Applying for a place at a secondary school can be a very stressful time for parents - particularly if they have a specific school in mind. Applications begin a year before children are set to start school, at the start of the autumn term, and the deadline is now upon us - October 31st. Places are then allocated at the beginning of March on National Offer Day. However, what are your options if your child is not offered a place or you're not happy with the offer?
Other options available
Applying outside of your catchment area is possible in certain circumstances, for example, if you are a member of a particular faith or sometimes if your child has a particular skill, but even then, you may run into the same problem.
There is also the option of sending your child to an independent school, but again, good places can be very difficult to find. They are generally very costly, although more and more independent schools are now offering bursaries and scholarship schemes to families who might otherwise struggle to pay school fees, so it may be worth asking the registrar at schools you like for further details.
When completing an application form, ensure that it is completed diligently and that all questions are answered carefully and with the correct information. If there is additional information that you feel is relevant to the application, put it down (i.e. medical/social issues).
How do I appeal?
If your child does not get the place you hoped for, you will receive a letter of notification that will also have details of how to appeal against the decision. The Admission Authority (either the Local Authority or the school itself) will allocate an appeal hearing.
The appeal panel is made up of a minimum of three individuals with no connection to the school in question, who will be informed why your child was refused a place and they will make sure the school complies with the Schools Admissions Code. It is important not to panic and to prepare yourself adequately as the decision of the panel is legally binding.
How do I prepare?
It is obviously essential that you prepare for your appeal as well as you can. Make sure you have everything written down. Prepare clear reasons why the school of your choice is the right one for your child - rather than focusing on why another school would not be suitable. Be sure to include any specific circumstances - such as logistical or medical reasons - why your child should be given a place. Also, make sure that you take with you any documents or other evidence that would back up your case.
If you are having difficulties finding a place for your child and are unsure how to proceed, give us a call at Match Solicitors today. Our team of specialist education lawyers are experts at preparing for such appeal hearings and can help make sure you have the best opportunity of finding the best place for your child.