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!


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.


Paying it forward and the kindness of strangers 

I’m writing this just as I’ve got home from the supermarket. I must admit supermarket shopping is not my favourite task of the week, especially when I have both children with me. They often fight with each other, scream for food and try to climb out of the trolley (Aldi, why don’t you have seatbelts on the babyseats?!) But today I left the supermarket feeling pretty positive.

I always try and get round the supermarket as quick as possible, I make a concise list in the order that I find the items in the supermarket and rarely deviate from this, but today as I grabbed some bread off the shelf I found an older lady struggling to pull a loaf of bread out of the crate. She’d been there a little while I think, just tugging on it but because the crates were stacked on top of each other quite high she couldn’t pull it out. I was about to walk off when I noticed her, so I just said, “Do you need a hand?” and all I had to do was lift up the crate on top so she could pull the loaf out. No big deal. She got her bread and I got on with my shop.

I only had Elodie with me this time so it wasn’t so bad but she just won’t stay sitting down, she stands up in the seat and tries to climb out, on the lookout for food and excitement. It’s always a struggling getting through the tills with her at Aldi because they do it so quickly and then I have to pack the bags while she’s hanging perilously close to the edge of the trolley. But as I was packing the bags, a couple came over and talked to Elodie and the lady watched over her so I was able to pack my bags quickly and she made sure Elodie didn’t hurt herself. It wasn’t really a hardship for them, they maybe took them an extra minute or two to leave the shop but they got to coo over a cute baby and it really helped me out and I left the supermarket really positive and grateful for their help. So many times I’ve been struggling way more than I was today and thought, “Does nobody notice? Can nobody help?” So it was nice that somebody did notice there was a need and took some extra time to help me out.

I do try to ‘pay it forward’ when I can. I’m having a clearout at the moment as we’re moving house soon (more on that later) and posted a picture of a bunch of baby toys and a wooden walker on a local Facebook, free to collect. I got most of them for free either second hand or as a gift so I’m just grateful to have less to pack and if it helps somebody then that’s great, but I had some responses that really annoyed me. “Do they all work?” “There’s a scuff on the side.” …..Erm….they’re free. I’m pretty sure they do work…but if they don’t? Guess what….they were free. Have you heard of batteries? And yes, they’re second hand and have been used… if you want something in pristine condition go pay full price for it! I gave them to somebody who was very pleased to get them and picked up right away and I’m glad another baby will get some use out of the toys.

I wish more people would take time to be a bit more thoughtful and help people around them – I’m such a moody bitch and rarely think about anyone but myself so I really want to try harder with it – let’s call this a fresh start. I also wish more people would be grateful for the kindness of others and pass on that kindness!

Trying to feel like ‘me’ again after having kids

So I haven’t blogged in absolutely ages. I feel like I haven’t got the time but in reality I’m a stay at home mum with a baby who sleeps all the time so I probably could find the time if I tried not particularly hard.

But really I’ve just been having a weird time recently, personally. I don’t really know why but I think I’ve been having some sort of quarter life crisis and still trying to figure out what I’m doing to do with my life since I haven’t got a job for September, which was what my original plan was.

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