04: Choosing a school

There are many different factors to consider when trying to select the right school for a young person. Some things you may need to think about are:

  • Good pastoral care
  • Extra help for special needs
  • Class sizes / Teaching Assistant (TA) support
  • Friends going to the same school
  • Length of journey
  • Academic results and OFSTED reports
  • Facilities for subjects like art, music and sport
  • Range of after school activities
  • How the school involves and informs parents/carers

As carers you need to consider the needs of your young person. If they have educational and behavioural needs consider a school with a good pastoral care department as well as looking at academic attainment.

Local authorities (LAs) publish a guide to all the schools in their area each September. You can obtain a copy from their website or one of the local offices. The guide will tell you details of all the schools in your area, giving details such as whether the school is selective or what type of school it is (community, academy, foundation etc).

You can also find out more about schools in the UK from the government’s http://schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk/ website. It contains school profiles which give key information and links to recent OFSTED reports.

Most schools now have their own websites which will give you a range of information on the school. Typically they will provide details in areas like: policies, the curriculum, holiday dates, school ethos, uniforms and other information specific to the school.

Admission to school

Local authorities have different procedures for admitting pupils. This information will be available on their website along with contact details for the local school admissions team. Alternatively you should be able to obtain a copy from a local office.

Either you or the young person’s Social Worker should make contact with the LACES team and ask for advice as they will be able to support you through the process. Government guidance states that LAC should access a school place within 20 school days of any placement (from ‘Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children – Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities’ DCSF 2010).

The admission authority is the official body which decides the rules on how children will get a place at the school and who is offered a place. For community and voluntary controlled schools, the LA is the admission authority. In the case of academies, voluntary aided and foundation / trust schools, the governors are the admission authority. It is worth noting that the headteacher is not part of the admission authority and should play no part in deciding admissions to the school.

All schools must have published rules to decide which children get places. These rules are called ‘oversubscription criteria’. When schools have more applications than available places, these criteria come into effect. For schools which have the LA as the admission authority, offering a place to LAC will be the first priority. For other schools it will vary. For example, faith schools are permitted to give priority to members of a particular church or faith.

In the unlikely event that your application is unsuccessful, you are allowed to appeal. The admission authority will inform you of the process. The admissions appeal panel will hear evidence from the school and the carers or Social Worker.

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