It’s embarrassing really, but the DfE is advocating an admissions system for compulsory school age children in England that requires parents to contact multiple schools (and even multiple local education authorities) before they begin to fill out the standard application form.
Some admission authorities might say yes to Reception class entry, some might say no – it’s simply a postcode lottery. But worse than that, local authorities can overrule a head teacher’s support, they can put these applications to the bottom of the processing pile, and they can refuse to give parents an answer in time to make an informed decision – meaning parents are left to gamble even getting a school place at all.
For evidence of the complex hoops a parent must jump through, often years in advance of their child beginning school, just look at this parent’s question posted on our Facebook group this week:
“Wondering if anyone can help… We live in Wiltshire (but are on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border). My summer born son (Aug 2011) can start school next Sept (2015), however we are at the early stages of looking into whether he can start in Reception at compulsory school age (Sept 2016).
Schools local to us are a) a Wiltshire voluntary aided VA school (so the school’s governing body are the admissions authority) b) a Hampshire voluntary controlled (VC) school and c) a Hampshire community (C) school both of which the Local Authority is the admissions authority.
When we apply for a school, as we live in Wiltshire, we apply through the Wiltshire system (and they approach the Hampshire schools). My question is how do I proceed in terms of trying to delay when my son starts school?
For guidance/info/policies etc., do I contact the Wiltshire LA and the Hampshire LA, as well as the Wiltshire school (because their school governors are the admission authority)?
Do I need to liaise with the two Hampshire schools (although the LA makes the decision re: admission)?
If Hampshire LA were to agree, could Wiltshire LA override the decision as they are overseeing the application process as we live in Wilts?
Any thoughts would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.”
Thoughts, DfE Ministers?