The school term is only a few weeks old, but this month many parents are casting their eyes almost a full year ahead to September 2024, when their child will be due to start secondary school.
With applications for next autumn’s secondary school places due to close on 31 October, many parents are considering their options.
“Deciding which secondary school you want to send your child to can be a source of contention, and tricky to resolve, especially for separated and divorced parents who disagree,” says Beverley Sayers from The Family Mediation Council.
“For separated parents who cannot agree on the choice of school for their child, this can be a very difficult time of year,” says Beverley, a practising Family Mediator.
“The disagreement may be based on a number of factors – faith, ideology and cost, for example.
Parents living in different locations
“It can be especially hard where the two parents now live in completely different locations. Even if they have agreed parenting arrangements, so that the child spends time with both of them, applying for a school place in one or other location can feel like a much longer-term decision.”
Whatever the source of the conflict, with their child’s future education in the balance, where can separated parents turn?
“If you cannot agree with the other parent about which school to apply to, then involving a family dispute specialist can be a useful way forward,” she says.
“Family mediation is a process that helps ex-partners agree what will work in the best interests of the child.
“An independent, professionally-trained mediator can help you discuss and work out the best option, putting the child at the heart of this really important decision.
“In some cases, the child can be involved in the mediation discussions to ensure their own views and wishes are fully aired.
“Professional family mediators work day-in, day-out to help empower parents to create long-term solutions for your particular circumstances,” she adds.