Advice for Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Westminster parents on what to do if your child misses out on top primary school place
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Families in Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Westminster found out yesterday whether their children had bagged their top choice of primary school.
Although each borough saw an increase in the number of families bagging their September school of choice, there were still more than 18 per cent of children in Camden who did not receive their first preference.
But the Good Schools Guide’s state school expert Elizabeth Coatman is urging parents not to panic if they aren’t happy with their allocated school and to think very carefully before appealing.
She said: “Many children will again be placed in schools that parents feel are unacceptable but it is important to remember that the chances of successfully appealing are incredibly slim and over-sized classes, bad Ofsted reports, siblings at other schools and distance from home and not considered grounds for an appeal.”
The Good Schools Guide is recommending the following to parents who don’t get their preferred choice of school:
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· Firstly, accept the place your child has been offered. However determined you are to find an alternative, if the initial offer is not accepted, you run the risk of your child having no school to go to in September.
· Once you have accepted the place, get on the waiting lists for other schools you would prefer – even schools not on your initial application. All kinds of things can happen between now and the start of the new academic year which could result in places being freed up.
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· If your child has been given a place at a primary school you are not keen on, think carefully and take advice before planning an appeal – you only have a very slim chance of success.
· Instead take a moment to check out the school in greater detail. It might be better than you fear. Even if the local reputation of the school is bad, this could be based on out-of-date information which is no longer relevant. Look at its most recent Ofsted report and if it only scores a 3 or ‘requires improvement’, read the Section 8 monitoring visit report to see if the problems are now being addressed. Speak to parents at the school gate. Find out how young the teaching staff are: having a core of long-serving, older teachers may tell you something about how the staff are treated and how experience is valued.
· Don’t let on to your child if you think the allotted school is a disaster zone. If you bad-mouth the school but then fail to get into another one, your child will start at the new school conscious of the black mark you have already given it.
· If you do end up appealing, remember, you can only appeal to the schools to which you applied. Each school will require a separate appeal. The grounds for a legitimate appeal will be published on your local authority website: the bar for success is very high. You’ll need to prove a mistake was made when the admissions process was carried out, that the admissions policy is unlawful or that no reasonable person would come to that admissions decision – ‘reasonable’ being used in the legal sense.
· If you still need advice and guidance The Good Schools Guide offers a telephone consultation with a school appeals expert who will listen to your particular circumstances, suggest ways of approaching your appeal, give advice on dos and don’ts and tell you what your chances of success are.
For more information visit goodschoolsguide.co.uk.
Further advice is available at camden.gov.uk, haringey.gov.uk, barnet.gov.uk and westminster.gov.uk.