After the last post, I felt I should update a little.
Finally, after I wrote the post, I got a response from the Diocese about the fact they were, frankly, taking the piss.
You’ll remember from the last post that I felt I’d been constantly misled over when our Appeal Pack had been sent. Well, I was right to feel that way. As, despite telling me for weeks, over and over again,that the paperwork was with those who needed it, they lied. They lied and lied time and again, as, actually, they didn’t send it to the diocese until the 11th September.
I asked the woman I spoke to if she understood that the school had failed in its duty of care and had, deliberately I felt, misled me to think the Diocese was holding the appeal up. She told me, in a patronising way, that it was only a “minor issue” not worthy of concern!
For her maybe, but for us it was ridiculous. It was a major concern. And quite rightly so considering the amount of time that elapsed between handing the papers in and them receiving them was over 2 months.
Again, considering all schools appeals should be done and dusted within 30 school days, it was beyond a joke.
I told her that, seeing as they seemed to care little for protocol, I would be forced to seek Legal Advice to ensure Littlest’s educational needs and rights were met.
After hearing more crap, and by this point losing the will to live, I put the phone down. I can’t be bothered to hear people if they clearly have no interest in being fair, and frankly, at this point, it felt like the whole appeal was a farce and a foregone conclusion.
At this point, I knew we’d fail the appeal. It wasn’t being run for Littlest’s benefit, it wasn’t being run for the benefit of these countless other displaced, educationless kids. It was being run for the school to get their own way, regardless of the consequences.
This was further reinforced when, after finishing the call at midday, I went to pick Mini up from school.
I went from being a part of a “gang” who had invited me out to have a drink later in the week, to being ignored. I sat alone. To be honest, this bothers me not a bit, I’d rather have mates who are true and want to be friends as they like you, not so they can morph you into singing the school’s praises, and not being negative (like when I asked for advice about appeals and was told off and threatened with expulsion from the group).
As I sat there, one of the lying toad secretaries came out with a letter. Elder had asked to speak to the Head to ask why her staff had misled us over the appeal documents, but had not got a call back. So, when paper was shoved in my hand I thought it was to do with that. I didn’t have my glasses on, so when she asked me to open it (despite it being addressed to both Elder and I) and sign a note to say I had received it, I declined. She kept on at me, but I firmly, but politely, told her I couldn’t read it as I didn’t have my specs!
It was, suddenly, a date for Friday to have the appeal, at the school.
So, after being told in the morning they couldn’t hear it sooner, and wouldn’t move it nearer, suddenly they could do both. I couldn’t help thinking it was down to me saying I’d have to take legal advice.
It also said the Head couldn’t contact Elder as she was in a meeting from 3.15. Funny that, it seemed the misleading continued as she was happily walking round the playground from 3pm until when I left at 3.30.
I checked all the information I could get online, and actually the Oxford Diocese is very up to date with its site, so could see the appeal guidelines in black and white. If we or any party wanted to submit anything else it had to be done before the appeal, not during it. Any new information submitted would render the appeal adjourned.So, we updated our now two month old information, and waited.
On Friday, we went to the school. I had contacted Reading and Wokingham Councils to ask for advice. I was again told by Reading a place “may” be available for Littlest at the school in our catchment, the only one that is and one which I have heard horror story after horror story about. I didn’t leave Kent to find a decent way of life and schooling to end up in the kind of school I’d moved to avoid. So, again, I declined. You’d think as a parent that would be that. Apparently not.
I felt less than confident, to be honest. Elder wasn’t allowed in with me, as we had to bring Littlest. How they expected us not to when he has no school I will never know.
The school Head argued that, despite it being fine for places now, from next year it wouldn’t be OK. Despite most schools taking in up to 90 pupils for each year group, this school takes 70, under “duress”.
Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. We live in a country bursting at the seams, everyone needs to do their bit to get bums on seats. But not this school.
They kept arguing a lack of space and how lunch times are a nightmare. They have to eat pack lunches in their classroom (what a shocker. I had to do this at both primary and secondary. So did Elder. And he left school in 1985). They have a field at the back of the school with a gate to it, but this is the councils (who lets them use it when they like). They have to use the church hall for certain things. The church hall that is literally a 1 minute walk from the school.
They made no mention of the waste of space swimming pool they have sitting there, costing money. Not many normal schools have one, and they manage it. There is several Leisure Centres in Reading, in fact, there’s one a 5 minute coach trip away- far nearer than at their previous school. Where they swam in winter, for the record.
They didn’t mention the wasted money on iPads. These things are a false economy in schools, they require costly apps, and they break easily.
Was I allowed to say this though? No.
When I did get the chance to ask questions, one I asked was why they moan so much about the free school meals initiative for lower school. After all, they were warned about it in advance, and every other school has to deal with it. But it was seen as asking a question relative to Littlest, as I said, surely, they could give parent’s the option of taking children home for lunch, as I would happily do with Littlest. So they didn’t answer it.
It was at this point that the Head- who isn’t, apparently just Head at this school but at several others (no idea how that works, in fact, it clearly explains the lack of admin skills of the secretaries)- came out and said she had new information.
Now, it states very clearly all parties must see all evidence before the appeal. We hadn’t seen this new information (I still haven’t), and nor had the Chair or other two people on the committee. Nor had the clark. It was just waved in the air by the Head, and she read it in a way to discredit me.
Did they adjourn as per the appeal rules? No they didn’t.
She stated as fact that she spoke to the admin at our old school who was surprised Littlest wasn’t at school in September. I had told them, and they’d agreed, that there was no way we could carry on from September. She also stated that I had declined a definite place from July at the pit school I didn’t want him to go to. She grinned when she did it and was allowed to make me out to be a liar.
It was basically game over from there- I had known it anyway from the phone call with the Diocese who seemed to not care for rules or Littlest. But this, and the lack of adjournment, sealed it for me.
We phoned our old school, and they denied saying anything that made out they expected him in school, so she lied. No wonder she didn’t hand it in.
I got to make my case. I spoke about how much Littlest has gone through. How when he and Mini are at school together, when things do go wrong with him medically, she keeps calmer than adults do- she’s been brought up around his health needs. How we didn’t plan on moving at short notice, and had looked and looked for affordable property in Maidenhead. But I knew it fell on deaf ears. They questioned me about the crap school in our catchment and I said, yes, I had told Reading that wasn’t the school for Littlest. I told them that Reading had never seen any of Littlest’s medical evidence and have never asked to. I told them that when I contacted the school, before we moved as I was trying to find places for them, they had had a sharp intake of breath and said someone would call me back when I mentioned Littlest’s health needs. No one ever contacted me back. It would be a logistical nightmare to get two children to two different schools every day twice a day. It was alright to assume you can drop them on the side of a busy road, but you physically have to walk them in, wait for them to line up, and then, hope the teacher doesn’t need to speak to you. And what if one has an assembly, a school trip, sports day? What if Littlest is ill? What if its raining? The damp is a bad thing for him. No way will it work.
Oh and to make matters worse, when I said one would have to be late to school and come home early, the Head narrowed her eyes and told me she would not allow this to happen, that the Welfare Education authority would be informed. So, she’d create a problem and then grass me up to make matters worse. What a bitch!
I knew we’d lost. I knew.
I tried my best, tried to show Littlest is a special case. They didn’t even conduct the appeal as if he has any special needs.
I was informed that a decision would take 5 days, but the Clark was very sure I’d hear sooner.
Well, she would be, considering it took just an hour to email me a fully typed three page document. I can’t prove it but it was pretty clear it was already written and waiting. They fobbed us off.
Now, I’m told I do have a choice to not send him to the crap school, but if I make this choice, I will be sent to court and tried as a criminal, with people too lazy or non caring to send their child to school.
What type of choice is that?
The Head even suggested we moved again in the appeal! The only thing other than that was to pay handsomely for Breakfast and Afterschool club for Mini, for what will amount to 20 minutes. They wont pay for this though, I have to, at around £100 a week. All because they refuse to see Littlest has needs and should be with someone who, rightly or wrongly, has become a comforting caring when he becomes unwell at school.
So, readers, what do we do next? I am stumped. I feel like my entire right to make decisions for my son have been revoked. I feel let down by a closed off, secretive system where rules are broken and nothing is done if it is in the interests of their diocese member. I fear that phonecalls and threats from outsiders who know nothing about us, or my son, are sure to come thick and fast. I don’t even want Mini to be at our chosen school now, as clearly my card is marked. I dared question the precious church and precious head. I have been removed from the Facebook Group for trying to sell my ticket to a dance they having for families next week- sorry but I dont fancy it.
Its cult like.
And in the middle of all this is a child still sitting, with no work and nothing to do all day but wait for a resolution.
I have contacted our local Labour party, but I don’t see what else I can do- even if I do try and take it to the Ombudsmen, it is still to do with the church,
And that, that is the crux. You must not question the church. Or face the consequences.
After the last post, I felt I should update a little.