Whether your child is at the beginning of their education or in their final few years, finding a school that suits their needs and your lifestyle can be a tricky process. Despite placing your child in a particular school, after a certain period of time you or your child may feel that it isn’t suitable. There are tens, if not hundreds, of reasons why a child could be moved into a new school- whether at the child’s request or the parents. Whilst a change can be avoidable in some cases, in others it is the best option.
Although changing schools can be a very stressful time for both the parent and the child, if done correctly and professionally it can be the best decision to make in a multitude of ways. Whether the move is for a practical reason, such as relocating, or an emotional reason, the transition to another school requires the same moving process despite circumstance. It is not as easy and simple as it can sound; there are discussions you will need to have, meetings and specific steps to take for an easy move.
Despite moving schools being difficult for your child, it is a hard time for a parent too. It can be a complicated and lengthy procedure to execute, and without research or proper knowledge on how to do so, you may struggle. Nevertheless, there is no need to panic as this article can deliver the solutions to all of your questions.
How Do You Choose the Correct School to Transfer To?
When making the decision to transfer, it is important to choose the best-suited school for your child. To avoid any more disruption to their education, you should make sure that the first school you transfer to is, ideally, where they will stay until the next step of their school journey.
To find available places for schools in your area in the UK, it is recommended that you contact your local council. By contacting authorities, they can inform you of schools that are funded near you, as well as schools in other locations at your request. When contacting them, they will also provide information on the admission criteria that certain places require.
The ideal way to find the correct school for your child is to arrange a meeting with the head of the schools that you are particularly interested in. Also, a good idea to speak to the teachers that manage the subjects that your child will be taking.
By doing this, you’ll be able to ask personalised questions that provide clarity on whether the teaching style and the teachers as a whole will cater best to your child. If you have multiple schools of interest, meet with all of them to decide which you favour.
When initially looking for a school that sparks your interest, try focusing on the main factors of the school and what you want your child to gain out of attending. Perhaps you want somewhere closer to home, somewhere with an array of extracurricular activities, or an environment with more discipline.
Should You Consider Going to a Private School?
Private education is a possibility for some parents and children, and making a change between a government-funded school to a fee-based school might be something that you are interested in. This change may occur due to the students need for a new education approach, as here they are not required to stick to the national curriculum.
Whatever your reason may be to change to private education, to transfer here you will need to inquire and contact the school directly. You can gather more information on the benefits and differences of private schools here. Also, be sure to check out our article on the ‘Top 10 Private Schools in England’.
If you are still in the process of finding a suitable school, you can search online using this website.
How Would You Go About Leaving Your Child’s Original School?
When transferring to another school, it’s important that you let the head of education in your child’s current school know the circumstances and what your plans are. After having a meeting with suitable people to discuss your options, you may need to write an email outlining your request and ask for a transfer from the people in authority.
A transfer is typically known as an ‘in-year admission’ and the paperwork that you need to complete for your move can vary based on the circumstances. Once requesting from the local authority that you wish to transfer an application form will be sent to you. This requires you to fill in some information about the student, your parental role, their current school, reasons for transfer and your preferred requests.
Once you have gone through the transfer process, your child’s current school should be well aware of your decision to move and should cater accordingly for the remaining time of your child’s education at their school.
If you are unsure of what information to include when communicating your request to the current school, you can follow the template of some of these letters.
How Do You Apply to a New School?
After finding an ideal school, notifying the current school, and contacting the suitable authorities, it is time for you to take the next steps in applying to your child’s new school. Whilst an ‘in-year admission’ completes most of this process, there might be some additional steps that are necessary for completing depending on your situation.
Moving School Due to Location Change
If you are making the transfer due to a change of location, you will need to contact the local council of the new area you are relocating to. From here, you will likely be asked for proof of your new address. Some of the proof you can give includes a mortgage or agreement of rent in your new property or the deeds for the property.
You might also be required to deliver proof that you will be at this address before the next school term.
When completing the paperwork and adding your preferred schools, make sure to select multiple, as only choosing one will not increase your chances of being accepted. If not accepted into your first choice, you might be successful in being awarded a place at your second, or third option.
Is There a Deadline You Have to Apply By?
If you’re not in a hurry to transfer your child, you can wait until their year is over, however keep in mind that there is a deadline for when you can apply. If you miss the deadlines for when to apply, your child can lose out on their place.
If offered a place, the same deadlines apply. Not accepting the offer within a certain time frame could mean your place gets offered to another student. You can check deadlines and gather more information about end of year applications here.
Transferring School Mid-Way Through the Year
Alternatively, if you’re looking to transfer your child mid-way through the year, be sure to follow the instructions of the paperwork mentioned above. The application form will go through all the information necessary to find a place.
The application is fairly easy to understand, yet if you have any difficulties, be sure to contact your local council who issues the documents as soon as possible. It might be suitable for you to look at some example applications beforehand so that you know what to expect when completing your own.
Once all of the above is completed, you may have a discussion with the new school’s headteacher, to enquire about when your child can start. Typically, it will be by the start of the new term, but it is somewhat dependent on the headteacher’s opinion.
Transferring a Child with Special Education Needs
A transition from another school can be an unsettling and emotional time for any child, but for someone with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) it can be a much more difficult challenge.
The vast majority of children with SEND pursue education in ‘normal’ mainstream schools, however, you may find that a transfer to a school that specialises in teaching children with disabilities is something you’d like to do.
In any case, it is vital for every school to have a special educational needs policy that is available for parents to easily access. These policies will outline their approach to teaching SEND children, therefore having a read of them before applying is useful.
Things to Think About Before Starting the Transfer Process
- Do the school offer suitable support in class?
- Do they manage other children with similar needs?
- How will you as a parent be involved in their education and development?
- Is there a good level of communication between you and the SEND department?
For children that are possibly in need of an ‘Educational Health and Care Plan’ (EHC) cannot be refused and turned away by schools, as well as those that do have an EHC.
With an EHC, you do not go through the usual admissions process when transferring. Instead your case will be dealt with separately, being asked to fill in a form with your school of preference.
For most cases of children with special educational needs or disabilities, your application in transferring will be prioritised. For more information click here.
How Can You Prepare Your Child for Transferring Schools?
Whilst preparation for a new school is a vital part of moving schools for all children, those with disability issues may require increased planning and organisation to ensure a smoother transition. This preparation can be executed both at home and within the school itself.
How to Prepare Your Child at Home
At home you will need to use communicative skills with your child so that you are well aware of the emotions they’re experiencing regarding the process. By creating a safe place for your child to tell you exactly how they feel, it will help regulate their emotions and come to terms with everything that is going on around them.
As a parent, it is also important to be aware of the type of condition that your child has and how you can make the experience more enjoyable for them. For example, if your child faces behavioural issues, it might be ideal to get a copy of the school rules, so that you can enforce and familiarise your child with them beforehand.
How to Prepare Your Child at School
Within school, you can arrange days for your child to visit with you so that they get an informal taster of their educational setting. This will help them become comfortable with the environment and the idea of attending.
It might also be suitable to request photos or maps of the area so that you can both go over where your child will need to be at certain points of the day, as well as what to expect whilst there.
Changing from one school to another can be extremely difficult especially for those with special educational needs and disabilities. Keep in mind that they are going from being familiar with their teachers, lessons and pupils to a completely unknown situation, with a new experience in every element of their education.
The best you can do is give support and communication both with your child, and their Special Educational Needs Coordinator. For more information and advice, check out this website.
What are the Admission Criteria When Applying to a New School?
When looking to transfer schools, there are some criteria that might need to be met before filling in your application. All schools have an admission criterion; however, some may be stricter than others. Information on your school’s criteria can be provided by your local council, but there are general admission criteria that most schools go by.
For example, priority may be given to children who:
- Live close to the school.
- Have siblings or family members already at the school.
- Whose parents work at the school (for two years minimum).
- Children from a service family (armed forces).
As well as this, if your child is in care, looked after by someone else, or has been in care in the past, the school is required to take this into consideration by giving them top priority.
In addition to the admission criteria, the school catchment area may also apply in particular places. This is where your child must live within a particular radius of the school, and be local to the area in order to attend. This policy may not stand for certain schools, and despite living a fair few miles away, you can still be accepted.
Also, if your child is out of school and has no place during transferral, you can be added to a waiting list for any school. The speed at which you get offered a place will be dependent on whereabouts you stand within the general admission criteria.
How Can You Appeal a Rejection from a School?
Once you have sent your letter to the school of your choice and the admissions process is completed, the school must then write to parents to offer or refuse their child a place. Sometimes, your place can be rejected, but if a school is to reject you, they must state a clear reason as to why.
As well as stating their reasons for their decision, they must deliver you all information about appealing a rejection. This information includes information about your rights, the contact details for appealing and the deadline that you can appeal by. Once all this information is stated, it must also be made clear that if you wish to take your appeal further, you need to have this down in writing through a short document or letter.
When it comes to the appeal itself you will be issued a date for the hearing at least ten days in advance. If you are working with rejections from multiple different schools, you must appeal each of the rejections separately. Remember that, even if you have already accepted a place elsewhere, you can still appeal for another school without losing your child’s current place.
On What Grounds Can a School Reject You?
For each type of placement in school, the grounds for appeal can vary. For junior and secondary schools, there is no set limit for how many students can be in a class, therefore meaning it’s less likely to be refused a place, unlike infant schools. Despite this, schools can still turn you down due to their own personal judgement on the number of students they have already attending.
If you are rejected, you can use examples of other larger class sizes that the school might already manage. If they can show they are capable of managing a larger year group, you can use this to persuade them your place should be offered. The reason for your rejection will be stated- use this to base your argument on.
During the second stage of your hearing, you should highlight how the school can benefit your child. Talk about your child’s personal attributes, the teaching style offered and suitability. The school will be managing multiple appeals, so you should ensure that your appeal is the most persuasive and well put together in order to be successful.
For further information on preparing for your appeal, check out this government website.
How Will Transferring Schools Affect Your Child?
Despite transferring being a positive situation for most people, for some, it can be an emotional and negative experience. In most cases, the move is inevitable and unavoidable, and this can have an impact on your child.
If a child has been in school for a longer period, they may have made friends, therefore taking them away from the people they’re comfortable around and completely changing their environment can be anxiety-inducing. You can help your child deal with school-based anxiety using our article.
Being placed into a new school means that your child is unfamiliar with not only their setting and teachers but also the other pupils around them. This means it can take a while for them to settle in and get used to the change.
However, it’s not all bad. For some, being in a new situation with new pupils gives them a chance to increase their social skills and develop their interactions with new people, which is a valuable aspect in all areas of life. At any point in life, you will need to learn how to form connections with others, and children that go through school transfers have more opportunities to do so than those that stay in one place for their whole education.
Whilst this article is focused on older students, some tips can also be applied to younger audiences when trying to make new friends. Maybe it will be useful for your child too!
Not only can your child be affected emotionally, but also academically. They are leaving the only education they’ve known and are embarking on a journey in a new classroom, with possible new teaching methods. Adapting to their lessons might set them back a little in their work, so be sure to be supportive and give as much help as possible, as well as discussing any issues with their teachers.
How Can You Help Your Child Transfer Schools?
When moving, it is natural for your child to feel intense emotions. You must give them the correct support during this process to make things go to plan and to better their wellbeing. Taking steps to support your child, before the move, during the move, and after is how they are going to maintain their happiness and settle in quickly.
The first steps you want to take in making them feel comfortable is to include them in the search for a new school. Allow them to give input into the type of education and environment they would like to be in, as it is them who will be spending their time there. Allow your child to navigate the school website, organise visits, meet teachers, look at the prospectus together.
You could also enquire about attending any school events, or organising a taster day for them to look around and get a ‘feel’ for how their school is going to be. Making the visits and preparation fun can turn their nerves into excitement, and being ready to start is important no matter your child’s age.
To create some excitement for their school, ask the schools headteacher about the extracurricular activities available, as enrolling in an activity that interests your child is something to look forward to when they begin.
Don’t Make Them Go Cold Turkey
Another way to calm your child’s nerves is to leave their current school correctly. Just because they have left that particular school, it shouldn’t mean they should completely leave behind any friends they had made previously.
Allow them to keep in contact with friends and peers, whether that’s through you as a parent, or if they’re old enough to have their own form of communication. Make sure there is enough time between informing them of their transfer and leaving so that they can come to terms with the fact they won’t be spending their time there anymore.
Generally speaking, children will find their own methods and coping mechanisms of settling into a situation, but just make sure you are there for them as much as you can be. Be aware of their need for privacy, and don’t force them into being open about their feelings. If you make them feel comfortable your child will openly come to you for help and trust you in helping them, feel better about the transition.
What Can You Do if Your Child Refuses Transfer?
In extreme cases, a transfer can go wrong and will generally affect every aspect of life. You might find that your child is completely rejecting the idea of moving schools and settling into a new environment, and this can be very difficult to deal with.
This can occur for a number of reasons, such as mental health issues, fear of not making friends, fearing that they will be behind on schoolwork or general low mood due to a change in environment. No matter the reason, it’s important to try and understand and consider your child’s feelings by communicating effectively.
If you have tried everything to encourage a return to school, and nothing is successful, you will possibly need to seek help from your child’s new school, as well as authorities. This might require research on who to contact if their attendance is a major concern, based upon the area you live in. Alternatively, be sure to check out our article on school refusals and how you can help your child.
When in contact with your child’s school, you must try to keep a positive relationship with everyone involved. Although it can be a stressful time for not only you and your child, their headteacher, education committee and their teachers are also being actively affected. With tension already high for each party, you don’t want to be causing more tension between everyone, plus they are there to help.
To access some additional tips from a professional opinion, visit the Young Minds website. If your child is refusing to attend due to an ongoing mental illness or low mood, maybe look into a referral to Young Minds Matter or any other helplines for young people.