Primary school places
The Coronavirus is affecting the world in unforeseen and profound ways. While school buildings across the country are closed to the majority of pupils, the staff working in education have not stopped. Thursday 16th April will still see the announcement of the primary school places for September 2020.
While this may not be at the forefront of peoples’ minds at this time, it is important to look out for the email. Many of us go to drastic measures to ensure that our little ones get into our preferred choice of school, but there are no guarantees. Though there are many fantastic primary schools, competition is high. Hopefully, you will be thrilled at your offer.
When you don’t get the school you want
But what do you do if that is not the case? We spoke to Sophie Baber, Headteacher at Brookham School in Hampshire to find out.
“First and foremost, don’t panic and don’t let your child see that you are upset. In fact, I would strongly advise you not to open the email in front of your child. The last thing you want is to transfer any stress or anxiety to your child.
Once you have processed the offer and collected your thoughts, it is time to …
Accept the offer – Honestly
Accept the school place you have been offered. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it is important that your child has a school to go to in September. If you don’t, then chances are that you could lose your place and be offered an even less desirable option. (This will not affect your right to appeal.)
Contact your preferred school
Once you have done this, I would advise phoning your preferred choice of school. This may prove challenging at this time. If you think it’s brilliant, the chances are so will lots of other parents. As a result, the phones are likely to be busy and the waiting list may be long. Equally, phones may not be manned in the way they normally would be.
Leave a message
Once again don’t panic, if you cannot get through, leave a message and follow up with an email asking to add your child to the list. Remember there is always movement, places come up all the time and it’s not uncommon to be offered a place on the first day of the new school year. If you don’t get a reply to your email within a couple of days, check that your message has been received.
Right to appeal
Now your child’s name is securely on the waiting list; it is time to consider appealing. Remember you have the right to appeal, but, if you are to be successful, you need to have a solid case. Your reason could relate to a mistake in the admissions arrangements or the suitability of a school to meet your child’s needs.
It is important to note that each local authority will have a slightly different process, so it is imperative to check out your local authority’s website. Most will have an online form to complete and you will have to complete a new form for each school you wish to apply to.
Don’t forget to have all your supporting evidence in a digital format, so that it can be uploaded and submitted all at the same time. You may want to consider employing a solicitor or a member of a schools appeals organisation to help.
Consider alternative options
Going to appeal is extremely stressful and the chances of success are limited, but there is another option to consider… There are some truly outstanding independent schools. With nurturing smaller class sizes and an enviable breadth of curriculum, delivered by specialist teachers, this a brilliant back up plan.
If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford this option, you will find that many independent schools will be open for admissions all year round. If financially this seems an impossibility, it is worth picking up the phone and asking about the bursaries on offer.
With all of these options there is no magic wand, but if you don’t ask…”
If you would like to find out more about Highfield and Brookham Schools visit highfieldandbrookham.co.uk.