More and more children admitted in infants classes

(25 Posts)
prh47bridge Sun 11-Nov-12 17:08:44

As has been said up thread, an appeal panel can only admit in an infant class case if the child has been unfairly denied a place because the admission arrangements have been incorrectly administered or fail to comply with the Admission Code and relevant law, or if the decision to refuse admission is unreasonable. The bar for a decision being unreasonable is high - basically the decision must be one that no rational person could have made. Children should not be routinely admitted on appeal simply because they have moved into the area from elsewhere. They can, however, be admitted if there are no other places available within a reasonable distance but that should not need an appeal. The LA's Fair Access Protocol should be used to deal with that situation. If all local primary schools are full the FAP would generaly require th child to be admitted to the nearest school best able to handle an additional pupil. A child admitted under the FAP is "excepted", which means they don't count towards the class size limit.

Similarly a child with a statement of SEN should not need to appeal. If the statement names the school they must be admitted even if the school is already full.

Up to now the rules were that excepted children were only excepted until the end of the school year in which they were admitted. If the class size remained over 30 beyond that time the school had to do something to comply with the regulations. Usually this meant employing an additional teacher. The current government has accepted the argument that this involves schools employing an additional teacher for only a handful of pupils which damages the school's budget - the funding for a handful of pupils is nowhere near enough to cover the cost of an additional teacher. They have therefore changed the rules. An excepted pupil is now excepted throughout the time they are in infants or until the class size drops to 30.

Fayrazzled Sun 11-Nov-12 14:48:13

My son's class was larger than 30 for each of his year's in YR, 1 and 2. Each time children were admitted on appeal- usually moving into the area from elsewhere. It didn't seem difficult to my eyes for an appeal to be successful, even if the class size was already 30. A governor has told me that from this academic year, the infant class size rules are basically being ignored, and each of the local primary schools is 'sharing' newcomers to the area between them on an ad hoc basis.

springrain Sun 11-Nov-12 14:32:41

OP – from what you have said:

“One of the children just wanted to move from a school nearby and went to appeal, they won, despite the classes being already huge at our school.”

If someone has won at appeal there is nothing the school or LEA can do. However, it would be very unlikely that anyone else could win on appeal if you now have 32 in an infant class.

“Another child lives miles away and I know for a fact that there are other schools which are not oversubscribed and are closer - I know ours is a good school but surely that cannot be reason to appeal.”

This sounds like a child with SEN or a looked after child (ie a child in foster care or adopted), given you state that they do not live nearby.

As tiggytape says, the school, governors and LEA are in a difficult position if you write to complain re this admission. They cannot divulge confidential info to you re why this child was admitted, they can only say that they were required to admit the child under LEA admissions rules or similar.

I would expect the school/teachers will have the same concerns you have and will be looking at what can be done to alleviate the problem.

I expect PRH will know this but I think in this sort of situation the school is required to come up with a plan for the next school year re how the class can be brought back to within 30 children. This could be anything from hope someone will move, do some mixing up of age groups, or put another teacher in. Unless this is a Y2 class that will then move to being Y3 which is not covered by infant class size restriction.

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 23:04:08

Yes - it is very odd indeed. It really shouldn't be happening like that at all.

Obviously you will not know confidential information about each child and there are (rare) circumstances when a class can exceed 30 perfectly legitimately but, if that is the full story for example about the neighbouring schools having vacancies and people being allowed to join a full class just because they fancy switching, then something is going very wrong.

I wonder if they are all winning appeals to get in or whether the LA is at fault. Appeal panels have to work within the law and the law says 30 per class is the maximum. The panel have very restricted powers when it comes to breaching this so it would be hard to imagine panel after panel ignoring this.

Yes I would complain to the Governors in writing and the LA too. Whatever the reason, it should not be happening and from your posts, it sounds like it is frequent and that number exceed 30 per class by some way.

orangeberries Sat 10-Nov-12 21:22:11

This is sounding more bizarre by the minute in our case.

One of the children just wanted to move from a school nearby and went to appeal, they won, despite the classes being already huge at our school. Another child lives miles away and I know for a fact that there are other schools which are not oversubscribed and are closer - I know ours is a good school but surely that cannot be reason to appeal.

Can anyone advise me as to what I should do exactly, is it best to write to the governors with a formal complaint or should I write to the LEA?

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 18:13:45

beamme - our area is the same. Every school with a scrap of spare land has expanded outwards and upwards! Most schools took bulge classes last year. Many will still need to provide bulge classes next year as the expansion isn't enough - even more places will be needed.

This is all very usual and lots of councils are struggling to keep up. Teaching in huts (even though they are very posh huts) and having staggered lunchtimes isn't ideal but the council cannot just ignore the problem and shoe-horn more and more children into existing classes. It is strange that OP's school is not expanding (or others nearby) if they too are experiencing the fall out of the baby boom

beamme Sat 10-Nov-12 18:07:54

tiggytape we've had a huge baby boom in this area and have had to build an extension on to school. This year my school have employed 3 more teachers and 3 more ta's to accommodate. My children's school have employed 4 more teachers and 3 ta's for the same reason.

beamme Sat 10-Nov-12 18:02:46

Apologies sleeeeeeeeeepy should have said majority of schools in my area, as this is my experience, both with my own children and through work.

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 17:46:26

Even where Fair Access Protocol is used (the one where children can get in because no other school has spaces), it isn't supposed to be one school alone that takes all newcomers. And these aren't appeal children so if they are getting in under FAP, that isn't the same as winning appeals.
FAP should only be used when no other school in 5+ miles has a space AND must send children to the school most able to cope with them not necessarily the one their parents want.

If the class sizes are 34+ then are all other schools in a 5-7 mile radius similarly over the limits too? If not something is going wrong in the allocations and if so, why aren't bulge classes being added and more teachers employed?

madwomanintheattic Sat 10-Nov-12 16:46:31

Letty, dd2 started a run like that. grin
They had previously had one statemented child who was then in y2, and dd2 started in yrr, alongside a girl with VI. Between dd2 (pd) and her friend (vi) they pretty much redesigned the whole place and it was suddenly accessible. (They hadn't previously done so as it was an old Victorian building etc etc). The girls had brilliant TAs and it was really very well done.

So, from an outstanding school with one single sn child, after dd2 arrived, every sn parent in the borough was fighting to send their complex child to the one school. There were 15 children either statemented or in the process of statementing in the following yr r class. grin a full 50% of PAN, with more expected on appeal.

The ht resigned. By doing her best for the children, she had inadvertently set up a situation that the school really couldn't cope with. They weren't a specialist setting, the footprint of the old Victorian building wasn't set up to cater for so many with such complex needs, etc etc.

That said, we move a lot, and I am grateful for the exceptions to class sizing rules. Without them, we'd have been in v difficult situations.

LettyAshton Sat 10-Nov-12 16:32:45

The Head of the school at which I used to be a governor was getting increasingly concerned about this. The school had a very good reputation for SN provision, so quite understandably people wanted their dcs to go to this school, and being out of catchment they could parachute in. However, when the LA were insisting that not one but maybe two or three pupils, some with global needs, could be accommodated in each class - above the PAN - there was a danger of killing the golden goose.

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Sat 10-Nov-12 16:10:21

Sorry - didn't paste too well. Will try again!

The School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 2012 prescribe the limited
circumstances in which pupils may be admitted as exceptions to the infant class size limit.
These exceptions are:
a) children admitted outside the normal admissions round with statements of special
educational needs specifying a school;
b) looked after children admitted outside the normal admissions round;
c) children admitted, after initial allocation of places, because of a procedural error made
by the admission authority or local authority in the original allocation process;
d) children admitted after an independent appeal panel upholds an appeal;
e) children who move into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there
is no other available school within a reasonable distance;
f) children of UK service personnel admitted outside the normal admissions round;
g) children whose twin or sibling from a multiple birth is admitted otherwise than as an
excepted pupil;
h) children with special educational needs who are normally taught in a special educational
needs unit attached to that school, or registered at a special school, who attend some
infant classes within the mainstream school.
33.

Might not have explained myself too well last night, was rather tired from my huge class! Yes it is claimed that the LEGAL class size is 30 but there are so many exceptions to this that calling it legal is laughable. And really Reception is no different to Yr 1 and 2 but in reality it is taken more seriously!

And no my Head doesn't need to contact the LEA - children are admitted by them and there is nothing that he can do, so long as they are admitted under one of the exception. Look at the list - it is so easy! I'll admit that I don't know much about the one that states children being admitted after an independent panel - but that one sounds rather worrying to me.

So a class of 30 could have 1 child join them with a statement, 1 child join from out of borough if no other school has places and 1 looked after child join. The LEA is able to do this.

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Sat 10-Nov-12 15:54:56

This is the one that most children are getting in on:

children moving into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there is no other available school within reasonable distance

-pretty easy when no other in has places.

The other one is having a statement or being in care - absolutely no arguing with that

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Sat 10-Nov-12 15:51:22

Exception to 30 child class limit -

No infant class must contain more than 30 children with a single teacher. Infant class size prejudice occurs when "qualifying measures" must be taken to ensure this. These measures may be additional staffing and / or accommodation. The only exceptions to the 30 rule are:
children with statements of special educational needs who are admitted outside the normal admissions round;
children moving into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there is no other available school within reasonable distance;
children admitted, after initial allocation of places on the local offer date because the school recognises that an error was made in implementing its admission arrangements and that a place ought to have been offered;
children who are in care and are admitted outside the normal admissions round;
children admitted where the panel upholds an appeal.

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 13:53:03

Yes - I think it is worth writing. The Head is right in the sense that she has no say whatsoever about admissions. She has no discretion to accept extra children so this is not of her doing and she cannot refuse to take children who have been offered a place.
You would hope though that even if she puts on a calm face for parents, she is working hard to prevent this from keep hapening.

Perhaps there is something about the local area that makes it impossible for chidlren to find school places eg no other school with a space for 20 miles but even then, they should be opening bulge classes and employing more teachers, not breaking the class size laws every year.

The other people to write to would the the Governors who are supposed to oversee such things and have to respond if you put a compliant in writing to them.

orangeberries Sat 10-Nov-12 13:12:52

Thanks this is very clear. I have two children in classes of well over 30 in a single form entry situation and with no other teacher but the class teacher. In the last year only we have had 2 additional children enter Y2 on appeal. One of the children doesn't even live in the area, but several miles away. The head says that she can't do anything about it as the LEA is doing this and will continue to do this - I will have another chat with the head and then make enquiries with the LEA. Is it worth writing a formal letter?

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 11:43:54

As prh says there is a legal limit of 30 children per qualified teacher (not TA - it has to be a teacher with qulified teacher status).

Children can win appeals for Reception but it is very rare because it can only happen where the LA has made a massive mistake that wrongly denied a child a place (eg they types in the child's address wrong). These aren't the sort of errors they should be making annually so there is no way they should be exceeding the limits every year.

And some children can be admitted above 30 quite legally eg the twin sibing of the 30th child admitted who would otherwise get sent to another school or children who are under Fair Access Protocol so have no alternative school place for 7 - 10 miles or more. These are quite rare (twins aren't rare but it only works for them where twins are number 30 and 31 on the list) so again there is no way it should be happening every year.

I would query with the Head and the LA how they seem to be routinely breaching the class size law (it is law - it isn't just guidelines) and whether they are employing additional qualified teachers to cover this (not TA's but staff with qualified teacher status).

jomidmum Fri 09-Nov-12 22:15:00

In my kids old school there were 33 children in year 1, but 3 of those were on the register of year 2! They would take the normal register then the register from year 2 would arrive and the 3 extra kids would be ticked off as well. I think some schools just get around the legal numbers.

prh47bridge Fri 09-Nov-12 21:00:18

I'm sorry but you are wrong. There is an absolute legal requirement for class sizes to be no more than 30 children with a single teacher if the majority of children in the class are in Reception, Y1 or Y2. The school or LA can't get round that by using a TA regardless of how qualified they are.

Where infant class size regulations apply an appeal can only succeed if:

- the admission arrangements were unlawful
- the admission arrangements were incorrectly administered
- the decision to refuse admission was unreasonable

If your head teacher is right and pupils are being admitted simply because they have appealed without any hearing your LA is breaking the law.

The regulations do, of course, allow for various classes of excepted children who don't count towards the infant class size limit. But that wouldn't allow an LA to routinely admit beyond the size limit.

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Fri 09-Nov-12 19:19:16

*smaller (not small)

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Fri 09-Nov-12 19:17:30

Oh and what you can do about it? Erm... nothing! And yes, it is only going to get much worse.

And sorry beamme - but most (well all!) of that info is incorrect :-) The 'average' size school acording to OFSTED is a one form entry school, but that is nationally. There are plenty of three and four form entry schools in London - many now expanding to five and six. There are also many half form entry school (15 per year) and small in villages and remote areas.

A TA in every infant class is not the norm, certainly not for the whole day. Many just work mornings (for numeracy and literacy lessons) or share a TA between the year group.

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Fri 09-Nov-12 19:11:54

No absolute legal requirement for class sizes to be only 30. The only legal one is reception and LEAs are getting around that by saying for example the in a class of, say 34 children, the teacher is responsible for 30 children and a qualified enough TA is the key worker for 4 children.

What area are you in? I heard that in the next few years 9,000 children in Greater London will not have a school place.

In my Outer London Borough they closed a few school about 4 or 5 years ago as they were no where near full class sizes in certain areas of the borough - generally about 25 to a class at most. But now there has been a huge rise in birth rate and there are not the schools/ classes available.

My headteacher says that appeals meetings are not even being held. Where the Head used to (as in last school year) attend appeal meeting, we are now just being sent emails stating "X child has appealed for a place at your school. His enrolement will begin on Monday". And this for year 1 and 2 where class sizes are already around 32

orangeberries Fri 09-Nov-12 18:51:55

Our school only has 1 class per year group yet we have far exceeded the 30 for each infant class now. Is there anywhere to find out why this has happened and what to do about it? My main concern is that they will continue to increase it to a level where I will have to pull my children out as I am worried for their health & safety.

beamme Fri 09-Nov-12 18:27:02

Maximum class sizes are 30, usually with one teacher and one ta. Majority of schools only offer 2 classes per year group, so could be up to 60 children in one year.

orangeberries Fri 09-Nov-12 17:05:35

Without going into too much detail, my children's classes are bulging to the seams, every year they are admitting more children on appeal in Reception, Y1 and Y2. The children are literally so crammed in I feel sorry for them. The headteacher says that they can't do anything as the LEA appeal panels keep letting them in and this is only going to get worse. I thought there was supposed to be an infant child size rule? This doesn't seem to be applied anymore in our school's infant classes as they have been well exceeded now.

Has anyone got any advice as to what we can do about this situation? I am really worried about it.

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