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Regular admissions to schools

Once you have the first children at school and are starting to get settled everything else should be a regular admission, but because of the time we arrived and difficulties getting in the system to start with, this had knock on effects for the 'regular' admission of our third child.

The regular entrance system

Like in England, Barcelona has a central city wide clearing system for allocation of school places with points allocated on various criteria and then places being awarded to pupils with the highest number of points. Essentially you get points for being in the same district as the school, points for having siblings already at the school and then bonus points if you are the 3rd or 4th child in the family. You also get bonus points if you have special educational needs. Schools allocate up to 25 places per class and at our school there are 2 classes per year group.

To get into the regular admission system there are various dates that need to be met for applications. Essentially around April 2nd was the closing date of applications for us, but we only arrived in BCN around the 10th April. If you read the previous article about getting the first two into school and the need for certain sets of documentation to achieve this, you'll be appreciating that we wouldn't have been able to make this admission date, but it is very important.

The consequence of missing the application date was found by looking through the admissions notice by the gates of our school. Although our youngest got lots of points (85) because of being one of three with a brother and sister at the school she was not provided with a place at the same school as our other children, but one around 2 miles away - difficult for one parent to get three children into two schools at exactly the same time.

The reason for the problem came about because our district (Sant Marti) is growing and developing very rapidly at the moment and all the local schools are pretty much full - so if you miss out on a place you end up a long way away from where you want to go.

School appeals

The solution was to go for an initial discussion with the district education office (not the central office). This had to be done quickly. There were only 5 days or so to make the discussion and application for an appeal. From here this turned into a formal appeal where we had to write down our reasons for needing to be at our preferred school and why the allocated school was inappropriate. Fortunately one of the mums from the school came with us and help us through the process. We also took the courtesy of informing the school that this was something we did through necessity not through desire, but for fairness sake they had to remain neutral, though they didn't want to be forced to classes of 26.

So we went through the appeals system. We have done this before in the UK and in fact admissions in the UK are a lot less fair than in Spain. In the UK our closest primary school was CofE and it filled up with churchgoers children (many of whom lived a long way from the school) to the exclusion of local kids. We lived almost on it's doorstep and we were pushed out by the gerrymandering of the church congregation. In the UK this meant we had to go through 3 appeals and all we wanted to do was get our children to their closest school.

Unlike the UK, the appeals board and the educational committee can actually look at the circumstances and come up with a solution. In the UK we were listened to politely but then told there was nothing they could have done as the school was at it's 30 pupil limit. Here they actually fixed things. Because of overflows in several schools, they looked at the situation and opened up two or three nearby schools to 26 places thereby removing the log-jam. Consequently we got three children in the same school. We didn't find out until the week before school started so we weren't quite ready with books and things but these could be sorted out as the term began.

 


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