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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.

bellamysbride Thu 18-Apr-13 03:01:23

I have nearly exactly the same question as greeneggs. We applied to a C of E school as first choice. First on list of criteria is church attendance. We have attended this church for longer and more regularly than other families who have got a place. Are then any grounds for appeal or is this purely the vicar's decision? All relevant supplementary information was given.

nessp30 Thu 18-Apr-13 10:05:43

Hi Anita,

Please can you help. My youngest daughter got her school place through yesterday and she did not get the same school as her older sister/sibling.

My eldest daughter goes to a Catholic voluntary aided school. I should point out that we are not Catholic, and the school place that my youngest daughter got is not a Catholic school.
I have the following issues that; A)My eldest daughter has an immune system problem, and any stress or trauma can trigger attacks, they have an extremely close bond and sending them to separate schools will upset both of them greatly, and could potentially make my eldest ill. B) Having two young children at different primary schools is going to be a logistical nightmare, how on earth can I be in two places at once for pick-up/drop-off? Not to mention the cost of uniforms/petrol C)All parents want to give their children the same opportunites, how can I justify one child having a Catholic education and the other not?

The whole appeal process looks like an absolute minefield and as it is a voluntary aided school that I am appealing to I believe that the proceedure is very different?

Your advice would be very greatly appreciated.

afussyphase Thu 18-Apr-13 10:08:26

I'd like to know what is done about people who cheat the system. We would have gotten in to our first choice primary in any of the previous 3 years, but we were 29th on the waiting list, and exceeded the distance by only about 80m. We bought this particular house partly for this reason. We worked out that the number of applicants living within 400m of the school must have doubled in a year. While it's possible, surely this is very unlikely. If councils cared enough, and they should, they could even build statistical models to find areas of likely cheaters!

Through gossip, we know of people who got in to our first choice school by effectively cheating - either through connections (ie relation of staff member, not sure how this worked) or by pretending to live somewhere they didn't. It would be easy to get child benefit changed to a friend's or relative's address, and this seems to be the only real address check they do (Islington, where it's very tight for school spots). After all, it's not like we need to make regular use of the CB address (now, the online supermarket deliveries, credit cards: that's another matter!). So what do councils do about this kind of thing, and what should parents do? We feel hard done by -- we played by the rules and got shortchanged by those who didn't, as far as we can tell.

Runoutofideas Thu 18-Apr-13 10:24:39

Why do councils in heavily populated areas not add some sort of distance criteria to sibling spaces? In our area there is a huge problem with people renting in an expensive area to get their first child into a good school, then moving to the other side of the city, where housing is cheaper, but schools are less well regarded, and subsequent children still get places at the good school under the sibling rule, denying those who live closer a space.

I would suggest that the sibling rule should only apply if the family haven't moved further away from the school than when they were initially offered a place for their first child. This would solve a lot of problems and allow more families to use their nearest school.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Thu 18-Apr-13 11:45:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 11:59:14

GreenEggs (without wantig to get into the whole morally cheating versus legally cheating debate) it is totally acceptable to buy a house near a good school and hope to get a place. It is not acceptable to lie and say you live with Grandma just to get a good school.
The two are very different things and neither of them is playing the system. One is legitimate and one is fraud.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Thu 18-Apr-13 12:20:22

You are of course correct tiggytape. I am so sorry, that was bitchy. No excuse.,I will ask for that post to be deleted.

knitcorner Thu 18-Apr-13 14:45:17

Totally agree with ideas. Is there a case for challenging the sibling rule when priority is currently given to siblings who live several miles away from the school? (after parents have chosen to move away).

Our local school prioritises siblings. First borns have to live within 400m to stand a chance of getting in, yet over 50% of children at the school live more than 1km away.

Primary school children should not be commuting to school. Where I live the roads are gridlocked and buses full of small children just getting to school.

This system is choking our towns and cities.

afussyphase Thu 18-Apr-13 16:13:58

No worries, GreenEggs - it is a fraught issue. We luckily did get a place, at a school that is not even oversubscribed, oddly for London. This was last year, and we had chosen our location with great thought and care, since we bought just a few months before admissions applications.

I don't know what it will be like after early years, but the school has worked out so far. It is not on the middle-class highly-sought-after list, which is no doubt part of why it's not oversubscribed. I'd have been much more upset about all this if we hadn't ended up with a place, had a place in a school that didn't work out, or one very far away.

I agree with the others about siblings who moved away. One acquaintance lives very very far now (think end of a tube line, and we're in Islington), and all the siblings are in our first-choice school, which is highly oversubscribed. This shouldn't happen as it creates "black holes" and other problems. The system is not right. But tinkering with admissions won't do nearly the good that expanding oversubscribed schools and creating more placed would do!

FrameyMcFrame Thu 18-Apr-13 16:28:40

Dear Anita...we missed out on first second and third choice schools by 0.2, 0.1 and 0.3 of a mile sad

Now left with school where one of the teachers harassed me through my job (nothing to do with the school)... I only discovered she worked at the school AFTER we applied. No doubt my reasons for not wanting this school will not be accepted.
The LEA won't even give us info on where we stand on waiting list places.

Please help!!!!

Reea Thu 18-Apr-13 16:54:17

Hi Anita,
We live in central Richmond. The nearest primary school is 1km away. We applied (on the advice of the council admissions dept) to the 6 nearest primaries (1.7km furthest). We have not been offered a place at any of these schools or any other school for that matter. When you phone the admissions dept, it is impossible to actually talk to anyone. The choice is to leave a message or send an email. What should we do? Appeal for each school? On what grounds? Please advise!

K8Middleton Thu 18-Apr-13 17:25:26

Hey Reea you must be v near me. We got a place but not in the 6 nearest. We think there may have been a mistake with the distance in our case so we're currently checking that out.

But, I wanted to post because we were expecting not to have any place so we had investigated what would happen. In Richmond they will automatically put you on the waiting list for any school you have applied for. You can also request to go on the waiting lists for other schools. Then you wait, while people with a place (including us - sorry) play musical places to get a "better" school, people decline places because they're moving/got a private place and then you should get offered something.

However, every year in Richmond some children get no place. I understand you have to be offered something but evidently in some cases the council don't.

It's really, really shit and I'm so sorry but in a little while you are extremely likely to get something. You could try contacting Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign? I don't have details to hand but I can get them later?

K8Middleton Thu 18-Apr-13 17:28:18

I should also mention mistakes in Richmond are very rare. Or at least successful appeals are but we have slightly unusual circumstances and we're talking about a matter of cms with the distance cut off for our closest and first choice school.

Phineyj Thu 18-Apr-13 17:30:32

We are in south London and our local school (which would be first choice for our DD when she is school age) is heavily oversubscribed. Unless things change in the next few years I can see if we miss that school, we are unlikely to get into other local ones as most are religious (we're not) or else we'd be too far away.

My question is would the school being the only one in the area with a before and after school club give us grounds for appeal, as my DH and I are both full time workers and commute a long distance? I'm guessing not but wanted to check as I was surprised to find this appears to be the only local state option with wrap around provision.

tenacityflux Thu 18-Apr-13 18:41:02

Hello, we've been offered our fourth choice place which is 7 miles away. The school we wanted is a church school but 1/4 of a mile away, and we were unwilling to lie about not being church members for a place as we felt this would be dishonest. We now discover that although the county uses the 'nearest school' rule to decide most cases when siblings are not involved, they don't apply that to church schools. There are two other schools within walking distance we'd be happy with so are waiting to hear if a place becomes available in all three schools, but is there any merit in appeal on the grounds that we are being discriminated because we an not religious, or that we can't travel to the school we've been given as I don't drive, my husband works long hours and can't drive our daughter and as I'm due to have our second baby in the autumn, we have so little income we can't afford public transport or manage it with a new born in tow. We've also found out that at least four parents were given places at the school we want when they had put it last or lower down their lists and all live further away from it than we do - should we ask for a written statement as to why their lower choices were given preference over our first choice and geographical proximity?

Lucycarter3 Thu 18-Apr-13 18:48:35

Our child did not get into any of his 3 choices of school in n16. Admittedly it has a v high birth rate in n16. We are at a loss for how to proceed. I had been told to check if any mistakes have been made in allocating places but how do you go about this.?
On what grounds can we appeal?the learning trust say we are too far away from each school.(by about 40 mtrs)
We have been told our boy is 2nd or 3rd on waiting list for 2 schools.
The other local schools are shockingly poor (ofsted4) or way out of our way to work.
we feel we have some good reason to appeal but cannot elaborate on this forum (professional issues)

frognalmum Thu 18-Apr-13 22:08:09

Dear Anita,
i want to appeal as i feel there is a mistake....we have been offered a place at Hampstead parochial, this was our bottom choice.

this school is not suitable for us:
too far
no social support/ community i.e. friends, neighbourg etc..( i am on my own)
this will stop me to get a full time job
the walk is really too long for a 4 years old
i can't afford child care to get him picked up at 3.30pm
my son is french and they don't encourage languages
it is not multi racial in term of the pupills and the teachers

the school we wanted holly trinity:
we do attend the local church
we do live close by
we are part of the community
we do go to their after school club
my sons is socially very well integrated their
quite families on my estte goes to holy

QUESTIONS
1/ON WHAT GROUND SHOULD I APPEAL

2/SHALL I GET THE PEOPLE FROM MY COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT ME:
AFTER SCHOOL CLUB LEADER
PARENTS
FAMILY SUPPORT WORKER
MY SON NURSERY TEACHER

3/CAN I PLACE ACCEPT THE SCHOOL PROPOSED AND APPEAL FOR MY TOP CHOICE?

4/ CAN I AND HOW DO I RE-APPLY FOR A TRANSFER FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR IN CASE MY APPEAL IS NOT SUCCESFULL this time around

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 22:10:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 22:19:52

Sorry - I have asked for that to be deleted (forgot it was on the webchat thread)

Letsgetreal Fri 19-Apr-13 07:44:50

My question is this:

We got our 6th choice and the letter basically said "sorry you didnt get into your top 5 choices but we've given you a place at your 6th" with no mention of why we didnt get into any of the top 5, details of what catagory we were in, distance from the school measurement, details of what catagory and distance the last accepted child was or anything.

How do we insist on the data we need so that we can make an informed decision whether to appeal? What rights/regulations/statutes do we invoke against the council to get this information?

Any help appreciated.

bobalicious Fri 19-Apr-13 08:50:25

Similar to Letsgetreal - we have submitted an FOI request but been warned that the council may not provide the information (they are considering) and what they do provide is likely to be after the deadline for appeal submissions - how can we reasonably be expected to decide what to do?

Letsgetreal Fri 19-Apr-13 09:54:00

Bobalicious - its a silly situation to be in isnt. We may have been turned down for some schools for a perfectly good reason and so wouldnt appeal that particular school.

But with no information we would have to appeal EVERY school we were turned down for - which is surely a waste of everyones time if the reasons for not getting a place at some of the schools are genuine!

AgaBe Fri 19-Apr-13 10:00:03

Hi Anita,
We missed our first preference school by 0.0058 mile and are 4th and 5th on the waiting list at the moment. Is there any way we could try to appeal and challenge the distance (the route used or the distance being incorrect) as we checked it with few route planners and each time it comes up less than the council's distance.
And also is there any way to check what route the council software applied in our case and the exact measurement?
Many thanks,
Aga

lucylou2311 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:50:01

Would love your advice. Applied for eldest, for 5 of the nearest schools and was offered one that is 1 mile away, not on our list, that is 13th closest primary school. It is practically failing school, in an estate, is not somewhere we could walk to. Do we have grounds to appeal? I will get on as many waiting lists as poss but they are oversubscribed. I can't bear the thought of him going there and also his little brother. I wouldn't mind supporting a local school that needed to improve but this is no where near my community. Thanks.

Jaraysmum Fri 19-Apr-13 11:16:24

Hello
First time on mums net so here goes.
My son has not been given a reception place at the same school his sister attends but at a different school 20mins bus drive away. This is a catholic school his sister has gone there since nursery and is now in year 2 he is currently in the nursery at this school and settled. Problem is I work full time and my husband looks after kids there is no way he can be in two places at one time this is impossible. We have no family here in London to help it is only us.
We went to school to find out what went wrong and told that we have the right to appeal. I asked about our chances of the appeal and the head teacher told us that no one has ever won a appeal!!! as there governors who deal with applications are so good at keeping within the criteria. We meet this criteria last year and also 4 years ago when we applied for our daughter there is no change on our part.
Please advice as we are so worried.

Emmaroos Fri 19-Apr-13 12:06:45

Totally frustrated. We live about 300 yards from our first (and only) choice school. 14 places were available on a distance criteria and we didn't get a place. The council says they know that some of those places have gone to families who rented for a few months (while still maintaining their family home) and who have no intention of living close to the school. The council say they aren't prepared to challenge these families because they will claim a brief separation due to marital problems and that it is impossible to prove that they are deliberately manipulating the system. Is there any way we can challenge these place allocations? Can we ask the council to check things such as whether the child was re registered at a new GP and all the other things you would do if you moved house? It's important enough to me that I'd pay an investigator, but I assume I am not entitled to the names of the children the council knows got places in this way. Is there anything at all I can do other than prepare for a year of home schooling?

Letsgetreal Fri 19-Apr-13 12:07:03

After a lot of phone calls/emails we are finally getting the information we require so advice in our particular case is not so pressing.

However it sounds like there are a number of people in the same position so happy for my question to stand as a generic enquiry if it will help others.

hunhun Fri 19-Apr-13 12:21:49

hello anita,
my child has missed out on a her school placement as the school only takes 30 children for reception classes and there were 207 applications. 22 of those places went to siblings leaving 8 places going to others under the distance criterion. we live a 5 minutes walk from this school and my daughter has now been given a school where i will have to drive her to, come back to drop the car off, then walk to the train station for an hour journey to work into the city. the school we have been given was not on our list of schools but one where there was a nearest vacancy for her. the geography is unsuitable and we obviously do not know anything about this school so far . it could mean that either my husband or myself would have to give up our fulltime jobs so that we can accomodate my daughters schooling.

The governmnet/councils have known that there is a massive problem with schooling in Barent, yet very little seems to be done. how do working parents cope? not to mention the detrimental social impact it will have on my child as she will not know anyone at this school.

WE will be on a waiting list, but again the likey hood of children declining is very low.
Shouldn't the schools put on extra classes?

Could you please advise how i should go about strengthing my appeal?

Thanking you in advance.

FrillyMilly Fri 19-Apr-13 12:22:30

We missed our choice of school by 0.02 miles. In fact we didn't get any of the 3 we picked and the one they have sent us to is going to a logistical nightmare because of childcare in place for our younger child. There is very little option for childcare at the school she has been given. We have the choice to appeal on grounds of prejudice or infant class size. What does this mean? Should the reasons you give at appeal have been put on the application?

besin Fri 19-Apr-13 12:38:19

Dear Anita,

Thank you for the opportunity to ask you a question regarding primary school admissions.

A State Primary school in Wandsworth, London (Wix) has one English class and one bilingual class. Parents have the possibility to put a preference for English or bilingual (the latter being extremely oversubscribed).

The Council states that the parents who applied for the bilingual class have no right to appeal if they have been offered a place in the English class because the Independent Appeal Panel cannot decide whether a successful appellant should be placed in the bilingual or English class.

Could you please confirm that this is correct from a legal point of view?

In fact it is a way to block parents from appealing. In the application the choice is one primary school, but in reality it is rather two choices because in the application if your first choice is for the bilingual class your second choice can be for the English class or for another school. It has to be mentioned that the huge difference between the bilingual class and the English one is that the former guarantees automatic access to an excellent secondary school (Lycee Charles de Gaulle) while the latter is absolutely normal.

Anatoliy K.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 19-Apr-13 12:56:41

Further to the above question, is such a set up (re the bilingual class) legal? Wouldn't the two classes have to have different admission criteria?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 19-Apr-13 13:01:57

Hello all, Anita's here and going to start in a moment. Thanks to her (she's a bit poorly, so we doubly appreciate it!) and to everyone who has asked questions.

asmuili Fri 19-Apr-13 13:04:16

We live in Croydon, my DS got allocated a school more than a mile away, I don't drive so its a long walk, especially come winter, DS has asthma which can get triggered by cold and exertion. There is a school just round the corner, our 1st choice, to which almost everyone around us seems to have gotten into. We have decided to appeal.

My question is, we hadn't mentioned the asthma in the original application, should we mention it in the appeal? We can get a letter from the GP if required, will that help you reckon.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:06:54

Hi, it's Anita here from Match Solicitors. Looking forward to answering any of your questions on primary school appeals.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:11:11

meyersfan

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.

Hi Meyersfan, thanks for your question. I'm sorry you didn't get your first choice. Parents always have a right to appeal. Some of my clients will often want to give it a try, even if I have advised them that their grounds of appeal are not so strong. Whilst these types of appeal can be very difficult - due to the limited appeal grounds allowed by the Admission Appeals Code - upon investigation it may well be that grounds can be put forward (for example, if it transpires that an error has been made by the School or Local Authority). However it is unlikely that you would have a chance of succeeding on grounds that you are unhappy with the decision.

Under the Admission Appeal Code, for infant class size appeals, if the class is at 30 pupils per school teacher, the first stage of the test that an appeal panel would look for is:

The panel must consider all the following matters:
a) whether the admission of an additional child/additional children would breach the infant class size limit;

b) whether the admission arrangements (including the area's co-ordinated admission arrangements) complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998;

c) whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case(s) in question; and

d) whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

The threshold for what is "reasonable" is very high - it has to be -beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker? or ?a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it? Whilst I do sympathise with your position, I am afraid that your case may be unlikely to meet the allowed appeal grounds as set out above.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:12:11

gazzalw

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

Hi Gazzalw, I do understand your concerns, I have seen a number of cases, both in primary and secondary school admissions where siblings make up a great deal of the intake. I don't think that there could be a discrimination claim on the basis of sibling criteria, the admission code allows use of sibling criteria and I do not think one could formulate a discrimination claim under the equality act.

The new code gives a greater emphasis on having siblings in the same school to assist parents for logistical reasons. The only other way to try to challenge a school's admissions criteria would be to consider a complaint to the school's adjudicator, though this will have to be done for the following year's proposed admission criteria rather than the criteria for this year's intake.

Reea Fri 19-Apr-13 13:13:05

Hi Anita,
On what grounds can we appeal if we have not been allocated a place at any school? Not detailed in the letter but presumably all distance related.
Thanks

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:19:31

Emmaroos

Totally frustrated. We live about 300 yards from our first (and only) choice school. 14 places were available on a distance criteria and we didn't get a place. The council says they know that some of those places have gone to families who rented for a few months (while still maintaining their family home) and who have no intention of living close to the school. The council say they aren't prepared to challenge these families because they will claim a brief separation due to marital problems and that it is impossible to prove that they are deliberately manipulating the system. Is there any way we can challenge these place allocations? Can we ask the council to check things such as whether the child was re registered at a new GP and all the other things you would do if you moved house? It's important enough to me that I'd pay an investigator, but I assume I am not entitled to the names of the children the council knows got places in this way. Is there anything at all I can do other than prepare for a year of home schooling?

Hi Emmaroos,
I totally sympathize with your situation, however it is for the local authority to carry out it's own investigations into concerns it may have regarding addresses. It is not something that you will unfortunately be able to do. Owing to data protection the council is not under any obligation to release details of the names of the children involved.

The only thing that you could do is if you are aware that a parent has obtained a school place fraudulently by using an incorrect address, you could raise this concern with your local authority.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:22:08

Fiona2011231

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.

Hi Fiona

In accordance with the School Admissions Code, the school will keep the waiting list ranked in line with the published oversubscription criteria.

Priority must not be given to children based on the date their application was received or when their name was added to the list. On the face of it I cannot see how you could increase your position on the waiting list, unless there was a material change in circumstance that meant you would move up the list in accordance with their oversubscription criteria (such as moving house).

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:28:23

Januarymadness

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.

Hi Januarymadness,

I'm sorry to hear that DD didn't get into your first choice school. It would be worth appealing on the grounds that you mention relating to her social needs and learning difficulties. Much will depend on how much evidence of this was presented with your original application form.

If your evidence was extensive, there could be an argument to raise that not giving you your first choice of school could be considered 'unreasonable', i.e. the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would not have made in the circumstances of the case.

On an aside, you may wish to have DD's learning difficulties assessed through the statutory assessment process. I also specialize in the area of special educational needs and would be happy to discuss this further with you.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:33:27

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam

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 ranking 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

Hi GreenEggsAndNaiceHam - yours is a potentially interesting one. In my experience it can often be easier to find potentially decent and arguable appeal grounds for Faith Schools, often simply because their criteria can be quite complex and leave more scope for error.

There are a number of questions we could ask of the school in order to try and get the information to see if an error has been made, or if we can build a case to argue they have wrongly categorised your application. If it transpires that a clear error has been made which, had it not been made, would have led to a place being offered, we could try and write to them to see if they will amend this now and provide a place.

However it may well be that they don't and the matter has to go to a hearing, in which case we would very strongly be able to argue the case under the ground that: the admission arrangements were not correctly and impartially applied and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been. I would definitely advise investigating further - I am happy to discuss this with you separately.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:37:27

besin

Dear Anita,

Thank you for the opportunity to ask you a question regarding primary school admissions.

A State Primary school in Wandsworth, London (Wix) has one English class and one bilingual class. Parents have the possibility to put a preference for English or bilingual (the latter being extremely oversubscribed).

The Council states that the parents who applied for the bilingual class have no right to appeal if they have been offered a place in the English class because the Independent Appeal Panel cannot decide whether a successful appellant should be placed in the bilingual or English class.

Could you please confirm that this is correct from a legal point of view?

In fact it is a way to block parents from appealing. In the application the choice is one primary school, but in reality it is rather two choices because in the application if your first choice is for the bilingual class your second choice can be for the English class or for another school. It has to be mentioned that the huge difference between the bilingual class and the English one is that the former guarantees automatic access to an excellent secondary school (Lycee Charles de Gaulle) while the latter is absolutely normal.

Anatoliy K.

Hi Anatoliy,

Thanks for your question. This is a particularly interesting scenario. I would need to see the admission criteria for this particular school; however, I can understand why an independent appeal panel cannot make a decision on whether a child should be placed in the bi-lingual or English class as they are not qualified to do so.

Not providing you with a right of appeal does not seem right and you could perhaps consider making a complaint to the school's adjudicator for the following year's proposed admissions criteria.

If you'd like to discuss this further please do get in touch after the webchat and I'll be happy to speak about the issue in more detail.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:40:48

notfluffy

I sit on appeals panels. I feel very frustrated that there are often children and families with very good medical/social/family reasons for attending a particular school but they are not compelling enough to allow the appeal. I have also noticed that some primary schools do not have any "social/medical" admissions criteria at all so the parents have absolutely no chance (other than the looked after children, statemented special needs etc but it is unusual to see a statemented 4 year). In infant class size appeals it is particularly difficult to find grounds to allow an appeal.

Do you think we should look again at the whole primary admissions system and find a way of taking "good" reasons for choice into consideration; of course this is subjective but surely not more so than proximity (particularly for those in social housing who have no choice) or the parents religious practices?

I am in central London by the way.

Hi notfluffy,

I understand your frustration. There are quite a few people on this forum with potentially valid social and medical reasons as to why they feel their child should attend a particular school. I personally like such criteria, though accept it leaves more scope for challenge (which makes a lawyer's life more interesting!).

I would like it if the government introduced something stronger on this into the code; however, I agree it can be difficult to find valid grounds in infant class size appeal.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:43:17

Letsgetreal

My question is this:

We got our 6th choice and the letter basically said "sorry you didnt get into your top 5 choices but we've given you a place at your 6th" with no mention of why we didnt get into any of the top 5, details of what catagory we were in, distance from the school measurement, details of what catagory and distance the last accepted child was or anything.

How do we insist on the data we need so that we can make an informed decision whether to appeal? What rights/regulations/statutes do we invoke against the council to get this information?

Any help appreciated.

Hi Letsgetreal - Schools/Local authorities can often give very scant information with the decision letters, which I agree is very unhelpful and frustrating. You are entitled to access information about the appeals. In my experience we have always just written to the admission authority to request more clarity about decisions and they have always provided it (so hopefully you will not need to quote any of the Admissions Codes at the Council). However for your information the Admission Appeal Code says:

2.5 When a local authority or an admission authority informs a parent of a decision to refuse their child a place at a school for which they have applied, it must include the reason why admission was refused; information about the right to appeal; the deadline for lodging an appeal and the contact details for making an appeal. Parents must be informed that, if they wish to appeal, they have to set out their grounds for appeal in writing. Admission authorities must not limit the grounds on which an appeal can be made.

2.9 The admission authority must supply the clerk to the appeal panel with all relevant documents needed to conduct the hearing in a fair and transparent manner and in accordance with the specified timetable. This must include details of how the admission arrangements and the co-ordinated admissions scheme apply to the appellant?s application, the reasons for the decision to refuse admission and an explanation as to how admission of an additional child would cause prejudice to the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

The Admission Code also repeats that:

2.24 Right to appeal - When an admission authority informs a parent of a decision to refuse their child a place at a school for which they have applied, it must include the reason why admission was refused; information about the right to appeal; the deadline for lodging an appeal and the contact details for making an appeal. Parents must be informed that, if they wish to appeal, they must set out their grounds for appeal in writing. Admission authorities must not limit the grounds on which appeals can be made.

There is therefore a requirement to provide reasons. If the Council were very difficult one could consider referring them to your rights under the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act, but I doubt you will need to. They should be very used to parents asking for information as to what categories their child was placed in, etc.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:48:15

Monadami

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.

Hi Mondami - I am really sorry to hear that you did not get any of your preferred schools. Whilst I agree with others that it looks very difficult as that was not your permanent address at the time, it would very much be worth a bit more investigation (i.e. what kind of evidence regarding the Purley house do you have and what was stated on your applications) to see if any argument can be made (though it may still be difficult). One would need some more detail about the facts of your case. For example, I note Croydon’s admission booklet states:

Changes of address can only be considered where Croydon local authority receives either a letter from solicitor confirming the exchange and completion of contract for the new place of residence or a copy of the new tenancy agreement stating commencement date. Croydon local authority should be notified of changes of address by 11 February 2013. Failure to do so could result in your application being considered from previous address.

Parents should also note the Code does say: Appellants do not have the right to a second appeal in respect of the same school for the same academic year unless, in exceptional circumstances, the admission authority has accepted a second application from the appellant because of a significant and material change in the circumstances of the parent, child or school but still refused admission. Thus you could potentially also reapply once you are in your new place.

I'd be happy to discuss further - I have done a similar case not too long ago and we managed to succeed in getting the child admitted.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:49:56

lucylou2311

Would love your advice. Applied for eldest, for 5 of the nearest schools and was offered one that is 1 mile away, not on our list, that is 13th closest primary school. It is practically failing school, in an estate, is not somewhere we could walk to. Do we have grounds to appeal? I will get on as many waiting lists as poss but they are oversubscribed. I can't bear the thought of him going there and also his little brother. I wouldn't mind supporting a local school that needed to improve but this is no where near my community. Thanks.

Hi lucylou2311,

I am sorry to hear that you didn't get any of your choices for your eldest. It is always worth appealing; however, it is important that your appeal focuses on the reasons why your child should be given a place at the school of your choice that you are appealing for, rather than why he shouldn't go to the school that he has been offered a place at.

The law surrounding infant class size appeals is quite rigid, and thus makes it harder to succeed on appeal unless one of the following can be established:

a) Whether the admission of an additional child would breach the child class size limit.

b) Whether the admissions arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the Code and part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

c) Whether the admissions arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question.

d) Whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

This can get quite complicated, so we'd be happy to discuss this further with you after the webchat.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:52:38

FrameyMcFrame

Dear Anita...we missed out on first second and third choice schools by 0.2, 0.1 and 0.3 of a mile sad

Now left with school where one of the teachers harassed me through my job (nothing to do with the school)... I only discovered she worked at the school AFTER we applied. No doubt my reasons for not wanting this school will not be accepted.
The LEA won't even give us info on where we stand on waiting list places.

Please help!!!!

Hi FrameyMcFrame,

I'm sorry that you missed out by such narrow margins, have you double checked the distances they stated are correct? (A long shot I know, but I have seen local authorities make errors before).

Unfortunately, I fear the teacher issue will not be sufficient to meet the legal tests for a valid appeal. The local authority for the school, depending on the type, must provide you with waiting list information, therefore you should ask for this without delay.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:56:24

Michelle1984

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

Hi Michelle1984 - I'm afraid it could be very difficult to appeal on those grounds if it is an infant class size appeal. Whilst the Panel will likely sympathise, sadly, and it is something I see very often, distance and personal hardship will not meet the appeal grounds. If it is not an infant class size appeal then you could try and appeal on personal hardship grounds - i.e. the prejudice caused to your child is greater than the prejudice that would be caused to the school by taking on another pupil.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 13:58:04

tiggytape

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.

Hi tiggytape,

Thanks for your question - it is quite a complex one to address on this brief forum; however, the admissions process, including the consideration of the appeal panel, must be compliant with the equality act. Thus they cannot unlawfully discriminate.

Depending very much on the nature of your evidence and what was submitted at the time of your original application, I could see a potentially interesting argument to be made that the admission arrangements were not properly applied, or the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admissions authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

It might make for a ground of appeal worth putting forward. I would be happy to discuss this in more detail outside of the forum if you wanted to.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 14:03:48

tethersend

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?

Hi tethersend,

I agree that this seems unfair. Unfortunately the Code only says:

"Where any element of priority is given in relation to children not of the faith, they must give priority to looked after children, and previously looked after children, not of the faith above other children not of the faith"

A discrimination claim is unlikely to succeed; however, it is definitely an issue that can warrant some consideration to see if a creative argument can be brought.

It is important to note that faith schools are entitled to positively discriminate by virtue of their status, i.e. that it is a faith school.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:45

Reea

Hi Anita,
On what grounds can we appeal if we have not been allocated a place at any school? Not detailed in the letter but presumably all distance related.
Thanks

Hi Reea,

It is important that you obtain reasons for the refusal at the particular school(s) you wish to appeal for. It is incumbent upon local authorities and/or the school, depending on the type, to provide reasons so that you can prepare your grounds of appeal.

It is advisable to ask as many questions in advance so that you are fully prepared, these can range from asking about previous published admission numbers, how many appeals are being heard, and request clarity about the decision made.

AnitaChopra Fri 19-Apr-13 14:14:27

Thanks very much for all of your questions over the last week. I do hope you have found my advice helpful, and I wish all parents who are appealing the very best of luck.

For more information and top tips, we are always available to help on our website at www.matchsolicitors.com or on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/matchsolicitors

Best wishes,

Anita

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 19-Apr-13 14:15:14

And thanks to Anita for answering so many questions. smile

MNBlackpoolandFylde Fri 19-Apr-13 15:04:27

I have never heard of this baptised before six months rule before until someone else on here mentioned it.

We had dd baptised at 12 months, we attended Church before she was born, I was just really poorly when she was born and for a while after so she was not baptised till then.

I could understand before three to stop people baptising purely for schools but 6 months?

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Fri 19-Apr-13 15:19:16

I understand that the six month rule comes from Catholic canon law. Not all Catholic schools insist on it.

GreenEggsAndNaiceHam Fri 19-Apr-13 15:19:17

Thank you Anita. I have contacted your offices and received some very helpful information.

DocKitten Fri 19-Apr-13 20:20:59

Hi there, we have just got the acceptance letters for our DD primary school and didn't get any of the choices we wanted and are really not happy with the school that we have been given, it is across the other side of town and I wont be able to get her there then to work on time. My husband is in the Navy and away a lot of the time and most of her nursery friends are going to the Primary sch that we put as our first choice and we are in catchment for. What can we do as I am now thinking of possibly seeing if there is anyway we would be able to put her through private school as the one we have been given is so bad. I'm scared my DD will be bullied at the school as well

PanelChair Fri 19-Apr-13 23:39:06

DocKitten - You could begin by checking where you are on the waiting lists for the schools you applied for. You can also double-check that your application was dealt with properly - ask the LEA to confirm the distance between your home and each school and the distance at which the last place was offered. If there has been any mistake - for example you live nearer than other people who have been given places on the basis of distance, say - you ought to be given a place.

Usually, staying with friends from nursery or convenience of parents' journey to work don't play any part in school admissions and won't win you an appeal. So far, so discouraging. But there is one more thing here. You mention your husband is in the Navy. The School Admissions Code 2012 says

2.18 Children of UK service personnel (UK Armed Forces) - For families of service personnel with a confirmed posting to their area, or crown servants returning from overseas to live in that area, admission authorities must:

a) allocate a place in advance of the family arriving in the area provided the application is accompanied by an official letter that declares a relocation date and a Unit postal address or quartering area address when considering the application against their oversubscription criteria. This must include accepting a Unit postal address or quartering area address for a service child. Admission authorities must not refuse a service child a place because the family does not currently live in the area, or reserve blocks of places for these children;

b) ensure that arrangements in their area support the Government’s commitment to removing disadvantage for service children. Arrangements must be appropriate for the area and be described in the local authority’s composite prospectus.

Paragraph (a) seems to be about families being posted into the area and ensuring that if they haven't yet got a confirmed address in the area they don't end up with places in all the worst schools, but paragraph (b) seems to apply for all Service families. It's very vague about what the LEA actually has to do to "support ... Service children" but if you were to appeal for school places I think you could make an argument that, for your child, staying with her friends and having an easy journey to school (say) would be part of removing that disadvantage. I don't know what a panel would make of that - especially if it was an infant class size appeal - but it might be worth a shot.

Are you in a Naval town/area? What did the LEA's school prospectus say it would do for Service children?

kaem10 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:49:15

A friend asked me to write a letter to support her appeal as her child was refused their 1st school choice. My older daughter already attends this school and she is one of minority ethnic children in the school. She entered the school as an EAL child and she is doing tremendously well. Her child is also from a minority ethnic and he also has English as an additional language and she would like me write a letter on the ethnicity and EAL grounds. Is-it a realistic ground for an appeal knowing that the school is not in our catchment area?

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 17:55:38

No kaem - especially not if the school have 30 children per class.
EAL is not classed as a SEN but even if it were, appeal panels must treat all schools as being equally capable of meeting the needs of all children.

The exception would be children with additional needs where the school has specialist provision eg a unit for hearing impaired children that a child with hearing problems would benefit from attending.

If she would appreciate a letter from you and you want to support her then that is fine but I don't think it would be allowed to carry much weight at appeal. If you do write it, do so from the point of view of language help not ethnicity. This has no place in school admissions at all.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Sat 20-Apr-13 17:59:44

Is it a primary school? Are there 30 children in each class? Ethnic background and having EAL are not likely to be the basis of winnable appeal in an infant class size appeal (and probably not in any other appeal) because the LEA will say - and, really, one would hope this was the case - that all schools should be able to meet the needs of a child with EAL and of children from whatever ethnic background.

andreasscalia Sat 20-Apr-13 19:39:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

busymummy79 Wed 05-Jun-13 21:57:33

Hi I just saw your comment re applying on medical grounds, and would very much appreciate if you could give me any advice? I applied on medical grounds for my daughter to go to a school, 1.5miles away, out of catchement, applied with letters from 4 health professionals, but rejected as they didn't make a clear enough case. We are now appealing and my hearing is next week.

I don't think their admissions criteria were clear enough, but not sure how to argue this well?

If you are able to help, I can email my hearing notes?

Many Thanks
Priti

asperanza Sun 15-Sep-13 10:23:57

Hi everyone.
You all seem to have a great experience and I'm a major school mess in Haringey London.

I movend in the country from Italy just over one and half month ago more or less. I have two children. One is supposed to start year 2 this year and the other one is due to start reception next year and was just offered a place in a local nursery school.

The council processed the application for in year admission of my older child with huge delay (I applied as soon as I had a signed lease in July, before the term ended) and in spite of several phone calls to the council and several emails to understand the situation, they just refused to give any advice. Moreover, they tried several times to hijack the application to another council, since the closest school is actually located in another Borough (Barnet). I have several schools within 0.5 miles in Haringey and three schools within 1 mile in barnet and applied to them all. The closest school in Haringey is 0.3 miles way and the closest in Barnet is 0.1 miles away. Ovrall, between Haringey and Barnet, there are 12 primary schools within 1 mile. I applied to 8 of them.

After major argument on Friday (two weeks after beginning of school) over the phone, at the end of which, council offer said we had to wait for two more weeks, since they didn't know whether there were any places at all, same day a letter was sent with an offer for a school which is 3.4 miles in straight line.

Now I am supposed to take my older child along 6 miles route and three buses, all the way down to the extreme south of the Borough (I live at the far north end) and get my younger one, who is just three years old and cannot possibly travel that long, in a local nursery to which she was accepted and where they have primary school as well (it's the closest school located at 0.1 mile in Barnet)

As far as I understand it, the fair access protocol binds the council to find quickly a solution for overseas students who just moved to the country and they didn't do that. This would allow to think that a sort non-codified priority has to be given to pupils who are not yet registered in any UK school against the pupils who would just like to change school within the Borough.

Furthermore, the school admissions code mentions the fact that if the council doesn't have a school place at a reasonable distance, in case of an overseas student who just moved in the country applying for it, schools are allowed to go over the maximum class size of 30 pupils.

However the Councils are refusing a place in all the schools I applied for, based on oversubscription. They mentioned my child was put in waiting list with all the others, and refused to give the position.

If that's not enough, as my child doesn't speak english, she will need special education and care, possibly after school and we cannot support that, if she's at a school so far from where we live and so far from where her sister goes. Morevoer, the two closest schools are well equipped for that as one is specialized in language problems, and the other one has an Italian speaking teacher on the role.

Just to point things up, I have to say that all our neighbours, with whom my children are getting along and are the only friends they have in the country, go to the local schools to which I applied for.

Please. Do you think I have a case for appeal?

I'm going to contact legal advisors on that, but I have the impression that
-negligence over application
-evident lying by council officers about process state, situation and incoherent information given in writing that were denied by the schools directly (last friday they even denied the email I received with non-sens information over waiting list was sent by a member of admission staff and it was signed!!!!)
-overlook of basic rules (distance, overseas, language problems etc.)
-huge delays in arranging school place
-inclusion of my child in standard round applications, as if she just wanted to transfer school because, for some reasons, we are not happy with the one we have
-lack of a reasonable distance criterion on the offer made
etc.

could make a case.
Any advice is very welcome, as I'm in major distress
Ale

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