Any tips for primary school appeals?

(985 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?

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 08-Jan-14 20:39:27

Yes, we have considered it but as DS is making progress I don't think we'd get it. I'm also unsure of the procedure; we'd have to apply to the LA we are moving to I assume?

The private school we are thinking of is not selective and has a good rep for being a rather, erm, sleepy sort of place.

I feel rather overwhelmed! What a nightmare this is turning into.

lougle Wed 08-Jan-14 20:44:59

Yes, you'd need to wait until you've moved, unless you're not moving for another 6 months.

I don't understand the 'sleepy' sort of place?

It's a difficult situation. I feel for you.

Any panel would be extremely sympathetic to your situation, I'm sure. Unfortunately I sit on panels and even if we feel extremely sorry for someone, and feel they should be able to go to the school they are appealing for, if it's full, the Infant Class Size Regulations make it impossible to find in favour of the appellant unless a mistake has been made.

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 08-Jan-14 20:50:27

Nurturing I mean.

Doesn't do too well in the league tables but seems to have a steady flow of happy parents whose children are not very academic! I just want him somewhere he feels happy and confident and he can do things in his own time.

You're a gem, thanks so much for your help. I need to go through the school policy documentation with a fine tooth comb now and see what I can use.

lougle Wed 08-Jan-14 20:52:40

Good luck!

You'll get a pack of papers through for the appeal, so you'll be able to see why the 3 extra places were awarded, etc., so be careful to see if there have been mistakes made. Having said that, only a mistake that costs your child a place will be relevant, and it's unlikely there will be one due to your situation of relocating.

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 08-Jan-14 20:55:45

Thanks lougle - I'll be back when that old stack of papers pops through the door, that's for sure!

lougle Wed 08-Jan-14 20:57:06

smile

MissBetseyTrotwood Mon 13-Jan-14 22:51:13

<panic rising>

The head and principle have agreed to meet me and DH again about our youngest being admitted to Reception. DS has some paeds appointments coming up and there's a possibility the Drs might recommend him for Reception. I've re read the Jul 2013 DfE guidance and if that goes ahead it might just work. We probably won't have the write ups by then as they take an age though.

Then the appeal hearing for both children has been set for an hour after that meeting. The secretary (who is absolutely lovely) is trying to be helpful. I think I might combust!

It's all going to happen in the space of about 2 hours. I feel scared already!

lougle Mon 13-Jan-14 22:55:08

Good luck smile

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 22-Jan-14 15:12:30

Just got the paperwork through. Feel quite down hearted about it all now. Doctors are buck passing over writing letters to testify he's too young for his birth year, appointments delayed etc.

Will the panel ask me questions? I don't know how I'll get through it without crying. sad

lougle Wed 22-Jan-14 16:26:46

Oh MissBetseyTrotwood sad

You don't have to attend the appeal hearing, but it greatly helps you if you do, because you get to say your case, which can give emphasis to what you feel are the pertinent points.

If you attend the appeal hearing the panel will ask you questions. They should be kind and sensitive though. Their job is to help you give all the information you can, without assuming what that information will be.

In terms of this appeal, it doesn't matter about letters saying he's too young for his year - the panel can only consider if he should have a place in Year R, his year group.

The chances of success, unless a mistake has been made are very, very, very, slim. I can't say 0, because you never know what will be unearthed on the day. However, an appeal for a Year R place in a class that has a maximum legal size of 30, which is already at 33, with no mistakes on the part of the LA, is going to be almost impossible to succeed.

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 22-Jan-14 16:45:47

I don't think for a second we'll be successful for ds2 but ds1 might be in with a chance.

Thanks lougle, you've been so kind and generous with your advice. It's just seeing it all in black and white is really hard.

I'm going to do some serious research on home ed.

lougle Wed 22-Jan-14 19:23:45

You have a fair chance with DS1 smile I can't say what that chance will be - it will depend on how strongly the LA defends the school position and how strongly you can argue your DS1's position for that school (as opposed to against any other). But the panel isn't tied on the criteria for deciding that he needs the place. They can use their discretion to make a judgement.

MissBetseyTrotwood Wed 22-Jan-14 20:20:50

That's good to know lougle . I just hope it doesn't get into a debate because I can't think on my feet at all. DH is much better at that! We haven't received any details on the admissions that got in either.

The only maybe, possible chance for our success with DS2 is that although we have to appeal for a Y1 place for him (the class that's very over subscribed) they have said that there is still a possibility they could accept him into YR because of his academic, social and emotional need. I really hope they agree this as there are places in that year group.

I went through the school census, the Ofsted report and the curriculum details for the school published on the website with a fine tooth comb and argued the case for both children in academic, extra curricular and emotional need for their entry to that school. The admissions secretary (so nice) emailed me back to say the letter was really good, so thank you so much for helping me with that tactic.

I'll be more or less repeating what I've said in the letter but I shall structure my appeal statement around the arguments they have given against admitting another child to the year group instead.

It's been a long week already; DS2's behaviour at home has been off the wall and he's played alone all week this week according to his teacher. I wish the hearing were tomorrow and not in a fortnight!

Thanks again flowers

lougle Wed 22-Jan-14 20:31:10

Never a debate smile

There will be a set format. Everyone takes turns. No debate.

MissBetseyTrotwood Thu 06-Feb-14 22:05:11

Lougle- they accepted both of them!

Half way through the hearing the two school reps (principal and head of school) asked to be excused. They met outside, came back in and said they were wirhdrawing their objection to our appeal.

When they start they are going to assess ds2 and decide on his year group. Honestly, you could have knocked me down with a feather. They just kept saying they would do what was right for ds2 and would respond to his needs as necessary.

They also disclosed at the very end that the large class had 2 hltas with it. I'm a bit nervous about the 34 but they seem confident they can manage it.

Thank you for your guidance lougle. I'm sure the outcome would not have been the same if you'd not helped us.

lougle Thu 06-Feb-14 22:14:28

Oh how fantastic!!

Don't be surprised if they put him in the reception year - the law is very clear that the child must fall into an 'excepted group' to be allowed a place if beyond 30 in the class.

It may well be that they felt they'd heard enough to judge that he'd be best in YR.

Or, they may have just bent the rules...who knows.

Keep us posted smile

MissBetseyTrotwood Fri 07-Feb-14 08:16:14

Honestly, if we had had to we could have just about afforded the fees for the private school but it would have meant having both boys at different schools. Also, we're moving from a very close community and I really want to be part of one when we move. DCs at the local school really helps this to happen, obviously.

Thanks again. It was so dramatic and sudden, I'm still buzzing off it this morning! DH (always the pragmatist) is currently wondering what caused the U turn… there must be something afoot or an ulterior motive somewhere in that school!

Thanks again! So, so much. thanks thanks thanks

cedricdoris1 Sat 08-Mar-14 00:22:56

Hi, can I ask for some advice please. This is a long and complicated story so here goes. Both my daughters were at a private school when I was married, then I got divorced and their father stopped paying. I moved my eldest at the end of year 2 to a local mainstream school at which I had previously (but not at that time) been a governor. Whilst this process was going on I also secured an LSA job at the same said school. My youngest was still at (the private) nursery, for which I was paying, so it made sense for her to stay there, where she was incredibly happy, for one more academic year. My eldest really struggled with the transition but I put it down to moving from a girls only, class of 20 school to a mainstream primary with boys, class of 30 school. I thought that she would settle, it would take time and that once my youngest started in Reception that would really make a huge difference. It didn't; my eldest, then in Year 4, would cry every morning saying she hated school, she didn't want to go to school etc etc. Finally, after much deliberation on my part as I knew the potential ramifications of such a decision, I applied for mid-term transfer for both of my daughters to attend an alternative (C of E) primary school just before the Easter holidays 2013. My eldest got a place within two weeks and started last May 2013. My youngest jumped up the waiting list for Reception as she then had sibling category, not just distance. She was top of the waiting list for the rest of the summer term. But then the books got closed. As soon as the books opened again in September she was back down at 7th. The school's catchment area includes an armed forces estate, we do not live in catchment. She is currently third on the waiting list. I have submitted two lots of medical evidence from my GP and it has now been suggested to me to appeal. I was subject to domestic violence and abuse during my marriage and that is why I am now divorced. My girls were 6 and 2 when their father left. I have done some academic research on how important it is for siblings, especially sisters, to be together at school when they have suffered a trauma and have an absent father. My eldest daughter is thriving and so very happy at her current school. My youngest can cope with going to school on the three days a week I work but complains of tummy aches etc on the two days I don't. She sleeps on a mattress on my bedroom floor and quite often comes into my bed during the night. An additional difficulty is that my youngest's teacher has changed since half term, due to long term sickness of another member of staff. I have submitted FOI requests to the council and have some data on waiting lists and vacancies submitted to them since March 2013 to present. I would very much welcome any help anyone can give me. This situation is causing me and my two children a huge amount of distress. Many thanks.

prh47bridge Sat 08-Mar-14 09:02:25

It sounds like this is a Y1 appeal so a lot will depend on the size of classes in infants. If, when all three years are full, they would have 30 children in any of the classes in Y1 or Y2 this would be an infant class size appeal. That means you should only win if a mistake has been made and your youngest should have been offered a place. I'm afraid that is very unlikely in this situation. You may get a sympathetic appeal panel but you need to be realistic about your chances of success.

If it is not an infant class size appeal you have a better chance of success. You can then win your appeal by showing that your daughter would be disadvantaged by not going to this school. The appeal panel may not take much notice of the academic research you have done as it is general rather than specific to your child. Your case would be stronger if you had a letter from a medical professional saying that, in their opinion, your daughter needs to go to this school. You can strengthen your case by looking for things this school offers that are absent from your daughter's current school and that are particularly relevant to her. For example, if your daughter is musically talented and this school has a band she could join but her current school doesn't that is worth mentioning.

meditrina Sat 08-Mar-14 09:13:47

The snag about absent fathers and trauma is that it applies equally to Forces families, whose children are also classed as educationally deprived (and therefore all receive Pupil Premium) are a specified group under the Fair Access Protocol and who will have no other local school place at all.

One thing that is more hopeful is that Forces families also leave areas on short notice, so waiting lists can move rapidly.

cedricdoris1 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:22:02

meditrina: thank you for help. I know forces families move on short notice, but it also means there are others moving in at short notice too :-(

prh74bridge thank you, it is a Year 1 appeal. The school is a two form entry, so are you saying that all 180 places need to be full (Year R, 1 & 2) for it to be an infant class size appeal? TBH I'm quite confused as to what infant class size appeal is. My council states these options:
Ground A: the admission of additional child would not breach the infant class size limit; and/or
Ground B: it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied; and/or
Ground C: it decides that the decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.
Would it be best for me to go for Ground C given our family circumstances which led up to this dilemma and given the two lots of medical evidence I've submitted, 2 letters from my GP explaining our family situation and how the extreme distress caused by their separation is affecting all of us. If so, what else could I say/submit to support this appeal?
Thank you again.

prh47bridge Sun 09-Mar-14 01:25:29

From the information you have posted it sounds like this school has an admission number of 60 and has two classes in each year in infants. Unfortunately that means this is an infant class size case.

In an infant class size case are that you can only win on grounds B or C listed in your post. You don't seem to have a case on B so that just leaves C. You can certainly try to show that the decision was unreasonable but the bar you have to get over is very high. In essence you have to show that the decision was irrational.

The letters from your GP and other medical evidence may help provided it is specific to your daughters and was submitted to the LA with your application. You can't argue that the LA was unreasonable for not taking into account information they didn't have, so the panel is likely to decide that information that wasn't sent to the LA doesn't help your case. Even if they accept all your evidence the problem you will face is convincing the panel this means your youngest should be admitted to this school, particularly if both girls were in the same school before you moved your oldest daughter. It is also quite possible the panel will decide the case for keeping your daughters together is not much stronger than the case that could be made by other families and therefore the LA has not been unreasonable.

All you can do is lay out the evidence you've got that your daughters need to be together, explain why you moved your eldest and hope you get a sympathetic panel.

cedricdoris1 Mon 10-Mar-14 16:20:37

OK thank you prh47bridge, I have fired off a few freedom of information requests to the council, however the more I look into it the more I suspect a council employee was bumped up the list as something just doesn't add up. I probably can't go for an appeal as the last lot of medical evidence was rejected by the council on 6th February so I am way past the 20 school days :-( I have also found the Coram Children's Legal Centre so will see what they have to say as well, thank you for your advice. :-)

prh47bridge Mon 10-Mar-14 17:16:27

You don't need FoI requests to get information for an appeal. They are required to answer any questions you reasonably ask.

If a council employee was pushed up the list that would be a clear breach of the admission arrangements and would be a good case for appeal if your child would have got the place otherwise. I must admit I would be very surprised if the LA did break the Admissions Code to give priority to an employee. What makes you think that has happened?

You are entitled to appeal at any time. The fact that your medical evidence was rejected last month is irrelevant. The deadline imposed by the LA is for administrative convenience and allows them to ensure that all appeals are heard at the same time. Any appeal submitted after the deadline must still be heard.

cedricdoris1 Mon 10-Mar-14 20:52:02

That's incredibly helpful news prh47bridge - had no idea I didn't need FoI requests. I also had no idea I could appeal at any time, have spent most of the weekend researching and establishing what information I need to proceed. I can take my foot off the pedal somewhat!!

The reason I think something untoward has happened is based on a couple of things. One is that I know an offer was made to a child with Religion category, on the 25/4/13. Yet the child's mid-term transfer form was not submitted until 3/5/13. So something clearly does not add up here. Also, I know that the child did not take up their place until 10/6/13, outside of the 4 week take up period. The child is not from a service family where I believe there is leniency on the 4 week take up.

I will be phoning the admissions department to get all the info I need. I cannot thank you enough for these vital pieces of information.

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