In Year Admissions & Appeals
Last Updated August 2013
There are various reasons parents want their children to change schools outside the normal transfer frameworks, both in the primary and secondary school sectors.
The most common is moving house: expatriates moving back from foreign countries; children of UK service personnel or crown servants returning home; those moving into Kent or Medway from another county, or those moving within the area.
There are also parents unhappy with their child’s current school or those seeking a grammar school place post the 11 plus or currently attending a non-selective school, or those simply looking for what they perceive as a ‘better’ school.
Some parents decide after primary or secondary school offers are made in March, during the normal admission process, that they now wish to apply for further schools.
Finally (I think) those whose children have been home-schooled or attending a private school and, for a variety of reasons wish them to take up a place in a state school.
Offering comprehensive advice on admissions or appeals in an article such as this is unmanageable, and this is one of my most busy Telephone Consultation areas. I am also happy to take on cases for appeal where I consider there is a chance of success.
However, some pointers:
$1· Proof of residence is often the key sticking point for those moving house.
$1· However, if the school of your choice has vacancies, then place of residence is immaterial provided it is in the United Kingdom.
$1· Otherwise, with few exceptions (some church schools & the super-selective grammar schools), you will not be considered for a place at the school until you have committed yourself to purchase (contract signed) or rented (6 month rental agreement, sometimes 12) a property in the neighbourhood unless there are vacancies (if the school is selective your child will still need to take an admission tests first).
$1· Many parents want a school place before they move house. Apart from the exceptions above, you won’t get one, certainly not if you are moving from another country. However, there is nothing to stop you making enquiries of the school directly – each will have its own policy for dealing with such enquiries. These range from no assistance (most common with heavily oversubscribed schools and some primary schools with limited facilities to deal with a large number of enquiries), through to those schools who will offer a visit to look round and a discussion. Do not assume that the latter are short of applicants. Some believe it is a common courtesy for potential parents.
$1· Almost by definition, the most popular schools are oversubscribed (full), and so you will be looking at an application followed by an appeal that may of course not be successful. As a result, many children spend a period of time out of school, which can be as much as three months (even I have a grandchild who has recently spent this amount of time without a school!).
$1· Almost without exception, entrance to grammar school is via an admission test, which will usually be set in-house, and varies in content from school to school. Success in one school’s entrance test is rarely transferable to a second school
$1· Most grammar schools are full in each Year Group (but feel free to check) and so there are several stages to securing a place. After you apply the school determines if it going to test before making a decision. If the child is successful you will be offered an oversubscription appeal to try and win a place. If unsuccessful in the test, you still have the right to appeal, whether or not the school is full, but will additionally have to show alternative evidence that your child is of grammar school ability. Sometimes the child will be turned down without testing on the grounds that the school is full. In this case if you go ahead with an appeal, the child will need to be tested before the hearing so that appropriate evidence is forthcoming.
Challenging Behaviour & Exclusion
Where the child has a history of challenging behaviour (who defines this?) or has been permanently excluded from at least two other schools special rules apply but only for In Year applications. (School Admission Code 3.9) – However, the Local Authority still has to find a place locally for such a child.
$1· In Kent, the procedure is now very simple, having moved from a horribly bureaucratic process imposed by government this year. You simply need an In-Year Casual Application Form and send it to the schools you are interested in. In a change of procedure, there is now no centralised process, so you can send as many applications in as you wish. If turned down, you have the right to appeal.
$1· In Medway, life is more complicated. For most schools, you complete a Casual Admission Form, available on request from Medway Council, on which you can list up to four schools in order. The Council then manages the process and offers you your highest preference where there is a vacancy, or else allocates you to the nearest school with a vacancy. Medway Council states it will contact your previous school to establish your child’s current educational ability, although this appears to be an unlawful process if is used as part of the admission process (I seen no other reason for the request at this stage in the process before the child has been offered a place). It also seeks to determine if the child has a history of challenging behaviour. Medway may try and insist on your being locally resident but cannot deny your right to apply using your current address provided it is in this country.
$1· For some Medway schools, you can apply directly to the school and don’t need to include them on the Medway In-Year Admission Form even if you use this for other schools. At the time of writing (August 2013) these schools are: Chattenden Primary school; English Martyrs Catholic Primary school; The Phoenix Academy; St James CE Primary school; St Mary's Catholic Primary school; St Michael's RC Primary school; St Thomas More Primary school; The Academy at Woodlands. Secondary schools operating their own procedure are: Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Rainham School for Girls; Strood Academy; & Rochester Grammar school.
$1· For Grammar schools, Medway again tries to operate a centralised system which all grammar schools appear to have chosen to comply with, although as academies they can determine their own procedure. The authority states: ‘If you name a Medway grammar school on your application, arrangements will be made for your child to be assessed to determine if they are suitable for a grammar school education. This will normally be in the form of a test, but if your child has previously sat the Medway Test, we will seek for academic work to be reviewed. Please contact the Student Services (Admissions) Team for further advice’. This appears to state that academic work from the previous school should NOT be sought if the child has not previously sat the Medway Test, as is indeed the case unless it is in the school’s individual admission criteria.
$1· There is still no formal reference in the Medway scheme to applicants who have already applied to schools through the normal process, but wish now to submit a late application after allocations have been made. Historically this was at the discretion of the Admissions Manager (rarely given) but is mainly allowable for some grammar schools and out of county applicants only.
I regularly work with expatriates, who are relocating back to Kent to try and secure places for their children in Year 7 of new secondary schools each September. Their problems appear particularly acute as KCC is not allowed to begin the process until they are domiciled in the UK.