Saturday, 15 August 2015
Because of where we live we were allocated a school nearly 9 miles away from home instead of the school which is 4 miles in the other direction and in the same town as I work and the primary school both girls attended. This effectively meant the 11 year old would not know a single person as all her class mates succeeded on securing places in the local town.
I bought a book on school appeals, as recommended by the primary Headteacher, who also gave me a few pointers. I read that book so often I could have taken an exam on it! I followed all the advice and spent hours researching the statistics on all three schools in the local town. I knew the number of teachers, support staff, the number of pupils needing special help. I knew the sizes of classrooms and the minimum government requirements. I wrote my appeals and sent them off in time.
I attended 2 of the appeals which are similar to a court experience. At the first, only one other parent asked questions apart from myself although 20 parents were there. The first Headteacher was pompous, sarcastic and vain. It was the first time I had seen him and my first impressions were not good (can you tell?). When it came to my interview with the panel I found it emotional and difficult. After all this really matters to you and your child and if you get it wrong or make a mistake then it is only you and your child who suffer.
There were 22 appeals for the first school. They accepted 2 extra pupils but we were not one of them.
The following week the next appeal was held. This time it was not as daunting and more parents spoke up at the first meeting. The Headteacher of this school is delightful and is one of the reasons his school is now outstanding and oversubscribed by 30 places. I enjoyed my interview but as I spent time with a distraught lady whose interview was just prior to mine I felt her case was far more needy than ours. My daughter will do well wherever she ends up (I hope!) but this lady's son had real needs to be at this school. I volunteered our prospective place to her when I began my interview. They said it did me credit but they still wanted to hear our case.
We didn't get in.
At the end of the school year we found that the school we are going to has plummeted into special measures. I went to the meeting and was dismayed by the lack of attendance by future year 7 parents. Out of 240 pupils there were probably only 50 at the maximum. I rang the school admissions and found we were still in 13th place at 2 schools but they could offer us another place at a 3rd school where most of the year 6 primary school were going to. The problem is getting to it as traffic is grid locked everyday and it would be a horrible, difficult journey. We turned it down.
Resigned to our fate we have made the best of it. Then yesterday I received a letter telling us there had been a review and we have a place at our first choice after all! (The one with the nice Headteacher). How did that happen? I have no idea how we have queue jumped but we are very happy.