Applying for a school place for your child may seem like a minefield. Here at AFF, we receive enquiries daily from families who are confused by the process or who are trying to appeal to get a place at an alternative school to the one they’ve been allocated. Our Education & Childcare Specialist, Anna Hutchinson, tells us more about how it works in England…
In the first instance you should familiarise yourself with your local authority’s webpage so you’re aware of the process and timelines for applications.
“We’re moving during the summer and my child starts school in September – why have I been told that I need to complete an ‘in-year transfer’ form when they will be starting at the beginning of a school year?”
Any school admission that’s outside of the main admissions rounds, typically for Reception and Year 7, is considered to be an ‘in-year’ admission. No guarantees “I thought that the Armed Forces Covenant meant my child would be allocated a place at the local school, but we have been given a place at a school in the next village, why?”
Sadly the Armed Forces Covenant doesn’t mean your child will be prioritised for the school of your choice; it’s designed to ensure that service children are not disadvantaged in comparison to their non-service peers. The school admissions team should consider your child fairly against others applying in the same location. Unfortunately, many schools are heavily oversubscribed.
Get the timing right
“We know we’re moving before the start of the next school year. The deadline for Reception applications is January – what should I do about applying when we don’t know where we will be moving to yet?”
Many of you face this problem. Regardless of whether your child is due to begin in Reception or Year 7 (or 3, 5, 9 in some areas), you need to apply through the local authority where you’re currently living to ensure that your child is allocated a place.
If your move is delayed or you end up staying in the same area, then you’re secure in the knowledge that your child has a school place. Once you’ve received confirmation of a move, contact the local authority and ask to apply for a place in the new area – they will be able to advise you of your next steps.
“I have been offered a place at a school for my child and it is not the one we wanted. What do we do now?”
You can appeal. But in the first instance, you should accept the place you’ve been offered while informing your preferred school that you will be appealing the decision. You can retain the place at the same time as putting forward an appeal. If you decide to turn it down, bear in mind that if your appeal is unsuccessful, you may find your child is without a school place altogether.
While your appeal is being considered, do take time to research the school where your child does have a place as you may find that local knowledge and lived experience alleviate your concerns.