What to do if you can’t agree on a school for your child

3 min Read

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to agree on a choice of school for their child. What can or should you do if you can't agree between yourselves? As state primary school application deadline day approaches we consider the options.

Deadline day

You need to apply for a primary school place a year before your child starts school; your child will be three or just turned four when you apply. If your child is due to start school in September 2022 the deadline for applying for a state primary school place is 15 January 2022 and you will need to follow your local council’s application process. If you are applying for a place at a private school you will need to apply to them direct. 

Things to consider

Unfortunately, not all parents are able to agree on a choice of school for their child. There can sometimes be many different things to consider. You may be looking for a faith school, a school with certain specialisms, a school in a particular area, a school with a high Ofsted rating or your preference may be a private school. What happens if you can’t agree on a choice of school? A child’s mother, father or a person with parental responsibility for a child can apply to the court for a specific issue order for your child to attend a certain school. If the court considers that an order is necessary, it will then, subject to a place being available, determine what school your child will attend.

How will the court decide on a specific issue order application?

The welfare of your child is the court’s paramount consideration. The court will consider the welfare checklist to decide what is in the best interests of your child. The welfare checklist considers factors such as the wishes and feelings of your child, your child’s physical, emotional and educational needs, the likely effect on your child of any change in circumstances, your child’s age, sex and background, any harm which your child may have suffered or is at risk of suffering, and how capable the person applying for the order is of meeting your child’s needs. When making a decision, the court may be assisted by a report from CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service) to ascertain your child’s wishes and feelings.  The court will only make an order if it decides that it would be better for your child than if no order was made at all.

Parents are always encouraged to agree matters relating to their children, if at all possible. Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, should be considered as a way to attempt to find a solution to avoid court proceedings.   

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