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Webchat about primary-school admission appeals with solicitor Anita Chopra, TODAY, Friday 19 April, 1pm

(89 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 16-Apr-13 13:25:08

We've invited Anita Chopra to join us this week for a webchat to answer questions on primary school admissions. Parents across the country will be receiving letters and emails this week with the all important news of whether or not their child has been allocated a place at their chosen primary school. If you haven't received the news you'd hoped for then Anita Chopra, a partner at Match Solicitors, a specialist education law practice, is happy to answer questions about the next steps and what can be done in these circumstances.

Anita is ranked as one of the top experts in the UK on primary school admission appeals, and is an expert in the areas of exclusions, admissions, and special educational needs and disability, acting on behalf of the parents and the children.

Anita regularly contributes to various publications including the Solicitors Journal and provides training on exclusions and admissions to Panel Members, Governing Bodies and Headteachers of Schools and Academies. In addition to this work, she is a member of the Advisory Panel for the Advocacy for Education Service as part of the National Autistic Society and ELAS (Education Law Association), and is highly involved in raising awareness of special educational needs in the UK. She was also shortlisted for Woman of the Year at the Asian Business Awards 2008.

Join Anita at 1pm on Friday 19 April or post a question in advance on this thread.

meyersfan Wed 17-Apr-13 15:13:55

We didn't get a place at 1st choice priority primary school for our son - he's an only child - is there any point in appealing just because we are unhappy with the decision? I don't think we've actually got any reasonable grounds for appeal.

gazzalw Wed 17-Apr-13 17:01:58

Our two are established in primary school and secondary school respectively but we did have a real problem getting our DS (eldest) into a good primary school and that was even before the birth rates started creeping up.

My question is this: given that other Mumsnet threads imply that siblings can effectively block every single available Reception place in a school, which potentially can have a devastating knock-on effect on only and oldest siblings applying for places, is there any way one can claim discrimination? It is not a child's fault that they are an only or eldest sibling and that every school place may be already taken by siblings of children already in the school...

Thanks

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 18:05:54

Similar question to gazza about discrimination where the admissions criteria is perfectly legal:

Academies set their own admissions criteria. Most academies choose to follow the traditional system giving siblings and children with special medical needs priority.
Some academies however have chosen to drop this medical needs category. Therefore children with a genuine and documented medical need to attend just one particular school may not be allocated a place at that school unless they have a statement.

These children are told the appeal process exists to correct this but that seems to be the wrong way round.
How is it not classed as discrimination for a child with a recognised disability but no statement to be blocked from having their needs met by the only school able to meet those needs (in the opinion of the parents and the medical professionals involved with the child)?

The laws on reasonable adjustment and ensuring disabled pupils are not disadvantaged seem at odds with rules that allow some schools to give no consideration to disability at all when allocating places. If it helps, the disabilities I am particularly referring to involve mobility and motor control issues impacting on ability to travel to school and to move around schools of differing layouts eg use stairs.

Januarymadness Wed 17-Apr-13 18:28:55

Hello and thanks in advance.

We have just found out Dd didnt get in to the place we wanted her to go. She has been allocated a place at a much smaller infants school.

My main issue is that dd has social issues and is unable to form friendships at the moment. She has been referred to the area SENCO and SALT but her SALT appointment isnt until next month. I am concerned that asking DD to move schools at 7 (or before if we waitlist her) will be a nightmare socially when she is already having severe difficulties and is going to need structure and continuity. Are these valid grounds for appeal?

Thank you again.

Fiona2011231 Wed 17-Apr-13 18:34:24

We only got the 2nd preference school of our child (reception class). I think I would accept the decision and hope that my child will get into the 1st choice school next year.

My question is: How can I increase my chance in the waiting list? Should I contact the council?

Thank you.

notfluffy Wed 17-Apr-13 19:06:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HotheadPaisan Wed 17-Apr-13 19:50:46

'but it is unusual to see a statemented 4 year' fluffy, can I just ask what you mean by this, just interested as I don't quite understand what it means, thanks.

HotheadPaisan Wed 17-Apr-13 19:53:44

We don't find out until 1st May - isn't that the same for everyone then?

Michelle1984 Wed 17-Apr-13 19:55:22

Hi,

Please can I have some advice I have been offered a place for my child reception class at Hackbridge school, I never even considered this school when i viewed 10 others as i considered this too far. My question is can i appeal on the distance and personal hardship? This school is too far away for me and I am quite shocked i have received it considering there are so may others close by, I also think i mis-understood the form and only put 3 options I didn't think they could give me 1 so far away. There is no direct public transport to this school from my house and is too far to expect my child to walk, it would also massively effect my working hours and I cannot afford additional childcare. any help would be appreciated smile

notfluffy Wed 17-Apr-13 20:05:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Januarymadness Wed 17-Apr-13 20:08:27

It is unusual to find a statemented 4 year old because a lot of SEN arent diagnosable until a child is much older. at this age it could just be they are a late starter. Also the diagnosis process takes ages and a statement after diagnosis will take even longer.

DDs social issues were picked up at nursery in September. We haven't even got to the 1st Speech and Language Therapy appointment yet (dds speech and language skills are fine but SALTs also help with peer communication and social interaction skills too) . Although Dd has several Aspergers or Higer function Autism traits I suspect a diagnosis will take years, if ever.

Well that is how I understand it anyway.

Januarymadness Wed 17-Apr-13 20:09:25

x posted. Basically what fluffy said.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Wed 17-Apr-13 20:22:08

My daughter did not get into the voluntary aided c of e school that we expected her to get into. We fulfilled the criteria for church attendance and had the supplementary form signed as such. We think a mistake has been made as we know other children have received a place at the school under the church criteria. They live further away than us, so if all church places have been filled we would have got a place over them.

If I find out that we have been placed on the lower tanking distance criteria, rather than the higher ranking church criteria, what do I do? Would I need to appeal or would the va school / borough say a mistake had been made a give us a place anyway. The school will be oversubscribed, there will be 30 in the class , possibly/ probably twins

HotheadPaisan Wed 17-Apr-13 20:51:12

Oh I see, unusual to see a four year old with a statement, absolutely, yes. January, agree it can all take that long but there is no need for it too. DS1 was diagnosed at 5.5 and received his statement at 5.10, many have this sorted out earlier now too but I agree it isn't common for this to happen.

Agree also that priority should be given to those with SN and SEN, outcomes for children in these groups are significantly poorer than for most. It should also be completely illegal to not offer places on the grounds of disability too. It's a public service and should be held to the same standards as the provision of public services to adults ie no discrimination.

Academies still bound by SENDT, btw, there was a test case. And they will run the gauntlet of a potential Equality Act or other legal case eventually if they refuse places on the grounds of disability.

Januarymadness Wed 17-Apr-13 21:09:22

unfortunately I dont think they have discriminated against dd. This is all so totally outing I am going to need to rapidly nc.

We live 1 densely populated mile away from the school we want. So I suspect its a distance thing. Dd has been placed at the nearer single form infants only school which would offer her no continuitly, which she needs for social progress. The other school nearer is a 2 form intake but in reception both forms share an area and that many children in 1 place would scare the life out of dd. The school we want is a 3 form intake but the classes are split and much more structured which would not be so bad.

As you can see we have our reasons and we have the problem identified and supported by her current preschool and the LEA they are in (different to the LEA we are applying to) but with no official statement as yet I fear we wont have a legg to stand on at appeal.

Roseformeplease Wed 17-Apr-13 21:14:02

Viewing the system from outside (Scotland) it seems mad, and unnecessarily stressful for parents.. Here we have a "local" school that has to take you. If you want to go somewhere else, you apply and, if they have extra capacity, without having to employ extra staff, they will take you. So simple. (NB I am in a remote corner of Scotland, it may be different in cities)

HotheadPaisan Wed 17-Apr-13 21:36:01

I see, I applied for DS1's, with school's support, think they were glad someone was prepared to do it. It is very difficult, but I agree there has to be more thought given to this. Have you seen the Special Needs section on here?

tethersend Wed 17-Apr-13 23:23:54

I'd like to know if it could be seen as discriminatory to place a looked after child as lower priority than other children (ie parents) who practise the religion of the school.

I work with looked after children- some schools require children to be baptised within six months of birth, and make no exception for children who have been removed from their parents due to abuse or neglect.

Could it be argued that this practice is discriminatory?

Monadami Wed 17-Apr-13 23:39:32

I'm feeling very down. I applied for six schools in order of preference in Purley, Surrey. We currently live in Shirley, Surrey (both under same Council) as we plan to move to Purley before September.

After spending much time researching schools and looking at Ofsted reports for each, it seems all my choices have been ignored and a place has been offered at one of the roughest, most run down schools in my current area, which has previously received unsatisfactory gradings by Ofsted. I explained in my applications we would be moving and there is no way I am sending my son to that school, so looking into home Tutoring until I can sort this out.

I feel very worried, not sure what to do.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 17-Apr-13 23:46:10

Sorry to butt in but, Monadami, no LEA will act on the basis of an intended change of address. Saying that you plan to move is never enough - you need to have proof of the new address, be registered for council tax there etc.

K8Middleton Wed 17-Apr-13 23:47:03

Where I live (London borough) we have areas with no schools known as "black holes" by the council. If you live in one of these areas you will be unlikely to get any place some years, never mind one of your choosing. Other families have choices of several schools. We have just been allocated a school that is not even in our 6 nearest. Our closest school is 960m away. It has 90 places this year and we didn't get one. Two years ago we would have with just a two form entry.

While we are lucky to even have a place, it does seem very unfair that those children who have no place at all have to join waiting lists along with late applications and those who would prefer a different school to their allocation jumping in ahead because they live closer. Every year there are several children who get no place in the borough while others get to pick and choose from more than one offer. Could you comment on that please?

Monadami Wed 17-Apr-13 23:52:49

Comeinto - We own a property we have been planning to move to for over a year, but due to a variety of reasons including our current property still being on the market for sale this has been delayed.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 17-Apr-13 23:54:26

Hello Anita. What are your views on priority for siblings? As a previous poster pointed out, it seems to turn some sought-after primary schools almost into 'hereditary' schools, with only a handful of places to offer new families every year. Is that defensible (keeping siblings together) or not (arguably, by cementing privilege)?

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 17-Apr-13 23:56:39

Monadami - let's wait and see what Anita says (or discuss it on another thread) but it's your not actually living in your house in Purley that's the obstacle here.

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