What can you do if you are unhappy with the school place your child is offered?

Like many parents across the country, we are currently waiting to find out which school has a place for our child. I have written before about the fact that we don’t feel our local school is the best place for her, and questioned whether we really have the right to choose a school.

What are your options if you are unhappy with the school place your child is offered?

The right to an education is fundamental here in the UK and I will never forget how lucky my children are to have that opportunity. But I also have the right to withdraw my children from formal education – or not to send them to school in the first place.

Our local school is undoubtedly not the right place for my daughter. She is a bright, articulate child who loves her pre-school and is clamouring to learn everything from everyone. She is polite and kind and gets along well with her peers and wants to be friends with them all.

Libby is also a child who has had problems in the past with her eyes and now faces life in two dimensions, with her sight corrected by glasses. This has caused her to be slightly behind in her physical development, very clumsy and totally unable to catch a ball.

We have already had an issue with some girls being unkind to her. This was despite their parents being nearby, as they chose to turn a blind eye. Libby didn’t react well to the situation, she is so kind and gentle and had no idea how to stick up for herself. Instead she repeatedly tried to join in their games and had no understanding of why she was constantly being rejected.What can you do if you are unhappy with the school place your child is offered? There is an option you may not have considered and it is worthwhile doing so. Our local school has a bad record when it comes to bullying. Two different people have told us that their child has come home from school with bruises that it transpired had been caused by other children. The school hadn’t made them aware, because they hadn’t seen it happen.

I have dutifully applied to three schools. They are all a short drive from our house, we don’t fall into the catchment area for any of them. Each was under-subscribed last year, but they are all small, caring environments that are pro-active in dealing with bullying. They promote kindness, assist children to fit in and offer extra help to those who need it.

But the reality is, we are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to being awarded a place at any of these schools. So when the horrendous, heart-wrenching email comes in a couple of weeks time, telling me that my beautiful daughter can only go to a school that I know will break her physically, emotionally and academically, what will I do then?

The one thing I won’t do is to pack her off on her first morning to a place that I feel will be detrimental to her learning, development and confidence. You can never undo a bad experience. And when it comes to education, developing negativity towards learning early on is an issue that might never be resolved.

So, we’ve thought long and hard about our options. Home education is possible in theory. I work from home and have no intention of going back to working outside of the home in the near future. In fact it is a given that Libby will be home-educated at some point, as we intend to spend a year travelling as a family in due course. But at the moment, this wouldn’t be the right option for Libby.

Despite being young in her academic year, Libby has been ready to start school for quite some time. She relishes the opportunity to learn and to socialise and she literally can’t wait to get going. This isn’t a child that would flourish in a one to one environment with me as her teacher. Whilst I know we can get involved in local groups so that she has company, I am not the right person to teach her.

So the other option is private education. If I upped my workload dramatically, this would be an option for us. But this would, in my opinion, be detrimental to Lia. For her whole little life, she has tagged along with her sister. Happy as can be, but with no one on one attention at all. She will be starting nursery one morning a week next week but for now, that’s enough.

Lia needs to be with me. She needs me to have time to show her how to draw, recognise letters and write her name. She doesn’t need to be in full time nursery just to allow me to earn enough to pay for private education.

The other option

So what else can we do? Well a little while ago, I read a Guardian article saying that parents were using free nursery places for private schooling. And I realised that every three and four year old was entitled to a free nursery place – not just those that are technically of pre-school age. So being young in her year, Libby will be entitled to that free place for the best part of another academic year from September. And the funding can be used for nursery, childcare or even private education.

And we are also entitled to put her on the waiting list for local schools, so that should a place become available at any time, it may be allocated to her. So this is exactly what we intend to do. If we are unable to find a place at a school we are happy with, then Libby will continue at her private nursery in September. She has been attending the same nursery since starting one morning a week just before she turned two. And she loves it.

She will only go in the afternoons as she is now. And as soon as a place becomes available, she will start school. In a way, I will feel that I will be holding her back. She is ready for full days at school, she can’t wait for the structure and the learning. But in her current nursery, she is happy. And when it comes down to it, her happiness is – and will always be – the only thing that really matters.What can you do if you are unhappy with the school place your child is offered? There is an option you may not have considered and it is worthwhile doing so.

18 thoughts on “What can you do if you are unhappy with the school place your child is offered?

  1. Laura @dearbearandbeany

    We are in exactly the same position, we have applied outside of catchment and it worries me every day that we won’t get a place at our chosen schools. I didn’t think about the free funding, Alice is an August baby so we also could have another year of funding at her preschool. I hadn’t considered keeping her there. What do you think the chances are that a place would become available in that first year? You have given me something to think about x

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      I’ve heard that there will always be people moving about over the first few weeks of school so I’m sure that in the first year, a place will become available somewhere we are happy with.x

  2. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    Oh this is interesting – my daughter is a July baby and this hadn’t even occurred to me. I know we could keep her out for another year, but frankly home schooling wouldn’t work for either her or me! We’ve applied to three of our four local schools, but the closest is hugely oversubscribed, so I really don’t know what we’ll get on the 18th… I hope with undersubscribed schools in your preferences, you’ll get one you think will suit her.
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Review: Gwel An Mor, Cornwall – luxury family travelMy Profile

  3. A Cornish Mum

    I really hope you get her in to a school that you want, it’s such a big thing that needs to be right. Luckily I sued to live close to one of the best schools in our area so the boys got to go there, even after I moved to the other end of town.

    Crossing my fingers for you and your gorgeous girl

    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Camel Creek Adventure ParkMy Profile

  4. Martyn

    Love this post, mostly because you’re taking such an interest in her education rather than settling for what is on your door step like many do.

    From what you’ve said I think the extended placement is a good idea; something that I know is sorely looked over.
    Am pleased home education is an option even if it isn’t for now. It really isn’t as difficult as it seems. (If this 60 year old can do it so can you )

    One thing I will add though is this: education doesn’t need to be 9-3 or by set hours given to placement or nursery etc. It’s been a big thorn in my side that people can assume that it’s the case. I’m a massive supporter of education anywhere and it’s my motto for home education and for what we’re doing. Family time can include projects on topics and subsequently be an extended form of education. If you choose to stay at the nursery choose topics that you can all investigate in and make them family activities. I’m always happy to share what these can be. Then, if the time is right, when you get the school you like she us introduced at similar levels as others (or at the least)

    Either option I hope that it comes to a positive outcome.
    Martyn recently posted…20 Years of Muscular DystrophyMy Profile

  5. Jenny - Monkey and Mouse

    That’s awful that the local school (and parents!) have turned a blind eye to bullying. Great that you have other options though and have thought carefully about what you can do. We’re also not sending O to school this year (he should start in August as he’s 5 in September), instead he will be home educated as I think that is right for him. He’s not ready to sit still and do as everyone else does, he needs to run around and play and learn in his own way, the schools here are all excellent, some of the best in Scotland for their ratings, but that doesn’t mean they are right for every child. I also worry about him socially as he likes to play with others, but doesn’t always understand their games or want to play with them, a good chance he would get bullied for not knowing the superheroes or happily playing a his game on his own. Fortunately we know a lot of people who are home educating their children too and we will continue that way for now. 🙂 x
    Jenny – Monkey and Mouse recently posted…Encouraging Healthy EatingMy Profile

  6. Alyssa

    I didn’t realise that wss an option. We arrived lucky J has just been accepted for an early preschool place in out non catchment preffered school. Fingers crossed for you.

  7. Pinkoddy

    Good luck with the school place – but just reemember that people tend to talk about negative experiences and have their own version of events. You may find that the local school isn’t as bad as you think. I sent my kids to the school that was the most desired in my area (in my opinion speaking to others) and it was only when my youngest was due to go that I saw how horrid it was and pulled my other 2 children out (one of which was almost at the end of year 5). They moved to the local school I had heard bad things about and you know what it is an AMAZING school and I am gutted that I went out of my way to send them to a school further away.
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Sun £9.50 Holiday to Haven Blackpool Marton MereMy Profile

  8. Sarah MumofThree World

    Good luck with getting the school place you want!
    So sorry to hear about Libby getting left out. Hopefully this won’t be something which happens at school.
    It’s interesting to read that using nursery vouchers are still an option at age 4. It sounds like that could be just what you need if you need to go on a waiting list for a preferred school. In my experience, most classes tend to lose at least a child a year, so you wouldn’t have to wait forever for a place.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The growth spurtMy Profile

  9. Kiran

    Totally agree that her happiness is what matters, and you should do what you need to – you know what’s best and right for Libby. Good luck next Monday lovely xx

  10. Cheryl | TimeToCraft

    We had a similar experience to PinkOddy. Except it was secondary school. In catchment area of a very desirable school. In reality, it was wrong for our child. (Also an August child) They redefined bullying, so they could say they didn’t have a problem.

    We are really happy with our primary school, although I have a few friends that have withdrawn their children. In each case, the problem could have been resolved if the relationship had been handled better between parents and teachers. Like PinkOddy said, people are more likely to tell you about the failures than the successes.

    Fingers crossed that you get the school that you like and Libby is happy there.

  11. Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    Thanks for this very honest and enlightening post. So many of us weren’t (me included) aware of the free funding being available even after pre-school for those born later in the year.
    You are so right… early learning, security and their happiness is extremely important and forms the basis of their entire future.
    I hope all has worked out well.


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