Any tips for primary school appeals?

(957 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?

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

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

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 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?

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.

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.

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 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.

Sunflower123456 Sun 27-Jul-14 18:03:28

Yes, if the class size was 30, then the school could not legally take on an extra child.

The maximum class size for our daughter's new school is still 25, until September, because there's some structural restrictions. Thankfully the headmaster told us before the appeal that the school would be expanded, so we used it as a counter argument during the hearing. (It's very useful to visit a school before an appeal, to get some background information and check out the school facilities.)

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 27-Jul-14 15:18:50

The difference between your appeal and some other posters' situations is that while the class you were appealing for was 'full' at 25, there are essentially 5 places that can be given to anyone who can successfully argue that the negative effects of their child of not attending a school outweighs the negative effects of admitting an extra child.

Once the class size hits 30, that option isn't available and none of the arguments that helped with your appeal would win an appeal based on ICS.

Sunflower123456 Sun 27-Jul-14 13:03:08

Our daughter was refused a mid-term application to an outstanding primary school, as it was full (only 25 in class) and we live 3 miles away. We appealed, and she was granted a place (we're so thankful). Our reasons were :

- We saw the head master and he said he didn't mind where we live, as long as we could take and collect our daughter there on time.

- There is a short cut to the school, so morning and afternoon traffic wouldn't be a problem. Also the school she's attending was 5 miles away and we always got there on time, even with all the tram building work in Nottingham.

- Our daughter would not have a school to go after the Spring term, as we had given the private school one terms termination notice (see my topic - Nottingham Girls High School and eczema) BTW, going from state to private school is easy and quick, but going from private to a good state school is difficult and slow.

- The school would allow our daughter to bring home packed lunches, and wouldn't be forced to eat school canteen lunches as the private school. (Our daughter is sensitive to dairy, nuts, eggs and soya but the private NGHS head refused her to bring packed lunches, even though the school contract stated it's permitted. We complaint to their trust, GDST, but they basically ignored our complaints and refused a panel hearing.)

- The school would be expanded in the Autumn term to cater more children, so it's just an extra child for one term

- Our daughter already knew some pupils here, so she would settled in very quickly

- Our daughter is bright, sociable and her mother tongue is English, so she wouldn't need any special attention

Our daughter has attended the new school for one and half terms now, and she's very happy there. More importantly, her eczema is now back to slight, from severe when she was at the NGHS. We are so grateful that she got a place at an outstanding school after an appeal.

boysmummyjp2 Thu 24-Jul-14 09:04:59

Thank you everyone for your replies. Getting into the primary school of choice almost seems harder than getting a place at university grin(

prh47bridge Tue 22-Jul-14 18:41:12

Most of the examples given by Rafa only apply when the child is admitted outside the normal admissions round. The only exceptions allowed in the normal admissions round are multiple births where one gets in under the 30 limit and children with SEN who will normally be taught in an SEN unit attached to the school. The school can also go over the limit to admit a child who should have been admitted in the normal admissions round but who got missed out by mistake and for children admitted as the result of an appeal. However, you can only win an appeal if there has been a mistake or if the decision to refuse to admit was irrational.

prh47bridge Tue 22-Jul-14 18:34:18

what is a good reason or good example of exceeding the 30 children in a class

There are only very specific circumstances in which a school can have more than 30 children in an infants class (Reception, Y1 or Y2). The limit and the exceptions to it are set by law. There are no arguments you can put forward that would persuade the school to breach that limit.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 22-Jul-14 18:33:24

Firstly, you need to find out whether your local authority actually has catchment areas or whether they admit using distance from school. If it's the former, they should be able to provide you with a map, if it's the latter they should publish or give you the category and distance of the last child admitted.

If your authority does have catchment areas, there's no guarantee you will get a place just because you live in it. I would have no chance of getting a place at our catchment school despite living less than 0.2miles from it. You will still need to check the distance that they normally admit to.

There aren't many reasons a school will admit above 30 in Reception - a statement of SEN naming the school that is completed after the initial places have been allocated, twins on either side of the cut off, correcting a mistake made by the admissions authority and admitting a child where there is no other school place within a reasonable distance are probably about it.

HPparent Tue 22-Jul-14 15:17:17

In answer to your second question boysmummyjp2 I am aware of infant classes that have gone over 30 for twins and admitting statemented children. I don't know if this is the case everywhere,

If you are asking about appeals, they are virtually unwinnable unless the admissions authority have made a bad mistake and you can show they should have offered you a place. This is rare. Occasionally a child/family with some sort of special need wins an appeal but the case has to be absolutely overwhelming for that school.

titchy Tue 22-Jul-14 15:10:22

There is normally no such things as catchment which is why they can't tell you. Normally after looked-after and siblings places are all other kids, with however many places are left going to the nearest so that can obvious change from one year to the next.

The council website should tell you the furthest distance offered for each admission category for this years admissions though which will give you an idea. No guarantees though.

HPparent Tue 22-Jul-14 15:09:45

I would look at the schools admission criteria. Does it prioritise siblings? If so you could ask the distance of the last non sibling to be admitted in the last 3 years which might give you some idea. Beware though as they can change rapidly.

boysmummyjp2 Tue 22-Jul-14 14:16:33

Hello Everyone

My oldest is 3 and will be turning 4 this coming march and my little one is 18 months. in the fullness of time i want ,probably like most parents, to get them both in the same school.

We are considering moving to a " nicer" area. our local primary school is beyond rough and has failed its ofstead inspections several times.

i want my children to get into a lovely little school, i have asked that schools admissions officer what the catchment area is and she is refusing to advise me of what roads fall into the catchment area. i have also tried the local authority who have advised that they cant tell me this. My question is how do i find out which roads are in the area.. i really don't want to move and find out that we are too far out again..

my other question is what is a good reason or good example of exceeding the 30 children in a class...

many thanks x

JulesHey10 Mon 14-Jul-14 08:41:14

I have looked back over the appeal paperwork to double-check I didn't misunderstand, and there is no reference to ICS except in the main body of the LA's argument. I don't think it would help my case with the LGO though, to point out this issue!

prh47bridge Sun 13-Jul-14 23:51:55

That does not make sense at all. If they have a PAN of 45 and are running 3 classes of 30 in Y1 and Y2 any appeal should be heard under infant class size regulations. The fact that they have two small reception classes is irrelevant. As Admission says, this is a basic mistake. Whilst it hasn't affected the outcome of your appeal it clearly raises the question of how many other mistakes they have made.

If you want to PM me with details of your complaint to the LGO I would be happy to give an opinion. From what you have said so far a lot will depend on whether you can back up your thoughts that the panel considered you too middle class, etc. If that is just an impression it is unlikely to get you very far. However, if there is evidence to back it up that is another matter.

JulesHey10 Sun 13-Jul-14 22:09:50

My guess is that it was not in writing though.

Your guess is right. I doubt she would deny she said it if asked, but I don't see how that could happen. I have seen her more recently and she was sympathetic. I told her that I had included her statement in my written appeal (I don't think I mentioned it at the hearing - probably a mistake), and suggested that she think twice before saying something similar in future years - false expectations and all that.

JulesHey10 Sun 13-Jul-14 21:20:10

You say that any school appeal next year will be ICS because there will be three classes of 30 but actually the appeals this year should have been an ICS regs appeal on the basis of future prejudice in year 1/2.

My understanding has been that it was not an ICS appeal given the two small reception classes, but that the panel would consider future prejudice. Over the last five years, at least two appeals, and more often three, are upheld for this school each year. I made a point at the beginning of my individual hearing about how the school has managed well in the past, despite being over PAN, and I appeared to alienate the panel chair as a consequence... Maybe this makes sense to you?

I think that what makes this whole admission process so difficult (and this is reflected repeatedly in this thread) is the sense of powerlessness, of being at the complete mercy of luck and bureaucracy. And it is regarding something that is so fundamental to us for the next 14 years. I went into my appeal feeling well prepared; as it turned out, given the appellants this year and that particular panel, I feel very strongly that I was too well prepared, that they considered me too competent and middle class, with "options" (this last point being the basis of my LGO complaint). My psychological need to feel that I have some control over our future definitely worked against me on the day. Over the last few days I have had to seriously question myself over whether I have applied for another school merely to give myself a sense of control, rather than for the benefit of my son (benefit to my son won, but not by a huge margin).

I would certainly welcome some objective insight into my complaint to the LGO. I appreciate I am a little biased wink

admission Sun 13-Jul-14 18:01:12

There is something strange here. You say that the catchment school has two reception classes and then three yr1/2 classes in other words it has a PAN of 45. You say that any school appeal next year will be ICS because there will be three classes of 30 but actually the appeals this year should have been an ICS regs appeal on the basis of future prejudice in year 1/2. Whilst it would make no difference in terms of your appeal outcome it does make me start to worry when such a basic mistake appears to have been made by the admission authority.
When you say that you were assured by the head of the catchment school that you would get a place, was that in writing? If so that would constitute a reasonable expectation of a place being offered and would therefore potentially open up a second line of appeal. My guess is that it was not in writing though.
On the basis of where you appear to be on the waiting list I think I would agree with you that there is little chance of a place becoming available in the near future at the catchment school and you do need to look elsewhere for a school place.
If you want to talk privately about the appeal hearing please feel free to PM me. I may be able to give you an idea of where you stand in terms of what happened and whether the LGO will take any action.

JulesHey10 Sun 13-Jul-14 08:42:02

Appealing for my catchment school next year is unlikely to be a reasonable option as it then becomes an ICS issue (two reception classes that feed into three Yr 1 & 2 classes). My best hope is our second preference; while we are only 13th on the reserve list, the school has a PAN of 90 and is in the city centre, so lots of transient families and churn (tho I realise this can work against us as well). I will ask in Sept whether we can be added to a third list.

A frustration for me is that the reserve list (our LA does not call them waiting lists) is automatic - ie if you didn't get a place, you're on it - until the 31st December; beyond this, you have to actively elect to stay on the lists. This means I won't get a true picture of our situation and our odds until 2015. If the lists became elective in the autumn half term, I would consider keeping him at nursery for the half-term; anything longer than this does not feel right for him.

prh47bridge Sun 13-Jul-14 00:15:28

You are allowed one appeal each academic year for each school you want

The current appeals code has clarified this a little. You are entitled to one appeal for an academic year, not one per academic year. You have already appealed for Reception so, unless there is a significant and material change you cannot appeal for Reception again. You can only appeal for Y1, which means appealing at around the same time next year.

Yes, you have to apply to a school to go on the waiting list. Some LAs limit the number of waiting lists you can join. I think this is wrong but the Schools Adjudicator has ruled that LAs are allowed to do this.

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