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What If My Child Can't Get a Place at Any School in the Area?

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 22 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
What If My Child Can't Get A Place At Any School In The Area?

Q.

We're moving from Staffordshire to Wilmslow very soon and our 12 year old daughter cannot get a place at ANY school in the area.

She has been refused due to lack of capacity and we are having to keep her at home whilst an appeal is made.

Surely the Education Authority should plan for the provision of sufficient school places relevant to the local population? How does the appeals process work? And how long might my daughter have to wait for a place? Is there anything else we can do?

(S C, 27 February 2009)

A.

Thanks for your question - I’m going to try to address all the issues about the school appeals service. Firstly, you ask how does the appeals process work?

Making Your Appeal

You should make your appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel at your local education authority. They will normally ask you to fill in an appeal form - do so as soon as possible to speed up the process. You should receive this within two weeks of your initial request, often this will be sooner though.

Each LEA will have slightly different procedures in place, so it’s a good idea to make contact with the person or team who deals with appeals at your local council, and ask him or her to talk you through the process in your area. However, in general appeals panels will look at all the details on your daughter’s requirements, such as where you live (or will be living), any personal special needs and so on. It will then decide if an appeal can go ahead - since your daughter has not received any school place, I would imagine this would go ahead.

What the Law Says

By law, your local council has to find your child a school place. The law says that all children have the right to a school education while they are between the ages of 5 to 16 years old. Also in those rights is that parents are allowed to say which school they would prefer their child to attend. It is important to note however, that your right to state a preference for a school for your daughter is not the same as a guarantee of a place at that school - it might, for example, be oversubscribed - but as written above, if your child is not offered a place at your top choice school, then you do have the right to issue an appeal to an independent panel.

Is It Common to Fail to Gain a School Place?

There have been cases when a place has not been provided for a child - occasionally these stories do crop up in the news but they are very unusual. It is far more usual to see parents upset that their children have not been offered a place at their preferred school - but the relative rareness makes it more likely that your local authority will help you out sooner rather than later.

Once your daughter goes through the appeals process and the panel discover that you have not been offered a single school, this is likely to be rectified since the council has to supply a place by law.

Is a Child's Right to Education a Human Rights Issue?

So far the Human Rights Act has had only a limited impact on the field of education - one significant case was Ali-vs- Headteacher and Governors of Lord Grey School in 2006, when a child who had been excluded argued that he had a right to an education. But generally the issue of providing a state education is left to the state’s discretion - nonetheless it remains true that by law your daughter should have a school place, so this should be rectified in the appeals process.

More About the Appeals Process

The appeal process normally involves you making a formal appeal - normally a letter - then telling your evidence (e.g. the fact that your daughter has not been successful in any of her applications) before sometimes appearing before the independent panel in person, where someone representing the local education authority will also appear to discuss why your daughter’s application(s) were made. You are required to receive at least two weeks - or 10 working days - of notice before the date of your appeal, but as you are probably feeling anxious you can ask to have an earlier date if one is available, perhaps through cancellations.

What Else to Do

You might want to ask your child’s current school for a statement about your daughter’s education thus far. This statement can either be made by you or a representative at the appeal panel.

In the unlikely circumstance that your daughter still does not have a school allocated to her, you can go through the appeal process again. Normally this is for parents who are contesting their child’s allocation to a particular school, however, so your daughter is unlikely to be affected. If necessary, you may want to consult a solicitor for legal advice.

You’ll want to supply evidence as to why your daughter needs a school in the area, for example a letter from your employer stating why you have to move, or a letter from your child’s school about specific education provision requirements.

So, to conclude, I hope this has been a helpful outline. In the first instance, you should contact the LEA immediately to ask their advice on what to do about your daughter’s lack of school allocation and explain the consequences of their actions are already in place. Start to gather evidence for potential appeals too.

Finally - good luck.

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Keeley - 19-Mar-18 @ 1:03 PM
Si - Your Question:
Hi my daughter hasn't been to school for over 5 months, she should be in year 9. Iv tried everything but to no joy. She was raped which was gang related so she can not go to any local school it has to be out the area. I'm getting no help and faceing a brick wall each turn I take. I'm at my wits end please help me. My only other choice is go to the papers. My daughter is the victim but is being treated so badly

Our Response:
I'm afraid this is beyond our remit to advise as we can only offere general non-specific guidance. Your local MP may be able to help you further.
GetTheRightSchool - 13-Oct-17 @ 10:41 AM
Hi my daughter hasn't been to school for over 5 months, she should be in year 9. Iv tried everything but to no joy. She was raped which was gang related so she can not go to any local school it has to be out the area. I'm getting no help and faceing a brick wall each turn I take. I'm at my wits end please help me. My only other choice is go to the papers. My daughter is the victim but is being treated so badly
Si - 10-Oct-17 @ 1:51 PM
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Wasim - 2-Oct-17 @ 11:48 AM
@Hatters - You only have the options of the schools you are offered in your chioces. Most schools judge on the catchment area first, therefore you were taking a gamble (this would have been laid out in the choice criteria). After that your other choices will be considered and you would be given an offer. There isn't much you can do unless a place becomes available in your school of choice before the start of term or you go on a waiting list. It's the bane of so many parent's lives. I know this feeling well. Jude.
JG78 - 19-Jun-17 @ 11:25 AM
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Hatters - 16-Jun-17 @ 2:37 PM
@Abi - speak to your local councillor/MP and the local newspapers. It's an awful country we are living in that people are made homeless and school places unobtainable!
Eggas - 1-Jun-17 @ 12:19 PM
My son is 12, we were made homeless a few months ago, and ended up in a house 40 miles away form where we are from, we have applied through the council for a school place somewhere, we have only had letters back from schools to say they are full in his year (7) we have contacted schools out of catchment area, they are all full. i have gone back to the coucil and made another application and said thi was my second attempt, but still no school place, he has been out of school for 3 months now, and i am no sure what to do, we are passed from pillar to post and we dont know what to do, its now half term again, and there is one final term before the summer holidays, its hard. hes bored and lonely :(
Abi - 31-May-17 @ 8:12 PM
Frustrated mum- Your Question:
My son, was give an EHCP in year R and excluded from school, this school refused to take him back as the said they didn't need to proved a place for him until he was 5. Whilst the EHCP was being written he was out of school and did not start school until the following September. At this point he went to special school (not the best suited place for him) due to a marriage breakdown and a new job we moved areas. When we moved to local Sen team decided that he would be more suited to a mainstream school with provisions, 11 months later still now school, at this point Iam so frustrated we moved areas. I followed all the procedures through the Sen team to be knocked be by the 5 schools I applied for saying they could not meet my sons need the needs which was stated in a report from theee years agai and nobody has bothered to up date! My son has has 7 months in school in total and is now supposed to be in year 2! His socialisation skills are practically none exist when he is around other children as he does not know how to integrate with others. I try my best to take him to groups and activities but he gets anxious and now thinks no body likes him it's heartbreaking to watch and he as lost all confidence in himself. Iam absolutely livid with how we have been treated and Iam at my wits end and I'm unsure of who to contact now.

Our Response:
In addition to the information laid out in the article, have you complained? Please see link here. You can also see more via Child Law Advice here which should help you further. As is the law, local education authorities MUST find a free school place for all children who are of compulsory school age.
GetTheRightSchool - 23-Mar-17 @ 10:04 AM
My son, was give an EHCP in year R and excluded from school, this school refused to take him back as the said they didn't need to proved a place for him until he was 5. Whilst the EHCP was being written he was out of school and did not start school until the following September. At this point he went to special school (not the best suited place for him) due to a marriage breakdown and a new job we moved areas. When we moved to local Sen team decided that he would be more suited to a mainstream school with provisions, 11 months later still now school, at this point Iam so frustrated we moved areas. I followed all the procedures through the Sen team to be knocked be by the 5 schools I applied for saying they could not meet my sons need the needs which was stated in a report from theee years agai and nobody has bothered to up date! My son has has 7 months in school in total and is now supposed to be in year 2! His socialisation skills are practically none exist when he is around other children as he does not know how to integrate with others. I try my best to take him to groups and activities but he gets anxious and now thinks no body likes him it's heartbreaking to watch and he as lost all confidence in himself. Iam absolutely livid with how we have been treated and Iam at my wits end and I'm unsure of who to contact now.
Frustrated mum - 22-Mar-17 @ 9:17 AM
I went to schools last year April at mitchells plain looking for a place for my daughter they told me that their list are already full for 2017...Now my daughter has not been allocated to any school she is looking forward to be in grade1 now she s crying because she can't go to school we be been told that the is no space they dnt even put us on a waiting list
Thash - 12-Jan-17 @ 2:54 PM
Good day My sister has relocated from Richards bay to durban I've been to the closest school and was refused space due to a waiting list she's in grade 10 it's a very important year of hers I can't not let her stay at home she also has a right to education. I need help
Sam - 9-Jan-17 @ 11:47 AM
Good day I got problem here I apply for my childin brookland primary school in mach only to find out in August that they can not accomodate my childI went to other school but been told it's full at least If I was told ealierI was gonna apply to other schools in tym but thy informed me lateplease help theres nothing that can make me happy more than seeing my child wearing uniform (Grade 1 )
Ako - 9-Jan-17 @ 7:29 AM
Moi ?? - Your Question:
We currently live overseas and our children are in an international school following the English curriculum in years 7 & 10Due to a change in circumstances we are looking t return to the uk but the school in the village where we have a house is over subscribed in both years. We cannot apply for a school place till we are back living in the uk, but I don't want to disrupt my children's school year without knowing if or where they will get a school place and feel it's too disruptive to their education to be at home for three months. I have approached independent schools in the area to see about bursarys as we cannot afford to continue with a private school, and they only appear to award them on entrance into year 7 and year 13, Do you have any advice for expats returning to the uk and getting through the uk education school entry system?

Our Response:
Over-subscription in schools is a big issue in the UK currently. Of course, some areas are more over-subcribed than others. The Advisory Centre for Education has an adviceline which offers a range of advice and information on education issues. The information is based on current education law and guidance and covers state funded education for children aged 5-16 years in England only, please see link here. Unfortunately, we can't really advise personally regarding this, as every case/area is different. Home-schooling may also be an option for you to explore in the short term, if you cannot initially secure a place.
GetTheRightSchool - 7-Dec-16 @ 2:05 PM
We currently live overseas and our children are in an international school following the English curriculum in years 7 & 10 Due to a change in circumstances we are looking t return to the uk but the school in the village where we have a house is over subscribed in both years. We cannot apply for a school place till we are back living in the uk, but I don't want to disrupt my children's school year without knowing if or where they will get a school place and feel it's too disruptive to their education to be at home for three months. I have approached independent schools in the area to see about bursarys as we cannot afford to continue with a private school, and they only appear to award them on entrance into year 7 and year 13, Do you have any advice for expats returning to the uk and getting through the uk education school entry system?
Moi ?? - 7-Dec-16 @ 7:05 AM
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