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Is it right that my mental health has affected my childs school position?

(50 Posts)
Desperatemum03 Thu 12-Mar-20 16:31:13

Apologies, if title is wrong or misleading but this is how it seems....

My child's secondary school place has recently been not accepted even though he fits all criteria.

I applied online last year via my local councils website (as required and on-time). After going to see the school on opening day, we was given a form that needed to be filled in by myself, a priest confirming how many times he attends church and a copy of his baptism certificate. This is apparently the new admissions criteria as the school does its own admissions! Unfortunately, my mental health took a turn for the worst in the following months which then resulted in me being under the mental health crisis team around October when this form was due to be handed in. I received a text message from school reminding me that the form's deadline was in two days. Given everything that had happened in recent months, I had totally forgot about the form but filled it in and gave it to my eldest to take into school. I was under 24 hour care at home and was unable to leave my house so was therefore unable to go and get this form signed by the priest. Cut a long story short, the form was refused as it was incomplete. I contacted the school (2 working days after the deadline) to explain my current situation but was met with a woman who was neither empathic or understanding and was told that i missed the deadline...END OF BASICALLY! I explained that I had recently attempted suicide after having suicidal thoughts and this is why i was unable to get the form filled in by the priest as I was mentally unable to do so. Around a month later, I emailed the school expressing my dissatisfaction at the lady I spoke to, and also stating that I believe there should be certain circumstances in which deadlines should be exceeded. I personally think my situation was one of these circumstances!!! Anyway, got met with yet a robotic "whilst I sympathise with your situation, we have to adhere to the deadline policy". However, I was glad I just had something in writing confirming my side of the story, should this affect his place.
Fast forward to two weeks ago, I received an email stating that my child's place was not successful. I was confused at this seen as he has an older brother that goes to this high school, is he baptised, lives in close proximity and goes to the primary school which I think they call a leading or follow on school (don't quote me on that). In my eyes, he fits all criteria so was really confused! after contacting the school directly, I was told that he was not offered a place at the school due to this 'form' not being handed in. However, my friend did not put in this same form and her child will not have a sibling at this school come September, yet her child got offered a place!
I can not help but think this is personal, maybe because I complained????
I have appealed the correct way but have tried speaking to the school in the meantime but they are just not interested at all!

My question is.....Surely my circumstances of being under the crisis team is reasonable grounds to extend their so called deadline? I really don't understand in today's society, how people are still not understanding towards mental health!

I am sorry to rant, but this is affecting my mental health again and I feel like it is my fault my son has not been given a place :-(

OP’s posts: |
JuniperSnowberry Thu 12-Mar-20 16:59:51

I cannot help you as I don't know how it works for faith schools but I am tagging two very helpful people for you

@admission
@prh47bridge

Theresnobslikeshowb Thu 12-Mar-20 17:06:00

Did you send in a letter with the completed form explaining why it was late, why you couldn’t get the priest to sign it, and if they needed any further evidence from your mental health team your would be willing to provide it?
I’m guessing they’ve heard many excuses over the years, hence they didn’t sound sympathetic.

PanelChair Thu 12-Mar-20 17:13:10

I am sorry you have been so unwell.

I think the issue here is that once the school has published the deadline for submitting the supplementary information form, they have to stick to it - sticking to published admission arrangements is one element of the admission and appeals codes.

I’m assuming that having a sibling already at the school will mean that your son is already near the top of the waiting list. I would suggest that you take this to appeal. Panels aren’t usually sympathetic to parents who miss deadlines just because they’re disorganised, but I think you could argue that, as you were so extremely unwell (and assuming you’d have got a place if you’d submitted the form on time) it would be unreasonable for your son not to be admitted now. You could strengthen your case by giving other reasons (such as curriculum, clubs etc) why your son will be disadvantaged if he doesn’t attend this school. Of course, a lot depends on the strength of the school’s case not to admit, but I think you’d have a fair chance of success.

prh47bridge Thu 12-Mar-20 17:22:10

I can understand the school not wanting to extend the deadline. That could have led to all kinds of problems with appeals from anyone who missed out because you'd been allowed to apply late. Like it or not, admission authorities have to stick to their published admission arrangements including any deadlines. Unless their admission arrangements specifically say they can accept late applications where the lateness is due to mental health they cannot do so. I've never come across an admission authority that makes such a statement. Perhaps they should but they don't.

They cannot refuse to admit your son just because you complained. They must stick to their published admission criteria. Without knowing exactly what those criteria say it is impossible to tell if they have got it wrong. It may be that your friend's child was in a higher category.

However, one thing that occurs to me is that, as you submitted the supplementary information form late, they may have treated your application as late even though you applied to the LA on time. If they did that was wrong. Someone who applies on time via the LA but submits the SIF late should be in the same position as someone who applies and doesn't submit the SIF at all.

If they have got it wrong you have a good case for appeal.

PanelChair Thu 12-Mar-20 17:26:48

Apologies. I misread your post. I thought you had eventually got the form countersigned by the priest before you submitted it late, but now I see it was incomplete.

Was your son attending church during whatever time period the school stipulates? If your son did fulfil all the relevant criteria (including any about church attendance) then I think you have a good case for arguing that he should not be disadvantaged by the consequences of your poor health (ie the late submission of the incomplete form). It’s a bit different if he didn’t (say) meet the church attendance requirement, although in that instance you could still argue that that too was a consequence of your poor health (assuming that you were too unwell to take him and nobody else could) and again it would be unreasonable not to admit him.

PanelChair Thu 12-Mar-20 17:31:13

Good, prh47bridge is here.

To me, this sounds like they have treated your application as if in time but without a SIF, but that is certainly worth checking.

helpfulperson Thu 12-Mar-20 17:32:28

Who was looking after your son when you were that ill? Could they not have got the form completed?

Desperatemum03 Thu 12-Mar-20 18:21:51

Thank you all for your responses....

The reason i feel it is personal is due to the fact of my friends child got a place when she did not submit this 'form either' and fitted less criteria? This is my best friend which is why i know so much detail.

@helpfulperson

Just my partner who was looking after me aswell so was unable to leave me. It was really hard and my mind just was not able to process any information at all.

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Thu 12-Mar-20 18:29:06

As prh47bridge said, your friend’s child may have got a place because they fitted within another, higher admissions category.

If you want to tell us exactly what the admissions criteria say (and answer the question about whether your son was attending church) we may have further suggestions.

Theresnobslikeshowb Thu 12-Mar-20 19:06:53

prh47bridge I can see where you are coming from saying maybe they should make some consideration for mental health. Unfortunately I believe that would be abused, mainly by those who do not have a diagnosis but simply forgot to submit, changed their mind etc. The only way that could work would be to submit evidence from their mental health team. I personally have no issue with my mental health records being shared, as I am open about my diagnosis. However, many people keep it very quiet, even from their own family.

It is the whole being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

admission Thu 12-Mar-20 20:18:46

The bottom line here is that the school have an apparent policy, though it would be interesting to see exactly what that says, and they have applied it to the letter. They have to do that or they end up with all sorts of issues from other people.
The appeal process is there for people to explain why you should be given a place, so you should appeal and make your case. It is quite difficult to know what kind of reaction you will get. It might to some extent depend on how many others appeal with the same issue of not having completed the school form on time, as I suspect there could be a few. You do have a reasonable case to make as to the reasons for not completing the form. I would definitely try to get a doctors note which confirms that you did suffer from mental illness around the time when the form needed completing as part of your evidence to the panel.
In the meantime I would check in writing if you have not already done so, that you are on the waiting list and where about you are on the list. In theory you should be near the top of the list but again you need to check that. If you are not near the top then you need to establish why you are not.

Trinovantes Fri 13-Mar-20 11:49:43

I really sympathise with your situation, and can see that it must be causing you a lot of distress.

The reality is that faith schools discriminate all the time, on all kinds of axis, and that I really don't think there's much you can do about it except for appeal. (I think the whole faith school admissions system should be revised altogether, for state schools, as they really do act as they please, which is really unacceptable.)

Thisismytimetoshine Fri 13-Mar-20 14:03:10

Your friend’s child would not have been given a place without submitting this form either. It’s how faith school admissions work.

Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 14:20:47

He only attended with school (it is a catholic school).

The categories go in this order....

Baptism
Sibling at school
School attended prior
Location

OP’s posts: |
Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 14:22:16

Yes i totally get that point. However, i think if medical proof can be provided then it should be an exception :-/

OP’s posts: |
Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 14:26:05

Thank you for your response :-)

I will get all my medical evidence for the appeal, and it is something that i have suffered from for around 15 years.

I have contacted the school and asked them to add on the proof of his baptism so that his position on the waiting list is not penalised as the correct information is missing. They are saying that they cant do this and that i have to wait for appeal.

OP’s posts: |
Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 14:27:18

Honestly it is so distressing and has set me back in my mental health again as i feel it is my fault, but i really was to unwell.

OP’s posts: |
Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 14:28:28

Well i can promise you this is the case and she is willing to state this for the appeal. If they have it then they will be able to prove it.

OP’s posts: |
Lougle Fri 13-Mar-20 14:29:05

Will he still have a sibling at the school in September?

Thisismytimetoshine Fri 13-Mar-20 14:34:23

I don’t want to add to your distress, but if he wasn’t a regular church goer the priest would not have signed the form anyway.

prh47bridge Fri 13-Mar-20 14:38:21

They are saying that they cant do this and that i have to wait for appeal

They absolutely can and should do this. It is unacceptable for them to refuse to take evidence of baptism into account if that is one of the admission categories. If you should have got a place via the waiting list but don't get it because of their refusal that would give you a strong case for appeal. Make sure you have their refusal in writing.

Thisismytimetoshine Fri 13-Mar-20 15:13:42

Op, approach the parish priest and see if he’s agreeable to signing the form. Your position on the waiting list is irrelevant (unless you’re the only one on it) unless he’s approved the application; any place coming available will go to a child with an approved application; they’ll automatically have higher priority.
He should be happy to work with you when you explain your mn health issues.

Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 15:46:06

Yes. He is in year 9.

OP’s posts: |
Desperatemum03 Fri 13-Mar-20 15:47:30

He goes with school. This is all that needed confirming even though they know how much their primary school attends church!

OP’s posts: |

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