Succesfully appealing for a primary school place

I recently wrote about the great news that I won the appeal for Harrison’s school place. Ridiculously, we moved in 500m away from the school and we didn’t get in. The headteacher at the school we appealed for said that he’s never seen anybody win an infant class size appeal in the 14 years he’s been at the school so he was impressed!

I obviously thought we had a strong case, and so did the independent appeals panel so we got the place that we should have got in the first place!

This post is to help you out if you are thinking of appealing, now I’ve been through the experience I think I have a little bit of insight to offer.

*Please note, this is friendly advice from a fellow parent. It should not be regarded as legal advice*

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I won my appeal for infant class size!!

When we were applying for school places earlier in the year, I blogged about how we made our choices and the fact that we only got our third choice. While we were living in York, I was actually quite happy with that because he had lots of friends at that school.

But then we moved to Bristol and had to start all over again. It was pretty annoying to move in September and trying to get a school place proved tricky. We found a house on the same street as a large, outstanding school so we moved in – surely if you move into the same street they’ll give you a place at the school!!

Apparently not!

After Bristol council taking their sweet time dealing with our application, we were offered a school about 2 miles away that was in special measures. I tried to see the best in it, I went for a look round but it was absolutely awful. We would have had to drive (because Harrison struggles to walk that far due to his heart condition) but there was nowhere to park. The school is in really bad condition and the head (well, I’m assuming he was the head but he never introduced himself) didn’t answer any questions, didn’t seem to care how I felt about sending my child there and they just assumed he was going to start the next day.

No. I would have rather kept him home until he was 5 than send him there. But ideally, I wouldn’t keep him home til he was 5 so the hunt for a school continued. We eventually found one ourselves without the help of the useless council and he started there about a month late. The problem was that it just wasn’t as nice, his peers didn’t live nearby and it was not the school we had planned on sending him to!

So I sent in my appeal letter to the council and about a month later the appeal date came around.

I was so nervous and a little emotional (OK, a lot!) but they were very nice and it wasn’t as formal as I thought it would be. The council sent a representative to present their case and then I presented my case. The panel asked questions to try and get a bit more background and to help them decide whether you have a genuine reason to appeal.

The very next morning I called up and found out the appeal had been upheld so I called the school to arrange a meeting. I went to see the head yesterday, uniform is on its way and he is starting on Monday!

I feel bad for Harrison that he has had so much change in his life but I’m proud of myself for presenting a good case and winning the appeal. It’s definitely the best school for him and I’m so excited to just pick up from the end of the road!

 

Visiting Berlin with children

While I visited Berlin without children, I can’t ever quite get out of ‘mum mode’ so I’m always thinking about what I’d do with my children.

  • At the airport, buy yourself a Berlin Welcome Card – The ABC pass covers you and up to 3 children on all forms of public transport while you’re there AND you can get discounts on some great things to do with the kids.
  • Ritter Sport ChocoWorld – see how chocolate is made, make your own slab, eat ice cream, buy an endless supply of chocolate and take a picture with a Buddy Bear!

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    All the chocolate you could ever need
  • Buddy Bears. These little fellas can be found throughout the city. They were originally part of an art project and over 100 were made and now they’re just part of the city landscape. Try to see how many you can find!
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  • Like I mentioned, the Berlin Welcome Card gives you discount – you can get 25% off Schnitzel at Löwenbräu am Gendarmenmarkt – a traditional German (well, Bavarian) restaurant. It’s laid back, quick service and there’s a play area for younger children – always helpful!
  • The ABC pass means that you can travel a bit further afield into Zone C – to Potsdam. Potsdam is a separate city about an hour away from Berlin by train and it is absolutely gorgeous! Take a walk around the Sanssouci Park, go see the fountains, wander through the beautiful old town and there’s even Potsdam Biosphere – a fascinating tropical world, perfect for children and a fantastic break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
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    Beautiful Potsdam

    Throughout the city there are little ‘beaches’ by the river that you can play in during the summer.

    I absolutely loveeeeeeed Berlin and can’t wait to go back and take the kids to see the sights!

An apology to my second child…

Dear Elodie/Ellie/Elle/Belle

You’re so lucky to have an older brother. He absolutely adores you. You’re his best friend, he loves you with all his heart and would do anything for you.

But sometimes being the younger sibling isn’t so great.

I’m sorry you get kicked and mauled and dragged around on a regular basis. (By your brother!!) He means no harm but he’s only 4. He really does love you.

I’m sorry I didn’t give you a newborn photoshoot. I’m sure I’ll remember what you looked like at 2 weeks old in the years to come…

I’m sorry you don’t really have a bedtime routine. Your brother got spoilt with books, stories, songs… You’re lucky if you get a quick nursery rhyme while I’m changing your nappy, and forget a regular bathtime!

I’m sorry you didn’t really get anything for your first birthday. But your brother’s old toys are perfectly good and you’re not exactly going to remember are you?

I’m sorry I didn’t really go to baby groups with you and give you ‘friends’. (Not that sorry, because what newborn needs friends?)

I’m sorry we didn’t do water babies from 6 weeks of age and you don’t love the water as much as your brother.

Basically, I’m sorry that you don’t really have any special activities and you’re just dragged along to whatever your brother wants to do.

But actually, I’m not sorry that you get to have an amazing big brother that will look after you, protect you, make you laugh, play with you and be the best friend you’ll ever have. I guess you’ll have to take the good with the bad.

 

My top 10 things to do and see in Berlin

So we recently went to Berlin and I just wanted to write a quick post on what to do and see in Berlin, with a bit of advice now I’ve been there!

  1. Buy your Berlin Welcome Card in the airport – it covers your travel on any form of public transport as well as giving you a guidebook with discounts of loads of restaurants, theatres, tours and museums.
  2. Know the difference between S-Bahn with Strassenbahn – I didn’t when I first moved to Austria. S-Bahns are faster trains that go through the city (as opposed to U-Bahns that go underground) and Strassenbahns are trams – easy to hop on and off with your Berlin Card.
  3. Visit Brandenburg Gate. Yes, it’s touristy but it’s so iconic you just have to get a picture there! It’s right in the middle of the city and close to lots of other sites so you will end up there at some point anyway!Crazy bagpiper at Brandburg Gate
  4. Check out Checkpoint Charlie. Who doesn’t want to a take a picture with an American soldier? Aside from the historical aspect, there are some pretty cool things around there; a few museums and exhibitions, ‘Charlie’s Beach’ and just a great atmosphere in the area.IMG_3876
  5. Spend some time reflecting at the WW2 memorials.
  6. Postdam is a must-see. Give yourself at least half a day, if not a whole day there.

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    The other Brandenburg Gate, in Potsdam
  7. East Side Gallery – a short walk from Ostbahnhof, the East Side gallery is the largest part of the wall still standing, covered in artwork and graffiti. It’s really powerful and emotive, really worth seeing and spending some time reflecting on what life must have been like not so long ago.IMG_3884
  8. When it comes to food, Berlin has everything you could ever want. But personally, I think you’ve got to go traditional – visit Löwenbräu am Gendarmenmarkt for traditional Schnitzel, sausage and beer. You even get a 25% discount on Schnitzel with the Berlin Welcome Card.
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    Not exactly haute cuisine but delicious, filling comfort food

    Alternatively, if you want to get a taste of what it’s like for the locals you could head further east and check out White Trash Fast Food, where you can simultaneously get a tattoo and eat your dinner, all the while listening to live music. *Warning* you have to be pretty down with the kids to enter this establishment*

  9. Eat street food – a trip to Germany just wouldn’t be complete without a currywurst or durum kebab. Ask for East Berlin style if you prefer your sausages without the skin.

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    German food is not known for being light on the calories
  10. Alexanderplatz > Potsdamer Platz. Potsdamer Platz was a massive let down for me, I expected to see some really cool stuff but I didn’t. In Alexanderplatz, however, I got an amazing ice cream (visiting an ice cafe is something I HAVE to do whenever I’m in Germany) and the shops seemed a lot better and upmarket in Alexanderplatz. However – I didn’t want to spend my time shopping when there is so nuch more to see!!

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    Unfortunately, they ran out of Ferrero Rocher 😦

If you’re planning a trip to Berlin I would recommend at least 3 days to see quite a few things while still enjoying yourself. Have fun!