The School Admissions Nightmare!

Choosing the school your child will attend is one of the most important things a parent can do. It can be the place where life-time friendships are formed, where confidence is gained and sadly where self esteem can be destroyed. For first time parents, the whole process of deciding where your child is going to go for the next 7 years that will constitute their primary education can be daunting. Even when that hurdle has been jumped, you then have ‘big’ school choices to contend with and that can be even more terrifying.
I have recently done a piece of work for an education authority with appeals and I can honestly say I was gobsmacked! I was totally unaware of the trials that parents go through in the vain attempt to get the school they want. I say ‘vain’ because when it comes to infant classes there is a law that prevents any more than 30 children in one class with one teacher. It is possible to get a decision over turned but only if it can be shown that the appeals process was not carried out to the letter. I can tell you that authorities make sure that every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed so that is not likely to happen.
When it comes to secondary places or mid year places for year 3 upward, it is possible to have a successful appeal for a place. That said though, it is still a traumatic experience for parents who have the opportunity to put forward their case. I witnessed ‘War and Peace’ size documentation and could only imagine the emotions that had been felt within that family during the whole process.
So, for infant class places or popular secondaries – is there a guaranteed procedure to make sure you get the school you want? No. The closer you live to a school, the more likely you are to get a place but it all depends on the cohort at the time.
I live in an area where there is an acute shortage of infant school places. Many of the schools are in wonderful Victorian buildings in the middle of residential areas which means extension is impossible (even if there was money to carry it out!). In the present climate, new school builds are unlikely so the annual appeals process and all that it brings will continue. That is until ALL schools are perceived to be as good as each other!
You may like to read this interesting post ‘Schools, Schools, Bloody Schools’ that lays it out from a parent’s view.

What has been your experience of finding a school for your child? Was it easy? If you are a teacher – how did your school cope with being oversubscribed?

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