Any tips for primary school appeals?

(951 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 Wed 29-May-13 18:19:57

You can try to argue that the information on admissions was unclear. As far as I can see that is your only hope.

The problem you have is that the published admission criteria make it clear that you must supply a letter from the vicar with your application. If the online application system allows you to attach supporting documents such as supplementary forms you should have sent the letter that way.

From what you have posted you didn't know whether to send the letter to the school, include it with your online application or do something else. You didn't bother to ask the school or the LA what you should do. You didn't even get the letter you were supposed to supply. You simply gave them the contact details for your vicar and hoped they would do it for you. Other parents clearly managed to figure out what they needed to do to get their child into category D.

An appeal panel may agree that the information was unclear. However, if all that was needed was to attach the letter to your online application you may well find that they are unsympathetic. You would have a much stronger case if you had got the required letter from the vicar and either attached it to your online application or sent it to the school.

AlienAttack Wed 29-May-13 20:21:58

I don't think the fact the LEA have now moved your DC to the higher eligibility criterion is indicative that they feel they made a mistake initially. It simply reflects that you now have obtained the letter and therefore they have now moved you into that criterion which means you are higher on the waiting list than you would have been.

PickleFish Wed 29-May-13 21:22:07

If it's a PAN of 18, then perhaps it's not an ICS appeal, and that might help?

just looking up the schools in the city, including Park St, on behalf of a friend, and I'm slightly confused now. Most of them have in their admissions list a category of "children who were not admitted to their catchment primary because of oversubscription", and then following that, "children who live nearest the school". She is just in catchment for a popular school that might be oversubscribed from within catchment. She actually thinks she prefers a different school, also quite popular. So it sounds like it's better that she puts the catchment school first, hoping that she doesn't get into it, as then she'll have a better chance in the second choice school over people who just chose that school out of preference, because she'll be in a higher category from having missed out on catchment? Seems a risky game to play, although it wouldn't be the end of the world if she got into the catchment school - she's just less convinced of how wonderful it is than other people are. This is for next year though, so she's planning to look at this year's data to find out how on the border she is of likelihood of getting in to that one.

another of the city's school has PAN of 34, which seems a very odd number.

prh47bridge Wed 29-May-13 22:02:57

Yes a PAN of 18 may mean it isn't ICS but the OP (for this case) says it is combined with Y1. I'm finding it difficult to see how that works. It makes sense if they have two classes for Infants, one covering Reception/Y1 and the other for Y1/Y2. That would mean two classes of 27 pupils which would not be an ICS case. But if Y1 and Y2 have more than 18 in each year it may be ICS.

heyheyheyhey Wed 29-May-13 22:11:57

I ask this then: Why have an additional information section if it going to not be taken seriously from the start?

Surely, if the line with admissions is these are the terms and conditions and if you don't adhere to it exactly that is tough luck...why then when questioned, change the tune and let additional information be considered? There should be someone who looks at the applications additional information and deals with it properly.

The other two people who have been put ahead of my son on the reserve list have both also had there additional faith information overlooked on the application form and as a consequence of them also pointing out to the admissions that their additional information was also not taken into account they have been now directly put into position 1 & 2 as they live a few metres closer than we do to the school. One of the cases I know about sent their letter to the admissions for all the schools but it was not used for their allocation because it is the school who says who is going to be considered under the religious criterion (the schools didn't receive the letter). Surely, this shows that the form is not clear. I just had a check of the guide for parents and other schools of faith state at the top of their particular school in bold that a faith letter must be sent in directly to the school. Park Street does not state this.

I am aware that as I am dyslexic I have trouble taking in and maintaining information and of course now I have an inkling how the process works. I don't have any back up when it comes to these things and as a full time working single parent it is very difficult to find the time to visit the CAB to get additional advice. I filled the form out to the best of my ability and naively thought that what I had written in the additional information would be considered. You are right that a faith letter should have been sent to everyone involved in the process at the start but I thought that as it wasn't clear who to send the letter to and that if I wrote it on the form in the additional section it would have been picked up upon because I had also signed to say that all of my information submitted was true and correct. I didn't just write that we're religious this is the vicars number you sort it out. I wrote that my son and I follow the Christian ethos of the school and that the Rev'd *** of St Andrew's, Chesterton has said he would happily supply a faith letter if required supporting our application to Park Street as we are both active members of St Andrew's, Chesterton and have been since we moved to the area 4 1/2 years ago...

The vicar has offered to go to the appeal with me as support...

TwoSonsMummy Wed 29-May-13 22:34:12

Here again. Not sure this is the right thread but...

Concerned about the Stage 1 hearing. I am very anxious about speaking in public and don't think I'll be able to say anything in the Stage 1 in front of all the other parents appealing (LA implied there'll be many). Do I harm my case if I don't do something against the school's case at this stage? What should I say? I know they have admitted on appeal before and that it is not an ICS. I don't feel confident to start arguing about room and corridor sizes etc as I am not a lawyer or confident in speaking in such situations. Am I doomed to fail?! (Even bigger worries about the individual hearing of course, worried I might actually faint, I think I am a normal person and I know exactlywhy we need this school but I suffer from terrible performance/public speaking anxiety and the whole prospect seems utterly terrifying.)

Sorry this has nothing to do with the above posts!

heyheyheyhey Wed 29-May-13 23:02:24

Park Street is divided up into 4 mixed age classes:

Class 1: Reception and the younger year 1 group
Class 2: Older year 1 group and year 2
Class 3: Years 3 and 4
Class 4: Years 5 and 6

My letter from the LA admissions team says that our appeal will be an individual one as we have not been offered any of our preferred schools.

heyheyheyhey Wed 29-May-13 23:08:51

Public speaking is truly awful if you are not used to it. The appeals are meant to be informal and I am hoping they are not as scary as you seem to think. Just go well prepared and write yourself notes. Do your best, it is all you can do....

prh47bridge Wed 29-May-13 23:33:07

heyheyheyhey - The "additional information" section is there because it is a legal requirement. It is not a substitute for complying with the admission criteria. If they say you must supply a letter from the vicar with your application then that is what you must supply, not just the vicar's details.

If a parent submitted the letter to the LA with their application and it was not forwarded to the school that is a clear failure to follow the admission arrangements. That parent has a good case for winning an appeal. I'm afraid it does not affect your chances. The information you put on the form was not what the school required.

Changing tack, you need to find out exactly how many pupils there will be next year in class 1 and class 2. The fact it is an individual appeal does not mean it isn't infant class size. However, if it is not infant class size you will stand a much better chance.

TwoSonsMummy - You don't have to say anything in stage 1. The LA will present their case not to admit. There will then be a chance for parents to question the LA's representative. You will not harm your case if you don't ask any questions at this stage. However if you intend to argue that a mistake was made you must raise it in stage 1. If you do not the chair may prevent you from raising it in stage 2.

You don't need to argue about room sizes, etc. Simply ask them if they have ever gone over PAN previously and how they coped. Also ask them if they have had any accidents directly attributable to overcrowding. If the official net capacity of the school is at the bottom end of the calculated range I would also ask a question about that as it indicates the school can cope with more pupils.

heyheyheyhey Thu 30-May-13 01:21:41

By next year do you mean 2013/2014 or 2014/2015...how does this affect the appeal?

prh47bridge Thu 30-May-13 01:35:31

I mean in September. If there are 30 in each class it will be an infant class size case which means you can only win if you can persuade the panel that a mistake has been made. However, if the classes are smaller you can win by showing that this is the right school for your son and that he will be disadvantaged if he does not attend this school.

heyheyheyhey Thu 30-May-13 01:58:25

Ok, thank you, I will find that out tomorrow.

Do you know how parental disability is considered in this process, if it is at all?

prh47bridge Thu 30-May-13 14:15:51

Your case should be mainly about your child and the impact on him of not being admitted to this school. However, if you have a severe disability that impacts your ability to take your child to the allocated school it may be worth raising. It is then up to the appeal panel to decide how much weight to give that.

heyheyheyhey Thu 30-May-13 14:22:04

Hello there,

I have received the following information from admissions this morning...

It will be a standard appeal. This information will automatically be included in your appeal paperwork.

This is how they organise this year - it may look slightly different for next year,

School Name:Park Street
YEAR2012-13
Rec123456Totals
CLASS 1188 26
2 1118 29
3 1319 32
4 141832
Total Roll18191813191418119
PAN:18181818181822130

What does this mean?

Many thanks.....

FadedSapphire Thu 30-May-13 14:49:19

Lordy me heyhey- hope someone can decipher that!

heyheyheyhey Thu 30-May-13 15:51:43

Whoops...cut and paste was not doing it's thing....

It should read...

REC 1 2 3 4 5 6 Totals
Class 1 18 8 26
2 11 18 29
3 13 19 32
4 14 18 32
Total Roll 18 19 18 13 19 14 18 119
PAN 18 18 18 18 18 18 22 130

Sorry about that!

FadedSapphire Thu 30-May-13 15:57:06

Errr.. well hope that's helped someone heyhey.
Clear as mud to me!
A PAN of 18 does seem strange. Very small school.
As Cof E primary your priority, are you on waiting lists for other CofE schools in your localish area?
With such a small PAN unless you are very near top you could well be disappointed [not that I know much about these things].

heyheyheyhey Thu 30-May-13 16:00:06

Whoops...cut and paste was not doing it's thing....

It should read...

Class 1 is made up of 18 reception and 8 year 1 TOTAL 26
Class 2 is made up of 11 year 1 and 18 year 2 TOTAL 29
Class 3 is made up of 13 year 3 and 19 year 4 TOTAL 32
Class 4 is made up of 14 year 5 and 18 year 6 TOTAL 32

Total Roll 18/19/18/13/19/14/18 119
PAN 18/18/18/18/18/18/22 130

Sorry about that!

Hope it works this time...

FadedSapphire Thu 30-May-13 16:08:07

How interesting. Why is class one going to be smaller than other years? They look under numbers unless I am missing something?

NynaevesSister Thu 30-May-13 17:09:34

Then it doesn't appear to be an infant class size appeal. So you should have a better chance of success. Why have they not filled the infant classes up to 30?

FadedSapphire Thu 30-May-13 17:17:34

Is their total possible number of children 130 or am I reading that wrong?
On roll they have 119?

prh47bridge Thu 30-May-13 18:20:13

Definitely not an infant class size appeal. They have admitted one over PAN in Y1 (presumably a successful appeal). Some other years are over PAN but Y3 and Y5 are both well under PAN. Overall they have 119 on the roll so they are definitely under their capacity.

You can point to Y1 and say they cope with 19 in that year so they can cope with 19 in Reception next year. You can also point out that they could admit up to 20 in each year before they run into infant class size issues.

A PAN of 18 is a little odd. 20 would make more sense as that would give two classes of 30 in infants. It may be that the classrooms are small. That would be worth checking.

As this is not an infant class size appeal you can mention the mistake you think was made but you don't have to rely on that. You should look for anything this school has (extra curricular activities, particular ways of delivering the curriculum, etc.) that is missing from the allocated school and that is particularly relevant to your son.

heyheyheyhey Fri 31-May-13 10:09:20

Thanks for your input, it is very much appreciated.

The school is set on a very small site...could the classroom size have something to do with the PAN 18? Would this be something that admissions would know or would I have to ask the school directly? How would that affect things?

I am home today, so will be able to work on my appeal letter.

I would like to know if there is a structure I should follow as I really don't want to get it all wrong.

Would it be best to write all my points into the initial appeal letter or to be succinct and elaborate at the appeal?

Many thanks....

prh47bridge Fri 31-May-13 13:05:20

It is possible the classrooms are too small to accommodate 30 pupils, hence the PAN of 18. Admission will know the answer and will tell you how big the classrooms are if you ask. You should also ask for the calculated capacity - this should be two figures, a maximum and a minimum, with the actual net capacity somewhere between those two. If they have set the net capacity at or near the bottom of the range that is worth mentioning. You don't need to put this stuff in your appeal letter. You can bring it up during the hearing.

There is no particular structure you have to follow. Just make sure you set out your case clearly. As for how much detail you put, that is entirely up to you. Some people just put bullet points and fill in the detail at the hearing, some put loads of details. Make sure you cover the important points and concentrate on your strongest arguments so that the appeal panel have a clear understanding of your case. Take as much space as you need but stick to the point.

toolatemickey Tue 18-Jun-13 20:50:51

Hello experts !!! A bit of advice/ encouragement needed if any of you have the time .. We've got our primary school appeal on 26 June not infant class size which is some good news! We have been asking the LA for roll numbers and school capacity numbers which they have failed to provide us the LA appeal timetable says we must receive our case details at least 6 days prior ... I think that expired today . The PAN is 30 but the school prospectus states that " classes are set up for between 30 to 33 pupils .. Do you think these are good grounds to argue ? I do have some more info but am a bit wary of divulging too much in public ...
Many thanks

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