Welcome to my first foray into the world of blogging. I hope it will be something that develops and improves with my writing style. It is my experiences of foreign cultures, many similar to my own and some completely alien as I live an expat life and throw in the odd journey or two along the way.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Aaaaagh! UK School Admission System stinks!

After an early start, 17 hours in the car, quick chip test for the cats at Calais - we arrived knackered at my mum-in-laws. Our life squeezed into every nook and cranny of the car, roofbox and trailer. The cats weren't happy to be in their box but they definitely thought travelling by car better than by plane - they talked to us occasionally from the boot to remind us that they were still there.

Moving back was emotionally draining and physically exhausting. Especially after the lovely drinks and meal with our wonderful Dutch and French neighbours who had so quickly become friends. But the hardest work was yet to come.

Finding a suitable rental property was very difficult - family sized house with a garage, a garden and being within the catchment for a good primary school was a lot of boxes to tick but we did it and have now been living in the lovely historic town of Malmesbury for 10 days! It has taken this long to write my blog because of waiting to be connected to broadband which happened yesterday! However, finding a house and getting internet and television was easy compared to how frustrating it has been to get the boys into school!

At the moment, 3 weeks after doing the application and 10 days after moving in we are still waiting for an answer as to whether they have a space in the school 5 mins away or not! The system allows them 20 working days to get a reply out to us! Despite the fact that the children are not in school and I am homeschooling them. (That is a whole separate blog!)

I have just had a conversation with the Local Education Authority, which I instigated because I wanted to find out how much longer they were going to take and gently remind them that the boys are not in school. I can not remember the last time a phone conversation left me so frustrated and belittled.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Why is it taking so long?"
LEA:"We have 20 days to give you an answer."
Me: "Why, when you know my children are not in school?"
LEA:"We have 20 days."

LEA:"You're living in Calne?"
Me:"No - as I said on my form, we were at my mother-in-laws when we came back from overseas and we would be in Malmesbury from 28th April. I clearly stated our future address."
LEA:"Well you said you lived in Calne, we need proof of address for Malmesbury."
Me: "But if I had put down Malmesbury you wouldn't have asked for proof of address."
LEA:"No, but you put down Calne."
Me:"Why are you only telling me now when I've phoned up? When were you going to contact me?"
LEA:"Well we are now - we need proof of address."

Me:"Will this delay the process as we are at week three?"
LEA:"Your application is pending."
Me:"But you won't give me an answer until I send proof of address?"
LEA:"No but we have 20 days"
Me:"In the meantime I am homeschooling and technically breaking the law having the children out of school."
LEA:"You chose to move them."

So as you may have gathered they have 20 days to get an answer out, and 20 days they will take. They are not bothered by the fact that children are not officially in school - so that implies that it's ok to go on holiday during term times. They cannot think outside the box and read forms and understand them when the future address and moving date is give and the school being applied for is no where near the address for correspondence given on the form. A proof of address is required yet they had chosen not to tell me.

I know that the fight is not over for the school is fairly full and has a place for only one of my boys. But it is the closest, 5 mins walk as opposed to 15 minutes in the car adding to the pollution and frustration on morning roads. So I will have to face the appeals process and then possibly have to make a decision about either moving them both to the same school or splitting myself to be in 2 places at once!

The French education system may have been poorer than the British; however their administration is streets ahead of ours!

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