Admissions ecpert advice needed please(12 Posts)
Hi all. Feel a bit lost, worried and stressed out - not sure what to do so thought I would ask for advice.
First a bit of history - I am a single parent to my to daughters and work full time in London. I leave my house at 6.30 each morning and the girls go to my mums from 7am-5pm.
My mum lives 20 mins away and is under a different council.
When the kids joined primary school, I explained my situation and that mum had them while I worked - no problem. So they attend a school 5 minutes walk from my mums house.
My eldest applied for secondary school this year and we just got offered a school which is a 20 minute walk from my house.
As I leave home at 6.30 each morning not returning until 5.30 (earliest) this would result in leaving a just turned 11 year old at home alone for 4+ hours every day (leaving aside the fact it is illegal), which I am not prepared to do.
At the same time I am unable to be in two places at once (getting her to school and in work in London at 8.30) and that is without factoring in the needs of my younger daughter.
I have tried considering options and cannot see a way out that works:
- to get DD to school I would have to either reduce my working hours or quit = this results in me unable to pay my mortgage
- I try and sell my house and move near mums (which I was in the process of two years ago but fell through a week before exchange. By that time I could no longer afford to get a house there) - no guarantee how long this will take and if it would even make a difference
in addition, I can't move my youngest daughter to a school here as my mum also looks after my nephew who is at the same school as my girls.
Sorry for the long post - I am tying myself in knots trying to figure out what I can do.
Any advice is much appreciated!
Firstly, you named your DD in your post. Report your own post and ask MNHQ to remove her name for you.
Second, its not illegal to leave your child alone. There is no age limit/restriction on leaving a child. Its down to the parent to assess the dangers and make a decision whether their child is sensible enough to be left alone. Hundreds of children make their own way home from high school every day and wait for parents to return after school.
Have a look at the high schools website. Do they have a breakfast club? My DD's school opens the canteen at 7.45am for breakfast. Your DD can go there in the mornings for breakfast if they do. What after school clubs do the school offer? Again we have a homework club until 4.30 plus no end of sports clubs that run until 4.45pm. My DD goes to an after school activity every day, its not a problem.
You do need to remember that once at high school your DD will grow up incredibly fast. She will want to be more independent and the school will expect her to be too.
If you really cannot consider leaving her then you may be able to find a childminder to have her but in my experience they don't take high school age children.
I was in the exact same situation (although at that time just moved with OH, but he too had to leave early for work). DS went to childcare, but DD stayed home alone and walked to school and back until I could be back after 5pm.
Firstly, she had always been very mature and responsible child, so wasn't concerned about her doing something stupid. She was also used to having to get up early so this wasn't a big shock. I took the first week to Secondary school off, but expected her to act as if I wasn't there. After that, I expected her to call me when she got up, then when she arrived at school, and again as soon as she got back home after school. She did this diligently every day for a year! She wasn't late once during all that time, nor arrived in the wrong uniform. When home, she usually went in her bedroom and watch TV or started on homework. The one rule was that she wasn't allowed to use the stove/oven.
The first week left me very anxious as it felt so odd to know my baby was doing all this on her own, but after that, I didn't think twice. She was happy with the situation though, wouldn't have done it if it made her anxious.
By the way, just meant to mention, it is NOT illegal to leave a child under 12 home alone. It is not recommended, but again, it all depends on the maturity of the child and the risk assessments you've carried out.
That sounds very tricky but as far as I'm aware logistics are NOT a valid reason for an appeal.
Also, as other people have said an 11 year old can ( and many do) stay at home on their own and get themselves ready for and home from school. Not ideal I know but sometimes it just has to be done
Can she walk with friends? My dd gets the bus and then walks to school. She doesn't love it but that's what has to be done. They can go to the library from quite early and then it is staffed from 8am.
There are various clubs after school but it's best just to get home in the winter.
You either drop her off at your mums and she makes her way to school from there, then she can walk back to yours after school. Plenty of London kids travel by themselves on public transport, it's not a big deal.
Or you look for childcare. Au pair, childminder.
Your main issue is that you don't want to leave your child at home alone. As swingofthings says, this is not illegal - far from it. An appeal panel is likely to take the view that this is a logistical issue and it is up to you to sort it out. You might get lucky and find a sympathetic panel who will admit your daughter on this basis but it would be a long shot.
You can appeal for the school you want your daughter to attend but, whilst you can mention these issues, your case needs to concentrate on why your daughter will be disadvantaged if she doesn't attend the school. If you appeal purely on the issues you have put in your post you are unlikely to win (although it is not entirely impossible).
As prh says, in appeals generally and at secondary school age particularly, childcare logistics and even travel aren't going to carry much weight at appeal.
It is perfectly usual for a child to travel up to an hour to and from school alone and also to be at home for short parts of the day at secondary school age. It certainly isn't illegal and is in fact quite usual given that most childcare facilities don't cater for children of this age group.
You can of course mention it as an element at appeal but really your main focus needs to be on the school itself not its location. So what does the school offer that would meet your DD's needs or interests:
Does this school offer GCSE subjects that others don't and that your DD is interested in?
Does your DD have any additional needs that this school is well placed to support?
Does this school have pastoral care systems or other features that would benefit your DD?
Does it offer clubs or trips or opportunities that would suit her career plans, talents or interests?
Those are the sorts of things that might come up at appeal as reasons to show that the appeal school is so suited to your DD's needs that she would be disadvantaged if she could not attend it.
Just a few other thoughts here:
1. Have you tried checking with the LA as to if there are any undersubscribed schools closer to your mums? If there are any schools with places then your DD will get in (even if it's not the most desirable school)
2. 20 mins isn't too far to travel on the bus. Can you DD still go to your mums first thing then get the bus to school from there (with the reverse in the afternoon?)
It seems to me that if you're a single parent, and the DC's other parent isn't on the scene locally to help out, then moving to be closer to your mum would be very sensible - you're lucky to have your mum so close anyway, and to have been able to rely on her all this time - many people don't have that option.
Moving is stressful, but in your shoes I'd set that as my goal and use any or all the above suggestions as a workaround until I achieved it.
As prh says, appeal panels can't take account of logistical issues and will expect you to find a solution that enables your child to get to school on time.
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