I'm grateful to the parent who shared this bureaucratic nightmare.
The case didn't get as far as an appeal, but it does serve to emphasise the importance of keeping a very careful record of all phone calls etc.
1 At the time of CAF submission there was a strong possibility that we would be relocating to X authority.
2 We contacted both X authority and X grammar school and explained the situation. Both advised us to put our local schools as normal and then to add X grammar school at the end of the list.
3 Daughter took exam in Nov for X grammar school, received results letter in Dec. She passed the exam and the letter stated that they would be putting my daughter's name forward to X LEA. It also stated that when offers came through we would have to inform our local authority that we would not be taking the place offered locally.
4 On 2 March received no letter from X authority. Wife rang the school and they said that our daughter's name was not on the list that they had received from X authority and we should speak to them as they deal with places. Rang X authority and they said that they had no record of my daughter. We would have to get in touch with our local authority, as they may not have sent a copy of the CAF.
Spoke to our local authority. They confirmed that they had sent the CAF. The person actually remembered the application because it was unusual to have a school so far away on an application.
Went back to X authority and informed them that we had spoken to our local authority and they had confirmed that they had sent details. Also told X authority that we had also sent a copy of our CAF to them in October (as advised at the time of application). We were told that a place shouldn't be a problem as the school usually has reserve places and that we should contact the school directly and let them know we had spoken to X authority.
6 Contacted school on Mon 5 March. Initially they said that we probably didn't receive offer because we are out of area. Explained to them that our application hadn't even been considered as X authority have no details of daughter. School then said that as all offer letters have gone out there is nothing they can do until all responses are received to offers (closing date of 23 March).
Went back to X authority and they said they would contact school directly.
Called X authority later that day and were told that they were trying to contact our local authority. Called towards the end of the day, again, and were informed that they had contacted our local authority and were satisified that our local authority had sent details and that this has been communicated to the school. We should contact school again.
7 Rang school a number of times on Tuesday 6 March. Each time were told that they (the school) had contacted our local authority themselves and were waiting for a response.
8 Rang school on Wed 7 March and received same response.
Wife then rang our local authority herself and was told that they had spoken to X authority on Monday and had clarified everything with them. Also they had not been contacted by the school directly and in any case would not deal with schools directly but with the LEA concerned.
Rang school again and told them that we had just spoken to our local authority and were told that the school was actually waiting on X authority for a response.
Rang X authority and they confirmed again that they had spoken to our local authority and cleared everything on Monday. However, school is not happy to accept what X authority are telling them and want proof from our local authority. X authority had spoken to our local authority and they had agreed to send documentary evidence. My wife mentioned again that we had sent a copy of our CAF to X authority when we had applied. Apparently X authority hadn't thought of checking for that. They checked and have found the copy of the CAF that we had sent them. They have faxed this to the school.
10 We will contact X authority and the school again today (and see which garden path they are going to lead us up today...)
Wife spoke to X authority yesterday and found that the person we had been dealing with had actually gone on annual leave. The person who she spoke to said my wife should deal with them now. My wife explained the situation and the person just wasn't prepared to listen. Kept repeating that it just wasn't possible for records to go missing and there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately, my wife had the name of the manager (of the first person we had spoken to) and asked to speak to him. He was busy but did ring back, and fortunately, was aware of our case.
Just reiterates your advice to get details of all you speak to (as well as additional contacts) and to be persistent.
Wife spoke to the school yesterday evening and ......... they have agreed to reserve a place for my daughter. They will keep the place until such time as we move into the area. Have asked for written confirmation (will believe it only when we see it, given what has happened to us so far )
If this case had gone to appeal, the record of phone calls (with dates, times, and names of persons spoken to) would have been very useful evidence, and I think it likely that a panel would have been very sympathetic!