Appealing for Secondary School Places

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Wednesday 7 March 2007 3.46pm
Help!
I am in the position (I know I am not alone)of being offered a place, for my daughter, at a secondary school that was not one of my choices. I am looking into the possibility of appealing (though my case does not look strong) to the schools I did apply to and wondered if anyone has any advice, or comforting stories about their experience with secondary school transfers or, failing that, any information about their experience with home schooling!
Many thanks for any help/reassurance or information.
Cateness
Wednesday 7 March 2007 6.09pm
I dont know about appeals. However I do know of several people whose children were not offered places in previous years.

This then involved contacting a number of schools in neighbouring boroughs, to find out the scope for getting a place. Good schools, though apparently full will be interested in potential reserves. In the cases I know Wandsworth Schools were relatively supportive to Lambeth parents, presumably because they realised that a fair number of the kids from their own borough and assigned to them would ultimately decide to go private, and so liked the idea of some committed reserves.

That said it appeared to have been a miserable experience with relatively young kids feeling absolutely rejected, whilst all their friends were talking about their new schools. But slowly offers started coming in, and past Easter one or two quite sought after schools (Ernest Bevin in Tooting for one) started offering places.

But this still leaves months of uncertainty, your child being seperated from their friends and then possibily an over-long journey. Awful.

I might be tempted to phone your preferred schools and ask what the chances are of places coming available some time before September. And then check where you stand with the LEA. Certainly one of the out-of-borough schools who rejected our son made it clear that they will keep him on the waiting list until September.

2000 Lambeth kids without places according to the Evening Standard...

How on earth do they expect to require all kids to stay till 18 in boroughs who dont have enough places as it is.
Jac
Wednesday 7 March 2007 7.19pm
cateness I cant imagine how you must be feeling. I have one friend in the same position as you now and another who was in the same postion last year. On a postive note the one last year was offered a place with in a couple of days and a place at her second choice within a week. I know the new admissions system was surpose to stop some people being offered more than one place but it is not 100% and so some places do become available at a leter date.

Also it is worth bearing in mind that London is a very transient population so even if you dont get a place for septemeber places will occur later so make sure any school you want has you on their waiting list.
Thursday 8 March 2007 9.45am
My daughter was refused a place in the school of her choice, the only one not to be admitted out of her school, we were both devastated. I made an appointment to see the headmistress staight away ( at that time you had to be interviewed when applying for a school)

I explained that I understood the difficulties she had in selecting pupils, and that perhaps myself or my daughter had not presented ourselves in the best light etc. And if any pupils dont start after accepting positions could my daughter have the first vacancy...and as the start date got nearer putting me in a terrible predicament because the alternatives offered would not be acceptable..we got a letter from the school offering her a place! so hang in there love...:-)
Thursday 8 March 2007 10.23am
Before you appeal, write a letter to the school (as grovelling as possible, schools at this time get many angry letters) asking on what grounds your daughter was refused. If you think the grounds are unfair, go back to the school again and explain why. Depending on those grounds and if you think you will get anywhere, appeal. If not, ask to be put on the waiting list*, the lists do move, some parents may have applied to private as well as state schools and will say no to the state school if they get in otherwise.

Good luck, it's a horrible situation to be in.

*I don't think you can be put on the waiting list and appeal.
Thursday 8 March 2007 1.56pm
Thanks for all your comments, they are much appreciated.

Unfortunately I think that the schools were only acting in line with their selection policy and nothing has actually been unfair, (though obvoiusly any system which does not get my child a place at our first choice has to be unfair!!) the better performing schools are just massively oversubscribed and we were unlucky. I am mostly pinning my hopes on the waiting lists and plan to ring, on an hourly basis, from April :-), to find out if there has been any movement and what her position is. I had not thought of trying boroughs like Wansworth so I might look into a different lot of schools once I have emerged from the mire of possible appeals.
Thursday 8 March 2007 3.03pm
Where do you live? Which borough? Do you have a boy or girl?

I spent some time, albeit four years back working for Wandsworth so have some knowledge of their popular and less popular schools.

But you are right. This is a system where some are winners and some are losers. There will be some shifting around, and schools, whether they say so or not, want to attract children with committed and constructive parents. There is nothing wrong in phoning up a number of schools and asking whether there is any chance that they might be able to offer your child a place this, or even next year.

The process for people I know was utterly miserable, but their kids had ended up in schools which had been open and helpful.
Thursday 8 March 2007 5.36pm
I have a girl (well 2 girls and a boy to be accurate, but only one girl transferring this September) and I live in Southwark, I have also applied to schools in Lewisham and Westminster. Do you know if schools that I had not previously applied to or visited would still agree to put my daughter on their waiting list and whether this was worth doing in areas where more children will take up independant places?
Definitely not the week to give up cake or wine!
Many thanks.
Cateness
Thursday 8 March 2007 11.35pm
I am not really an expert, but I would have thought that there was nothing to stop you phoning up schools that you could get to and might be interested in. I assume things will be fairly fluid for the next week or so.

The first year this system was operating, when I think it more or less broke down altogether, one school that was usually thought less than desirable went as far as holding an open day. The person who told me this went and was really impressed, even though she had not previously considered it.

As far as Wandsworth goes, you can probably forget St Cecilias, Burntwood, and Graveney. But some of the others, especially in the middle and south of the borough, or the Church schools are OK. But only if the commute is alright. Wandsworth benefits from having a number of good primaries which then feed into their secondaries.

Even if you could not realistically get a place at say, Graveney this September, it might be worth asking them about how to be on a list for places that come up within the year or later.

Lambeth have a massive shortage of schools places.

Oddly some of the much richer boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea, and Fulham seem to have some very troubled secondary schools, simply because they dont get a mixed intake.

You certainly need the cake and wine. It could take a while. And it is awful for your daughter, especially if her friends are OK.

Choice does not mean much when you are not chosen.
Tuesday 13 March 2007 4.56pm
Many thanks Sarah2, for the advice and the sympathy, much appreciated.
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