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No school place AT ALL in my county. I have to apply to neighboring county

(296 Posts)
gaba Mon 02-Sep-13 02:46:08

We moved into Hertfordshire, and applied to the county council for places for the two DCs, only to be told, nothing is available, please try Essex?

Their last school is over 30 miles away so it isn't an option, but I have four schools within walking distance from my new home. I had no idea things were this bad, I thought I would be given a choice!

I have spent weeks reading through miles of legislation and can find nothing that defines what a reasonable distance should be, or what exact rights to an education there actually are. (It is all very vague, there is little or no detail in the laws on this that I can find).

If anyone has experience with this sort of problem, I would really appreciate any help.

hatsybatsy Mon 02-Sep-13 07:13:04

I thought your LA had an obligation to find a school place for you? Someone will be along who knows more about that in a mo...

How far away is Essex from you? If your close to the boundary then it's worth a try?

exoticfruits Mon 02-Sep-13 07:24:43

How do they get to school if it is another county?

lougle Mon 02-Sep-13 07:47:14

What year groups are your DC in and how far are you from the Essex border?

lljkk Mon 02-Sep-13 07:53:41

Very curious how you will sort this, OP.

titchy Mon 02-Sep-13 08:03:34

Fair access protocol should apply assuming you're a fair distance from an Essex school (though fair distance could be an hour or more away....). Herts would have to provide transport though.

LIZS Mon 02-Sep-13 08:07:52

how old are they can you lodge appeals and go on waiting lists. Chances of 2 places at the same school are limited but you may yet find something more local, especially given that many will only resume business this week. How far is nearest Essex school ?

wonkylegs Mon 02-Sep-13 08:13:05

It's your LAs obligation to find you a place not for you to go hunting round the country randomly
Some advice here

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 08:23:23

You're not necessarily going to get a school within walking distance. If all schools are full, then the council should activate FAP to compel a school to go over numbers. But this will be the school that it (not you) thinks best able to cope with additional pupils. And if you are close to a boundary, it might mean a place in the next county.

The places should be within a 'reasonable' distance - not defined and in practice dependent on local geography and travel links. But over 3 miles and transport should be provided. I don't see how 30 miles can be seen as reaasonable.

LIZS Mon 02-Sep-13 08:25:45

Have you notified last school that your dc are moving , if not I wonder if others may be in similar position and all will only become clear when term begins.

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 08:26:15

Btw - what do you have in writing?

Are you preparing an appeal for the 4 schools you want which have rejected you? Evidence which shows the council is behaving unreasonably by not finding you any place should strengthen your case at an appeal.

tiggytape Mon 02-Sep-13 09:02:55

As others have said, your new home council MUST find you a school. They cannot fob you off and make you do the leg work applyinf direct to neighbouring councils (neighbouring councils won't let you anyway - they will tell you quite rightly that all applications go through the council where you live). They have a duty find you a school even if it is one in a neighbouring area with transport provided.

30 miles however is not reasonable. A lot of parents are disheartened to find out they aren't entitled to their nearest school or even one they can walk to but a journey of over 10 miles and certainly over 30 is not a reasonable one.

As no school place within a reasonable distance exists, the council should use Fair Access Protocol. This is an emergency measure to force a full school to take your child/ren. It may not be the school you want. It may not be the same school for each child. But it will have to be a much more local one.

Have you formally applied to your council in the sense of doing it in writing or online? If not do so now no matter how much the council tells you there's no point. It makes it official and after that they cannot ignore you. Once they turn you down for every school, ask to be placed on the waiting lists of each you applied for and ring the council every few days to enquire where your children will be placed. You may have to be quite forceful but this is their duty to find a school not yours and not Essex's either.

Coconutty Mon 02-Sep-13 09:06:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gaba Mon 02-Sep-13 10:23:01


Thanks for all the replies, I wasn't expecting so many already. I will answer them one at a time:

The DC's are in year 8 and 10.

The council have not offered any school, but have mentioned that there are schools with places in Essex, It seems I would have to give them permission to offer me a place in an out of county school. Since the nearest one in Essex is a fair drive away, on the other side of the M11, and is not ideal for our children I have not replied to that letter.

I am starting the appeals, but was just hoping that their was some clause somewhere that could get them into a more local school.

From what I understand the fair access protocol only works for children with difficulties, and / or difficult to place. There are a few vague areas in that legislation that could be used, but my guess is that it would't be a good idea to try it. (I have been reading all the laws over and over)

I have notified the last school, and probably wouldn't have a place there anymore. BTW I said recently, but I should have been clearer, we moved several weeks before the holidays. To clarify the last question, the last school is 30+ miles away, I have not been officially offered any school, just told that 'there may be something available in Essex if that's OK with me'.

Thanks Tiggytape, that's kind'a what I was thinking / doing.

Thanks everyone, I will be busy on the computer all morning and will check back more often.

titchy Mon 02-Sep-13 10:42:20

FAP SHOULD apply in your case - your children are the definition of difficult to place!

mummytime Mon 02-Sep-13 10:49:56

Your LA needs to offer you a place, this could be in Essex if it is a reasonable distance but it has to come from them. Then they would have to offer transport (but if you applied direct to Essex they might try to weasel out of it).
Your LA can use the FA to make a school give you a place. Also as your children are not KS1 they should stand a reasonable chance at appeal.

gaba Mon 02-Sep-13 10:51:52

I know what you mean, that's what I think. But I know what the people who work in that department think their job is too, and that is not getting good kids into good schools, rather getting problem kids into any school. I don't think they would be sympathetic to my little 'plight', I can understand their point.

I will certainly give it another try though, for the sake of making it official in writing.

gaba Mon 02-Sep-13 11:06:18

The school I am sure they are talking about in Essex, has spare places for a good reason. (nobody wan'ts their kids in it)

I know beggars can't be choosers, but asides from the bad reputation of the school, I will have to drive my kids past the four schools they could walk to, through the morning traffic to the M11, then a few miles more and back again twice a day.

It seems crazy when my 'local school' is busing kids in from miles away, that I have to take my kids, to a school miles away from here.

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 11:20:14

When you're an in-year application, you have to take the situation as it is, not how it could have been if you had moved in step with the main admissions round.

I suggest you don't use the "good kids into good schools" line when dealing with LEA, unless you want all sympathy to your (very frequent to the point of normal) circumstances to evaporate.

tiggytape Mon 02-Sep-13 11:36:48

and that is not getting good kids into good schools, rather getting problem kids into any school

Well yes that is true - if you are in an area where the good schools are full and some less desirable schools have free places then you can only be offered the less popular school with places - they won't create room at the good schools just because you'd prefer that. You could win an appeal to get a better school but it wouldn't be automatic.

However that doesn't really apply here since all local schools (good and not so good) are full. If your council formally offers you the Essex school they must provide transport because you aren't choosing a school miles away - it is the only one available. They don't need your permission to offer you this but if they do, you would have good grounds to use the offer at appeal as evidence that it is unreasonable (unreasonable distance to travel).

You need to formally apply (if you haven't already) - not just ring them but fill in the forms. Then you need to ring them every 2-3 days and ask which school you've been offered. This may prompt them to offer the one miles away rather than none at all or to use FAP since otherwise your children will be without a place. There is little you can do to force them to offer you a good school if they are all full but you can go on waiting lists for these and appeal too (the two things are separate and you should do both).

tiggytape Mon 02-Sep-13 11:48:24

Just to clarify - good kids and problem kids doesn't come into it. It is true FAP lists particularly vulnerable children who must be helped but that isn't to say other children without a place are ignored.
They will have to find you a school (or schools) but the initial offer is unlikely to be a 'good' school simply because these are the least likely to have any spare places. The council may decide one of the good schools has more space / facilities to cope with being forced to take extra pupils but there's no guarantee of this - they could equally well decide a less popular school is better able to cope. The choice is theirs.

When you move to a new area, you generally have to take whatever's offered and accept it might not be the local school. It is annoying I know to be forced to travel (even if the council will pay for this) when there's good schools on your doorstep but short of appealing or waiting list movement, there's no way around this.

gaba Mon 02-Sep-13 12:41:29

What I meant is that from the point of view of the FAP people 'relatively good kids'. Since they are used to much worse situations than mine, there isn't be much sympathy there. Exactly as you put it, their response seems to be 'if you can get any place for your kids whats the problem?'

As I said, I can understand their point of view. Obviously having said that I want the best for my DC's and don't want to be forced into taking this place in Essex.

Since there is something odd about all these kids doing all these miles, I thought it would be a good point to make a case of. My understanding of the rules is that publicly funded schools have to take 30% or so of their children from the local area. The closest school to my house takes less than 10% on average, and in recent years less than 5%, with much higher percentages coming from London.

So apart from it not being fair, it is also not being done according to the rules. I have spoken with neighbors, and they say that it is a major problem, they too are annoyed that 3 state funded schools in the area, seem to have found ways around the rules and only offer places to children from wealthy families in London, whereas their children are lucky to get a place in the remaining one school that is then is also over subscribed.

meditrina Mon 02-Sep-13 12:46:25

There are no %age "rules" of the type you specify.

What schools must do is have clear, unambiguous entrance criteria that conform to the admissions code and apply them properly.

From your latest post, does this mean that you have been rejected by your 4 preferences because they are full, and that you have been allocated a school you do not like? If so, how far away is that school?

LIZS Mon 02-Sep-13 12:54:12

My understanding of the rules is that publicly funded schools have to take 30% or so of their children from the local area. The closest school to my house takes less than 10% on average, and in recent years less than 5%, with much higher percentages coming from London.

I'm not sure that argument will get you very far unless they have breeched the published admissions policy criteria. London also has a squeeze on places . How far is the Essex school which is inconvenient to travel to and less desirable? Could your dc use public transport.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 02-Sep-13 13:04:52

The nearest schools are full. Are you suggesting that kids who have places should be asked to leave to make way for your kids? Schools admit pupils based on their admission policies - into Y7. If the admission policy places proximity at the top of the list, nevertheless, a child moving closer to the school than one already admitted in Y7 will not be able to take that child's place in Y10.

Are the schools you are talking about either selective schools or faith schools, by any chance?

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