Any tips for primary school appeals?

(972 Posts)

This is my first time doing this, and I want to do this right. My son didn't get into any of the preferred schools that we listed? Has anyone done an appeal before?

prh47bridge Mon 04-Apr-11 23:35:05

Yes.

The first question to consider is whether the appeal will be infant class size. That basically means that admitting your son would cause the school to have a class with over 30 children in Reception, Y1 or Y2 at some point while your son was in infants. If the admission number is a multiple of 30 it will be infant class size. It is likely to be infant class size if the admission number is a multiple of 15. If the appeal is infant class size you should only win if you can show that there has been a mistake and that, if the admissions had been administered correctly, your son would have got a place. You can appeal even if you can't show that. You may be lucky and get a sympathetic panel. However, you should be realistic and, unless a mistake has been made, an infant class size appeal is a very long shot.

If the appeal is not infant class size it will basically be about whether the prejudice to your son through not being admitted to the school outweighs the prejudice to the school through being forced to admit another pupil. You should concentrate on anything about the preferred school which makes it more appropriate for your son than the allocated school. Don't be negative about the allocated school - that won't help. Be positive about the preferred school and explain why it is better than the allocated school. Note that arguments about childcare arrangements and travel difficulties are rarely persuasive. The fact that you didn't get into one of your preferred schools is also not the basis for a successful appeal. You need more than that.

If you give more details it will help to give accurate advice. What is the basis for your appeal? Why did you prefer these schools to the allocated school?

Yeah I thought it would be more complicated than it seemed, even though I've been advised a few times to do this. I note that theres a lot of thought that needs to go into an appeal but my Mum and some of my friends keeps pushing the idea based upon the fact that its a really good school particularly for faith reasons. hmm

I can't really come up with any additional reasons and didn't want to do something that wasn't worth the effort seeing as I would most likely be ignored. Everyone wants their kid to go to a good school at the end of the day. Thanks for your input.

prh47bridge Tue 05-Apr-11 00:21:35

I'm afraid "Its a really good school" won't win an appeal for you!

If it isn't infant class size and you want to go for it (even if only to keep your Mum happy!) you need to look for features of this school which will be particularly useful for your son. You may not need anything terribly strong if you can show that the school can cope with additional pupils without any problems, but it will also depend on how many other parents appeal.

You certainly won't lose anything by trying. You won't be ignored and you may strike it lucky. But be realistic about your chances, particularly if it is infant class size.

Autumn78 Tue 05-Apr-11 08:47:51

Thanks for starting this thread. My son also didn't get into the schools I chose. Even worse, he was accepted by a school that wasn't on my list or Admissions Catchment Area! So a mistake has definitly been made there. As well as appeals, I'm also going to look at waiting lists too. My friend and my sister keep pushing for me to mention my son's speech and language needs. But I was reluctant to use this as an entry card, because I don't want my son to be labled or known in this way, because while he has speech and language needs, he's extreamly excelled past his class mates in other areas. Fingers crossed to us both. I'm just hoping the phone lines aren't constantly engaged today!!

prh47bridge Tue 05-Apr-11 09:35:11

Autumn78 - If you didn't put your catchment school on your list of preferences the fact you didn't get into any of your preferred schools or the catchment school doesn't indicate a mistake. It probably just means you were too far down the admission criteria for any of your preferred schools and your catchment school was then full up with people who named it as one of their preferences. People who have named a school as one of their preferences always come ahead of people who haven't, even if they are out of catchment and you are in catchment. That is the way the system works.

Even if you did put the catchment school on the list it doesn't necessarily indicate a mistake. It may just be that there were a lot of applicants and you lived too far away to get in. The LA should tell you exactly why you didn't get in to each of the schools on your preference list. That will give you some idea as to whether a mistake has actually been made.

Panelmember Tue 05-Apr-11 10:22:17

Autumn78 - About your son's speech and language needs. Social and medical needs will give a child priority for admission only where there is clear evidence that one school will be better able to meet those needs than any other school. This has to be confirmed by an opinion from a professional (doctor, speech therapist, etc). So it might not have made any difference if you had mentioned your son's speech and language difficulties, as most schools should be able to cater for children with a range of needs. However, if your son's needs are beyond what most schools can cater for - and if your preferred school has particular expertise or is a specialist centre for speech and language problems - then that might give you the basis for an appeal or at least for being in a higher category on the waiting list.

As prh47bridge has said, it isn't clear from what you say that any mistake has been made. If all your preferred schools were filled by children in higher priority groups (or living closer) then you will have been offered a place at the nearest school with vacancies. This could be a long way away or outside the catchment area in which you live, if that's the geography of your area. There is no guarantee that parents will get a place at one of their preferred schools - especially if they name schools at which, realistically, they are unlikely to get a place.

You can joining as many waiting lists as you like - don't be fobbed off if your LEA tries to limit you to (say) 3 - and can appeal even for schools you didn't apply for.

Thanks for all this advice. How do I join these waiting lists? The school that he has been referred to is absolutely awful! No one wants to send their kids there, the Ofsted report even reflects educational negligence. I also have a friend whose children go there and she told me that she has noticed that her kids have become "slower". I really feel the pain of all those parents I heard complaining previously!!

befuzzled Tue 05-Apr-11 20:34:57

This happened to us, my sympathies. In all honesty if you are talking about a reception place the appeals are pointless unless they have made a technical error like measuring your distance wrong, due to infant class size laws - can never go over 30 and they won't take a place back already offered to someone else. Your only chance is waiting lists, make sure you are on them and find out where he is. If top 5 or so you might get there by sept. Good luck.

ariane5 Tue 05-Apr-11 21:16:58

befuzzled when my dd didnt get 1st choice school a few years ago i appealed and they gave her a place putting one class up to 31 children (they also changed one part on an admission rule slighty after as it was discriminatory) so it can be done but only in exceptional circumstances i think.

prh47bridge Tue 05-Apr-11 22:30:51

Indeed it is possible to win infant class size appeals. I've done it myself. But it isn't easy.

However, not all primary school appeals are infant class size and nationally around 16% of appeals for Reception are successful.

Well I've received the paper work today, I guess theres no harm in trying... However, I don't expect a successful ending!

prh47bridge Thu 07-Apr-11 00:11:50

If you need any help or advice just ask. Good luck!

Kitty0608 Thu 07-Apr-11 00:14:34

Hello there

I am putting in an appeal under medical grounds for my DS as he didn't get into any of the 3 schools I submitted, I just wanted some advice as the letter I got from the LEA showed that all 3 of the schools have the 30 spaces filled so does this mean that I couldn't win an appeal as all the spaces are filled or that if I do I will just go up the waiting list (currently 5th on list)

My DS has cerebral palsy and although can walk he gets tired very easily and wears a AFO brace on his left leg. When I originally submitted the form I outlined his conditions/any problems and I also asked the doctor for a letter to to support why DS would benefit from going to the school chosen (the 3 chosen are the nearest to me, 1st 5 mins walk, 2nd & 3rd 15-20 mins walk, although still quite far for DS to walk without getting tired both are on a bus route). The doctor said that DS last cerebral palsy report should be enough which is a general report about his health, how his condition is, any medical appliances/treatment for the future/currently being used. I rang the LEA to see if this would be enough & they said to submit it with the form & if they needed any more they would let me know - but they didn't - not until I received the letter saying that he didn't get into any of the schools. When I rang them they said that his medical condition hadn't been considered at all as the information received wasn't more specific to why DS would benefit from going to the particular schools chosen.

I have now rang people involved with him & have letters in the pipeline (hopefully will receive by next week) from the doctor, consultant, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and health visitor. So back to my original question, even if I appeal & all the evidence is there could he get a place now that all 30 places are filled (seems unfair that someone has been told has a place then someone else takes it) or will it just push him up the waiting list or can the primary classes go up?

Thanks for any advice

Kitty

prh47bridge Thu 07-Apr-11 00:35:19

Firstly, if you win your appeal your son would be admitted in addition to the children already offered a place. You would not displace someone else. Also an appeal is all or nothing - either your son gets admitted or he doesn't. The appeal panel cannot change your son's position on the waiting list. However, you don't lose anything if you lose your appeal.

You seem to be saying that the schools have an admission number of 30. That means any appeal will be an infant class size case. In order to win you will have to show that a mistake has been made and your son would have been admitted. You do have a possible argument in that it may be your son should have been considered as having a special medical need but this didn't happen. It is a shame you don't have the LA's comments in writing as that may have helped. You can still mention this as part of your appeal but unfortunately you have no proof that the conversation took place. The LA will probably argue that there was nothing in the evidence you submitted to suggest your son could not travel the distance to the allocated school.

There is no way of telling what a panel would decide. Strictly speaking if the evidence you submitted to the LA was inadequate no mistake has been made and your appeal should fail. However, it is not unknown for appeal panels to admit children even when the rules say they shouldn't.

panelmember Thu 07-Apr-11 13:56:28

Sound advice (as ever) from prh47bridge.

It sounds to me as if you were given poor advice by the doctor (but then again, it's probably unreasonable to expect a doctor to be an expert on school admissions) and by the LEA. With medical and social need, what usually carries weight is a letter from a health care professional which confirms that in their professional opinion (and not just in the parent's) the child needs to go to a particular school because of the nature of that medical/social need. So, in your case, that would be a letter confirming not only that your son has CP but also that that means that he needs to attend his nearest school because of the limit on how far he can walk. Otherwise (for all the LEA knows) you might be planning to drive your son to the gates of the school every day and so the distance is academic.

Your greatest chance of success is probably if you can persuade the panel that you relied on advice from the LEA that was wrong (so, an error on the LEA's part in not spelling out what was needed) and that the LEA then made a further error in not asking for further evidence as they had promised they would. As prh47bridge says, this is tricky because you don't have documentary evidence that the LEA gave you misinformation and poor advice, but the panel may be sympathetic. At worst, the further evidence you're submitting should get you placed in a higher group on the waiting list.

ariane5 Thu 07-Apr-11 21:59:26

i got my dd1 in after an unsuccessful appeal, i got a solicitor who started the process for a judicial review as one of the admission rules was unfair and discriminatory in terms of dds medical problems so even if you lose the appeal there may still be a chance.

good luck

Autumn78 Sun 10-Apr-11 14:50:04

Thanks again for the advice, it has been really helpful.

When I said a mistake had been made as to my son not getting into the school in our Admissions Catchment Area, the office hadn't updated our new address. So he was accepted by a school that was close to our old address, but not by the one that is now in our Admissions Catchment Area and is 2 mins away. So I have gotten the office to update our address and put in a 2nd application for the school in our new Admissions Catchment Area and fingers crossed they still have room.

I'm still appealing to two schools he didn't get in to. On their waiting list he's 92nd in place for one and 15th in place for the other. But I'm appealing on the grounds of his speech and language needs. He's had support in nursery and from the Borough. I didn't mention it first time round. What type of appeal should I be making? It's not a mistake, because they weren't aware of his needs for support.

Urgh! I feel totally lost!!

prh47bridge Sun 10-Apr-11 17:09:14

If the schools have classes of 30 in Reception, Y1 or Y2 your appeals will be heard under infant class size rules. That means your appeals should only succeed if a mistake has been made. You may strike it lucky and get a sympathetic panel who admit your son anyway but that is a long shot.

If it is not infant class size you may be able to win on the grounds of your son's speech and language needs provided you have expert evidence to support your appeal. The expert evidence needs to say something like "I have examined Autumns son and in my opinion...". If it says "Autumn tells me..." it won't carry much weight with the panel.

lovemySon Sun 10-Apr-11 19:20:16

Hi i am in a similar situation.
I am new to all of this as hes my first child, i have been offered a place at my last option school, and put on a waiting list for my first 2 choices... How long will i be on these waiting lists for?....
Thank you in advance. confused

admission Sun 10-Apr-11 22:35:37

Autumn78,
Whilst there is nothing to stop you appealing on whatever grounds you wish, the reality is that if you did not mention anything about your son's speach and language difficulties then the admission authority did nothing wrong, they worked on the basis of the information you supplied. If it is an infant class size case then there is no basis for accepting the appeal as no mistake was made by the admission authority - how can they make a mistake when they did not know about it?
However you also mentioned that your address had not been updated. If this was given to the LA prior to the cutoff date for admissions then this is reasonable grounds for an appeal. The LA made a mistake and your child has been disadvantaged by the use of the wrong address. If the change of address was after the cutoff date then this again will be a situation where the local authority did not make a mistake based on the information available to them.

prh47bridge Sun 10-Apr-11 23:48:46

lovemySon - I am not clear if you are asking how long you can stay on the waiting list or how long it will take to get a place. You can stay on the waiting list as long as you want. However, the waiting list may stop operating after Christmas. As for how long it will take to get a place, I'm afraid no-one can tell.

gcjtwins Mon 11-Apr-11 23:17:17

Hi i have twin boys who have been in their nursey since jan 2010, one of my sons has speech diffulcuties and took a very long time to settle in as not many friends/teachers understood him and he is very aware of his speech, he is now seeing a speech therapist, they have not been offered a primary school place although i do also have a daughter in the same school (year 5)the school does have its own parish but we do not live in the parish area so go to a different a church that has no attached school ,and are advised to apply for the school my children are in and one other, so i applied for the one where the boys already attend nursey and daughter is in. They have offered me another school but its not even catholic and it would be impossible to get my 3 children to/from different schools.

what do you think my chances are at an appeal ????

any advice would be very much appreciated

thanks

easycomeeasygo Mon 11-Apr-11 23:48:43

hi. who tells you where you are on the waiting list for your preferred school? the school or the LA?

prh47bridge Tue 12-Apr-11 01:13:46

gcjtwins - The first question is whether or not this will be an infant class size appeal. If the school has classes of 30 children in Reception, Y1 or Y2 an appeal would be infant class size. That means you should only win if you can show that a mistake has been made by, for example, placing your son in the wrong admissions category.

If it is not infant class size you will have a better chance. However, the fact the offered school is not Catholic and the transport difficulties you face don't make a particularly strong case. Your son's speech difficulties may help you win an appeal provided the speech therapist is willing to write a letter for you saying that in the therapist's opinion your son needs to go to this school and setting out the reasons.

I would add that people do sometimes strike it lucky with appeals and win even when they shouldn't, so I wouldn't give up but be realistic about your chances.

easycomeasygo - The LA will be able to tell you. However, you need to be aware that anything they say will only be a snapshot. You can go down the list as well as up. If someone moves into the area and applies for the school they may go ahead of you on the waiting list.

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