Are you in a school daze

Mark Stammers's picture

This week thousands of parents and children faced the elation or the despair of receiving their secondary school allocations.

Well done if your children or grandchildren got the school you wanted for them, but many of you will be extremely unhappy with the local education authority's decision and will be considering your next step. Appeal, settle, or find the money to send your son or daughter into private education.

Let me say I sympathise with you. My son has luckily been allocated his first choice, but it was a very different story two years ago with his sister. The education authority ignored all three of our chosen options and placed her in the nearest school to us. A school which had a dreadful reputation for educational standards and behaviour of the pupils.

We embarked down the road of appeal, encouraged by the fact that our next door neighbour's daughter had got into our first choice school on appeal the year before. Her parents lent us all the research they had compiled to fight their case and we added to it with our own evidence and felt certain of success.

We lost.

We did manage a partial victory a little later and got our daughter transfered to a better school although not our ideal choice.

Would I recommend appealing? Well that's a difficult one. It is immensely stressful and your chances of suceeding are slim. To stand any chance you have to examine carefully the full reasons why the education authority have assigned your child to the school you didn't request. You can get the full reasoning by writing to the authority at the address on the letter they sent you with the placement. Only if you can prove they are wrong in any of the reasons they give, do you have any chance in suceeding.

Outside of appealing you may consider a private school. The downsides of this are the obvious high cost and the possibility that unless you choose very carefully, you may pick an establishment that is no better than the state school you're trying to escape.

Accepting the state school you have been given doesn't always mean you have to accept a poor education for your child. Get involved. Most schools have a parents and teachers association and all schools have positions for parents on the board of school governors. You can help the school improve. Far too may parents believe that their child's education is the sole responsibility of the teachers, but the best schools work in partnership with the parents and children themselves.

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Your Comments

Great blog and feels relevant to my wife and mines concerns at present.
Although our daughter is only 18 month's all my fellow friends with children of the same age or higher are saying I should get her name down in the school of our choice.
They say i should do it now Or if I leave it any later she won't get in, is this really the case?
This to me seems all a bit much and brought worry and anxiety through our house.
What if she doesn't get in should I put he name down in a few? are even with the off-stead reports are these a good indication that this is the right place for my child?
Would it be better search for a more profitable job with more hours to send her to private school?
I remember my school wasn't the best and wasn't the worst but my family and friends who also attended have all done ok
and might I say nearly all happy with there lot.
Should I really be sorting all these thing out when she is not even two?
Should we just blacket appy to all the schools we like had wait?
Also some of my friends say even if you put you name down the local council choose for you anyway?
I guess I'm just new to all this.

Chris I fully understand your confusion. Any parent wants to do the best for their son or daughter, and when it comes to education the added peer pressure from other parents can make your head spin. Don't panic is my best advice. Take a deep breath and look at your daughter's initial needs for a nursery school place.

The government has been encouraging schools and other child day-care providers to extend their facilities and hours of operation to allow mothers to return to work. This is good news for most families where budgets are tight while one parent remains at home. Local education authorities have a duty to supply nursery education for children over three years old, and over the past few years availiability has grown to allow most children to attend a nursery for a half day session each weekday. The truth is what is available still depends on where you live. Your local authority will tell you which state nursery schools are within the catchement area which includes your home. They may also supply you with the lists of private licenced nurserys in your area.

Ofsted reports can give you some guidance as to which schools are the best, but asking parents with children already attending the nursery is a better way of getting a feel for the learning environment at the school.

As for you changing jobs to provide a private education for your daughter, good quality nursery education exists in the state sector and spending a fortune on private education does not always lead to better teaching or more importantly a happier child.

I wish you good luck and offer one more piece of advice, that you should look for a nursery which will encourage your daughter to have fun, explore and make friends.