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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: 21 Mar 2024 | 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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My son has been out of school for a year Sandwell’s council advised us that if we don’t register his with home education we would face fines so we had no choice! He wouldn’t got to the school that he was offer due to another child in his primary school who was in appropriately touching him would also be attending that same school and as we were already going though a house sale this would put us to far away from that school. We went through an appeal with all documents of our move and how our child was affected (they didn’t care) he is not learning from home an his mental health has deteriorated dramatically. We have seemed medical advice (they don’t care either) we have contacted the mp which Sandwell home education advised us to do) with no luck. It is making me ill watching my son the way he is and the only memory’s of school he has are bad ones. The school attendance officer is no help at all we are a family at breaking point. My son just wants to be in school whilst so many are refusing to go.
K - 21-Mar-24 @ 9:06 AM
My son has been out of school for a year Sandwell’s council advised us that if we don’t register his with home education we would face fines so we had no choice! He wouldn’t got to the school that he was offer due to another child in his primary school who was in appropriately touching him would also be attending that same school and as we were already going though a house sale this would put us to far away from that school. We went through an appeal with all documents of our move and how our child was affected (they didn’t care) he is not learning from home an his mental health has deteriorated dramatically. We have seemed medical advice (they don’t care either) we have contacted the mp which Sandwell home education advised us to do) with no luck. It is making me ill watching my son the way he is and the only memory’s of school he has are bad ones. The school attendance officer is no help at all we are a family at breaking point. My son just wants to be in school whilst so many are refusing to go.
K - 18-Mar-24 @ 9:55 PM
My son has been out of school for a year Sandwell’s council advised us that if we don’t register his with home education we would face fines so we had no choice! He wouldn’t got to the school that he was offer due to another child in his primary school who was in appropriately touching him would also be attending that same school and as we were already going though a house sale this would put us to far away from that school. We went through an appeal with all documents of our move and how our child was affected (they didn’t care) he is not learning from home an his mental health has deteriorated dramatically. We have seemed medical advice (they don’t care either) we have contacted the mp which Sandwell home education advised us to do) with no luck. It is making me ill watching my son the way he is and the only memory’s of school he has are bad ones. The school attendance officer is no help at all we are a family at breaking point. My son just wants to be in school whilst so many are refusing to go.
K - 18-Mar-24 @ 9:35 PM
Our grandson has not been given a senior school since September 2023 The appeal dateis December 2024 He is autistic and has EHCP This is unacceptable I have spoken to my MP who wrote to the Education minister in Bromley but just recently offered a school in Lambeth miles from where we live. Where do we stand?
School - 31-Jan-24 @ 4:15 AM
Heya. I like to get the process right the first time around in order to save time. With that in mind I make some brief summary notes on the curriculum in addition. I meet with key staff who are working at the school in question here. Then I decide to take a untimed tour of the whole place too. Good luck. You can do this. It is a good idea to read up on the history of the school in any case. This is important. I cannot stress that enough. Use your notes to make a informed choice about the schools within walking distance. Visit at least two different schools in the area. That way you will have more information. Talk directly to some of the pupils about homework and so on. Look far beyond the lines. Watch a real lesson in a classroom on top of that. Speak to the children attending the school about exams and lessons. Politely see if you can view a copy of the policy on bullying and the like. Also try to read a copy of the exam results policy and pay very close attention to where the school is. That is also recommended. Focus on your gut impression at all times. Preferably you want to pick a school which is located near shops or a library downtown. Avoid a bad school in a crime zone however. Find out what you can about fun events going on at the school and the communication methods which are used. Learn about what sort of food is offered at the school. If possible it is a good idea to find out if you can either volunteer or work at the school. Discuss the fees later on. Look carefully at some of the old videos and pictures on the website of the school. Get key contact details in place early on. Meet the principal of the school. Tour the school. Be very smart at all times when picking s school. It pays to do your online research in other words. Trust no one in the school at first.
TR - 4-Dec-23 @ 4:34 AM
Heya. I like to get the process right the first time around in order to save time. With that in mind I make some brief summary notes on the curriculum in addition. I meet with key staff who are working at the school in question here. Then I decide to take a untimed tour of the whole place too. Good luck. You can do this. It is a good idea to read up on the history of the school in any case. This is important. I cannot stress that enough. Use your notes to make a informed choice about the schools within walking distance. Visit at least two different schools in the area. That way you will have more information. Talk directly to some of the pupils about homework and so on. Look far beyond the lines. Watch a real lesson in a classroom on top of that. Speak to the children attending the school about exams and lessons. Politely see if you can view a copy of the policy on bullying and the like. Also try to read a copy of the exam results policy and pay very close attention to where the school is. That is also recommended. Focus on your gut impression at all times. Preferably you want to pick a school which is located near shops or a library downtown. Avoid a bad school in a crime zone however. Find out what you can about fun events going on at the school and the communication methods which are used. Learn about what sort of food is offered at the school. If possible it is a good idea to find out if you can either volunteer or work at the school. Discuss the fees later on. Look carefully at some of the old videos and pictures on the website of the school. Get key contact details in place early on. Meet the principal of the school. Tour the school. Be very smart at all times when picking s school. It pays to do your online research in other words. Trust no one in the school at first.
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4EVA - 20-May-22 @ 12:12 PM
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Cher - 28-May-21 @ 1:55 PM
Hi we have moved to a new area and we applied to move the children to the local school which is 5 minutes walk away. The school has offered my daughter a place which we accepted and she had been in the school 6 weeks however they have not offers my son in yr 4 a place. They offered us another school and would provide a taxi which we have refused as he is only 8 and is not comfortable with that option . We are travelling 20 minutes to keep him at his old school as the whole point was to move into the village school. We have our appeal on the 14th June but the new headmistress has sent in this letter I should like to bring to your attention a number of important matters related to the appeal currently being made by parents who are seeking entry for their child to year4 at School is designed to accommodate 210 pupils housed in seven classes of 30 per class. The admission number for the school is 30 and we currently have 204 on role. Any additional pupils entering the school inY4 would exceed this. This would be very difficult due to the size of classrooms under normal conditions; however, it is an even greater concern in this current Covid climate when classrooms have children spread on separate desks and there has to be sufficient distance between pairs of pupils. There would not be sufficient space for an additional child in Year 4 to be safely accommodated: There would be no room for an additional table or other necessary resources (tray, chair etc.). Throughout the school the vast majority of classes are full (with 30 children). The result of this is that we would be unable to restructure our classes from the existing single form entry organisation and any changes would be met with strong opposition by parents, governors and teachers. The main Victorian school building currently comprises 1 classroom, a resources room used for small group activity and resource storage, a library and a very small hall with an additional 5 classrooms situated in temporary huts on the school site as well as a small room (used primarily for music lessons). None of these areas would be suitable for an additional classroom and any changes in use would have a serious impact on the delivery of the curriculum for the existing pupils. Considerable pressure already exists on the accommodation within school and no unoccupied large teaching space is available in which an additional teacher could work; furthermore, the funding for such a teacher could not be sustained from available funds. The school site also presents considerable challenges in that EYFS and lower Key Stage 1 remain on the lower site, while upper Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are situated on the playing field at the top of the school, some walk from the Victorian building. There are also a number of steps between the two areas which provide difficulties with disabled access. The building is Grade 2 listed and this extends to the curtilage. The site is within a conservation area. The classroom in the V
Cher - 28-May-21 @ 1:50 PM
I am a year 10 student and my GCSE course has started. Its been almost a year now that i have no school and i am terribly worried for my exams . I have been waiting for a place at Baylis court secondary school but they seem to be full in all classes.other schools are co education and our culture forbids such school. Literally on the verge of crying because i dont want my life messed up because a school cant offer us a plce.PLEASE HELP SOMEONE??????
Lilgirl - 4-Apr-21 @ 9:54 PM
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Thandi - 23-Feb-21 @ 8:02 AM
Im not sure if anyone cant help here, but I've applied for my sons secondary school near my parents business catchment area. Taking into consideration when I moved to London to Dunstable I was offered a primaryschool and I gave my parents business address since 2015. However we live about half an hour away, which is why the businessaddress was given becauseits local. Now the reason why I done this is because being a single mother I cant have my son being in an area were me and my parents are not about because of the family business were we operate 17 hours a day. I also am training to be a midwife and work near the business hospital and my university is located near to.It is impossible to provide my residence address on the application.So basically all my letters and IDs are actually registered at the business address becausewe spend majority of our time there. Whats happened is the council have called me asking for proof of address which I gave them, but now there asking for a council tax ref number which I don't have for a business as we don't live there. I've been so stressed about this incase they refuse my application and tell me to apply in the Borough were I live but it is impossible because we only go home to sleep, we wake up so early to travel to dunstable to open our business so Im hardly ever at my residential home and as my child is a minor and being a single parentI have to take him with me. Im so worried and not sure what to do, I don't believe I have made a fraudulent application because I have no other choice to put my parents business address which has not been a problem since primary school in 2015, in addition I was going through a mess divorce also so hence why I kept everything at the business. Can anyone help or advise?
Dee - 23-Jan-21 @ 9:04 AM
My daughter is a secondary school student. We live in the Surrey area. We have applied to all the schools within the catchment area. They don’t have school place for her. She has missed more than two weeks of school at this stage. The law says my child has the rightful education and the local council has to find her a place. If I weren’t sending her to school, they will be sending police to my door and declaring us Unfit parents. What happens when thelocal council Whom we pay taxes to can’t provide your child a place? What does the law say about it?
Gazelle - 14-Sep-20 @ 2:02 PM
My daughter is starting secondary school in September. She didn't getplace in any of the 3 choices of schools we applied for..so then we applied to 2 more.. so luck there either...so not the LA gave her a school where it is very difficult to get to from my house. There are no bus services to the school from my house. Both me and my husband work so cant pick her up after school either. She is the only one going there from her school. It seems like the case everywhere..if school is so important LA should prove place for them at schools they want to go to. She is on the waiting list but have to wait for children to leave..
Joti - 28-Aug-20 @ 7:48 PM
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