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Moving to a new school- assume I know nothing

(22 Posts)
InViennaWeWerePoetry Fri 31-May-13 21:03:36

There is a possibility DP and I may be given custody of a friend's child. If this were to happen, she would have to move schools. Both DP and I are completely clueless so assume no knowledge whatsoever, though I have gathered from having a read around on here that moving mid school career can be a nightmare. How would we go about transferring to a different primary near to where we live?

admission Fri 31-May-13 21:20:56

If we are talking before the summer then you will need to approach the admission office of the Local Authority in which you live. However from September the process changes and it will from then on be the school you will approach first. This is the process for an in-year application, for an admission at a normal point of entry, so that would be to reception (age 4-5) or year 7 (to secondary school) then it is still to the admission office of the Local Authority who have standard forms to fill in.
Assuming it will be an in-year application for September 1st or after you talk to the school. Every school has a published admission number (PAN) and the school has to admit any pupil if that number has not been reached in that particular year group. If the school is up to PAN in the year group that you need then the school will probably say sorry we are full, we cannot admit. At that point you have two main alternatives, look for another school which does have places or appeal for a place at the school you want. Appealing does not automatically get you a place, on average about 30% of all appeals are successful. However depending on the circumstances of you having custody of the child, it could be that you will have a strong case for admission at appeal.
It can be a nightmare getting a place at schools and it does depend on the situation locally as to how much problem it will be. When you are fairly sure that this will happen and the time scale involved I would be tempted to go down to the local school and ask them what the situation is at their school in the year group involved. I would hope that every school will be welcoming and helpful but I know that is not always the case. If the school is not helpful then I would have some concerns over putting what will be a vulnerable child into such an environment.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Fri 31-May-13 21:34:08

DC is currently in year 3, although this is the first year she's done at school in the UK and her attendance record is atrocious. It was suggested by family she was kept back a year and did year 3 again but I understand that isn't an option. It's not definite yet, but if it were to happen we will most likely be given custody in the next couple of weeks, so before the summer holidays. So if by the time we started looking for places it was the summer holidays, would we still be under the old rules and go through the Local Authority? Sorry to drip feed.

What sort of thing would normally be considered grounds for appealing?

HedgeHogGroup Fri 31-May-13 21:45:00

Will the child be classed as 'looked after'? In that case you'll get her in to whatever school you want.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Fri 31-May-13 22:04:18

HedgeHogGroup- I'm not sure, what would constitute 'looked after'? It would be private fostering, with a view of going down the special guaridanship/adoption route. Would that be the case even if the school was already full?

prh47bridge Fri 31-May-13 23:50:41

A child being "looked after" just gets you to the head of the queue. If the school is full you won't get a place. And it doesn't sound like this child would be classed as "looked after" in any case. That covers children in local authority care or being provided with accommodation by the local authority.

Jenny70 Sat 01-Jun-13 08:59:36

It's all easy peasy if there is space. Talk to local auth, give them child's dob and they will tell you which schools have places in that year group.

If the local schools are full, then it gets tricky. They have to offer you a place, and if more than 2 miles they give assistance in transport .... but by the sounds this child needs stability, local friends etc.

Also talk to your local auth about what documentation you need - they won't take your word that this unrelated child is living with you, presumably some legal agreement will be needed to allow you to enrol child etc.

Good luck, hopefully being an older year good schools may have space.

learnandsay Sat 01-Jun-13 12:53:47

Would it help if the OP specified whether or not the custody that she's referring to is legal custody or not?

InViennaWeWerePoetry Sat 01-Jun-13 13:47:58

Thanks everyone.

The custody would be legal, yes, I would have documentation to present as proof when enrolling.

Can I talk to the local authority now bearing in mind this isn't definite yet, or do I need to wait until I definitely want a place and have custody? We are on the edge of a major city, so I'm guessing places are likely to be short.

mummytime Sat 01-Jun-13 13:57:02

I would talk to the LA, you will need to as part of a legal custody case anyway.
It will be much easier if the child is classified as looked after.

However I would also look at schools very carefully, as in the child's circumstances quite often a less "desirable" school may actually be better; as they could have more EAL or other learning support. You will be looking for somewhere caring, not an exam factory. The kind of school you will be interested in will be welcoming, and willing to work with and advise you.
Good luck.

TeenAndTween Sat 01-Jun-13 15:58:13

OP, I agree with mummytime regarding the school. In your situation a caring school with good emotional support may be more important than fantastic results.

Once you have picked a school, these are things you will need to find out. I am taking you at your word and assuming you know nothing. (We adopted a Y3 child at this time of year ...) (and also have child in y3 now)

- school dinners / packed lunches. Some schools let you decide on a day by day basis, others need to be decided for a week, term or half term. dinners are less effort especially to start with while you are getting used to things

- homework. most schools give homwework to juniors (Y3-6). It may be on piece a week, maybe more. find out how 'compulsory' it is and whether it is worth arguments at home to do it. also find out how much help you are expected to give.

- spellings / timestables. expect to have spellings sent home weekly. Timestables are also learned in y3/4 so these may need to be practiced, when the child is ready.

- reading. most y3 will be independently reading, but not all. the aility range will be large. Y3 children still benefit from being listened to at reading regularly (even if not every day).

- you may find other parents not apparently friendly/welcoming. this is likely to be due to them having established friendships already, not because they aren't friendly really.

- schools are rubbish at giving notice for things and also assuming 'everyone' knows things. In this coming half term there are likely to be sports days, and maybe end of term concert / play / assembly. ask at the school office for all newsletters so far this term as they may have published dates once and not think to mention them again. also summer fair and dress down days (wearing home clothes in exchange for bringing money or item)

- letters come home with children. so check rucksac/bookbag daily (or at least weekly). watch out for other children coming out with letters and ask your child if they have one too

- the PTA may do second hand uniform. ask at the office if this is needed.

- if you can get a report from the old school with levels then do so. by end y3 an 'average' child will be at 2a/3c. But you probably have more important things to worry about than this at the moment. until end of term concentrate more on settling child than on academics.

- child may regress from expected maturity on moving to you, so do not be surprised if they act a bit younger than you would expect. e.g more clingy, temper tantrums etc.

- if there has been an issue with previous lack of care, child may need more help than usual at this age to do things like brush teeth, brush hair, get dressed, generally organise themselves. again think younger child.

Best of luck

- child of this age

TeenAndTween Sat 01-Jun-13 16:24:01

Oh a couple more general things

- having 'Looked after status' will help with school applications, and also mean the school gets extra money. also it opens doors for access to additional services. if there is any LA involvement in this proposal try to get it done formally not by the back door

- it is easier for you to relax rules later than impose them later. so start with firm boundaries (which again depending on background may make child feel more secure anyway), and then relax if desired.

- get child to use toilet before going out, evn if it is just 'best try'. only assume max 1.5 hrs or so between loo stops. always have snacks with you.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Sat 01-Jun-13 21:53:52

mummytime- what is EAL? You're right, much more interested in somewhere she can settle quickly at the moment. My mindset is very much that she's only 7 and there's plenty of time to worry about becoming an exam passing machine at secondary school, but the more people I talk to in RL I am starting to feel like I might be missing something!

TeenandTween thanks so much, all really helpful, definitely wouldn't have thought of a lot of those. Are those levels the ones determined from the SATs papers? She's one of the youngest in her year and has been in different school systems which start at a later age, plus missed an awful lot of this current academic year, so I'm expecting her to be fairly far behind- it probably sounds terrible but that's not really our main priority for the moment. Really good idea to ask about newsletters for dates, I'll definitely make a note of that one.

TeenAndTween Sat 01-Jun-13 22:06:58

Happy to help. I found starting school with a junior age child quite scary. Everyone assumes you know general stuff, and you just don't.

EAL means English as Additional Language. These children may require more additional support, so it may mean that a school with high EAL may get less good results but actually be very good supporting children.

I agree academics is not your priority right now.
Levels are assessed by teachers, with use of tests where applicable. (Only externally assessed at end of Y6).

learnandsay Sat 01-Jun-13 22:18:43

If this is being done amicably outside SS, trying to get a "looked after" designation might be 1000 times more pain, trouble and hurt than it's worth.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Sun 02-Jun-13 13:20:48

Well it's definitely happening. Will have to approach the Local Authority about places most likely towards the end of next week I would have thought- presumably they tell me where places are available, I try and arrange to go and look around and decide where we're sending her? Typically, DP is working abroad next week so can't bring him along for useful input.

Presumably I'm not going to get told off by the Local Authority if DD misses a few days of school in the transition process, am I? If only things had got moving a week earlier when it was still half term!

Exactly teenandtween, this is my first experience of primary schools since I was at one myself so it's all a bit new! I'm already paranoid about sending her in with the wrong thing on the wrong day and what have you confused I'll add EAL to my list to ask about, thanks.

Does anyone know if end of year reports will have been written by now? A friend with an older DC seemed to think reports will have been written and so it might be worth contacting the current school and seeing if they'll let us have a copy ahead of time- although apparently trying to decipher what they actually mean is another matter altogether!

We're not going to push for looked after status after looking at what it entails, too much stress and potential upset for all parties given the circumstances.

poocatcherchampion Sun 02-Jun-13 13:36:10

I think your priority is to get her settled in her school this half term and spend the time with her getting to know what's going on and her new routine. then you will have the holiday off before "proper" school starts in September. have some discussions with her teachers to understand where they assess her to be and you can do related activities in the summer, like reading or activities that focus on counting etc. I should think a stable home will do wonders though. good luck thanks

TeenAndTween Sun 02-Jun-13 14:36:25

How well do you know the little girl already?
If this was adoption you would have a 'getting to know you' time, and they would be off school for that. I can't see anyone complaining if she misses a week while you do the transition. She won't learn anything if she's all discombobulated anyway.

Y3 are not covered by limits to class size of 30. It may be important she can make friends reasonably locally. So if your preferred school is 'full' you may be able to appeal to get in anyway. (Admissions experts can advise better on that).

Once you have got a place at a school, they should help you out with knowing what is needed. My DD's PE kit stays in school permanently (home only for washing at half terms). She doesn't need to provide any pens/pencils etc, but does need a water bottle.

Will she have a lot of her own stuff when she comes? When adopting we took our elder DD to choose her own duvet cover and removable wall stickers, to help her decorate her room.

Don't forget you will be able to claim child benefit from the date she moves in.

Hope it all goes well.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Sun 02-Jun-13 15:56:48

poocatcher you're right, I think in some ways the timing is actually quite good, we can consider this half term a write off in some ways and a warm up round for September.

teenandtween I used to see a lot of her a few years ago but contact with the mother has been more long distance in the last few years, so I doubt she remembers me too well. She hasn't met DP at all. I highly doubt she has an awful lot of her own stuff, that sounds like a good idea RE the wall stickers actually, thanks smile

I possibly need to start a new thread for this but I'll ask here first just in case anyone is able to answer: I've had a preliminary google and about 50% of our nearest primaries seem to be a mix of English and Welsh spoken language from what I can gather from the websites- neither DP nor I are Welsh so I don't really understand how it works. DD is already Bilingual, plus semi-fluent in a third language, but not Welsh. Given the circumstances, if the only places available were at schools with Welsh used as an additional language, would I be able to appeal for one of the schools without the same emphasis on Welsh? As I understand it all Welsh primaries teach Welsh but some split teaching between both languages and some treat it more as a second language, the latter which would be preferable, but I could well be wrong.

prh47bridge Sun 02-Jun-13 17:57:40

Much of the advice you've been given on this thread assumed you live in England. Things work a little differently in Wales. Which county do you live in?

poocatcherchampion Sun 02-Jun-13 18:12:31

seeing as you are definitely getting her now I reckon a chat with local authority admissions would be helpful. those sort of questions would be appropriate to ask them. they would be able to help even if you then had to pursue discussions with a particular school or two. if she speaks one or two other languages it might be good to see if there are others who also speak those languages at local schools.

it all sounds exciting - I hope it goes well..

InViennaWeWerePoetry Sun 02-Jun-13 18:22:39

prh47bridge we're in Vale of Glamorgan

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