Polish boy waited months for placementin a Liverpool school
A reader from Liverpool who had read the article ‘Our kids in British Schools’ (Polish Observer, Issue 15, January 2009) got in touch with the editor.
Unfortunately the school authorities were very slow in giving out information on what was to happen to the child of our reader Anna Waloska regarding a school placement.
11 year-old Daniel Godlewski arrived in the UK to live with his mother in mid-November of 2008. However, even before he joined his mother, our reader Anna had already contacted the local council (in August) to find out about secondary schools. Mrs Waloska wanted her son to be placed in a Catholic school. Everyone she talked to assured her that it didn’t matter at all if the boy had limited knowledge of English and neither did the time of his arrival, although the mother did underline the fact that her boy would be arriving in the UK well after the academic year was under way.
One of the authorities told her that despite the fact that local councils have nothing to do with the placement of pupils in religious schools they would still be able to help her in the selection of a proper school and with the completion of the necessary formalities.
Problems began to emerge as soon as Daniel arrived in the UK. Suddenly it became apparent that the UK educational authorities didn’t really care if the boy from Poland stayed at home, bored and idle, for two-and-a-half-months. In early December Mrs Waloska had submitted all the necessary documents to the chosen school. She was calling back regularly to check on the progress of her application and every time she had to constantly listen to assurances that the school would contact her shortly.
She said: “They sold us false hope. I was constantly told that someone would call me back. But no one did”. She added that due to the upcoming Christmas holiday season she suspended her efforts of contacting them thinking that she would (in her words) “give the authorities some space during the holidays”. She still believed that she would receive a response after New Year.Mrs Waloska didn’t hear from the school authorities after New Year, she decided not to wait any longer and got in touch with our paper.
"It’s terrible that I need to learn about English law from a Polish newspaper”, she said during our conversation.
“When I told the authorities that I was obliged by law to notify the school in Poland of what type of school my son was attending in the UK, the lady I was talking to said that she didn’t care about the law in Poland”, complained Mrs Waloska.
“English friends, whose children were attending Catholic schools, were completely shocked when they learnt how long we’d been waiting for a reply from the authorities”.
At the end of our phone conversation I advised our reader to once again contact the school but this time to tell them that she had been in touch with the media regarding her problem.The magic word “media” suddenly worked where nothing had before and Daniel has been attending his chosen school since the 10th of February 2009.
Mrs Waloska can finally breathe again.
By Alicja Borkowska