Many relocating families are currently facing long delays when applying for state school places.
Families placing “in-year” applications – those made outside the normal admissions points of Reception, Year 3 and Year 7 – are finding that councils take up to four weeks to respond to their application. The problem is at its worst in London and the south-east but is being mirrored across the country.
At the heart of the problem are the councils that now handle school admissions in most areas. They appear to be overwhelmed by the workload of managing the applications. There is also evidence of institutional inefficiency and incompetence, with lost applications and paperwork sitting on desks gathering dust.
One inner-city council worker told me last week, “we are overwhelmed by the number of applications that arrive with us each day, we have to phone the schools for each application and don’t have enough staff for the job.”
This particular council had not processed an application that arrived nearly three months ago.
In some areas, for example Hampshire, local authorities have recognised the level of the challenge and have passed control of admissions back to schools. Historically, when schools handle their own entry, applications can be turned around in as little as one or two days.
However, relocating families, and their employers, will need to factor in such delays when planning a move, especially if they are intending to move during the school holidays.