You will remember that Mouse wasn’t allocated a school at the school Monkey goes to when we applied last year and you may have read about the appeal, her officially being a child without a school place and the wait whilst we held out hoping it will happen one day!
We appealed knowing that it wouldn’t make a difference. We decided to appeal anyway to show that we were willing to fight for her school place but had been told how difficult it is to appeal a reception place due to the law around class sizes. Basically once them places are allocated they can’t add more due to only being allowed so many!
Whilst we were at the appeal hearing it turned out that all of our information hadn’t been taken into account when the application was received and the ranking done; which was gutting but it would make no difference now.
Against all official advice we turned down the place to the school we were offered; so Mouse officially became a child without a school place! We weren’t too worried for a start; Mouse didn’t turn 5 for several months so wasn’t statutory school age. We were also really lucky as her pre-school was amazing and they said that Mouse could keep attending there until she turned 5 (and actually when she neared 5 they talked about options to keep her on then too)!
Over the months I had a few conversations with the team at the council that look into children without a school place; they were not the nicest conversations to be honest – the worker’s answer to everything was that Mouse needed to be in school, they didn’t mind which one or where they just wanted her in.
We were offered schools that Mouse couldn’t attend due to my job and schools that were more than 1/2 drive away from Monkey’s. I tried to tell them that we would only send Mouse to a school that we considered safe for her and was realistic in terms of dropping the children off and them both being on time (otherwise I would be chased up by them for being late all the time!). None of it mattered apparently my ‘kid needed to be in school’!
We decided to wait, to hold out for Monkey’s school and to Hope. We started at number ten on the waiting list and over time we moved up gradually; then we moved down when someone moved into the area closer than us, then up again.
I am not saying we remained strong, we did wobble at our decision, ‘are we doing the right thing?’ ‘Are we bad parents?’
In January this year we made the decision to move house – we had been planning it for a while due to my work but decided now was the time, we needed something positive. We thought we would then look at the school thing again once we were moved – Mouse’s 5th birthday was approaching and we knew our case would be passed to the Education Welfare team if she was not in school by then!
The week before February half term we moved into a new house, it was a good thing to do, the kids love the new area – lots of parks/outdoor places to visit. Hubby and I loved it aswell; we no longer lived on the doorstep of my job, I feel I can go out and about in the local area now without the risk of running into work – it means so much!
On the last day of term we moved to the top of the waiting list, it felt good but we had been top before and been knocked down.
On the Tuesday after half term we got the call we had been waiting for, someone had left the school over the half term and Mouse had a place; almost a year after the application process and five months after she should have started school – Mouse was in!
I cried, I really cried….the relief was immense! Mouse squealed with delight, she was so excited, she couldn’t wait to tell everyone!
Two days later, exactly a month before her 5th birthday Mouse started school, she has fit in really well and has caught up quickly. She so happy at being a big school girl and seeing her brother at break times. I am so glad we waited – this was definitely the right thing for her!
I have to say we couldn’t have held out without the support of family, friends and the pre-school; they were all amazing and held our hand when we stumbled. The school itself were really helpful too; they kept us updated, met with us when we wanted and one particular member of staff kept us strong!