Step 5: Application: State-schools - contact the local authority
You would be advised to keep file copies of all the documents connected with your application. You will need them if you wish to appeal against the decision of the local authority.
Directgov provides comprehensive information on the whole process of applying to state schools
The local authority manages admissions and sets the dates for the process: usually from September the year before admission. The admissions authority for a school may be the local authority or the Governing Body of the school. However the admissions arrangements are set by law to ensure fairness. Parents usually choose three preferred schools on the application form. An additional form is often required by church schools about religious observance. When there is a place available in a chosen school it must be offered to parents but it is important to express a preference on the form because if there are more applications than places available, preferences will be taken into account.
When your child stammers It's very important to find out what admissions criteria schools use before you choose which schools to apply to, so that you can see if they match your child's situation. Details of admissions criteria, along with figures showing the number of applications schools received the previous year, are listed in school prospectuses. This information is also available in the 'Information for Parents' booklet produced by your local authority.
Some common admissions criteria
This criteria may be helpful for a child who stammers and provides an opportunity for you to provide information about the effects of stammering on your child and your reasons for choosing a particular school. If your child has been placed on 'School Action' or 'School Action Plus' at primary school, there is clear evidence that the stammer has been acknowledged as causing difficulties.
- your child has a brother or sister who will be at the school when they start there
- for religious or faith schools, your child or family is of the particular religion or faith served by the school
- if your child attends a linked primary school
If your child is in line for more than one of your chosen schools, you will be offered a place at the school you ranked highest on the application. If none of your chosen schools can offer your child a place because other applicants met the criteria more closely, your local authority will offer you a place at another school.
What if my child has complex needs?
When your child has complex needs you must talk to your local authority and your child's doctor about what sort of school would be best. In some cases the local authority will need to assess your child's educational needs. If they decide your child needs specialist help, they will make an assessment and may write a Statement of Special Educational Needs, naming a school. This means that a state school that is named must give your child a place.
Completing your application form
Once you have decided which schools are right for your child, you need to get an application pack from the local authority. Complete the application form in the pack or submit your application online. There is always a section for reasons for your choice of school, and for stating whether the child is on the SEN register. If your child stammers and you believe that the stammer does affect learning then he should be on this register at 'School Action' or 'School Action Plus' if he is receiving therapy.
If you wish to say on the application that the school you prefer is particularly appropriate for the support it can give your child who stammers, then it is helpful to have already established that your child's speech needs have been supported by the SEN Code of Practice through 'School Action' or 'School Action Plus'. Also, the BSA can provide information about the effects of stammering on children to support your application. Your child's speech and language therapist may be prepared to supply personal details of your child's needs as well. However, this is not permitted by all therapy services, as the service may not wish to appear to be supporting one local school over another.
Most local authorities set a deadline for applications in the November or December before your child starts secondary school in the following September.
The results of your application
The local authority will post you a letter with details of the school place offered to your child on 1 March (or the next working day), or let you know by email if you have applied online and have asked them to do so.
Appeals: If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your application, you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel. The information on this process will be provided to you when the local authority advises you that your child has not been offered a place in your preferred school(s).
Application - Independent schools
These require an individual application to the school. Each school will follow its own procedures for application, deadlines and Appeal. Sometimes parents apply for both state and independent schools at the same time. Remember that when your child stammers he may be more likely to find all the processes connected with school transfer very stressful, particularly if he is having to visit a number of schools and perhaps also take tests for entry to independent schools. It is important that he feels supported by the family and advice from a speech and language therapist could be very helpful.
When your child starts at the new school
There will be an opportunity for your child to visit the school before starting and you will be invited in as well to meet teachers. Ask particularly to meet your child's form tutor in the secondary school, and the teacher responsible for special educational needs to discuss the support for your child's speech. You may also find that your child's speech and language therapist is prepared to visit a state school to discuss your child's speech needs. In the case of an independent school, this is a matter for the local service to decide upon, according to their protocols.
Parents tell the BSA that they have to frequently remind staff if there is a change of teacher that their child stammers. Do be prepared to keep close contact with the school and to pass on any concerns to the form tutor or other appropriate colleague, such as the Head of Year or House, sooner rather than later, so problems may be nipped in the bud. Information for teachers and parents on stammering is always available from the BSA and its training resource for secondary staff at BSA:Education.
Click on the following links to open a PDF, use the back button on your browser to return to this resource. To save the handout to your computer, right click and choose 'Save as'.
Text for this page: Step 5: Application
Text for this whole section: Choosing a secondary school