she do? I have advised her STRONGLY not to turn down the offered school, she thought it would make the appeal panel more likely to offer her the school she wants, but I disabused her of that notion.

She is panicking about all this, and is adamant that her DS will just continue at Nursery without going to school if they don't give her a place at a school her Nursery picks up from.

She can do this, her DS is an end of August birthday, and is not yet 4yo (!), he would be the youngest in his year anyway.

She thinks that if she keeps him at Nursery for an extra year then she will get a place in Y1 at one of her 3/4/5 preferred schools - I have tried to tell her that the ICS regs mean that she might STILL not get a place at one if those schools for Y1.

She said that if she doesn't, then her DS will just go to work with her!

WTF can I do to help her with her appeal, and to help her see that she might just have to change her childcare etc. and what would be best for her to do?

nextphase Mon 06-May-13 12:36:00

I don't think there are grounds for appeal?? What has the LEA done wrong? Nothing you have written suggests that they have made a mistake.

I'd check the waiting lists comment, but otherwise everything you've typed sounds right. Maybe the schools manage their own waiting lists in suffolk? In which case she needs to ring the schools ASAP.

There are lots of experts about, and hopefully one will be along soon - take their word over anything I've said!

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 12:48:02

I'm not in Suffolk, and this new application thing rather than going on the waiting list is confusing me.

Also, she shares care with her Ex (SE so also requires childcare), who actually lives in the catchment for her first choice school.

I thought that was irrelevant, and that it all went on who gets the Child Benefit.

However, she is adamant that the online application form had a space for other parent's address, and she was under the impression that this would be taken into account as they had it on the form.

That left me a bit confused as the LA I'm under doesn't have anything on the form about 'other parent's address', so I never thought that it was taken into account.

It's all so different from when my eldest started school - you just went to the school, got your DC's name 'put in the book', and then you had a place!

It all changed by the time my DS1 was due to start school 4 years later!

I can see her point, though, if they included 'other parent's address' on the form, I would have been under the impression that they took that into account when it comes to shared care. Why ask it on the form if they don't even look at it?! confused

tiggytape Mon 06-May-13 13:00:16

Am I right in telling her that an appeal is unlikely to be won on the basis of childcare when it is an ICS appeal?

Yes you are right. She will not win an ICS appeal on the basis of childcare (even non ICS appeals don't pay much attention to such issues - it has to be about the needs of the child not logistics).
If she rejects the offered school, she is no more likely to win the appeal than if she doesn't.

She really needs to get added to waiting lists ASAP so I would tell her just to submit the new application for them (this won't lose her the school she's been allocated) so then the council can officially reject her and then she'll automatically go on the lists. Most councils don't make you faff around and will just add you but rather than arguing it, it might be quicker just to apply and get added that way.

If the council say there are no waiting lists at all then: Either there are spaces in the schools (in which case, when she applies she will get allocated one) or the school is full (in which case they must hold a waiting list for it so that new vacancies are fairly reallocated). Perhaps she has misunderstood and could check which is the case?

tiggytape Mon 06-May-13 13:06:49

However, she is adamant that the online application form had a space for other parent's address, and she was under the impression that this would be taken into account as they had it on the form.

A child can only have 1 address for school allocation purposes.
This will be the address that they live at most of the week.
If care is shared 50/50, it is the address Child Benefit is paid to (or any clarification the council set). In her case, the mum's address is the correct one and the only one that counts.

They will not take into account her partner's address for catchments.
It is possible they need it because when parents are separated but both have parental responsibility, school choices are supposed to be agreed by both parents and both of them have a say. Everyone who is a parent (whether they are a resident or non-resident parent) has a right to participate in decisions about a child's education and receive information about the child and the LA must make sure of this. Perhaps that is why they wanted his address - so he gets copies of all the paperwork and is actively involved?

prh47bridge Mon 06-May-13 18:41:27

She has been told that there are not waiting lists, what she would have to do to get a different school is to put in a new, LATE application.

She should be on the waiting list for the two schools to which she applied. Suffolk's admission arrangements say she would automatically go on those waiting lists. If she wants to go onto the waiting list for any other school Suffolk may ask her to put in a new application. The fact this is a late application is now irrelevant - whether you applied on time or late makes no difference to your position on the waiting list. Note that Suffolk can put a limit on the number of waiting lists she can go on.

Am I right in telling her that an appeal is unlikely to be won on the basis of childcare when it is an ICS appeal?

Yes. There is absolutely no way an ICS appeal should succeed on this basis and, as tiggytape says, it would be unlikely to work even if it was not an ICS appeal. For an ICS appeal she would need to show that a mistake was made that cost her a place. There is nothing in your post to indicate that is the case.

I have advised her STRONGLY not to turn down the offered school, she thought it would make the appeal panel more likely to offer her the school she wants, but I disabused her of that notion.

You have given her good advice. If anything turning down the offered school might make an appeal harder to win - the appeal panel may feel she is trying to blackmail them into giving her a place at her preferred school, which will not go down well.

She thinks that if she keeps him at Nursery for an extra year then she will get a place in Y1 at one of her 3/4/5 preferred schools.

As you have correctly told her, this isn't going to happen. If Reception is full this year, Y1 will be full next year. ICS regulations apply until Y3 so she still isn't going to get a place.

She said that if she doesn't, then her DS will just go to work with her!

Not an option. By the start of term in September next year her child must, by law, be in education. She could home educate or go private if she isn't happy with the schools on offer, but taking her child to work would simply result in her being prosecuted.

However, she is adamant that the online application form had a space for other parent's address, and she was under the impression that this would be taken into account as they had it on the form.

I don't know about the online form but the paper form which is available on their website does not have any such space. As tiggytape says, there can only be one address for admissions purposes.

admission Mon 06-May-13 18:42:06

I have looked at Suffolk's admission criteria for community schools and it is exactly the same as practically every other LA when it comes to waiting lists. Any school that you did not get an offer for which was a preference will automatically be put on as a waiting list. So the two schools that your cousin put down as preferences should now have your cousin down on their waiting lists. The waiting lists will operate till early January 2014.
What I suspect is happening is that everybody is talking at cross purposes. So can I suggest that they firstly ring up the admission office, accept the offer made and then confirm that they are on the waiting lists for the two schools that she preferred. Secondly she asks them where they are on the waiting lists. Thirdly she appeals for both schools, even though as Infant Class Size regs cases she is very unlikely to be successful but you never know a mistake may have been made.
She then separately asks the admission office what other local schools have places, to establish whether these are a possibility to attend. Asking where there are places does not mean anything. If there are any schools that are local and she would prefer to the one offered then she can then ask for that place, which she may well have to complete another form for, but does not in any way stop her being on the waiting list for her two original preferences.
The one thing she should not do is just assume that she can leave it a year as they are so young and get a place in a school she wants, they will not

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 19:13:44

She wants to he added to the waiting list of a third school that the Nursery also picks up from.

Why are Suffolk allowed to limit the number of waiting lists you can be put on? I thought LA's weren't allowed to do that - she actually has 5 schools that she would be happy to go on the waiting list for.

And how come they only get 3 choices in Suffolk? We get 6 here in NE Essex?!

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 19:15:21

She has been told that she can't find out where she is on the waiting lists until 13th May? confused

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 19:17:14

Or is it 31st May? One or the other. Something about having to wait until all the late applications are processed, and they won't give out waiting list places until then.

Surely they have to tell her, even if late applicants can jump ahead of her DS?

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 06-May-13 19:19:30

The third school has told her on the phone that they have a spare place, but the LA have said that she has to fill in a new, late application.

I guess that's because she didn't have that school on her form?

If that's the case, why can't the LA offer her that place now, as there is a place in school 3?

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Mon 06-May-13 20:42:49

They can't offer her school three because they don't know she'll be the one who will qualify for it. They have to look at all the late applications and rank them in just the same way they did initial applications, then allocate them. So there could be someone else who makes a late application who is a sibling or lives nearer (or whatever else would rank them higher on the application criteria) and they would get the place. The fact that there isn't currently a waiting list is a good sign though, as it suggests that the pool of people after that place is likely to be smaller - so she has a better chance of coming out on top.

prh47bridge Mon 06-May-13 22:09:12

We used to think that LAs couldn't do that but the Schools Adjudicator decided that they can. The only way to challenge that decision is to take a case to judicial review.

As for the number of choices, the Admissions Code says LAs must allow parents to name at least 3 choices. Suffolk isn't the only LA to go with the minimum.

I can understand Suffolk's reticence about giving out positions on the waiting list. Many parents don't understand that they can go down the list as well as up it. Once all the late applications have been processed any downwards movements should be relatively small.

And as Amanda says, until they've processed the late applications they cannot offer the place in school 3. There may be other late applicants for that school who will rank ahead of your friend.

prh47bridge Mon 06-May-13 22:10:03

Sorry - "that" in my first paragraph refers to limiting the number of waiting lists you can be on.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 03:31:01

I see. So, basically she will appeal for school 1 and school 2 (she's going to anyway, even though I've explained to her that she is unlikely to win as they are both ICS appeals).

I will tell her to put in a late application for school 3. This won't take away her offer for school 4, that she has already been offered, will it?!

(I don't see why she can't just be put on the waiting list for school 3 without having to fill in a new, late application - why can't they just add her DS to the waiting list, as happens where I live?!)

Then I try to patiently explain to her again that she may still not get a place at schools 1, 2 or 3, and that by the start of Y1, she has to either be HE'ing her DS or sending him to school 4.

It's frustrating that Suffolk LA won't let her put her DS on the waiting list for school 5 & school 6 though. She can only be on the waiting list for schools 1, 2 & 3.

The only school she didn't want out of 6 is the one she has been allocated.

She can't afford Private.

She can't find a childminder with spaces to pick up from school 4.

What do I advise her to do about childcare?

Moving house isn't an option either - she's in negative equity so is stuck.

Without childcare, she can't work - she can't leave her 4/5yo DS alone in the school playground from 3pm till 5.30pm until she can get to him after work.

Should she give up work?! She has worked in the same line of work since she was 14, so over 10 years now. Her work can't be done PT, she went back FT after 5 months mat leave because her job can't be done PT, any other job she gets would pay FAR less.

I can understand why they can't take parents work into consideration, but this is a young single mum who has always worked, cannot get childcare for the allocated school, what is she to do?! confused

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 03:31:02

I see. So, basically she will appeal for school 1 and school 2 (she's going to anyway, even though I've explained to her that she is unlikely to win as they are both ICS appeals).

I will tell her to put in a late application for school 3. This won't take away her offer for school 4, that she has already been offered, will it?!

(I don't see why she can't just be put on the waiting list for school 3 without having to fill in a new, late application - why can't they just add her DS to the waiting list, as happens where I live?!)

Then I try to patiently explain to her again that she may still not get a place at schools 1, 2 or 3, and that by the start of Y1, she has to either be HE'ing her DS or sending him to school 4.

It's frustrating that Suffolk LA won't let her put her DS on the waiting list for school 5 & school 6 though. She can only be on the waiting list for schools 1, 2 & 3.

The only school she didn't want out of 6 is the one she has been allocated.

She can't afford Private.

She can't find a childminder with spaces to pick up from school 4.

What do I advise her to do about childcare?

Moving house isn't an option either - she's in negative equity so is stuck.

Without childcare, she can't work - she can't leave her 4/5yo DS alone in the school playground from 3pm till 5.30pm until she can get to him after work.

Should she give up work?! She has worked in the same line of work since she was 14, so over 10 years now. Her work can't be done PT, she went back FT after 5 months mat leave because her job can't be done PT, any other job she gets would pay FAR less.

I can understand why they can't take parents work into consideration, but this is a young single mum who has always worked, cannot get childcare for the allocated school, what is she to do?! confused

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 03:31:34

Sorry for double post, my phone seems to like doing that tonight!

lougle Tue 07-May-13 07:00:04

Couthy, although it's all happening at the same time, there are 3 separate phases:

1. 'On time' applications. Your cousin made this type of application to schools 1&2.

2. 'Late' application. This is an application submitted after the initial deadline. Even a day late.

Those people who submitted late have been waiting for the decision to be made, so that they get a chance of a remaining place. The LA can't let your cousin leapfrog them because she now fancies a place.

Once she makes a late application, they can look at spaces and allocate a place or put her on the waiting list.

prh47bridge Tue 07-May-13 08:00:01

They cannot take away the place that has been offered just because she applies for a new school. Personally I think they should just add her son to the waiting list without needing a new application but it is up to Suffolk how they handle this kind of thing.

I remain of the view that the Schools Adjudicator got it wrong and that LAs should allow parents to put their child on as many waiting lists as they want. Unfortunately the Adjudicator's ruling stands until someone challenges it via judicial review or the government is persuaded to put something definitive in the Admissions Code.

I don't have any answers on what she does, though. As far as I can see the only option is to keep looking for a childminder who will pick up from school 4. If there are other parents in the same situation it may be that a childminder who doesn't currently pick up from school 4 can be persuaded to help out.

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 09:13:39

As prh says the waiting list limit is unusual but is allowed because this issue has already been challenged and the adjudicator ruled that it was O.K for councils to do this. All she can do is use her choices wisely and perhaps consider not staying on the list for schools she has zero hope of a place at (low on the current waiting list and unlikely to ever get in) and swap to a school that she's closer to and more likely to be at the top of the list for.

With childcare, it might be worth contacting the allocated school direct. They may be aware of other childminders or organisations that do an off-site afterschool club that pick up from that school.

You have given her good advice about the appeals so, whilst she should definitely go that route too, she also needs to look at the other options as a plan B

pinkdelight Tue 07-May-13 09:54:28

You've got lots of good advice here on the application/waiting list front so fingers crossed that'll make a difference. Only thing I wanted to add is that it is worth investigating the childminder thing more in depth. Has she been to the school, spoken to the teachers/parents about all the options? There are lots of CMs who do pick-ups from our primary who I'd never have known about just by searching online and official sources. They're still official, it's just somehow they're a bit off-the-grid because they get their spaces filled by word of mouth. She might even be able to work something out with another parent in the class as it's catchment school and other families will be local. Like she could do all drop-offs and other could do all pick-ups. Surely a school with no afterschool club must mean lots of other parents make their own arrangements? So your friend has to tap into this network and she might well find a solution.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 14:19:42

She can't do drop offs or pick ups - she works from 8-5. The Nursery before care opens at 7.30, so she was intending to drop him there at 7.30 and then the Nursery would take him to school, then pick him up from school at 3 and keep him till 5.30.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 14:21:05

I will have a word with her about asking around for childminders, but tbh she doesn't really know many people with older DC's, only younger. Who should she ask? She can't start her DS at school without the childcare already in place.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 14:26:15

What if she doesn't find a childminder with spaces? (There are a few that do pick ups from that school, but they are already booked with their school age DC's for September).

She didn't bother with looking for CM's because she actually REALLY didn't want one, and tbh she just assumed that as there are 5/6 schools that are her closest 6 schools, that she would get one of them that allowed her to keep her DS at the same childcare he has been in all his life.

It just didn't occur to her that what has happened would even be a possibility, as she put on her form in the additional information section that this was the childcare she used and she intends to continue to use, and in her words "I thought they would use a bit of common sense..."

At that point I had to explain to her that common sense doesn't enter into school allocations, only admission criteria and the ICS regs...

<<Facepalm>>

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 07-May-13 14:28:08

She only started looking for a CM after she got the school allocation.

It's usual where she is to either use after-school Nursery care or a CM, and to stick with the one you have always used!

CM spaces seem to be in very short supply there too.

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