Friday, 20 April 2012

Primary School Places

The education system in this country has its ups and downs.  From a parents point of view, you want the best for your child and therefore you want them to go to the best school locally.  I have a 12 year old and a 4 year old.  When it was time for my eldest to got to primary school it was very straight forward, she got into the school we wanted, we lived close and that was that.  Now for the second and youngest child.  Changes have happened, for example, the eldest has gone to secondary school and we have moved house.  Slightly different area of schools so we re-visited all of them.  You hear stories about people not getting schools on their list and you think they must have put down schools totally out of the area and not enough locally.  So we used the interactive map that Croydon Council have on their website to find the schools most local to us.  We could choose up to 6 but only put 5 down.  We thought that would be enough.  Especially as our top 2 were in the top 3 results from the Croydon map.  Sent off the form and waited.

April 18th came and the day we would find out the decision of the council.  We were not too nervous as we thought we had covered the bases, choosen 5 schools all close to us and we would be happy with any of them.  The email started with 'We regret to inform you......' and I thought I would cry.  We had been given a school that was not on the list,  one that was further away than any on our list.  I had to call the council to find out why and part of the conversation went like this:
Me:  'I was wondering if you could tell me why we did not get any of the 5 schools we had placed?'
Council Person: 'Let me see...... ah well, you see, all the local schools did not have any spaces.'
Me: 'So no school local to us had a place?  Out of 5 schools, nothing?'
CP: 'That seems to be the case. You can appeal the decision and your daughter is on all the waiting lists'
Me: 'I really do not understand how that can be, we followed your rules on your web site, placed the schools all locally and you are telling me there is nothing?'
CP: 'Yes that is right.  As I said you can appeal and she will stay on the waiting lists.'
Me: 'I will need to know the distances of the children living furthest out who did get accepted at each school.'
CP: 'I cannot give you that information at this time, but email in and they can do that for you.'

Helpful as ever!  Actually, to be fair, she was really nice but she cannot tell me what she does not know.

I am left still confused.  I am fully aware that the system is automated by computer.  This computer selects the children for the schools and the idea is you will get a place at the highest selected school on your list.  It is not definate you will receive an offer for a choosen school and the list is meant to be your 'preferred' choices.  But I followed the rules.  I used their software and still I did not get anything.  I have been left with a school much further out that does not meet my child's needs on more than one level and I have been left with a much longer journey to and from the school which eats into my work time. I have to decline the place.

I am not the only one, of 6 of my friends, only 2 got something on their list.  The rest of us got schools not on the list.  This does not make sense on many levels.  I was told by a teacher, that Croydon changed their selection process this year and I think something may be wrong with it!  They will have a lot of appeals to go through I think, especially after hearing another 2 parents at nursery complain they had not got anything on their list either.

I have requested paperwork and details from the council.  I can send the appeal paperwork to Croydon council between 2nd May and 16th May.  Wish me luck, this may take some time.