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?

prh47bridge Sun 27-Jul-14 21:46:12

Even when a case is not infant class size most of those arguments would not usually carry a great deal of weight. I suspect you won because the school was about to expand and, from the sounds of it, the head was happy to take your daughter. On that basis an appeal panel should conclude there was little or no prejudice to the school from admitting your daughter.

boysmummyjp2 Thu 31-Jul-14 09:23:53

can someone tell me if appeals are reported anywhere like in law reports or commission decisions or something?

the other question is when one does an online or paper application do we have to explain why we want to go to a particular school or is it just a case of selecting 6 primary schools?

finally, how does the application process work from the moment it is received? are applications processed according to when they were received or alphabetical order? surely either way is going to cause disappointment

prh47bridge Thu 31-Jul-14 13:30:20

No appeals are not reported at all. They are confidential and the outcome of an appeal does not set a precedent to be followed in future appeals.

When you apply there will be a box allowing you to give your reasons for selecting a particular school but it has no bearing on the process unless you are able to give evidence that will move you to a higher admissions category.

There is no priority for applying early nor is there any priority based on alphabetical order. The order in which applications are processed has no bearing on the outcome. The LA will put together a list of applicants for each school. That list will then be sorted into order using the school's admission criteria. The people at the top of the list will have places. Once this has happened for all schools some people will have offers for more than one school. The LA looks at their preferences and keeps the offer from the highest preference available. Any offers from other schools are reallocated to the next person on the sorted list for that school. Eventually the LA will reach a point where no-one has more than one offer. They will, however, have a few people who don't have any offer. They are allocated the nearest school with places available.

rachelle82 Mon 15-Sep-14 21:37:21

hi im hoping someone can help me. my oldest daughter moved from an english to welsh medium primary school last year. As we are not welsh speakers i had to arrange for her to go to a different school to catch up with the language. She is now in year 1 and coming on really well. Admissions forms were due in the october but whilst arranging the school move i brought up the question of my middle daughter who was due to start this september and was told by the admissions officer that i needed to apply then (that was the end of may). this was because they had been allowing three reception classes of 30 but that they were dropping down to two classes of 30. my oldest daughter moved with ease and i rang the council to check that they had received my youngest childs admission form. it was confirmed by the same gentleman that they had my form. allocations went out and i never heard nothing. went to the school and they said she was not on the list and it may be a council error. i contacted the council and left a phone message on the friday afternoon. No-one rang me back and by monday morning i had a letter stating that i had not responded to any correspondence from them and that i was now classed as a late application. i finally got hold of them and spoke to a woman who told me there were no places and could not appeal until i sent in another form. i asked to hand it to someone in person and was told there was no-one but i needed to drop it to the county hall in the internal mail box. my partner took the letter and two days later i rang to confirm the letter was recieved and again was told by the same gentleman that they had my letter and i just needed to wait for their response. after two and a half weeks of nothing i rang them and the same guy explained that they had no record of me whatsoever and that i needed to fill in a third form and email it though the council so i could get a receipt. i done this and rang again to be told that the form was lost again. by the end of the conversation they finally found me on the system. i was told to wait again to have a response. a week later and nothing so i rang again. the same guy again told me that my letters were in the post for the rejection and he would send me another updated list. as they still never arrived i was finally put though to someone who slipped up and told me that no letter were even sent out and that he would send them via email. i now have the appeal letter and rejection letter 10 weeks later. 6 children have already won appeals so between the 2 classes there are now 66 children. i have been to the head and she was very unhelpful only directing me to the school admissions department where i have had all of these problems. i am currently requesting my telephone bills as this is the only physical proof i have of speaking with the council as my foolish self believed that a council worker verbally telling twice me that they had my form was proof enough. short of going to the council and checking the system myself im unsure of what they expected me to do. i have the workers name as every time i ask for someonelse he tells me that he is the only person that deals with primary admissions. i fell so angry that they can get away with this and that i either have to get work and get two children to school an hour apart (i have to take the bus as i dont drive). he even told me as a further kick in the teeth that the form would have been put aside if it was early (despite the same guy telling me to send it) but that if all these errors wouldnt have occured i would get a place as she has a sibling in the school and we are in the catchment area! please someone help i feel as though they are just going to take his word and that my childs education is going to suffer because of it.

Stardolly Tue 16-Sep-14 08:50:54

Can I get some tips on appealing due to class size and using the 'unreasonable decision' route? I figure it's pretty hard to prove.
Have a separate thread on here but looking for a bit more advice.
Picked up appeal form yesterday and was told again to not bother appealing as no one wins - was even told that to take an extra child, 'unions have to get involved and all that' - which I figure isn't true?

prh47bridge Tue 16-Sep-14 12:28:19

Winning an ICS appeal is difficult but some people do win. Whoever said those things to you is seriously out of order. You are entitled to appeal. No-one at the LA or the school should be trying to put you off.

Stardolly Tue 16-Sep-14 12:47:02

Thank you, please could you glance over my thread and advise? Posted by Stardolly... TIA

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 08:32:43

Hi there,

we're new in UK and have two kids, a son of the reception year age, and a daughter between year 4 and 5 in the UK school system. We applied for local schools here (as in-year applicants, as we moved in already in September), and got a place in reception for the son at a (reasonably) nearby school, and a place for the daughter at a school on the other end of the town. Taking both kids to those two schools is unrealistic from the logistical perspective, as it's 30 minutes drive or 45 minutes by public transport between them. In addition to that, the daughter's remote school has really bad reports, and we were explicitly told they won't take her in the year 5 even though she's way ahead of their year 4 curriculum. Both daughter's and son's schools were not on our list of preferred school in the applications. We think now of filing an appeal for the daughter's school on the grounds of unreasonable distance, and would appreciate an advice. Would it make sense to add e.g. the fact that the school doesn't develop strong students (which is mentioned in the ofsted report) to the appeal? Or should we appeal solely based on the distance? In general, should we contact the schools first to see if they have a place and appeal for that school? Or can we only appeal for the schools from our initial list of preferred schools?

Any opinions are appreciated.
Thank you.

prh47bridge Mon 22-Sep-14 09:58:09

You don't appeal against the school your daughter has been offered. You appeal for the school you want her to attend.

I'm afraid transport difficulties rarely make for a successful appeal. From the sounds of it both schools would be regarded as being within a reasonable distance of your home. That is all that matters. The fact that you will find it difficult to sort out transport is unlikely to win your appeal.

Do not talk about the Ofsted report, the school's alleged failure to develop strong students or anything else to do with the performance of the school your daughter has been offered. It won't help you win your appeal and could put the panel's backs up.

You can only appeal for a school once you have applied for a place and been refused. You can apply to as many schools as you want but the LA can limit the number of waiting lists you go on. You should start by asking the LA which schools near you have places in Y4.

If you do appeal your case needs to be about why the school for which you are appealing is right for your daughter, not what is wrong with the offered school. You can talk about differences between the schools, e.g. the appeal school offers more musical activities than the offered school (provided you can show that this is true) but you must try to avoid saying that the appeal school is better than the offered school. Even if that is true it does not help your appeal.

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 10:15:25

prh47bridge - thank for your response. At the time we were making our application, the LA didn't have up-to-date information about places in Y4/Y5, we had to call the schools ourselves. You said "You can apply to as many schools as you want" - I thought the number of preferred schools in the application is limited to 4, isn't that true?

Regarding transport, I'm curious if there exists any notion of a "reasonable distance", especially if two kids have to be delivered to different schools far apart from each other. And it's not that we are living in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of schools around.

PatriciaHolm Mon 22-Sep-14 10:37:50

"reasonable distance", though not a legal definition, is usually taken to be a maximum of around 45 minutes each way for primary children, so you are unlikely to succeed on that argument (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/331654/Home_to_school_travel_and_transport_statutory_guidance.pdf)

If the only school with space is over 3 miles from your home for the yr 4 child, the child should get free transport, but this can be a bus pass and doesn't cover a parent.

Given you are trying for a place out of the normal admissions round, you can apply for as many schools as you like, and you can only appeal for a school you have applied for and been turned down.

You appeal for a school, not against the one you have, so do not be negative about the allocated school. You need to find the positives about the preferred school and make a case that the detriment to the school of admitting her is less that the detriment to her of not being admitted - so, for example, does the preferred school have a specialism that suits her, sports offered, SEN support etc.

Also, no state school is going to take your Y4 child into y5 - education authorities are extremely strict on educating within the correct year groups.

prh47bridge Mon 22-Sep-14 12:50:22

At the time we were making our application, the LA didn't have up-to-date information about places in Y4/Y5

The Admissions Code paragraph 2.21 says that they must on request provide information about the places still available in all schools within its area. They should not fob you off like this.

I thought the number of preferred schools in the application is limited to 4, isn't that true

Yes, the LA will have a limit on the number of schools you can apply to at any one time. How many depends on the LA but it must be at least 3. However, if you are unhappy with the place you've been offered you are entitled to apply to appeal for the schools for which you have already applied and put in an application for another set of schools. The only thing you have to be careful about is that some LAs limit the number of waiting lists you can be on so if you are near the head of the waiting list for a school you like you may need to include that school on any new application to make sure you stay near the top of the list. Your LA should advise you on that but make sure you get it in writing in case what they do is different from what they say.

I'm curious if there exists any notion of a "reasonable distance"

As PatriciaHolm says, for primary school children government guidance is around 45 minutes each way. Note however that this is about the distance from home. There is no concept of a reasonable distance between schools where siblings are not at the same school. As far as the guidelines are concerned it would be perfectly reasonable to put your son in a school 45 minutes away from home in one direction and your daughter in a school 45 minutes away from home in the opposite direction. The fact that it would then be 90 minutes to get from one school to the other would not be considered relevant. You would be expected to use childminders, parents of friends or whatever other arrangements you could make to get both children to school on time and collect them at the end of the day. That may well seem unreasonable but I'm afraid that is the way the system works.

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 14:30:27

PatriciaHolm, prh47bridge thanks a lot for clarifications.

I have another question: is there any legal limit on how long our daughter can stay at home while we are looking for another school, in case we appeal for different school(s)?

PatriciaHolm Mon 22-Sep-14 14:38:07

If it is your choice to keep her out, you can "home school" her for as long as you like - legally she has to be receiving an education, but you can tell the LEA you are home schooling her if you don't want to put her in school.

However, if you don't accept the offer you have been given, the LEA are under no obligation to give you another one. If your appeal fails, you could end up with her having no place at all until one comes up from a waiting list - which could takes months, or even longer.

prh47bridge Mon 22-Sep-14 14:50:47

If you are home educating she can stay at home as long as you want. If you are not there is no period where you can legally keep her at home. In theory she should be in school. It is up to the LA but it is unlikely any action would be taken immediately.

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 15:12:36

Can we register her as being home-educated while we are waiting for the result of an appeal?

PatriciaHolm Mon 22-Sep-14 15:56:33

Yes, but as I said above, if your appeal fails you could end up with no school place at all. If you are not prepared to home school for the long term, and are not in a position to pay school fees for private school, then you really need to accept the place so she has at least somewhere to go.

You can't hold onto the place you have been given but not send her until you know the outcome of the appeal; you need to accept or decline pretty quickly.

NynaevesSister Mon 22-Sep-14 18:42:00

Just to add, even if you accept the unwanted school place you can still stay on waiting lists and also appeal for other places. So even though your youngest is at school you can still go on the waiting list for your preferred school.

I don't know what country you are from but as most regulate home education and monitor it, and also make it quite difficult to do, you may assume this is the case in the UK.

It isn't. Some councils may want you to have an outside consultant come in and assess. As I done HE I don't know all the ins and outs so get advice from local HE groups.

Finally, just be aware that if you are still on waiting lists after Christmas then you may need to re apply. Just check with your council.

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 20:30:36

Thanks everyone for suggestions. We'll start off by getting on the waiting lists for our preferred schools, and we'll probably appeal for one of them. Haven't quite made our mind about HE - this is definitely not something we want to do in long term, but is probably still better than enduring a 1.5 hour daily commute to a bad school where she can't learn anything.

We did live in two countries before, and I believe in both assigning a child to such a distant school would generally not be possible (unless the parents live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and there's simply no school closer than that). Surely the government can't be expected to take parents preferences for good schools into consideration, but at least the distance between the school and the home is one of the crucial factors. No-one benefits from increased traffic congestion and air pollution during rush hours when parents drive their kids to remote schools.

teacherwith2kids Mon 22-Sep-14 21:56:27

Blacksea, The issue is, if all the local schools are full, what other option is there? Classes of 35+ are an obvious solution, but they aren't generally regarded as 'acceptable' here.

blacksea2 Mon 22-Sep-14 22:30:22

teacherwith2kids The classes of 35+ are awful, where I grew up classes of 23+ were considered very big. A long term solution is to build more schools, and expand the existing schools, and to do it fast. A shorter term solution is to increase transparency around availability of places, and make it easier for families to decide where to move. E.g. we are new in the country and had a freedom of choice of where to live as long as it is within a reasonable distance from London. We just heard St Albans has good schools and decided to move there, but we would have thought twice had we known how difficult is to get into those good schools.

titchy Mon 22-Sep-14 22:51:23

Unfortunately local authorities have no power to build new schools anymore - new schools must all be free schools!

seriouslyhadenough Tue 07-Oct-14 20:44:53

Hi there,

One quick observation having done three primary school visits today - all three schools admitted to having taken 31 or 32 children "because we had some appeals". I find it unlikely that in all three cases there were mistakes made. I find it odd that "the school could not legally take on an extra child" but they clearly all have.

Could someone clarify? Am I missing something?

Also - we are due to see a further school next week. Their published PAN for 2015 is 30 BUT in brackets next to it is says (but we may take up to 45). What affect might this have on any ICS appeal?

Thanks.

admission Tue 07-Oct-14 22:50:02

OK, the problem is that without knowing the real detail it is not easy to answer the question with precision. It is quite possible to have some appeals and end up with 31 or 32, but as you quite rightly say that should only be happening when mistakes have been made. If the pupil was admitted under an appeal because mistakes were made then they are deemed to be excepted pupils and therefore can have the extra pupil in the class without breaking the infant class size regulations. By the same token if appeals are being won for reasons other than mistakes then there is a fault in the way the appeals are being carried out and with the knowledge of the panel in knowing how the ICS Regs should work.
My suspicion is that the " we had some appeals" is a throwaway excuse and that what has actually happened is that the pupils were admitted as excepted pupils because they had a statement of SEN (or the new version of it) naming the school, that they were looked after children or that there was not a place available within a reasonable distance of the school.
The school with a PAN of 30 but may take up to 45 is an interesting one. The school has to admit to the PAN of 30 but the regs changed a couple of years ago, so that they could admit above the PAN without it leading to a need to change the PAN. As soon as the school admits a 31st pupil then the ICS Regs come into play and they will have to have a second school teacher with the class unless they are excepted pupils. To some extent it does make sense to go to 45 as it then gives two classes of 22 and 23 which are small classes but actually making better use of the extra teacher they would have for the 31st pupil.
Any appeal is also going to be interesting. If they are running with two classes of 22 and 23 then it all depends on what happens in years 1 and 2 of the school. If they were admitting to 45 in every year group then the normal class set up is to have three classes of mixed year 1 / year 2 pupils, each with 30 in it. This situation is what is called future prejudice. You have two small reception classes of 22/23 but as soon as they move up to year 1 they will be in a class of 30, the maximum allowed under the ICS Regs. So any addition to the 45 in reception year would mean that in year 1 they will have a class of 31 which will break the ICS Regs.
However if they take 45 in reception but do not have 45 in year 1 then the likelyhood is that the appeal will not be an ICS Appeal. The classes of 22/23 in reception can accept more pupils without breaking the ICS Regs, even if the year 1 only had one class of 30, because 12 months in the future there will have to be more than 1 class in year 1.
It can get quite complicated and each case needs to be taken on their own merit.

prh47bridge Tue 07-Oct-14 22:50:15

The only way an extra child can be admitted on appeal to take an infant class above 30 children is if the decision to refuse admission was unreasonable (very unlikely) or a mistake has been made. It is, of course, possible the children involved were excepted for some other reason, e.g. statement of SEN naming the school, looked after children admitted outside the normal admissions round, sibling from a multiple birth, etc.

A PAN of 30 means any appeal will be heard under ICS rules. A PAN of 45 is also likely to be an ICS case but it depends on how they will organise the classes. Normally if the school has 45 in each year they would have two small classes in one year (either Reception or Y2) then 3 classes of 30 covering the other two years. If that is the intention it would still be an ICS appeal. If they were to admit somewhere between those two numbers it probably wouldn't be an ICS case.

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