Primary Education in Essex 2015/2016 - Your guide to starting primary education or transferring from infant to junior school
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Primary Education in Essex 2015/2016 Your guide to starting primary education or transferring from infant to junior school Closing date for applications 15 January 2015 Apply online at www.essex.gov.uk/admissions
Page 2 Parents and carers who live in Essex You will be able to make your application can now apply for their child’s school online from 10 November 2014. place online using the Essex Online The closing date for primary applications is Admissions Service at: 15 January 2015. This is the statutory national closing date set by the Government. www.essex.gov.uk/admissions Please note that it is not possible to apply for a junior school or a mid-year place on line. The online application system has a number of benefits for parents and carers: • the online system is open 24/7 during the application period; • you can access related information through links on the website to find out more about individual schools, such as home to school transport or inspection reports; • you will be sent an email to confirm that your application has been received; • you will be told the outcome of your application by email on offer day.
Page 3 Contents Online admissions 2 Co-ordinated admission arrangements and 17 what they mean Introduction 4 The application process explained 18 Timetable for primary school admissions 5 Appeals against admission decisions 19–20 Essential information for parents 6–16 • Making an appeal 19 • Common Application Form (CAF) 6 • Infant class size appeals 19 • Supplementary Information Form (SIF) 6 • After you have lodged your appeal 19 • Applying to schools outside Essex 6 • At your hearing 19 • Closing date for applications 6 • Grouped appeal hearings 20 • Year 2 to 3 applications 7 • The decision 20 • When can my child start school? 7–8 • Nursery classes 8 Special educational needs and Essex 21–22 • Pre-school education 8 special schools • Priority admission areas 8 • Transport for children with statements 21 • Types of schools 9 of special educational needs • Using all your preferences 9 • Special schools in Essex 22 • School preference order 9 • Changing preferences 10 Home to school transport 23–24 • Home address 10 • Mainstream primary schools 23 • Shared parental responsibility 10 • Points to remember 23 • Address checking 10 • Sustainable modes of transport scheme 24 • Fraudulent/misleading applications 10 • Spare seat scheme 24 • Moving house 11 • Distance tie breaker 11 Financial assistance for parents and 25 • Siblings 11–12 students • Will my child’s brothers and sisters be 12 • Uniform grants 25 able to go to the same school? • Free school meals 25 • Twins, triplets etc. 12 School term dates 26 • Children who are cared for by a 12 local authority (Looked After Children) School governors 26 • Medical circumstances 12 Primary schools in Essex 27 • Admission of children from overseas 13 • How decisions are made 13 School information explained 28 • Withdrawal of offers 13 • No application for a school place is 13 A guide to information sources 29 submitted Useful addresses and telephone 30–31 • Late applications 14 numbers • None of your preferences can be met 14 • Infant class size legislation 14 • If you are not offered a place 14 Pull-out centre section – • Waiting lists 15 The Essex Common Application Form, • I’ve decided I would prefer a lower 15 notes of guidance and application checklist. preference school • Continued interest in a school after the 15 end of the autumn term • I want to change primary schools 16 • Fair Access Protocol 17 The information contained in the booklet is correct as at the time of printing. Policies may change in the light of decisions made by the Schools’ Adjudicator or any changes in the law. An addendum will be available on the website and on request.
Page 4 Introduction Welcome to Primary Education in Essex The LA’s School Admissions team provides help to 2015/2016. This booklet is for parents and carers parents applying for primary or secondary places living in Essex whose children will be starting in Essex and is responsible for the co-ordination primary education or transferring from infant of admissions to all Essex maintained schools and to junior school in Essex in the school year that Academies. If you require any assistance with your begins in September 2015. application, School Admissions will do its very best to help you. Please take the time to read this booklet carefully as it will help you through the application process. I hope that your child has an enjoyable and fruitful It gives you the information you need to help you primary education, and I wish them every success make an informed application for your child’s for the future. primary education. It also explains how places are allocated and how to appeal if you are refused a place at your preferred school(s). Vital information is included to help you through the co-ordinated admissions process. Please make use of all your preferences. We have an online applications system through Councillor Ray Gooding which over 90% of applications were submitted Cabinet Member for Education last year. Applying online allows you to complete and Lifelong Learning. the process quickly and easily over the internet. Alternatively an application form can be found on our website or you can request a paper form if you would prefer to apply on paper. Please do not do both. The Local Authority (LA) is the part of Essex County Council which has responsibility for the provision of school places across the county. Key Points to Remember • APPLY ON TIME - deadline 15 January 2015. • Use all 4 preferences. • Tell us immediately in writing (email or post) about any address change.
Page 5 Timetable for primary school admissions 2015/2016 Keeping track of your application As deadlines are a critical part of the process of applying for a child’s primary school place, a step by step timetable is here to assist parents. You can use it to check that you have done what you need to and received the necessary information and correspondence. The Local Authority sends all correspondence “in good faith” that it will be received on time. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of your application, including the offer letter or email then please contact School Admissions immediately. DATE PROCEDURE ACTION BY Week commencing Application information sent to all parents LA 3 November 2014 of eligible Essex resident children registered with an Essex GP when the data was received from the Health Authority. The Primary Education in Essex 2015/2016 booklet is on the ECC website. 10 November 2014 Online applications facility opens. LA/Parents October 2014 – Visit the admissions website and read through this booklet, find out Parents 15 January 2015 about and visit schools. It is important to consider how your child will get to school. 15 January 2015 LAST DAY FOR RECEIPT OF COMMON APPLICATION FORM Parents EITHER PAPER OR ONLINE. Applications received after this date will generally be treated as late. The online admissions system will not accept applications after this date. January – April 2015 Admission policies for schools are applied to relevant applications Schools and LA – see page 18 for an explanation of the process. 6 February 2015 The last date that evidence of changes of address can definitely be Parents/LA accepted to be included in the first round of offers on 16 April 2015. February – March 2015 Information exchanged with other authorities and preferences sorted to LA identify the highest that can be met – see examples on page 17. 16 April 2015 NATIONAL OFFER DATE. Offer letter sent to all Essex resident applicants. Parents/LA An email will also be sent to those who applied online and who asked for it, confirming the outcome of their application. If you DO NOT receive a letter by 25 April 2015 then please contact School Admissions. April – 29 August Waiting lists are maintained for all oversubscribed schools and any LA 2015 places that become available are filled. 15 May 2015 The latest date to lodge an appeal against a refusal of a place Parents if you want it to be heard before the end of the summer term. June – July 2015 Appeals held. Schools and LA 4 September 2015 LA ceases to maintain waiting lists for foundation, voluntary LA aided schools and Academies.
Page 6 Essential information for parents This booklet contains the arrangements for you can contact the school directly to find out if a admissions to schools as carried out by Essex SIF is needed. County Council in accordance with statutory regulations and guidance from the Department for Please remember that completing a SIF on its own Education and the statutory instruments. is not an application – you must complete the Common Application Form and send it to us. Common Application Forms (CAFs) and Parents seeking information should note that the Supplementary Information Forms (SIFs) LA will only discuss specific details about your Parents1 living in Essex2 must apply to Essex child’ County Council for their preferred primary or infant schools. The Essex Common Application Form Applying to schools outside Essex (CAF) is the only way you can apply for a primary Primary school admissions are fully co-ordinated or infant school place for your child. The CAF can across the country. This means that if you are either be completed and submitted online at resident in Essex you only need to fill out one www.essex.gov.uk/admissions or you can form, the CAF, even if some or all of your preferred complete and return the form in the centre of this primary schools are outside Essex. Please apply booklet. Please do not do both. If more than one online at www.essex.gov.uk/admissions or application is received the authority will process complete and return a paper application form. the last one to be submitted. You must submit your Please do not do both. CAF by 15 January 2015. Closing date for applications Your online application will be acknowledged The statutory national closing date for all by email only. Paper applications will be applications whether online or paper is 15 January acknowledged within 10 working days by letter 2015. It is vital that you apply on time. only. Please contact School Admissions if you do not receive an acknowledgement. Applications received after this date will normally be treated as late and will receive a lower priority. Some schools will need extra information to rank your application against their admission criteria. These schools will ask you to complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). Most schools of a religious character will ask you to complete a SIF. Where a SIF is required, this is made clear in the school’s admission policy which you can find on our website. You will need to look online at www. essex.gov.uk/admissions and find the relevant school to see if it has a SIF (it will be displayed under the Admission Policy for 2015/16 if a SIF is required). You can also view a copy of the Schools Admission Policies Directory for your area on the website to find out if a SIF is required. Alternatively 1 Parents include guardians and carers or any person who has parental responsibility or care of the child. 2 If you live in Essex your council tax will be payable to one of the following District Councils: Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Castle Point, Chelmsford, Colchester, Epping Forest, Harlow, Maldon, Rochford, Tendring or Uttlesford.
Page 7 Essential information for parents continued Year 2 to Year 3 applications When can my child start school? If your child currently attends an infant school As required by law, all infant and primary schools you will have to make an application to transfer provide full-time admission for all children offered to the partner junior school. Children who attend a place in the reception year group from the most infant schools in Essex are now guaranteed September following their fourth birthday. This a place at their partner junior school, provided an means that you have the right to a full time place application for that place is made by the closing at the school your child is offered from September date, and the child is still in attendance at the 2015. Research has shown that outcomes are school at the time applications are determined. better for reception children who start school in For parents who wish their child to only transfer September. to the partner junior school, the application will simply involve registering at the junior school. The law does not require a child to start school Parents who wish to apply for a Year 3 place at until the start of the term following their fifth schools other than the partner junior school, or birthday. Compulsory school age is reached at that for other schools at a higher preference than the point. Parents can request that the date their child partner junior school, will need to complete an is admitted to school is deferred until later in the application form. school year or until the child reaches compulsory school age in the school year. Where entry is There are a small number of junior schools deferred, the school will hold the place for that where children from local infant schools are not child and not offer it to another child. The parent guaranteed a place and parents applying to those would not however be able to defer entry beyond schools will have to complete an application the beginning of the term after the child’s fifth form. Full details of how to register for your child’s birthday, nor beyond the academic year for which partner junior school or to apply for other Year the original application was accepted. 3 places, together with an application form for those who need one, will be provided to parents of Parents can also request that their child attends known children in Year 2 of Essex infant schools in part-time until the child reaches compulsory November 2014. school age. You would need to check with the individual school(s) what the part-time provision Year 2 children moving into an area, who are would be. admitted to an infant school where a guaranteed place in the partner junior school is normally Where parents choose to defer entry, the school available, will not be guaranteed a place if may reasonably expect that the child would start at evidence of their new address is received after the beginning of a new school term/half term. 6 February 2015. However, where the parent of a ‘summer-born’ Where parents of children in Year 2 of an infant child (13 April – 31 August) wishes their child to school apply, in the normal admission round, for a start school in the autumn term following their fifth place in Year 3 of a primary school (which does not birthday, they will need to apply for a place at the have a Published Admission Number for normal correct time for the normal admission round for admission at that time) that preference will be the following academic year. Supporting evidence treated as a casual admission. A decision will not from relevant professionals working with the child be made until after the summer half term break and family stating why the child must be placed when there is likely to be a clearer indication of outside their normal age appropriate cohort must potential places at the school in September. be submitted. The LA/admission authority will decide whether the application for a Reception place will be accepted or whether it will be treated
Page 8 Essential information for parents continued as an application for a Year 1 place, the child’s Priority admission areas normal age appropriate cohort. If the application Although schools no longer guarantee places to for a Reception place is not accepted this does not children living in their priority admission area, constitute a refusal of a place and there is no right many include living in the priority admission to an independent statutory appeal. area as one of their oversubscription criteria. We recommend that you consider listing your local/ Nursery classes priority admission (catchment) area school, if you Nursery education, for children from the age of have one, as one of your preferences to give you a three years old, is available in some schools. better chance of getting a place at a local school. Those with nursery classes are identified in If you do not include your local/priority admission the Schools’ Admission Policies Directory for area school and you are not offered a place at any your area, which you can view on our website of your preferred schools, it is possible that your or which is available from School Admissions. child could be offered a place several miles away The admission of children to a nursery class in from your home address. a school is the responsibility of the school’s governing body. Confirmation of your priority admission area school is available by using our ‘Catchment Area The information in the Schools’ Admission Finder’ tool on our website www.essex.gov.uk/ Policies Directory, about admission numbers and admissions. policies, only applies to children being admitted to reception classes and generally to admissions to Attendance at a priority admission area other year groups in schools. (catchment) school does not guarantee entitlement to free home to school transport (see Attendance at a nursery attached to a school or a page 23). co-located children’s centre, does not guarantee admission to the school. Parents of children who are attending such nursery provision must apply After the first round of offers are made on 16 for a place at the school if they want their child April 2015, some schools may apply mid-year to attend the reception class. The application will admissions protocols to admit children moving be considered against the published admission into their area where there is no other school with criteria for the school. There is no guarantee that a space within a reasonable distance. place will be offered. Pre-school education There are a range of options open to parents for ‘early years’ education for their child. For information and advice on early years education and registered childcare. Please contact the Essex Family Information Service on 0800 055 6874 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Family Information Service can also provide information about childminders, nursery education, pre- schools, day nurseries, playgroups, crèches, breakfast/after school clubs and holiday schemes for all children from the ages of 0 to 14 years.
Page 9 Essential information for parents continued Types of schools All schools in Essex (except independent fee have been dealt with. This could mean your child paying schools) are known as maintained schools being allocated a school several miles away or Academies. There are several types of school from your home address. Your local school must outlined below. The list of schools in the Schools’ be one of your preferences in order for it to be Admission Policy Directories show which type of considered; this will not be done automatically. school each one is. The differences relating to Applying for more than one school does not in pupil admissions are: any way reduce your chances of being offered • community schools – the Local Authority (LA) your highest preference so please do aim to use is the admission authority3; all of your preferences. • voluntary controlled schools (VC) – these School preference order schools often have a religious character, normally Church of England. The LA is the You should put your preferences in the order admission authority3; you really want them. If parents differ as to the preferences they wish to express for their • foundation schools - the school’s governing child, they should resolve that difference body is the admission authority3; before making an application, as the LA will • voluntary aided schools (VA) – these schools only process one application for each child and have a religious character often Church of cannot get involved in any dispute on the matter. England, Roman Catholic or Jewish. The school’s governing body is the admission The rank order of your preferences is confidential authority3; to the LA and will only be shared with schools in the event of appeals. In accordance with the • Academies – these are independent schools statutory School Admissions Code, schools must in the maintained sector. The Academy’s not use admissions criteria that requires you admission policy and arrangements must be to put them as first preference to gain a higher consistent with admissions law and the School priority. No Essex schools use such criteria. Admissions Code and the Academy Trust is the If your preferred schools are not in Essex you admission authority3; should check their admissions criteria carefully. • Free Schools – these are Academy schools Contact details for local authorities bordering set up in response to parental demand. The Essex can be found on page 31. Academy Trust is the admission authority3. It is important that, when selecting your preferences for school admission, you take Using all your preferences into account how you will transport your child We recommend that you use all of your to school. The following website may give you preferences and consider including your local/ useful information about alternatives if your child priority admission (catchment) area school as one will not qualify for home to school transport: of your preferences. If you express a preference for www.essex.gov.uk/publictransport or www. a school and a place cannot be offered, you will travelinesoutheast.org.uk. See pages 23-24 for be allocated a place at the nearest school to the more details. home address with a place available, after all the other on time applications An admission authority is responsible for all aspects of pupil admissions and appeals. 3
Page 10 Essential information for parents continued Changing preferences Shared parental responsibility You can change your preferences on your online Where both parents share parental responsibility application by logging into and amending your and live at different addresses and they cannot existing application and resubmitting it, as long agree on the application for a school place, (and as this change is made by the closing date. If you this is apparent to the Council), the applications applied on paper you will need to write to School will be held in abeyance until either agreement is Admissions before the closing date so your letter reached, demonstrated by both parents confirming is received by 15 January 2015. this in writing, or a court order is obtained confirming which parent’s application carries After the closing date, a change request will not precedence. Failure to secure an agreement before be accepted, unless this is for an address change. the published offer date could prejudice your Any requests must be submitted to School child’s chances of gaining a place in a preferred Admissions in writing, whether you applied online school. or by paper. You can email admissions@essex. gov.uk Address checking Home address The LA may ask a random sample of applicants to provide proof of their home address. This must be Applications will normally be processed on the a copy of one of the following: basis of the home address for the child at the time of application and determination (when • UK driving licence; decisions are made about places offered). The • council tax notification; home address is considered to be the address at which the child resides on a permanent basis or is • two utility bills dated within the last six ‘ordinarily resident’. This is generally the address months (gas, electricity, water or landline of the parent/carer. In some cases, children may phone). be ‘ordinarily resident’ for the majority of the Fraudulent/Misleading applications school week, including overnight, with another Regrettably, on occasion some parents give false relative or carer, such as a grandparent. Where information about their home address to get a this is the case, the application may be processed place at a particular school. This is completely on the basis of that address and proof of address unacceptable and can have the effect of denying and residence arrangement will be required with a place to a child with a more genuine claim. The the application. The child must be living with the County Council expects that all applications are relative or carer 24 hours per day, for the majority made in good faith giving the correct information. of the school week. Where there is reasonable doubt as to the validity Arrangements where parents can leave and collect of a home address, the LA reserves the right to children from another relative or carer on a daily take additional checking measures including, basis will be regarded as childcare arrangements, in some cases, unannounced home visits. If a and the child will not be deemed to be ‘ordinarily school place is secured through false information resident’ with that person. In all cases we expect regarding a home address, the LA, in consultation that the adult with whom the child is ‘ordinarily with the admission authority, has the right to resident’ receives the child benefit for the child. withdraw the place and will exercise that right in Some foundation, VA schools and Academies have relevant cases. different rules on home address. You should check each school’s policy.
Page 11 Essential information for parents continued Moving house/changing address details Distance tie-breaker If you move address either within Essex or into Most schools use distance to prioritise their Essex during the admissions process, you must applications, both within each individual criterion notify School Admissions immediately by e-mail and as a final criterion. Straight line distance is or letter. You should provide (proof of exchange of commonly used; however, a small number of contracts if you have purchased your new home, schools measure by the shortest walking route. or tenancy agreement if you are renting). If there are changes to your plans you must let School All straight line distances are calculated Admissions know immediately or your child’s offer electronically by the LA using data provided jointly of a place could be withdrawn. by the Post Office and Ordnance Survey. The data is used to plot the co-ordinates of each individual If you know you are moving to Essex before the property and school and provides the address closing date for applications but are not able to points between which the straight line distance is provide evidence by that date, you must apply for measured. Distances are reported in miles to three Essex schools via your home authority. decimal places in the first instance. In the unlikely If you make an online application and you have event of two applicants with an identical distance moved house it is not sufficient only to change competing for a single place at a school the place your address on your online application. You must will be offered to one applicant on the basis of inform School Admissions in writing by e-mail lots drawn by an officer of the County Council not or letter, and provide evidence of your move as involved in admissions, with the exception of described above. twins, triplets etc. If this evidence is received after 6 February 2015, Siblings we cannot guarantee that your application will be For all community and VC schools, and for some processed using your new address. If your child foundation, VA schools and Academies (indicated is subsequently placed on a waiting list where by ‡ in the school’s admission policy) the the position is influenced by home address, following definition applies: your new address will be used to determine your position. Please note that if you are applying for A relevant sibling is a child who has a brother, a place at schools outside Essex there may be sister, adopted brother or sister or stepbrother different dates after which a new address can or stepsister living in the same family unit, in be considered. If you are in doubt please contact the same family household and address, who School Admissions. attends the preferred school in any year group excluding the final year. Biological siblings who If you own a property in Essex but are not living attend the preferred school in any year group in it, but intend to take up residency at the Essex excluding the final year will also be treated as home before the start of the autumn term, then siblings, irrespective of place of residence. evidence of this address must be provided for the Children residing in the same household as part application. Any offer of a school place will then be of an extended family, such as cousins, will not be conditional upon receipt of evidence of you taking treated as siblings. up residency at that property in Essex. For mid-year applications, the only variation to the definition above is the child should be attending or has been offered a place, at the preferred school at the time of application and determination and with a reasonable expectation that the sibling will
Page 12 Essential information for parents continued be attending at the time of admission. Biological Children who are cared for by a local siblings who attend the preferred school will be authority (Looked After Children) treated as siblings irrespective of their place of A ‘looked after child’ or a child who was previously residence. looked after but immediately after being looked Foundation and VA schools and Academies may after became subject to an adoption, residence have different definitions of a sibling. If you are in or special guardianship order will be given first any doubt please contact the school. priority in oversubscription criteria, ahead of all other applicants, in accordance with the School Will my child’s brothers and sisters Admissions Code 2012. A looked after child is a be able to go to the same school? child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or You should check the priority given to siblings in (b) being provided with accommodation by a local each school’s admissions criteria to assess the authority in the exercise of their social services chances of this. There is no automatic guarantee functions (as defined in Section 22(1) of the that siblings can go to the same school. Your Children Act 1989). chances will be reduced if you do not apply on time. Medical circumstances Some schools may give priority based on medical Twins, triplets etc. circumstances. You should check the school’s For community and voluntary controlled schools in admission policy and send any supporting the normal admission round, if the last child to be evidence to the school directly. If the school is offered a place is a twin and their sibling cannot in another local authority, check with the school be offered initially, the LA will ensure both twins where to send any evidence. are offered a place. In the case of triplets or other multiple births, if the majority of children can be Admission of children from overseas offered a place initially, the LA will offer places All children of compulsory school age (5 to to the remaining child(ren). For example if two 16 years) in the UK have a right of access to triplets can be offered a place, the remaining child education. However, where the child is in the UK will also receive an offer of a place. for a short period only, for example less than half a term, it may be reasonable to refuse admission to For mid-year applications, where a family moves a school. into an area necessitating a change of school for their twins (or triplets etc.) and the majority can be Children who hold full British Citizen passports offered a place then a place will be offered for the (not British Dependent Territories or British remaining child(ren). However, where the family Overseas passports), have a passport endorsed does not move but wishes to transfer the children to show a right of abode in the UK or are to another local school where there are insufficient European Economic Area nationals normally have places for all of them, then places would not unrestricted entry to the UK. An application for a normally be offered to all. school place will be accepted for such children even though they may not be resident in the UK For foundation and VA schools and Academies the at the time of application. The application may decision will be made by the governing body or however be processed on the basis of the overseas Academy Trust. address. If an applicant meeting the above criteria owns a property in Essex but is not living in it, but intends to take up residency at the Essex home before the
Page 13 Essential information for parents continued start of the relevant term, then evidence of this If you do not intend to apply because you will be address must be provided for the application. Any sending your child to an independent school (fee- offer of a school place will then be conditional paying), or other reason, please inform School upon receipt of evidence of taking up residency at Admissions. that property in Essex. Late applications Other children from overseas do not generally have Applications received after the closing date of 15 automatic right of entry to the UK. An application January 2015 will be treated as late. This means for a school place will not therefore be accepted your application will be dealt with after all on time until they are resident in the UK. Proof of residency applications have been processed, unless there such as endorsed passport or entry visa will be is evidence, or you provide evidence, to show that required with the application. the application could not reasonably have been How decisions are made made on time. A new on time preference will not be accepted after the closing date unless the Each school has a Published Admission Number circumstances are deemed to be exceptional. (PAN) which is the maximum number of children the school can admit each year. If there are more All late applications will be considered by applications than the PAN then the school’s LA officers to determine whether there are oversubscription criteria will be applied. This exceptional circumstances. Where that is deemed is a set of rules against which applications are to be the case, the application will be treated as prioritised, for example by siblings or distance. ‘on time’4. The admission policy for each school is available to view on our website by selecting the individual None of your preferences can be met school or in the Schools’ Admission Policies In the unlikely event of none of your preferences Directory for your area (also viewable on line or as being met because other applicants meet the a paper copy on request). It sets out a summary admission criteria better, if you are an Essex of the oversubscription criteria. The directory resident you will be offered a place at the nearest also includes information on the number of school to your home address with a space applications received and the last admission available. Remember to use all your preferences. criterion reached last year for primary and infant For September 2014 2.89% of Essex parents schools. This information can help you assess the could not be offered any of their preferences chances of your application being successful. whilst 93.55% were offered their first or second Withdrawal of an offer preference of primary school. If a school place has been secured through false information or has been offered in error, the offer of the place may be withdrawn. No application for a school place is submitted It is the responsibility of the parent or carer to ensure that the application is received by School Admissions by 15 January 2015. If you fail to submit an application you will not be offered a school place. It is not possible to treat any application received after 6 February 2015 as on time. In addition, any 4 applications or change requests received after 6 February 2015 will be held and not considered until after the first round of offers on 16 April 2015.
Page 14 Essential information for parents continued Infant class size legislation Panels have to weigh the disruption and difficulty to The law requires all primary and infant schools the school and the quality of education it delivers, to ensure that there are no more than 30 pupils (referred to as ‘prejudice’) as a result of having an in an infant class with one school teacher. This additional pupil, against the predjudice to the child requirement has led to schools removing their if they did not attend that school. guarantee of a place for priority admission Some parents express concern that their appeal area children. This legislation restricts the has been ‘a waste of time’. An appeal is never a circumstances under which appeal panels can waste of time but you should carefully consider uphold an appeal for an infant place. your reasons for your child attending the school, particularly where the infant class size limit of 30 If you are not offered a place pupils is concerned. If you are not offered a place at a preferred school the law requires that you be given the right to From figures available at the time of preparing this appeal to an independent appeal panel. booklet, for Year R admissions in the academic year 2014/2015, there have been 415 appeals Legislation has restricted the power of appeal for places where the infant class size limit was panels where the refusal of a place has been involved, of which 15 (3.6%) were successful. based on the infant class size limit of 30 pupils. There were 32 further appeals not involving the Please see page 19 for more information. infant class size limit of which 11 (34.4%) were When the refusal of the place is not based on the successful. infant class size limit, you must give your reasons This information is intended to help parents decide why as to you want your child to attend that whether it is worthwhile pursuing an appeal in the school. Independent appeal panels can grant event that their application is unsuccessful. a place at a school even when the admission authority has demonstrated that the process has been carried out properly, and all the available places have been filled.
Page 15 Essential information for parents continued Waiting lists Continued interest in a school after the After 16 April 2015, all unsuccessful applications end of the autumn term that are a higher preference than the school Waiting lists are not automatically maintained offered will be held on a waiting list, according to after the end of the autumn term for community the admissions criteria for the school. This applies and voluntary controlled schools. This means to both on time and late applications. that if you have been refused in the normal admissions round but still want a place, you will School Admissions will hold waiting lists for all have to contact us to put your child’s name on a Essex oversubscribed schools until the end of continued interest list. For reception applicants August 2015. Applicants will be ranked in priority the registration form is available from November. order, according to the school’s admission It should be completed and returned before the criteria. After this date Essex LA will continue end of December to ensure your child is on the list to maintain the waiting lists for oversubscribed from January. community and voluntary controlled schools until the end of the autumn term 2015. Oversubscribed If a place becomes available those on the list will foundation and voluntary aided schools and be ranked along with any other applications that Academies are required to maintain their own have been received for a place at the school. waiting lists as a minimum, until the end of the autumn term. Waiting list positions can change, When there are more live applications, on the for example, as a result of an offer of a place being same day, than the number of places available, made or as new applications for the school are the school’s admission criteria will be used to received. It is possible, therefore, that a child’s determine any offers that can be made. position on a waiting list could move down as well This situation may be different if you are applying as up. for a place at a foundation or voluntary aided If you are in any doubt, please check with the school or Academy. You will need to contact the relevant admission authority.5 school to see how they handle your continued interest in a place.5 I’ve decided I would prefer a lower preference school than the one I have been offered Although you will be given the right of appeal for any preference for which you were not offered a place, you will only be automatically held on a waiting list for any Essex preferences higher than the one offered. If, having received your offer, you decide you would rather your child attends one of your lower preference schools, please put this request in writing to School Admissions. Your application to that school will then be reactivated and, if there are no places available, added to the appropriate place on the waiting list. 5 If you have applied for a non-Essex school and have not been offered a place, it is your responsibility as the parent or carer to find out how waiting lists for schools in other LA areas are operated. This includes what happens if an offer is made from a waiting list.
Page 16 Essential information for parents continued I want to change primary schools Fair Access Protocol (mid-year) The Local Authority has a Fair Access Protocol to If you wish your child to transfer from one primary ensure that schools and the LA work together to school to another, you should contact School ensure that access to education is secured swiftly Admissions. The opportunity to transfer depends for children that have no school place. on places being available at the preferred school. The aim of the protocol is to encourage close If a place can be offered, it is usually made co-operation between schools, when allocating available at the start of the following term. If places for pupils who are ‘ hard to place’ (for no places are available your application will be example children with challenging behaviour) that refused and you will be given the right of appeal. balances the needs of parents, children Applications for transfer will not ordinarily and schools. be determined until the half term prior to the requested admission date. In addition, under the protocol the LA can, in exceptional cases, approach schools and ask Changing schools is a serious step to take. them to admit children over their admission Before applying please discuss the reasons number where, for example, a child has moved for your request with your child’s current into an area and there are no schools within a headteacher. You should not remove your child reasonable distance of the child’s home with a from their current school before securing a place available. place at another school. A school may admit a Children considered for admission under the Fair child over the admission number and outside Access Protocol will take precedence over children the admission criteria mid-year where they have on a waiting list who are attending another school. been excluded from another school or are being placed as a move supported by all agencies. If, having applied for a place, your child is still left with no school place at all please contact School Admissions for more advice. If, having applied for a place, your child is still left with no school place at all please contact School Admissions for more advice. The LA has a ‘Fair Access’ officer who can offer advice and assistance where no schools in the vicinity have vacancies.
Page 17 Co-ordinated admission arrangements and what they mean The law requires a Local Authority (LA) to co-ordinate admissions to all primary schools (except independent (fee-paying) or special schools) in their area. Primary schools includes infant schools. Essex parents must apply for primary school places by completing the Common Application Form. This can either be completed online at www.essex.gov.uk/admissions, or you can use a paper application form. Please do not do both. Parents can express preferences for up to four schools both in and out of Essex, in the order in which they would like them considered. On 16 April 2015, parents will be sent one offer of a place at the highest preference school that can be met. If none of the preferences can be met, a place will be offered at the nearest school to the child’s home address with a space available. Here are some examples of this process: Example 1 – Parent has applied for four schools and the first preference can be met: Preference 1 – Offered Preference 2 – Not offered – right to appeal given* Preference 3 – Not offered – right to appeal given* Preference 4 – Not offered – right to appeal given* Example 2 – Parent has applied for four schools and the second preference can be met: Preference 1 – Not offered – on waiting list and right to appeal given Preference 2 – Offered Preference 3 – Not offered – right to appeal given* Preference 4 – Not offered – right to appeal given* Example 3 – Parent has applied to four schools and no preference can be met: Preference 1 – Not offered – on waiting list and right to appeal given* Preference 2 – Not offered – on waiting list and right to appeal given* Preference 3 – Not offered – on waiting list and right to appeal given* Preference 4 – Not offered – on waiting list and right to appeal given* Child will then be offered a place at the nearest school to the home address with a space available. * You will note from examples 1 and 2 that children are only held on waiting lists for preferences higher than the one that can be met. On 16 April 2015 (National Offer Day) parents will be sent a letter containing the result of their application. An email will also be sent to parents who have applied online and who have asked for it, confirming the outcome of their application.
Page 18 The application process explained Stage 1 Paper Application form Details entered onto Application acknowledged Application received. LA database. by letter within 10 days. OR Online Application made using Application acknowledged Details will be transferred Application onto online facility. by email. LA database. CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS IS 15 JANUARY 2015 Stage 2 Schools’ admission LA database is updated Results are collated by policies are applied and information is School Admissions. to all applications. exchanged with other LAs. Stage 3 The highest preference Preferences that can be Information from other offer is decided and the offered are identified. LAs added to database. pupil record updated. Stage 4 16 APRIL 2015 – NATIONAL OFFER DAY An offer letter will be sent to all parents giving the results of their application. Email sent to online applicants who have requested it, giving the result of their application. Pupils will be held on a waiting list for any schools of higher preference than that offered unless parents inform School Admissions that they no longer wish to be considered for a place. Waiting lists will be maintained by the LA for all schools until the end of August 2015. If a place becomes Parents are given the right available then the child to appeal against all at the top of the waiting list preferences not offered. will be offered the place. If none of your preferences can be met you will be offered a place at the nearest school to the home address with a space available.
Page 19 Appeals against admission decisions Making an appeal After you have made your appeal If your child has not been offered a place at your You will be advised in advance of the date of your preferred school you have the statutory right to meeting called a ‘hearing’. Wherever possible the appeal to an independent appeal panel against appeal hearings will take place in the area local to the decision not to admit your child. If you decide the school for which you are appealing. to appeal, you have 20 school days from the date of your refusal letter to make your appeal. This is You are encouraged to attend your appeal in to ensure that it is heard along with all others. person. If you do not attend, and do not inform the clerk, the panel may consider your appeal in Detailed information about how to appeal will be your absence. You should remember that if your sent to you with your offer pack. appeal is heard in your absence, the panel will be unable to ask further questions about any details Infant class appeals (Key Stage 1 appeals) of your case, which they may wish to clarify, before Legislation has been introduced to enable schools reaching a decision. Your appeal will usually be to meet the requirement that there will be no more heard in private and as informally as possible. than 30 pupils in an infant class with one school If you wish, you may bring a friend, relative or teacher6. This legislation restricts appeals panels representative. Normally at least five days before to only allow successful appeals on one of three the hearing you will be sent a written summary of grounds where admission would exceed the class the admission authority’s case for not being able size limit, either: to offer your child a place at the preferred school. • it finds that the admission of additional At your hearing children would not breach the infant class size There will be three panel members who will be limit; or introduced to you. A clerk will also be present to • it finds that the admission arrangements record the panel’s decisions and advise on the law did not comply with admissions law or were and procedure. A representative of the admission not correctly and impartially applied and the authority will present the case for not meeting your child would have been offered a place if the preference. arrangements had complied or had been correctly or impartially applied; or The panel will have copies of your appeal (plus any letters or additional information you may • it decides that the decision to refuse have sent in support of the appeal) together with admission was not one which a reasonable information on why your preference has not been admission authority would have made in the met. If you attend, the hearing will usually follow circumstances of the case. this pattern: This means that an appeal for a place in the reception year, year one or year two, • the case for not meeting your preference will has limited grounds for success where the be presented; admission authority’s grounds for refusal is • you, or your representative, may ask based on infant class sizes of 30. questions; It is advisable that you consider carefully whether • you, or your representative, will present your to submit an appeal in such a case to avoid case; unnecessary disappointment. • you may be asked questions; • the reasons for not meeting your preference will be summarised; • you, or your representative, will be given the opportunity to summarise your case. Defined by Section 122 of the Education Act 2002 and the Education (School Teachers’ Prescribed 6 Qualifications etc.) order 2003 which was made under that section.
Page 20 Essential information for parents continued Grouped appeal hearings Essex LA’s policy, which applies to community When there are a large number of appeals for and voluntary controlled schools, where a one school they may be heard using the ‘grouped parent’s appeal is not successful, is that we will appeal’ system. There are normally two stages not consider another application for the same to this process. At the first stage, the admission school in the same academic year unless there authority will present its case to all parents (and have been significant and material changes in the any representatives) at the same time, in the form circumstances of the parent, child or school, which of an evening presentation. For a small number of could warrant a new application. These changes appeals, the presentation will take place on the have to relate to the new application and not be morning of the appeal. When there is an evening connected with the result of the first application. presentation, notes of the meeting will be sent The Local Government Ombudsman can to all appellants before the second stage. At investigate complaints of maladministration. For the second stage, the appeals of the individual Academies, the Education Funding Agency can parents will be held in private as described earlier, investigate such complaints. and no decisions will be made until all appeals, received on time, for the school have been heard. The decision In non-infant class size cases, the panel will, firstly, decide whether the school or LA has demonstrated why it cannot admit any more children. If the panel is satisfied that the admission authority has proven this, it will go on to consider all the points you have made. The second part of the hearing is based on balancing the need of the individual child against the effect on the school of admitting another child. The clerk to the panel will write to you, usually within seven days of the hearing, telling you of the appeal panel decision and the reasons for it. The decision is binding on both parties. If your appeal is against refusal on infant class size the appeal panel can only uphold the appeal on the grounds shown on page 20. The clerk to the panel will write to you, usually within seven days of the hearing, telling you of the appeal panel’s decision and the reasons for it. The decision is binding on both parties.
Page 21 Special educational needs and Essex special schools Essex County Council has additional will have the opportunity to express preferences responsibilities for children assessed as having for your preferred schools you should do this special educational needs. An assessment of as part of the discussions before the proposed these needs may lead to a statement of special statement is issued. You should not return the educational needs or Education, Health and Care Common Application Form in this booklet or make Plan (EHCP) being issued. Most children with a an application using the online facility. If an statement or EHCP are educated at their local application is received for a child with a statement mainstream school, with additional support if of special educational needs a place will not be appropriate. Some children who have a statement allocated as part of the co-ordinated admissions or EHCP and have significant special educational process detailed on pages 17 and 18. needs attend a special school or a mainstream school with additional special provision. For SEN transport arrangements further details about the statutory assessment Arrangements for free home to school transport procedures or special education in Essex please can be found online at www.essex.gov.uk/ ring the Parent Partnership Helpline 01245 schooltransport. 436036. In line with statutory duty Essex provides The list opposite gives details of the special free home to school transport to the nearest schools in Essex and an indication of the type of appropriate school with space if the pupil resides: difficulty catered for by each school. • 2 miles or more from the school for pupils up A child is only placed in a special school if they are to the age of 8 (end of Year 3); the subject of a statement of special educational • 3 or more miles from the school and is over the needs or EHCP and the school is named in that age of 8 (Year 4 and above). document. For most children a mainstream school All routes are measured using the shortest will be able to meet their needs. available walking route. Children with statements of special educational If a child lives under the statutory distance criteria, needs or EHCP that name a school are required to transport cannot be provided unless there is clear be admitted to that school. evidence that the child’s special educational If your child has, or is currently being assessed needs are such that the parent/carer cannot get for, a statement of special educational needs or him/her to school. EHCP you will have discussed the most suitable The provision of an escort on the vehicle is not school and the range of options available with the automatic and is based on the child’s individual Statutory Assessment Service (SAS). If you think needs at the time of assessment. your child may have special educational needs you should first speak to the headteacher of your Where a school is or can be named in a child’s child’s present school. statement or EHCP as it is the nearest appropriate school but as a result of parental preference Most special schools take pupils from a wide area they choose an alternative school further away, of the County. transport will not usually be provided to the Please note: alternative school. Parents will be required to make their own arrangements to get their child to If your child already has a statement of special and from school in this instance. educational needs or EHCP they will be allocated a primary school place by SAS as part of the process for a child with a statement of special educational needs starting at a primary school. Whilst you
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