Doing your homework on school applications
For parents, making primary or secondary school applications for their children can be an extremely stressful experience. A great deal of research has to go into the nomination of school choices as there are a number of factors to consider, namely, the number of available places, distance from the school, places allocated to siblings, priority to children with special needs or religious beliefs. The decision making process is much harder for those parents who are in the process of separating or who are separated.
For these parents who are in the process of separating early, consideration needs to be given to where the child of the family will be living at the time the school application is made. Where a child lives is the critical factor under the “distance rule” and assessing the merits of a school application. If an application is made from a family home address but it is sold before a school place is allocated or an appeal is needed, the overall application could be jeopardised. Furthermore, if an application to a school is successful and then the parents separate, parents then have to consider the logistics in undertaking the school runs from their new homes (in additional to potentially juggling the demands of getting to and from work).
For parents who are already separated, they are still required to agree the nominations for school applications as they share parental responsibility for their children. However once parties do separate, whilst they will have a shared interest to secure the best school for their child, they may have competing interests when considering faith based schools, school runs and travel arrangements to work thereafter.
The key to agreeing a successful school application is to do your research early on and if matters cannot be agreed, then applications may have to be made to the court. However any court application would have to be made well before Local Education Authority deadlines. In respect of Hertfordshire primary school applications the deadline for 'on time' applications was 15 January 2017. You can still make a late application by 2 February 2017 but you will have to submit a written explanation giving reasons why your application was late, for your application to be agreed as ‘on time’. You're much less likely to get your preferred school if you apply late.