What to do when think school not following admission procedures for waiting list.

(23 Posts)

The last two children who were admitted to one of my children's classes have only been admitted once their siblings have been admitted and after having to fight to get their children in despite places being available. I am concerned that the school aren't offering waiting list places appropriately and are leaving themselves open to appeals.

E.g. there was a space for a term in the class. It was finally offered half a term after child A's sibling started in the school and the mother heard a rumour that there was a space. Spoke to parent of child B who has been offered a place after their second child was admitted to reception and again had heard that the year group wasn't full. They had been waiting since reception, so technically child A's place should have been theirs (obviously I haven't said anything). There is still a place in the class. Who should I approach about this. Obviously I don't want to criticise the school but I don't want the school to continue to potentially leave itself open to lots of appeals.

lougle Mon 30-Sep-13 14:55:15

Are you under the impression that perhaps they are trying to keep their class sizes unnaturally small?

tiggytape Mon 30-Sep-13 15:02:21

It depends how this space came about. Whether there was always a space or whether someone left. It also depends on whether they were waiting for someone higher on the waiting list to decide whether to accept / decline it

The school / council often have to chase people. When a vacancy becomes available, it might not be filled for weeks if the person who left did not properly relinquished it (i.e. given written notice that they don't want it). Equally, if the council offered the place to someone already on the list or higher on the list, they too may take ages to reply and the council are obliged to chase and chase again.

In both cases the notice was definitely given and both times the parents were told that there were no vacancies, but the parents knew from playground gossip that there were. They litually had to get the school to count the list to admit there was a space. I think it is just inefficiency rather than anything else. PAN is 30, currently 29 in class.

meditrina Mon 30-Sep-13 15:08:41

Length of time you have been on the waiting list isn't a factor.

The list is ordered by how well you fit the criteria. So if child A lived nearer the school, they would be offered the place even if they'd been on the waiting list only one day whereas child B had been waiting for months.

It's not possible, for the reasons tiggytape gave, to know from the information you gave whether there was undue delay in establishing if the unfilled place was a genuine vacancy and making appropriate offers.

Seeline Mon 30-Sep-13 15:11:36

The very fact that a sibling had started at the school (presumably in accord with admission criteria) may have pushed children A and B further ahead if there is a sibling priority criterion?

YDdraigGoch Mon 30-Sep-13 15:11:49

Never listen to playground gossip!

If you are concerned, the best thing is to write to the chair of governors, but what's done is done, and they can't "unoffer" any places that have been accepted, and where the child has already started school, so it won't really get you anywhere.

I suspect that procedure and process was properly followed, but the outcome wasn't too your liking!

I have no problem with the children admitted - both lovely I just think that mistakes might be being made. I don't want anyone to loose their place but don't want classes of 31/32. 4 months is a long time to keep places open when parents are being told there is a waiting list.

Lose!!

YDdraigGoch Mon 30-Sep-13 15:26:34

But you don't know that the places were open for 4 months. It may have taken a while to get confirmation that the place was avaialble, or to get a response back from any offers made. A 4 month period would span at least two holiday periods too, so calendar time elapsed is not realistic.

You're lucky if you're in a school with classes smaller than 30/32 kids in them - that's a fairly normal class size round here.

I know for one of the places as notice was given in July.Child A's brother started in Nov child A finally offered place in dec after mother went in and made a fuss.

I have no proof that this is a problem it may well not be. There could be good reasons why the child at the top of the list have twice had to convince the LEA/school that there is a vacancy. I would just like someone to investigate. I will try to locate a governor thanks.

tiggytape Mon 30-Sep-13 15:50:19

But you don't know who else was on the list above November Boy's brother and you don't know if the people giving notice in July did it proerly i.e. in writing so that it took immediate effect or if they had to be chased to confirm it in a letter so that the place was officially free.

There may have been other siblings on the list who got offered that spare place first and took ages to decline it formally.
Just because a parent gets a child into a school doesn't mean any vacancies go straight to their sibling. There is a still a process to go through eg November Boy's brother wasn't a sibling when the July leaver gave notice therefore it is likely that other people were much higher up any waiting list at that time and may have needed time to be given first refusal.

Having the Summer holidays in the way just further delays things because schools are shut and parents are harder to chase.

By all means write in if you are worried but such delays are very normal for admissions that fill a vacancy.

But child B was apparently on the list before child A had even moved to the area in November. I know that there isn't definitely a problem I just think it is unusual that the school twice claimed there wasn't a space when twice the class was under PAN. But when pushed they realised that there was a space

tiggytape Mon 30-Sep-13 17:15:38

If it really is a case of them thinking they have no spaces when a space does exist then either they are hugely incompetent / unable to count. Or they are sneakily trying to keep numbers lower than PAN and not have full classes. Or the child that left still appears on the official class list because they haven't gone through the correct procedures to officially relinquish their place. Or the place was offered to someone else ages ago but nobody got around to chasing up their reply so it is held in limbo until they do.

In terms of avoiding appeals, there isn't anything immediately worrying that seems to be leaving them open to this. I got lost a bit about child A and child B but length of time on the list doesn't give priority. Whoever is number 1 on the list on the day that the place is officially relinquished gets that place (that might be ages after the child actually leaves) so one child can join a list on Monday and get a place that another one has been waiting for for months quite legitimately.
It is worth pointing out people can still win appeals though even if the class is genuinely full and even if the procedure is followed to the letter.

Thanks tiggy I am a bit concerned about accusing them of incompetence, however twice now they have maintained that there is no space when as parents we know that the other child is happily settled in another school. I guess my concern was that if a parent found out that a place had been there but then by the time the school realised it had been offered to someone else. This is nothing to do with the children who were eventually offered the places. Dd is also obviously currently benefitting from a class of 29 but that might mean that another child is having an awful commute to a school not of their choosing.

DeWe Mon 30-Sep-13 21:24:23

Situation at one of my dc's school was someone accepted a place but then didn't turn up. They then had to try and contact the parents. Took a very long time.

Ime most schools are keep to keep numbers at 30 if possible because they want the money!

mummytime Mon 30-Sep-13 21:48:14

I know in my DDs class over the years, there was a Russian boy coming, but he was having intensive language instruction and never arrived. That place was around "empty" for a term or so. In another case a boy with SEN was coming, he came for visits, which proved to the LA he couldn't cope with mainstream. Then the place was taken by a planned move; that place was "empty" for two terms.

But lots of parents wouldn't have had a clue what was going on.

Ok so there could be good reasons why the spaces exist but that wouldn't explain why the school keeps denying that a space exists in the class until the parents discover through other parents and then go to office and get them to check the class list again, wait while they count the list which is when the place suddenly becomes available. This is the story from both sets of parents on two separate occasions. Won't lose sleep over it though.

afussyphase Mon 30-Sep-13 22:41:03

I know I've said this before (but I'll say it here too!). I think schools have very little oversight from the LEA on these matters. There are rumours around here (I know, I don't just believe the rumours, but ...) about parents who push and hear when spaces are coming up etc etc getting their DC in -- parents who from my knowledge of our own place on the list should be near or behind us by location, for example. It seems that local authorities don't particularly enforce the proper management of lists, especially where schools maintain lists themselves.
On another thread, MNers who seem to know the system very well basically said that unless a parent hears of a misapplication of admission rules and then appeals, there probably wouldn't be any consequences to a school admitting whoever they happen to like best. (Now, they might not have much incentive to do so, of course..) And who would appeal? Only the people at spots 1 or 2 on the list, if they had the inside information at exactly the right time, which they likely wouldn't. I think LEAs should be taking action to ensure that schools go by the rules on this, rather than turning over procedures to schools.

TheBuskersDog Mon 30-Sep-13 22:49:32

What appeals are you worried about? Do you think there are other children that should have got places before child A and child B and their parents will find out and appeal, I don't understand.

What year is your daughter in because if she is in 3 or above they are not restricted to 30 anyway.

Won't lose sleep over it though. maybe not but you've spent a lot more time concerning yourself with the school's waiting list than most people would.

I think that is the problem afussyphase, chatting to the parent of child B I have little doubt that she would have moved him if offered the available place this time last year (I have no idea where he was on the waiting list then but likely to be above child A who was still in another city with the older brother). I don't think the school is waiting for the 'right' sort of parent to come along, I just think that they don't have/follow a system for turning a letter withdrawing a place into an offer of a place for someone else.

Still under infant class size regs. I guess it is partly selfish in not wanting a theoretical appeal to succeed so raising the class size (although I know this is very unlikely unless a parent was able to gain some insider info from other parents), and partly chatting to people who have been waiting a long time for a place who maybe should have got it sooner, I guess I feel a responsibility to a child whose parents might be wanting a place in the school yet are being constantly told that there isn't a place. I know that many people wouldn't bother but I am grateful for the nice environment my children are in and don't like to think that a child would lose out on it due to inefficiency, if indeed there is any. Will talk to one of the govenors and wait to see whether anyone mysteriously appears in the class.

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