Native language as Exceptional Medical or Social Circumstances in school admission - any ideas?

(124 Posts)
Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 14:26:17

We are French speaking Swiss Family. All primary schools in our area but one offer French as part of their curriculum. We applied to our local catchment school under the admission rule about "Exceptional medical or social circumstances". Our reason (exceptional social circumstance) is that our son needs to access French as part of the curriculum. In this way he will maintain his native language and we will preserve our linguistic cohesion as a family. If he does not experience French at school, he will be embarrassed and reluctant to speak it at home and will eventually loose it. This was happening to our elder daughter until we moved her into a school that does offer French. Then we will have to speak English, a foreign language, to communicate within the family. We do speak English as well, don't get me wrong , but we would like to preserve our cultural heritage.

For sad reasons we were allocated a place at the only local school that does not offer French, even though we are not in its catchment area. The curriculum there is deliberately restricted (even "Topics" were abandoned) because it is failing (in special measures), so they are not likely to teach French in the foreseeable future.

We are going to appeal. The LA did not consider us under this rule maybe because it is not medical or social services related. But some LAs, Devon notably, do interpret it broadly and include compelling educational reasons.

Could anyone advise what the law about exceptional reasons is? Any other laws or regulations that could help us?

Any experience?


mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 14:31:43

I don't think it would count I'm afraid as an exceptional circumstance. Primary school French lessons are unlikely to meet your expectations and many children attend schools where their home language isn't spoken much less taught.

hocuspontas Mon 18-Apr-11 14:31:50

If you had Portuguese, Mandarin, Swahili etc as your 1st language you wouldn't expect to get into a school that had those languages on the curriculum so I can't see that you have a special case. Most families I know speak their native language at home and the children pick up English at school. I can't see that an hour a week of French on the curriculum would make a lot of difference. Good luck anyway!

pooka Mon 18-Apr-11 14:34:12

Umm... Well in dd's class at school (now year 3) there is a girl who speak spanish at home, all the time. Her parents speak Spanish to her, they are native speakers (south American/Spanish). She speaks English at school and is completely bilingual. No Spanish lessons at school. Same applies for the girl with Chinese parents, the girl with Bulgarian parents and the boy with Russian parents.

They do learn some French at school, but not much really and rtainly not enough to support or maintain fluency.

I am surprised that with you and your dh speaking only, no English, at home, it is not possible to foster bilingualism. I also remember my beet friend at school had a Greek mother and English father and they followed the one parent one language system at home and friend was completely bilingual ANC capable to switching in a heartbeat from Greek on school run to English inplayground and back again to Greek with her mother and into English when her father got home.

pooka Mon 18-Apr-11 14:37:00

Obviously meant French only at home.

To be honest, if I were another parent chasing a school place I would be pretty hmm if this were taken as grounds for winning an appeal gaining entry into preferred school.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 14:39:10

Total immersion is just that. Tis up to you to maintain her native language not the state system.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 14:40:15

I mean, sorry you are in a failing school, that's terrible. But no, I don't think you should get a place so that you can keep up her French and I hope the local authority doesn't think so either.

Goblinchild Mon 18-Apr-11 14:40:36

Sorry, but this would come under the 'Grasping at straws' filing category.

frakyouveryverymuch Mon 18-Apr-11 14:51:18

I don't think it would work, although I see your point about 'normalising' French. I know of a couple of people who've tried it for the bilingual schools in London as an exceptional need and had their application turned down, and that's for bilingual immersion and maintaining a French curriculum which is more of a compelling reason than wanting to preserve bilingualism, which can be done for many languages without school support.

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 14:51:19

One lesson a week of learning a song in French or colours/fruit/veg isn't going to maintain the language.
My Polish pupil had 2 visits from a non Polish speaking support teacher and then left to learn English from non Polish speaking teachers ... and he has.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 14:56:06

Thank you for your comments, Pooka, but the question is not about how to learn English, which we all speak very well, along with German, Italian and a few other languages ...

Parents who speak Swahili do not expect it to be offered because of "efficient tuition and avoidance of unreasonable expenditure".
Since the French is already on the curriculum surely French speaking families should be given access to native language.

If you lived in China and all schools would offer English as a foreign language, you would find it peculiar if you were given a place at the only school that does not.

Any other idea anyone?

What about the Human Rights Act 1998 which confers a right of access to education including for example, the parents’ rights to ensure that their child’s education conforms to their convictions (so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure)?

Equality legislation?

Any expats with some ideas or experiences?

hocuspontas Mon 18-Apr-11 14:58:41

But it's not 'access to a native language'. Primary French is learning a few verbs and colouring in.

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 15:02:32

The point is that Primary French isn't really going to be a benefit to a French speaker.

This is the Primary curriculum

1. In the early stages of language learning pupils might be taught:

how to use and respond to the foreign language

how to listen carefully in order to discriminate sounds, identify meaning and develop auditory awareness

correct pronunciation and intonation

how to ask and answer questions

techniques for memorising words, phrases and short extracts

how to use context and clues to interpret meaning

how to make use of their knowledge of English or another language in learning the foreign language.

2. Pupils can be taught about other countries and cultures by:

working with authentic materials including some from ICT-based sources

considering their own culture and comparing it with others

considering the experiences of other people.

3. In order to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding further, pupils might also be taught:

the interrelationship of sounds and writing

simple aspects of grammar and how to apply them

how to initiate conversations

how to use dictionaries and other reference materials

how to communicate with each other in the foreign language in pairs
and groups and with their teacher

how to use their knowledge of the language creatively and imaginatively

how to use the foreign language for real purposes.

clam Mon 18-Apr-11 15:07:37

Also, MFL (Modern Foreign Languages often, but not always French, in primary schools) is about to be ditched anyway.
There's no way you could make this stick in an appeal, sorry.

washedup Mon 18-Apr-11 15:07:49

My DD has a good friend who is of French origin and speaks French to her parents at home and English at school. At 8, she finds her French lessons at school terribly tedious indeed and because she is soooo bored, just messes about, being disruptive, which she isn't normally! I don't think you have a leg to stand on with this one.

frakyouveryverymuch Mon 18-Apr-11 15:13:26

Personally I would actively avoid a school which taught either French or English as a first foreign language. If we stay in France I would prefer exposure to German, in England I would request a school offering German, Spanish or Italian - unless, of course, it were a fully bilingual school but they tend to be few and far between in the state sector.

Children get bored when they're taught their native language by incompetent teachers (not that the teachers in that school are necessarily incompetent but they're unlikely to have a very high level of fluency/be native speakers) and it also denies them the opportunity of experiencing the process of learning another language that other children are going to.

GnomeDePlume Mon 18-Apr-11 15:19:22

We were returning expats so basically had to accept a failing school as we joined late. On the plus side a failing school will be getting assistance to improve so there can be some advantage to going to an acknowledged crap school than a decidedly mediocre school.

On the language thing, we sent our DCs to the local school when abroad. The school did teach English towards the end of primary but what was taught was a long way from what we were speaking at home. To maintain your own languages you would be far better doing this at home. We did this.

Sorry, some poor sod is going to have to send their kids to the crap school, why should it not be you?

clam Mon 18-Apr-11 15:20:28

If it is that important to you that your children maintain their mother-tongue, then you can surely just make sure they speak it at home? That's going to be a million times more beneficial than the low-level "Je m'appelle ... " stuff that goes in in your average primary classroom. In KS2. At the moment. In some schools.

madwomanintheattic Mon 18-Apr-11 15:20:38

honestly? waste of time to appeal on those grounds.

and even if you won, it would be hollow victory, because you would spend the next 5 years bemoaning the state of 'french' lessons - which are generally not taught by a french teacher at that point in the curriculum, but by the class teacher (who may or may not even have gcse french ime). and consist, as other have said, of colouring in pictures of the weather and drawing a line between the pictures to link the words.

of course, it would be worth it to get out of the failing school, but you'd have to suck up the rubbish 'french' lessons. totally invalid reason for appeal. in fact, it would prove that you had not done your research.

why not accept the place at the failing school, volunteer as a parent governor, and help the ht pull the school up by the bootstraps.

i assume as the place is failing it is in special measures - they may have an interim ht who is a go-getter, and would appreciate a solid governing body for back-up.

Goblinchild Mon 18-Apr-11 15:23:31

I teach French in my primary school. I have an O level from the late 70s and an atrocious accent but it's the best I can do. When the new curriculum comes in, MFL may well disappear from many primary schools if it isn't compulsory.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 15:28:26

Even learning a few words does convey and reinforce an important message that multilingualism is not a weird embarrassing thing, but is a normal and inspirational thing, an integral part of education. The government want to introduce the UK Baccalaureate which should include a compulsory foreign language. The message is that speaking several languages is an expected normality, is aspirational. Psychologically it would motivate the child to maintain the language.

What is the point of letting the child to loose a language and later to expect him to speak that very language to gain decent qualifications?

A native child would enrich the learning of other pupils learning French.

Multilingual and multicultural families should feel welcome and comfortable maintaining their multilingual and multicultural heritage in this country. Multiligualism involves a particular outlook, values, knowledge which are all iontegral part of education. Education is exactly the place for this.
The policy on RE encourages sharing and learning various religions. So why not allow a french speaking family to share their language and to learn it as part of the curriculum?

mrz Mon 18-Apr-11 15:34:51

I'm sure the allocated school would love you to share your language with them and it would probably be more useful than Primary mfl is to your child. Sorry but I can't see an argument that 1 lesson a week of French (perhaps taught by some who barely speaks it them self) is an Exceptional circumstance.
Do the other schools teach French in reception or just in KS2? It varies greatly and isn't compulsory now so may be scrapped totally as has been said already.

Goblinchild Mon 18-Apr-11 15:35:17

grin I have 7 languages in my class and 19 in the school that I know of.
Many of the children are bilingual. I appreciate the native French speakersa not laughing when we're doing French.
I still think you are grasping at straws and if the place available had been in a good school that had Spanish as their MFL option, you would have been perfectly happy.

frakyouveryverymuch Mon 18-Apr-11 15:44:26

A native speaking child will be used as an unofficial teaching assistant at best, resented for their knowledge at worst. There are many, many threads on MN on this subject, mostly from MNers living abroad whose DC are being taught English at school and not stretched, being used as teaching assistants or being taught incorrectly/labelled as troublemakers for trying to correct the teacher.

I agree that multilingualism isn't weird or embarassing, but you're still denying your child the opportunity afforded to classmates - that of learning another language. Why can mutliculturalism and multilingualism not be supported by a school which doesn't offer French as a foreign language?

If you want your child to grow up speaking a language to a level of functional fluency then you as a family need to put in that effort, rather than relying on school. It might normalise bilingualism for your DC to hear French taught (however badly) but I sincerely doubt it will do much good in the long run. The connection to your native langauge needs to come from within - the need to communicate with family, access to materials or experiences which are only available through the medium of your target language and a sense that multilingualism, not just bilingualism, but communication in all languages is valued.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:11:40

"What is the point of letting the child to loose a language and later to expect him to speak that very language to gain decent qualifications?"

Why don't you do it if it's that important to you?

There are UK parents who are having to teach their children the basics of reading and times tables never mind MFL. So quite frankly I've no sympathy at all with French speaking parents demanding that the UK system keep up their childre's native tongue. Been an expat and expected nothing like this in any country I've lived in. Including Europe. There are French schools you can pay for if you fancy it. A lot of parents here have to pay for a decent education in the basics - maintenance of a native tongue is an extra particularly when the parents can do it themselves.


Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:12:06

And by the way it's "lose" not loose.

Bucharest Mon 18-Apr-11 16:18:06

I don't understand?

You are French speaking and yet are worrying that if your son doesn't do basic French at school he won't speak French?

Most people in your situation (myself included) would be more keen to have their child exposed to a non native speaker language. I'm worrying (slightly) that my daughter simply won't have a foreign language because her school only offers English as a MFL.

If you all speak French at home, how the heck is your son not going to be able to speak French? hmm

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 16:24:19

Thank you all for your comments. French is the only MFL offered locally as far as I know.

Any other idea anyone?

Any expats with some ideas or experiences?

What about the Human Rights Act 1998 which confers a right of access to education including for example, the parents’ rights to ensure that their child’s education conforms to their convictions (so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure)?

Equality legislation?

Goblinchild Mon 18-Apr-11 16:26:36

You could always Home Educate, which is one of the options available under the HRA.
I still think you are flouncing about because the school is in SM.
Un poisson rouge of the herring species.

Bucharest Mon 18-Apr-11 16:28:29

Op- seriously, you cannot be trying to convince anyone that the French syllabus in primary school is going to keep your family together as a cultural heritage bonding thingy?

If you really think that, you are in for a heck of a disappointment.

There are lots of expats on this thread already.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:31:39

Yes, sure, I'm going to pop over to France or Switzerland and demand they educate my child in advanced English at primary, possibly employing a special teacher, hoofing another child out of school and disrupting the timetable and curriculum while they're at at. Then take it to the European Court of Human Rights if they refuse.

Grow up. It's not all about your child.

Then again, Britain always loses out in cases like this, however unfair, so why not give it a shot.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:32:40

"(so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure)"

and I think you'll lose out on this in the first nanosecond

frakyouveryverymuch Mon 18-Apr-11 16:35:33

Equality legislation can't apply. In fact it's inequality in its purest form to prioritise you as a French speaking family to access French lessons without providing exactly the same opportunity to every multilingual family.

"What about the Human Rights Act 1998 which confers a right of access to education including for example, the parents’ rights to ensure that their child’s education conforms to their convictions (so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure)?"

I don't think you can play that card either. Your child is accessing the English state system therefore that system must meet with your approval on some level or you'd have opted out. I could see the point if you were trying to access provision at Wix or Marie d'Orliac or a CNED approved school but as far as I can tell from everything you've said you're not - you just want your child to go to a school which offers French lessons. Wanting your child to have French as an MFL isn't a conviction.

Several expats have given you their point of view, specifically on why we WOULDN'T want our children taught their mother-tongue at school. If your argument is this school doesn't offer MFL then you need to make it happen, and FWIW I'd suggest that you chose a language other than French.

mollymole Mon 18-Apr-11 16:38:16

you live in england - we speak english - end of

Bucharest Mon 18-Apr-11 16:39:14

Actually, thinking on what Gooseberry has just daughter has missed out on a European Union funded afternoon project that all her friends are doing- in English, with a native speaker, because she already is one (well d'oh) I shall get out the Human Rights Act and complain forthwith!

Sorry OP, don't mean to kick you when you're down, but you must see how silly you're being.

That one/two hours of la plume de ma tante every week is not going to make any difference to your family (apart from making you rolly-eyed like I am with dd's English teacher and some of the crap strange things she comes out with!)

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:43:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 16:45:46

Unnecessary. Pls excuse -- have just reported my own post.

madwomanintheattic Mon 18-Apr-11 16:56:58

can i share a little something with you op? we live in canada, a bilingual country no less grin and my dcs are 11,9, and 7. their school does not have french, despite most other schools having french lessons, or a french immersion programme (it is, to be fair, the language that you need for business etc in certain areas of the country).

so i am in a bilingual country in a school that doesn't offer french. go figure. grin

in fact, we are due to move soon, and no longer have the option of french immersion, because my children have not been in a french programme. in a bilingual country. grin but at least the kids will actually have a french lesson or two, come fall.

please tell me you aren't going to carry on with this nonsense.

do your utmost to get your dc into a better school. but puh-lease don't continue with the french as necessity thing. you will be a laughing stock. and everyone will know you are just pulling that card because the school she has been allocated isn't as good as the others. <sigh>

the dc have also spent time in a school where there were approx 30 different languages spoken by the pupils, with the large majority having no english at all on entry (and entry being at all points from yr r through to yr 6). the tefl programme was exceptional, and all pupils were, if not fluent, reasonably functional in english at the end of the year. real value added.

sending your child to a school with a once a week french lesson taught by a maths professional with a durham accent, is NOT going to add value to your child's education at all. not a jot.

being in that school might - so i can see why you want to get in, tbh. but it ain't because of the french lessons.

you'd get more sympathy if you started a thread saying 'oh no - been allocated a failing school' and asked for help with that. and left out the ridiculous language nonsense completely.

legal route indeed. <lies down in darkened room>

thefirstMrsDeVere Mon 18-Apr-11 17:02:36

If you take it to appeal you will be wasting your time and the LA's money.

It simply does not stand.

GnomeDePlume Mon 18-Apr-11 17:07:04

When we lived abroad we chose to send our DCs to the local school so that they would learn the local language. So far as we were concerned, they got English for free as that was what we were speaking at home.

I think you are looking for every angle you can think of to not send your DCs to a failing school. So why should some other poor soul have to miss out on a place at your preferred school?

RoseC Mon 18-Apr-11 17:18:01

From my experience having a bilingual French student in my first French class, she didn't 'help' us and wasn't really stretched - her mother was requested to send in exercise books for her to fill in as her linguistic capability was beyond the teacher. She sat by herself at the side of the class filling in the books and listening to the rest of us parroting 'Je m'appelle'

Also, if my experience as a TA last year is anything to go by, the new primary French requirement has sprung French on several teachers who don't speak it at all. I had to translate the letter from their exchange class as the 'French expert' teacher couldn't do it - all it said was their names, their hopes for a strong friendship with the school and what they liked doing/studying as a class. Your child is unlikely to be chattering away with their teacher and being set stretching work.

I sympathise that you don't want your child in a rubbish school but I really don't think you have grounds for appeal - primary French would not help your child in any constructive way.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:28:02

I can't believe you are thinking of wasting local authority money this way on legal fees. So flaming selfish.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:29:12

Plus you aren't even a citizen of the EU?

I need to stop thinking about this.

Sgetting me all annoyed.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 17:30:27

There is no need for this aggression. The Waterloo battle is over for centuries. I know you like everything French....
Please stop bullying if you already had your say and have nothing more helpful to offer.

This tone intimidates posters who might have helpful suggestions.

Can anyone suggest anything I can use? Anything helpful?

This board is meant to offer support and advice.

forehead Mon 18-Apr-11 17:33:40

You are having a laugh OP. I really cannot believe that you think that your child should be entitled to French lessons.
If it bothers you so much hire a French tutor.

Phenikz Mon 18-Apr-11 17:35:56

Some posters seem confused with ghosts of their own invention.

The tuition and the specialist teacher is already there. It is a standard provision in the LA in all schools but one. There is no additional expence for the LA.

We are all here trying the best for our cgildren.

spanieleyes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:36:04

And given that schools only have to provide a MFL there is no reason for them not to swap between them . I taught French ( as I had GCE French Grade B from 35 years ago!) for a couple of years and then we swapped to German ( as a teacher joined us who spoke some German after living there for a few years). She has now left so either we go back to teaching French or her replacement teaches Spanish ( I think she has been to Benidorm a couple of times blush)
Sorry to sound facetious, but quite honestly that is the level of MFL teaching in many primaries.

forehead Mon 18-Apr-11 17:36:29

People are annoyed OP because some posters have children with special needs who cannot even access the curriculum and you are expecting French lessons for your child. In the words of John Mcenroe(sp?) ' You cannot be serious'

Bucharest Mon 18-Apr-11 17:38:02

"The Waterloo battle is over for centuries. I know you like everything French"

I thought you were Swiss?

You've had plenty of helpful suggestions. People are trying to stop you from making yourself look an idiot. But after your snidey comments, you can go right ahead. Do let us know how you get on at the Hague. (actually, I know a human rights lawyer, but strangely she's usually busy working for Amnesty International in Chinese prisoner of conscience cases......not sure she'd drop that for, erm, a case of sour grapes over being placed in a dodgy school)

GnomeDePlume Mon 18-Apr-11 17:43:44

As I posted upstream, a failing school can actually be a better option than a mediocre school. A failing school will get a lot of support to improve it. I'm assuming we are talking primary here. The school will have measures in place to deal with its failings. It doesnt matter if French has been dopped from the curriculum as you can provide it yourself.

I can understand you being upset that your DCs have been allocated places at a failing school but the only way to get your DCs into a better school would be for other someone else's children to go without.

It is a lottery which you didnt win.

clam Mon 18-Apr-11 17:45:21

There are a couple of regular posters on here (prh47bridge, admission, panelmember) who have a great deal of expertise and experience to offer with regards to school admissions. Yet I have to say, everything I have ever seen them say about primary school appeals reiterates the point that if it is "infant class size" you're up against (i.e. no KS1 class may rise above 30 children) then you will not win an appeal unless you can prove that the LEA has made a mistake in allocations.
Hopefully one of them will be along in a moment to expand further.

MillsAndDoom Mon 18-Apr-11 17:48:00

I think people are trying to offer help and support by telling you "Do not rely on this as the basis of an appeal, you will not win"

Seriously, the sum total of my DCs 7 years of primary French lessons has been to learn and forget to count to ten, the colours, the body parts and a few songs - they do french for one half term a year - an appeal panel will not believe that this forms a compelling case for your son to attend the school to "maintain his native language and we will preserve our linguistic cohesion as a family."

madwomanintheattic Mon 18-Apr-11 17:48:18

we have already offered suggestions, op.

don't appeal on the grounds of french.

continuing to use this as an avenue to get your child into a better school won't miraculously produce any other advice.

it isn't possible.

specialist teacher? in every school? for french? <pats op on head in particularly patronising manner> in our last outstanding primary, the 'specialist teacher' was just one of the yr r teachers. and they cancelled french after a term because parents were complaining that she was out of the classroom teaching other yr groups so often. butyeeeees, in theory, she wa the 'specialist' teacher and 'tuition' was present. <as indicated before - drawing lines in between a picture of the sun and the word 'soleil' for half an hour a week.>

i suspect there is a huge difference between what you would call 'specialist teaching' and what parents with kids in uk schools would recognise as the reality, op.

and that includes (as was mentioned before) the sn 'specialists', who actually don't have any formal training in sn, as it isn't part of the teacher training package. but, lo, they are still regarded as 'specialists' in the uk school environment. grin

all irrelevant, of course, as it isn't grounds for appeal anyway.

clam Mon 18-Apr-11 17:49:56

OP: you said this earlier: "A native child would enrich the learning of other pupils learning French. Multilingual and multicultural families should feel welcome and comfortable maintaining their multilingual and multicultural heritage in this country. Multiligualism involves a particular outlook, values, knowledge which are all iontegral part of education. Education is exactly the place for this.
The policy on RE encourages sharing and learning various religions. So why not allow a french speaking family to share their language and to learn it as part of the curriculum?"

All true, but I must point out that it will apply just as well in the school you have been allocated. even more so, in a way, because it will expose the other children to an additional language to the one currently on offer in MFL.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:51:10

"we will preserve our linguistic cohesion as a family."

you expect a school to do that - when you can't?

MillsAndDoom Mon 18-Apr-11 17:52:02

Actually regarding the school being in special measures - it will be having pots of money thrown at it to get it out of SM and then work will begin in re-expanding the curriculum; which unless MFL is dropped, will include languages, just not necessarily French.

There is nothing to say that the other schools to which you applied will not change their choice of MFL leaving you with the same issues.

MIFLAW Mon 18-Apr-11 17:53:44

I am the French-speaking parent in a bilingual family.

This sounds all sorts of mental.

I a mdreading my child going to a primary or prep with French lessons because, aged 3, she can already sing in French, name all parts of the body including stuff like nipples, knows all her colours and can count most of the way to 20 (i.e. same in Eng and French) as well as use the subjunctive (sometimes) and GCSE-level structures like "j'ai failli" + infinitive.

I'm proud, but I'm not boasting - I would think this is par for the course in a lot of bilingual households.

The idea that a normal primary school (i.e. not Wix or the Lycee or something similar) could add to, stretch or even reinforce this is frankly laughable.

pooka Mon 18-Apr-11 17:54:41

I've just asked dd what she did in French. She is 7. She said they played French whispers, learned a few words and sang some songs. Also played some games.

Incidentally, there are at least 6 bilingual children in her class.

I know of a school locally where I think there are maybe 5 French speaking children in the school. They find the french lessons terribly dull. They happen to be fluent because their parents (they all have French mothers/English fathers) have made the effort. One parent one language. In your case it should be even easier - two parents, one language. They have long holidays during the summer immersed in French language and culture. They converse obviously with parent at home in French, but also with family via Skype. They write letters to their families.

I still cannot understand how you truly believe that not having access to a half hour lesson a week would in any way impact upon the preservation of their cultural identities and language abilities.

LIZS Mon 18-Apr-11 17:56:12

Sorry but your best bet is to go on waiting lists for the other schools and hope a place comes up. It really will be too basic a French lesson to be of use in keeping your ds interest and "specialist" teaching could well prove flawed in a native speaker's eyes. Did you apply to your elder dd's school under the sibling rule too? Lots of bilingual kids go through pahses of not speakign one language or another, think you just haveot keep up teh exposure at home - tv, French only meals and activities, holdiays "home" - and they eventually concede.

btw gooseberrrybuses CH may not be part of EU but it does sign up to a reciprocal treaty which gives some parity including freedom of movement.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:57:26

Seriously - are you so blinkered that you put these objections down to dislike of the French?

Perhaps it has passed by your attention that Britain is far more welcoming and open to cultural alternatives and different languages than the Swiss?

This is not persecution or grudge-bearing -- just honest opinions of a bad idea, an ineffective plan and in my opinion a self-serving attitude.

Bucharest Mon 18-Apr-11 17:58:06

This is what dd aged 7 did in English (in Italy) last week.
"What colour is the book?" "It's blue" x 25 (with different examples)
(she also had to point out to the teacher that she'd missed the verb out completely and written "it blue" 25 times. hmm

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 17:58:36

Ok thanks Liz -- wasn't sure if it was also entitled to the equivalence of public services as other EU members are.

frakyouveryverymuch Mon 18-Apr-11 18:08:56

Your arguments are 'this school is non-catchment for us, there is a closer school (with space)' and 'I have a child at another school'. French is not going to stand up. I'm really, really sorry you've had such bad luck with allocation but the reasons you're citing aren't going to get you anywhere, much as you think they will. In fact some of the ones you've suggested are downright counter-productive, like equal opps.

clam Mon 18-Apr-11 18:16:08

I have a friend whose children are fairly fluent-ish in Spanish. When they went to senior school, they had to opt for either Spanish or French. She was adamant that they start French, partly to give them a start in a thrid language, but also because they weren't going to learn anything they didn't already know in Spanish for several years and would become bored and frustrated. She kept up the Spanish at home.

I'm afraid the OP is clutching at straws and, to be fair, most of us would be doing the same. But posters on here have given sensible advice that this is a complete non-starter as grounds for appeal. Sorry if that's not what you want to hear.

MainlyMaynie Mon 18-Apr-11 18:16:17

Our child (currently still in the womb, so planning ahead here ), is likely to end up at school in a country where English is not the native language. Not every school there offers English, though most do. It wouldn't occur to me that I had any greater right to a place at any of the schools providing English than the local nationals, why would I? If we decide we want teaching in English, we'll pay for the international school. Seems simple enough.

admission Mon 18-Apr-11 18:35:59

I have sat on many admission appeals over the last few years and I can honestly say that I have never had a similar reason raised under social circumstances for admission, its a new one for me.
I can tell you that you will not get anywhere with trying to bring forward the arguement that it is human rights issue.That has been tested in court and there is no basis for it. Article 2 of protocol 1 says no person should be denied the right to education, however it is not an absolute right - it does not create a right to education in any particular institution or in any particular manner. Similarly the equality act is not going to be of any help.
I think that I would want to argue that you have been allocated to the one school that is not doing any french and is this is therefore disadvantaging your son. I suspect to have any chance of success you will have to be able to show that all the schools you did apply to were teaching french, that you have put yourself on the waiting list for each of the schools that you expressed a preference for and that you would accept any of the schools, rather than just the one that was your first preference. You therefore need to both get on the waiting list and also apply for appeals at all the schools on the preference sheet.
I can understand why the LA rejected your application to be considered under the social circumstances as most LAs do take a very narrow view of what is appropriate. I suspect that in the admission booklet it says, very few are actually allowed under this criteria.
You would need to structure your appeal in two different ways depending on the schools involved. For those where it is an infant class size appeal, you need to show a mistake was made or that the LA was unreasonable (perverse) in not accepting your wish to be considered under the social circumstances arguement. Where it is not an infant class size appeal, you can still use the same arguement but as it is also your own personal circumstances that can be taken into consideration in this kind of appeal, you can argue the effects on both your son and your family as well.
As we are really in unknown territory as far as how a panel wil react to this arguement, how likely it is to succeed is a complete guess and I would not like to make that guess. Best of luck.

Panelmember Mon 18-Apr-11 18:49:04

Hello. As my name suggests, I sit on school admissions panels.

Frankly, if you came before my panel with this argument, I would struggle not to laugh. The coverage of French at primary school is so limited - both in terms of the time devoted to it and the level at which the language is taught - that I doubt it can be of any benefit to a child who is a native speaker and speaks the language constantly at home. I dare say that your child already speaks French at a level far above the French taught at Year 6 in primary school. To suggest that a child who already has considerable fluency will somehow be disadvantaged (or have their human rights infringed) at a school where French is not taught is too far-fetched for any panel to take seriously.

I can understand that you are disappointed to be allocated a school in special measures. If you tell us more about the reasons why you did not get a place in any of your preferred schools, we may be able to suggest other, more realistic avenues of appeal. You need, though, to remember that in infant class size cases (ie where the school admits 30/60/90/120 per year and the infant class size regulations limit class sizes to 30), you will only win at appeal if you can demonstrate that a serious error was made which deprived your child of a place or the decision was so unreasonable it should be overturned. The fact that your allocated school is in special measures is not in itself grounds for appeal. Arguing "I want my child to go to a better school" is also not going to win any appeal on its own.

For what it's worth, I'll also mention that the most sought-after, OFSTED outstanding school around here, that people clamber to get their children into, was in special measures a few years ago. A new leadership team turned it around and the same may well happen at your allocated school.

You can join waiting lists and/or appeal for any other school that's acceptable to you.

thefirstMrsDeVere Mon 18-Apr-11 19:15:04



Dont be a twonk.

I needed to get my DS into a particular school and appealed on these grounds:

It was the only school nearby built on one level.
It had street permit parking.

This allowed my OH to actively participate in my DS's education as he is disabled. The school was properly accessible rather than just called accessible. THis allowed my OH to drop and pick up my son from school as with a blue badge he could park outside the school.

The other school had refused us use of the carpark, was built on a hill and had lots of stairs and one lift which was alway locked. If you asked for the key you got a lot of eye rolling and huffing.

As it happened my DS ended up going to the special needs school. IF he hadnt and we had lost our appeal, I would have been the only parent able to go to open evenings, assemblies, plays and to do the school run.

I mention this as an example of why people need to get their children into particular schools. I cannot really make head nor tail of your reasoning tbh.

Gooseberrybushes Mon 18-Apr-11 19:21:29

"un twonk"

wonder what the op thinks that is grin

Snowballed Mon 18-Apr-11 19:36:56

Bullying? Sorry but that is laughable! Just because you aren't being told what you want to hear, it doesn't make it bullying.

At Ds infants, there were 27 different first languages spoken although I suspect that none of those families got in on the basis of speaking French, even though the school offers a fantastic French programme of learning to count to ten & basic colours

Also, although not relevant, I struggled to name 27 different languages

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-11 21:15:29

I haven't read all of this thread but I agree with Admission and Panelmember. I really can't see this being the basis for a successful appeal. I would expect your son to already be way ahead of any French that is taught in primary schools, or indeed in the first few years of secondary school. And this is certainly not a human rights or Equality Act issue.

MillsAndDoom Mon 18-Apr-11 21:21:50

I think we've pretty much covered the "why the second language cannot be considered exceptional medical or social circumstances" bit and the first Mrs Devere has shared her circumstances with you to illustrate what can be considered EM or SC.

Anecdotally, the EM or SC that I have heard of as being sufficient to win an appeal have been:

-Social worker who dealt with CP issues who did not want her DC to go to a (primary) school where she was working with families as it could cause issues for both families.

- A girl whose mother had died in Y5 being admitted to the (secondary) school that her cousins attended in order to enable her aunt to better support the family.

- A child with severe nut allergy who was admitted into the (senior) school nearest to the local hospital - although the mother (a friend of friend) herself said that they were really having to push to get it

SE13Mummy Mon 18-Apr-11 21:41:57

As a primary school teacher who supposedly 'teaches' French but whose highest MFL-related qualification is GCSE German, my advice would be to visit the school you have been allocated and ask what provision they are making for the teaching of a MFL in KS2. You may be pleasantly surprised.

My school teach French for 30 minutes a week from Reception through to Y6. However, and this is a BIG however, I am one of the class teachers and therefore am also one of the French 'teachers'. It would make sense that a child in my class might plead human rights issues with regard to my French lessons but it wouldn't make sense for someone to appeal for my school merely because French is on the timetable. We use this to deliver the curriculum. Sadly it doesn't make up for having me as the person standing at the front.

cory Tue 19-Apr-11 08:11:19

I know a bit about bilingual issues having two bilingual children myself. And I have to say the kind of language teaching that is offered in junior school would be of no benefit whatsoever; all it would be likely to do is to frustrate your children. If you already speak a language fluently, why would it be a help to you to sit there for hour after tedious hour watching other children trying to get their heads round the fact that "je suis" means "I am" while "tu es" means "you are"? I had reasonable English (not native speaker standard) when I started English lessons at school, and I do not recall ever having learnt anything from an English lesson: I just sat at the back of the class with a book.

It's not as if the lessons can be spent on the kind of work your children need, on advanced conversation and reading and writing in French- that would exclude all the other children.

The job of maintaining your children's French must be done by you. You need to provide suitable books and films and songs and interesting conversation and opportunities to meet other native speakers.

My children are completely bilingual, not because I marched in and demanded Swedish lessons off the taxpayers, but because I^ did the work. And they do not think bilingualism is weird or embarrassing because ^I have taught them different.

asdx2 Tue 19-Apr-11 08:58:41

Dd is now in y3 and has been taking French lessons since yr2. The school employ a French Teacher who comes in twice a week and delivers French to the whole of the school even so it is pretty rudimentary French even after two years with dd.I doubt that it would be enough to sustain your child's interest tbh much less preserve your family linguistics.

hellokitty123 Tue 19-Apr-11 10:11:52

I really don't understand this: You are a French speaking family and yet are worrying that if your son doesn't do basic French at school he won't speak French? Are you serious?!

Do you really think that the one or two French lessons a week at primary level are going to make any difference? Really?

My children are bilingual in German and English but, like Cory, not because we demanded German lessons but because we work very hard at expsosing them to lots of German ourselves - the basic German or French taught at primary school is certaintly not enough to become fluent in the language.

hellokitty123 Tue 19-Apr-11 10:13:53

And what about the Dutch, Polish, Iranian families in the UK - should they also demand that their children are taught their mother tongue? Ridiculous!

mrz Tue 19-Apr-11 10:21:48

I have a Polish child in my class and he happily switches between English in school to Polish with his mum without any Polish input in school over the past 3 years.

cory Tue 19-Apr-11 10:23:30

Exceptional social and medical cases of my experience have included:

child whose mother was terminally ill and expected to die within the year admitted to school which offered special bereavement counselling

wheelchair bound child admitted to only local school with disabled access

So we are talking serious needs which if not met would have denied the child the opportunity to access any education at all.

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 11:10:33

This is about a standard provision which is already there. Not a tailor made individual one. If Polish is offered as standard, I don't see why Polish families could not express a preference, if it is their choice.

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 11:13:29

I certainly appreciate that some people are dealing with very difficult circumstances. I also know a thing or two about those. But there is no merit in the race to the bottom - knocking down the person behind you. You don't know all the facts, nor do you need to, strictly speeking. This is beside the point.

All individual circumstances should be given a fair hearing based on the law. The law is not limited to poster cases of wheelchair access.

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 11:13:42

Of course you are entitled to express a preference.
It just won't have the results you want.

Gooseberrybushes Tue 19-Apr-11 11:17:24

"poster cases of wheelchair access" shock

I really hope you fail in your appeal.

MIFLAW Tue 19-Apr-11 11:18:14


What you are saying - that primary school French is going to reinforce a cultural identity in your family more strongly and effectively than you speaking French in the home - is silly.

And it will not work. Because it is silly. So silly, in fact, that everyone on this thread (including other bilingual families, members of admissions panels, and parents of children who themselves have qualified as exceptions to the LEA's standard decision) thinks it is silly, and has given you a whole range of reasons WHY it is silly and will not work.

Your original question was, "Native language as Exceptional Medical or Social Circumstances in school admission - any ideas?"

The prevailing idea is, don't do it. It is silly and will not work.


Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 11:19:52

No, this is a poster case of total egocentricity. So little chance of success.

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 11:26:46

Thank you all for your comments.
I learned a new word.

Derogitary term, roughly equivalent to idiot. More insulting than berk, but less insulting that gimp. Thought to originate in the Victorian Era meaning a^ lower-class foreigner^

Thank you those who made it, you should be proud.

I really think this topic needs to put a lead on the level of emotional aggression an overtones repeatedly pushed by some members.

I do indeed appreciate comments like for example made by mrz, Clam, Admissions, Panelmember, prh47bridge, and some others. These comments are exactly helpful and made in a civil, sensible manner.

The point is not to prejudge the outcome, but to engage with the argument with some level of quality.

I certainly maintain that if some posters have nothing civil to offer, as some commented "we already offered advice", it is for them a good time to turn their attention to other pursuits. Why do they keep on coming back to repeat their sentiment and pile up personal name calling slang? This is a public platform and I don't think anyone has rights to use me and my post for venting their frustrations or cheerleading popular sentiments.

This creates an intimidating atmosphere where many sensible posters would not want to offer advice in order to not become targets themselves.

With all the emotion, the question asked still hasn’t been discussed. What does the law says about special circumstances, which law, where I can read it?

Admission, how was the Human Rights act tested? Could you share any link / reference? I read a few reviews which state that it is working and evolving. I realise it is a general point which doesn’t work for a particular school, but could work for a particular characteristic in education (i.e. tuition of MFL) which in practice can identify a range of schools. Could you please expand your point?

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 11:36:09

When do you have to appeal by?

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 11:36:24

Sorry if "poster" offends anyone, probably a bad choice of word. I take it back.

What I mean is that the law is not limited to the cases often cited as examples, because the text of the guidelines specificly states that these examples are not an exhaustive list.

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 11:40:18

I just want to know how much longer you will keep this thread running around in circles.
You don't like what you have been told by a wide range of people with different yet related experiences.
Is there another site you would have better luck on?
Perhaps you could go and look?

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 11:41:41

Lodging the appeal by 27 April. Then it's less clear.

I realise language is a weak point, but it is the only for me to put the foot in the door and to present some other very relevant evidence which was not available when I applied.

The strong point might be potentially Special Needs. But it's early yet- I understand the assessments and statements take years and we are at the very yearly stage.

I basically need my original reason (language) to stick

Gooseberrybushes Tue 19-Apr-11 11:42:13

I am 100 pc certain that "twonk" was not meant to refer to your foreignness in a derogatory way. I would bet my house on it the fact that the person who used it meant "silly person".

MIFLAW Tue 19-Apr-11 11:42:18


tip 1 - never trust a dictionary whose authors cannot spell "derogatory"; it is likely to be unreliable.

tip 2 - the reason "many sensible posters" do not want to offer advice is because they are sensible and, as everyone has said, what you are proposing is not.

tip 3 - if, in spite of the excellent advice you have had, you want to know what a law says, google that instead of the urban dictionary.

MIFLAW Tue 19-Apr-11 11:43:06

"I basically need my original reason (language) to stick"

It won't. Hard luck.

Panelmember Tue 19-Apr-11 11:43:09


Some time ago I invited you to say more about your situation, so that we could suggest other arguments that might be more persuasive than the far-fetched, clutching-at-straws one of your child needing the rudimentary French teaching at primary school to shore up his cultural identity, which is never going to persuade any admissions panel.

You said that you had been allocated this school for 'sad reasons'. What do you mean by that? Is there some compassionate dimension to the case that has nothing to do with the French language? Admission (I think) sees more scope for an appeal on French language grounds than I do - have you done any of the things that s/he suggests? Have you joined waiting lists and made appeals for the other schools offering French? If you haven't, this may lead the appeal panel to conclude that this isn't actually about gaining access to French tuition, but instead is about getting into your one favourite school, using the French as a convenient (but flimsy) argument.

If you have read any of the primary appeals threads, you will know that the threshold for winning an infant class size appeal is set very high. Many posters here have been trying to help you understand the English school admission and appeals system. What you plan to say at appeal will be a waste of your time and the panel's. It is just possible that we could help you construct a better case, but to do that we need to find other strong arguments that you could put forward. Even then, unless these are so strong that they reveal a mistake in the original decision to refuse a place or make it appear so unreasonable that it should be overturned, you won't win.

The fact that you seem to be equating your child's need for primary French lessons with the need for a child who uses a wheelchair to be in an accessible building suggests to me that you still don't 'get it'.

PixieOnaLeaf Tue 19-Apr-11 11:43:19

Message withdrawn

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 11:45:14

Please come back and tell us if you were successful. if you don't give us an update, we will all just assume we were right all along.
Unless the SN are unique and can only be met by specialist provision available in one names school, preferably on a Statement then I wouldn't pin your hopes on that either.
MS schools are expected to make provision for a wide range of additional needs. 'potential' or not.

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 12:08:24

Panelmember, can we continue this conversation in another thread, as here people can't stop themselves shouting abuse?

bubblecoral Tue 19-Apr-11 12:10:27

Op, if you expand on your case and feel able to share the reasons why your appeal could also be based on special needs, you will get help here. People are sharing their experience with you, and if that many people are telling you that your agruement about French being taught is not going to help you win an appeal, it's time you listened. Because there may be something else you can use to win an appeal, but you will miss it if you remain so focused on something that will not help you. You do not have special circumstances because your child comes from a bilingual family. You need to concentrate on something else.

Anyway, if this really is all about your child learning French in a classroom environment, couldn't you look up one of the many extra curricular French classes that are available? My children go to one after school that is not part of the curriculum, but it is an extra class that they offer. Do you know if your allocated shool or any others have this facility? Or if there is another one local to you that you could use privately?

PixieOnaLeaf Tue 19-Apr-11 12:11:23

Message withdrawn

MIFLAW Tue 19-Apr-11 12:17:31

"people can't stop themselves shouting abuse" - absolutely superb. This is top-quality material.

Gooseberrybushes Tue 19-Apr-11 12:21:21

I'm just about managing actually.


Panelmember Tue 19-Apr-11 12:23:49

Ah. Several new posts while I was typing mine.

If you consider that your child has special needs, this may actually give you a strong case at appeal. Children with special needs who are admitted outside the usual admissions round are one of the very few (7) exceptions to the infant class size regulations. Is your child already receiving support or care from a health care professional or psychologist? If so, you should present evidence of that. Be aware, though, that it will not be enough to state "my child has special needs"; there has to be confirmation of that from a professional and there has to be clear evidence that your preferred school has expertise or facilities which aren't available in other schools, as all schools are expected to cater for children with a range of needs.

On social and medical need, the School Admissions Code says

Social and medical need

2.27 If admission authorities propose to give higher priority to children for social or medical reasons they must ensure that in doing so they are not failing to comply with paragraph 2.16(g) of this Code, which prohibits the use of oversubscription criteria that discriminate against or disadvantage children because of their special educational needs or disabilities.

2.28 Admission authorities must not use this criterion to give a child a lower priority in obtaining a place at the school, but it is acceptable to give higher priority to children or families where there is a social or medical need (for example, where one or both parents or the child has a disability that may make travel to a school further away more difficult).

2.29 If using this criterion, admission authorities must give a clear explanation of what supporting evidence will be required – for example a letter from a registered health professional such as a doctor or social worker – and how this will be assessed objectively. Admission authorities’ decisions must be consistent and based on this objective evidence. The supporting evidence should set out the particular reasons why the school in question is the most suitable and the difficulties that would be caused if the child had to attend another school. Admission authorities must not give higher priority to children under this criterion if the required documents have not been produced.

2.30 This criterion, if used, must not relate to particular aptitudes for some subjects such as in sport or music. For example, schools must not seek to admit children, under this criterion, on the basis that they ‘need’ to attend the school because of an aptitude or interest in sport and the school has particularly good sports facilities. Selection by aptitude is dealt with in paragraphs 2.78 to 2.82 of this Code and schools wishing to admit a proportion of children on the basis of their aptitude for a particular subject must follow the guidelines provided.

It seems to me that para 2.30 means (by analogy) that a school could not admit your child on the basis that s/he 'needs' French tuition, just as it could not admit a child who 'needed' sport or music. That is something that you will have to test at appeal.

The school admissions appeal code is available at the same link but I can't get it to open. You should check what that says about social and medical need.

Finally. The Ministry of Justice has published a Guide to the Human Rights Act. On page 20, it says

For example:
It might not be a breach of your right to education if the state does not provide a particular kind of teaching. But if the state provides it for boys but not for girls, or for people who speak only a particular language, but not another, this could be discrimination in relation to the right to education. If this was your case, you would rely on your rights under Article 14 (nondiscrimination) taken together with Protocol 1, Article 2 (education).

On page 27, it says

Limits on the right to education

3.121 The general right to education is not an absolute right to learn whatever you want, wherever you want. The Government has made a special reservation to the ECHR in this area so that education provided by the state is limited to the extent that this is necessary to provide an efficient education and within public spending limits. You might not have a right to the most expensive form of education if there are cheaper alternatives available, but the Government or local education authority must balance the right not to be deprived of an education against the spending limits it imposes. The Government has stressed that the cost of providing education is a relevant factor in making these decisions.

In a recent case it was also held that the duty under Protocol 1, Article 2 was imposed on the state and not on any particular domestic institution. It did not create a right to be educated in a particular school or a particular manner, so that if an expelled pupil was able to have access to efficient education somewhere else, there would be no breach of his or her Convention right.

All the bits I've highlighted suggest to me that your argument that your child has a right to French tuition at your preferred school will get nowhere. I don't usually recommend going to a lawyer (and taking a lawyer to appeal hearings can backfire on you) but if you are determined to quote the Human Rights Act, you might do well to seek legal advice. You could also seek advice from the Advisory Centre for Education.

cory Tue 19-Apr-11 12:27:25

Explaining the difference between an appeal with a chance of success and an appeal with little chance of success is not the same as shouting abuse, Phenikz.

My children are both disabled and bilingual, I have been through the appeals process, I have spoken to countless other parents who have been through the appeals process- you could have had the benefit of that experience for what it is worth, but you are choosing to see anyone who does not share your views as unhelpful.

To sum up, in a country with a large immigrant population being bilingual is extremely common, it does not count as exceptional needds, it's something families are just meant to cope with. There is no law that says you have a right to provision for maintaining your home language in British schools. There used to be such provision in Swedish schools, but that has largely been withdrawn due to costs and uncertain value. It has never been the case in the UK.

Getting into a school that is already full is extremely difficult, it is something that usually only happens in the most desperate cases, the poster cases as you put it. Of course you can try your luck, but you would stand a much better chance if you chose to give more details and ask for advice that does not depend on the language aspect.

cory Tue 19-Apr-11 12:30:20

Ah, the real stuff from the person who knows, Panelmember smile.

If you do go for Special Needs, I would advise you to get as much supporting evidence as you possibly can and focus your whole appeal on how the school you want is the only one that can offer exactly what it says in the medical evidence that your child needs. Be prepared to have it challenged by the school.

Panelmember Tue 19-Apr-11 12:36:47

Pheniks - Again, the time it took me to compose my post meant I missed your most recent one.

I don't think you'll gain anything by starting a new thread. MN is an open forum and people can post where and when they choose. I don't agree that people have been shouting abuse. The word 'twonk' (which I thought meant twit) is pretty mild by MN standards and you do need to face the fact that your argument that your child needs to go to that school to learn French -despite being a native speaker and despite the availability of things like Muzzi and La Jolie Ronde - is very far-fetched and pretty much doomed to fail at appeal. The special needs angle, as I and others have said, could work for you, but only if there clearly is a special need and it's one that no other school could cater for.

I really don't think there's anything more I can say. Speak to ACE and see what knowledge or experience they have of parents citing the Human Rights Act in primary admission appeals. I'll look at this thread from time to time and contribute if I think there's anything new to say but, really, I think I've reached the end of the line.

PixieOnaLeaf Tue 19-Apr-11 12:42:35

Message withdrawn

Panelmember Tue 19-Apr-11 12:42:38

Cory - You are very kind but I think people can learn at least as much by listening to your experience as they can by listening to me. Your experience is 'the real stuff' too.

Pheniks - Do please take note of what Cory and other parents who have appealed on special needs grounds have to say. It does have to be about the 'match' between what the child needs and what the school can offer. Do also read carefully the admissions and admissions appeals codes.

Signing off now.

Am just adding my voice to the others who have bilingual (in our case trilingual) families.

While I understand your frustration about the school, I would advise you to look for another ground for appeal. The language thing will get you nowhere.

We are German/British family living in Suisse and the level of MFL teaching at school is very basic. There is no way we could argue that it was helping to preserve our childrens' cultural heritage. The teacher even misspelled Apfelstrudel and Schwarzwalderkirschtorte.

Twonk has nothing to do with foreigners, btw. That is a false explanation. I would say it is similar to saying "twit".

Please listen to what the posters are telling you and save yourself the work of the appeal. They are not being rude, but basically everyone has said the same thing and you are still looking for someone who agrees with you.

Phenikz Tue 19-Apr-11 12:53:05

I poped out for a minute.

Panelmember, I am reading through your post and thinking. Just give me some time. I'll react soon. I really appreciate helpful comments from everyone.

Bucharest Tue 19-Apr-11 12:54:18

I would still (as a mild academic interest) like to know why you think (if you genuinely do,OP) that school French is going to preserve your cultural and linguistic identity as a family.
As a linguist and a language teacher, living in a foreign country with a bilingual child (along with about 60% of posters on this thread) I just don't get why you can possibly think that?
I wonder if your fears re your identity are somehow connected to the trilingual (or is it 4?) in I to presume that in your home country, the language element in schools would be a deciding factor? Is that where this is coming from?

hellokitty123 Tue 19-Apr-11 14:12:48

Another mum of bilingual children here (German/English) and I completely agree with those who feel that a couple of hours of primary school french lessons will be nowhere near enough to "preserve your linguistic cohesion as a family".

And I also find your comment "If he does not experience French at school, he will be embarrassed and reluctant to speak it at home and will eventually loose it" very surprising. Have you considered speaking French to him, of reading him books in French, of letting him watch French dvds in other words making an effort yourself hmm?

cory Tue 19-Apr-11 14:21:58

Ime there is nothing about a language lesson in an English primary school that would make a child feel that being bilingual is normal or unembarrassing. Even at secondary, none of dd's friends seem to have the expectations that they are actually going to end up speaking French; ime very few English people do have that expectation.

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 15:10:41

'poster cases'

well, as long i know where dd2 (doesn't) stand then, eh?

i might pop back at some point to see if there's any form of apology on offer for that brainless remark, but tbh this thread just exemplifies why mn is known as the home of the blardy over-entitled in some circles.

op, if you had any hope of a yr r place on sn grounds, your paed would have been discussing it with you already.

why don't you just find religion? i'm sure there's a nice faith school with decent results french on offer that some vicar could get you into for a few hours dozing in a pew of a sunday?

GnomeDePlume Tue 19-Apr-11 16:07:02

Madwomanintheattic to be fair OP withdrew the remark having realised it was ill judged and had possibly lost some subtelty in translation.

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 16:12:02

It is the way a lot of people think about SN though, more think it than say it.
I'm intrigued by the 'possible special needs' it has to be said.
Wondering which list he's using, which disabilities he's considering.
You might be better off getting religion as has already been suggested.

hat a load of rubbish that your child would feel embarrassed to speak frnch at home if he doesn't at school - he will get a very small amount of language tuition (which as a native speaker he shouldn't need).

Loads of kids speak one language at school and another at home - my nephew speaks french all day and then comes home to a mother who only speaks to him in french and a father who only speaks to him in english - kids adapt and learn and you have to work with im speaking french at home - he won't lose it. I think maybe your issue is with the school being under special measurees is maybe the reason you are so pissed and not anything to do with language!

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 16:20:14

apols, gnome. must have missed that.

the use of 'failing' as an adjective for the allocated school says it all when discussing the necessity to get a different placement though.

i'm really not at all convinced that any sn will necessitate going to a school where french is on the curriculum tbh. wink

and the op needs to be very very very careful pulling the sn trump card - in an awful lot of cases, the schools with the very worst of reputations are the ones deemed best for sn students. usually due to a higher percentage of low income families (and a perceived increase in the number of children requiring specialist help on entry to school). certainly in our leafy suburb of hampshire, if you mentioned sn, you were advised, nay, encouraged to attend the one school that was in special measures, as they were the ones with the additional staff already in situ. <saves the nice schools getting mixed up in all that awful sn stuff wink>

i had to visit the school three times to prove that i had considered it. grin but as the ht told me it would not be a suitable setting for my dcs, i did feel fairly ok about applying to other places.

so, be really careful about that card you hold up your sleeve, op.

GnomeDePlume Tue 19-Apr-11 16:26:33

Having been the other way around - we were the foreigners and our DCs went to the local school - we found that our DCs had no problem switching from one language to another without batting an eyelid. In English they were English, in Dutch they were Dutch.

Unless there are other reasons so far unsaid, so far as I can see the OP's real objection is that her DC has been allocated to a failing school. Unfortunately, that wont wash on appeal because someone's DCs have to go there.

It isnt the end of the world though I can understand a parent being upset. We have had to send our DCs to a failing primary then a failing secondary (no choice where we are). It isnt as bad as it seems. We are committed parents who ensure that our DCs get the very best out of the school. So long as OP is prepared to do that then her DC should thrive whatever the school.

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 16:37:53

i think in my first post i did suggest that the op accepted the place and then volunteered immediately as a parent governor. wink

GnomeDePlume Tue 19-Apr-11 16:43:28

Madwomanintheattic - having done service as a governor in the primary school I wouldnt wish that fate upon anyone!

Goblinchild Tue 19-Apr-11 16:44:59

Imagine how long the meetings would be.

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 16:51:14

ah, i was the governor responsible for sn. wink

i can drag out a meeting m'self, i'll have you know. (and also wrap one up in about 5 minutes flat if it's obvious that some nut has strolled in with a personal agenda - the most recent was to discuss nitrites in fundraising lunches. we were all terribly polite for about 20 minutes thinking we had fresh blood, and then figured out there was no way on this earth that any of us could work with the woman in question, and so gave the nod to the ht, who said 'it's parental choice, and nothing to do with the governing body', and so we all went home. grin)

GnomeDePlume Tue 19-Apr-11 16:56:20


swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 11:34:16

Bumping, as I'd love to know what the outcome of the appeal was.

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