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 Fri 17-Oct-14 14:03:12

what sort of expert evidence do you mean?

General evidence about how children settle won't help. It needs to be specific to your daughter. So yes, she would need to see a professional who was willing to write a letter saying that, in their opinion, your daughter needs to go to this school.

Can I keep her at home until the appeal is heard?

As Spindelina says, you can home educate for as long as you want. Even if you aren't home educating you probably won't get into trouble for keeping her at home pending the outcome of the appeal.

How much notice is taken of the head in this situation?

Be very cautious. The head is not allowed to directly support your appeal and probably won't thank you if you bring up anything they have said suggesting your appeal should succeed. However, some heads do manage to make it clear to the panel that they would quite like the appeal to succeed. In that situation the appeal almost always succeeds.

Spindelina Fri 17-Oct-14 13:13:33

You can home educate for as long as you want.

CharlotteSimmons Fri 17-Oct-14 12:31:40

Thanks, what sort of expert evidence do you mean? General evidence, or she has to see a professional?
Thanks - I will look into the clubs.
If it is early December that is about a month after we move. Can I keep her at home until the appeal is heard? I do not want her going to potentially 3 schools this term and four this year, and think a few weeks in another school that we hope will be temporary is going to make the settling, or lack thereof and anxiety about it worse from her point of view - obviously this assumes a successful appeal...
Do you think it makes a difference if the head of the school we will be appealing to has been positive when we have discussed this approach? How much notice is taken of the head in this situation?

prh47bridge Thu 16-Oct-14 01:06:49

Having moved from abroad on its own wouldn't be a good reason. Concern about settling is a little better but not much. To be really persuasive you would need expert evidence that your daughter needs to be with her sibling. In the absence of expert evidence I would still mention these factors but concentrate on things the local school can offer that would be particularly beneficial to her. Look at extra-curricular activities such as lunchtime clubs or after school clubs.

An appeal could be quicker than a month. It depends in part on how quickly they can find enough people to sit on the appeal panel. I would work on the basis that it is probably going to be early December before you get your hearing. If it comes in earlier that is a bonus.

CharlotteSimmons Wed 15-Oct-14 18:50:55

Thank you. Would having moved from abroad be a good reason? Concern about settling?
The other local schools are mostly full so there are not loads of options - I don't know if that makes a difference, although there are two that are a drive away that are very poor schools with spaces. My hunch is that is where she would be placed.
Could be appeal be quicker than a month or does it generally take that long?

prh47bridge Wed 15-Oct-14 13:25:36

Once your daughter has refused entry you can lodge your appeal. The hearing must take place within 30 school days of you submitting the form. You should hear the outcome within 5 school days of the hearing.

If they have been over 30 previously that helps as it shows they can cope with additional pupils. You are unlikely to win purely on the basis of having a sibling at the school unless the case to refuse entry is very weak. You need to come up with some other arguments. Is there a particular reason why your daughter needs to be at the same school as her sibling - more so than other children? Are there things the local school offers that would be particularly beneficial for her? Those are the kinds of thing you need to look at.

CharlotteSimmons Wed 15-Oct-14 11:54:33

Hi
I have had a flick through this thread and wonder if I can get some advice too. We are moving mid term, there is a place for my Yr 2 DC at the school local to where we are moving. There is not a place for my Yr 4 DD. What would be the chance of success in appealing? The school have had over 30 in Junior years before (due to multiples moving into the area - triplets moved in, class was 29, one got a spot, the other 2 got in - not sure if that was on appeal). When I visited the school they encouraged me to appeal, and seemed to think that the sibling rule would apply.
What is the process?
How long does it take?
We are moving in 4 weeks (this is the earliest I could make the application in order for my DC YR 2 to be able to take up the place) - I should hear back in 2 weeks. Is there any chance that my DD will not have a massive gap between when we move and when she starts school?
I am reluctant to put her in another school in the meantime (more backstory, we moved back to the UK from abroad in September, planned to settle elsewhere in the county, they started school there, we couldn't find a house, so that and other reasons, have bought and are moving - same county. But because of this the DC will already have been through 3 schools in almost as many months if everything goes to plan)
Ugh - am finding the whole thing so stressful and the temptation to bury my head in the sand is intense!!

Newuser99 Tue 14-Oct-14 07:50:27

Thank you very much for your reply. It is very helpful especially the part about questioning the presenting officer, a much more positive way to handle it, thank you.

prh47bridge Mon 13-Oct-14 23:51:15

To find out when they went over PAN before simply ask them. If the school won't tell you try the LA. They have to answer any questions you ask within reason to help you prepare for your appeal. If they have been over PAN in the past that helps your appeal as it shows they can cope with additional pupils.

The school cannot directly support your case. However, sometimes the school doesn't put up much of a fight and it is clear to the panel that they are only going through the motions.

I wouldn't mention the possible increase in PAN in your written submission. However, I would ask the presenting officer about it in the hearing. "Can you confirm that..." or something along those lines.

You can mention the falling roll. The panel isn't supposed to take it into account so I wouldn't spend much time on it but it certainly can't harm your case.

Newuser99 Mon 13-Oct-14 21:03:18

Firstly, this is the most informative and helpful thread I have ever seen and thank you so much to all the experts for providing such invaluable information.

We moved house over the summer holidays. Our youngest child was accepted in the Reception class at the new local primary school and started in September. Our older child’s application to year 4 was refused as “the year group is currently full”. We are now about to appeal this decision. I can see that I need to argue why our older child will be better placed in the new school than the old school as arguments surrounding logistical and childcare issues are ignored in these cases.

I was told by the head that the school has been forced to go over PAN by the LA in the past which obviously raised our hopes. How do I find out when the school went over PAN?

There is also another twist to this and I don’t know whether I should bring it up in our appeal or not. The head told me she had applied to increase her PAN over the summer and was refused by the LA. I assumed this would mean the school would therefore be supportive of our case as their documentation to support their PAN would include the fact they were looking to increase their numbers. I have been informed by the head that the school’s case does not support this desire and she does not wish to update the documentation presently as they are being approached by the LA to take a direct entry child who has been excluded from another school. Should I bring this up in my appeal as I have no documented evidence as this was merely a conversation?

The head has also admitted they have a falling roll issue in Y5 and Y6 so would it be possible to argue that this would only be a temporary period over PAN in my child’s year?

Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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)?

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.

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.

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