Any tips for primary school appeals?

(989 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 17-Dec-14 14:16:48

PAN tends not to change unless there have been alterations to the school's premises.

The reasons for going over PAN are less significant than the fact they have been (if true). If they have been over PAN for any reason in the past it suggests they can cope with additional children. Of course, if they have gone miles over PAN previously because they created a bulge class one year that would be a special case which doesn't really help. It is likely that any children over PAN have been admitted on appeal, or through the Fair Access Protocol or by getting a statement of SEN naming the school.

If the school is operating below net capacity that helps as it counters any arguments about overcrowding in the corridors, difficulties serving lunch, etc.

People do talk about travel issues. It shouldn't harm your case but don't spend too much time on this, friendship links or similar. These factors should not win your appeal so you need the panel to focus on your stronger points. Your case needs to be primarily about why this is the right school for your daughter. What can this school give her that the offered school cannot.

jamiepie1 Wed 17-Dec-14 13:20:25

Hello new to the thread and am in the process of formulating an appeal for my 8yr old daughters admission, so any advice would be greatly received.

HAving moved to our new village a few months ago we left our two daughters in there existing village primary 10 miles away as it was a known quantity for them and to maintain stability. Having had documented issues with our eldest in yr 5 we looked to move to our now local primary.

Our eldest has been accepted as a in-year admission to yr 5 but our youngest has been refused on the grounds that her requested year group is full. She has been offered a place out of catchment (our only school in catchment IS the village primary) and we have been told that she would be entitled to daily transport, yet if we elect to send our eldest to the same school as her she WOULD NOT as we would have elected to place her out of catchment.

I am intending to request the PAN for each year group for this and previous academic years and where this has been exceeded and by how many. Is it also reasonable or possible for me to ask if these additional pupil places were through appeals or even to find out the reason for exceeding the PAN. Also how relevant is the Net number for the school in an appeal as I am aware that other year groups have very low numbers.

HAving read previous in the thread that travel is not a consideration but does it help to set up a picture over the overall amenity and weight of benefit to the pupil also along this line are social and friendship links with existing pupils reasonable to cite if you are trying to create a preponderance of benefit to outweigh the disadvantage to the school, or would this just irritate the panel as a self serving parental rant???

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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

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?


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.

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