Reception place - is this fair?

(24 Posts)
Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 20:38:55

Bit complicated but here goes:
Application for Reception for DS; we live 600m from school A. School A is an infant school, very very popular and is aligned with/part of school B, which is on a separate site, they have different names (well the infant school does ie school A, while the junior school is called School B School A). They have separate supplementary information forms.
Criteria for admissions to the infant school are: 1) SEN, 2) siblings at either school called the School B School A Alliance, 3) children for whom school A is the closest infant school, etc etc.
Anyway we didn't get a place at School A the infant school, but a friend who lives 740m from the school did get a place. According to the LA website they only admitted children up to category 3) and the furthest away distance they admitted was c. 500m. So when I challenged this with the LA ie why did my friend who lives further away from school B get a place and we did not, they said it was up to the school who they admitted and that they had admitted based on distance from either school gate. They also told me to talk to the school not them. My friend lives very close to the junior site and that is why she got in. BUT that is not very clear from the admission criteria in my view because it refers to school A in category 3) not school B school A. It also refers to them as two separate schools in the admissions document. Is there anything I can do about this? If they were not including the junior site in the criteria I am fairly sure I would have got a place for DS. As it is it looks like they didn't make a mistake in that they must have intended to admit from either school gate, but surely they should also have said so? Any help/thoughts gratefully received.

NynaevesSister Thu 09-May-13 20:55:23

I think there might be. Admission criteria has to be clearly stated. It would be fair to expect distance to be judged from school A not the associates junior school.

I think you need expert appeal advice here though. And there are experts on here who seem to really know there stuff. If you don't get a response bump this up. They will come online at some point!

BTW it is not up to the school. The LA allocates places and tells the school.

Unless it is a new academy or free school. Is it?

AmandaPayneNeedsANap Thu 09-May-13 21:00:46

I think it would be very hard for any of the experts on here (I'm not one of them!) to comment without seeing the exact wording of the admission documents.

I assume this would be an ICS appeal - i.e. the classes are full as multiples of 30? Bear in mind that any mistake that has been made has to not only have occurred, but to have cost you the place, so they would re-measure everyone, not just you. Anyone who has a place wouldn't lose it, but you might not gain one IYSWIM.

Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 21:14:28

It is an Aided school.
I just found this definition in the school's admissions document.
"Distance to school is the distance from the child’s permanent home to the nearest school of the
School B School A alliance." Surely this means that what the LA told me was nonsense?

CloudsAway Thu 09-May-13 21:22:09

maybe it was her closest infant school, but not yours? If they only got up to category 3 (nearest infant school), then it might not have got to the bit about distance to the school(s) as being a tie-breaker, or if so, only within that 'closest infant school' category. (Though I'd also wonder, with closest infant school, what would happen if you had an all-through primary that was closer, whether that would count as it offered infant provision, or not, as it didn't offer separate infants which some people might want. Or maybe this is an area that only has separate infants/juniors rather than a mix like here).

AmandaPayneNeedsANap Thu 09-May-13 21:23:07

So the admissions criteria do say either site?

In terms of the rubbish about the school being able to 'admit who they like', yes, it does sound like you got a bit of a no-nothing on the phone.

Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 21:29:35

Well yes they do, but not in the categories given by the LA, Only in the footnotes on the school's website.

It still says in category 3) children for whom school A is the closest infant school.
The distance reference I took to mean to refer to the tiebreaker, although I guess the tiebreaker then applied within that category 3) so they haven't made a mistake after all. Clouds it was both of our nearest infant school and I live closer to it than she does. She lives closer to the junior school (about 100m) than I do.
Guess there is no chance :-(

sparkle9 Thu 09-May-13 21:30:43

That wording says to me that they take the distance from the home to whichever school (A or B) is closest and use that for admission purposes. This seems fairly clear and it's unlikely they have made a mistake.

sparkle9 Thu 09-May-13 21:32:05

An Aided school sets its own admissions policy so that is why the school website says something different to the LA one.

tiggytape Thu 09-May-13 21:32:54

The Schools Admissions Code 9the law on school admissions) says:

"All schools must have admission arrangements that clearly set out how children will be admitted, including the criteria that will be applied if there are more applications than places at the school."

However I do think the written policy is pretty clear:

"Distance to school is the distance from the child’s permanent home to the nearest school of the School B School A alliance."

You distance is the distance from your home to whichever one of the schools in the alliance you live closest to. Your friend lives very close to the junior site so got allocated a place. Your nearest school in the alliance is the Infants school. You don't live closer to the Infants than your friend does to the Juniors so she got allocated a place.

The LA were wrong to say the school can accept who they like. But they are correct in saying the school (it is aided so sets its own admissions criteria) can choose to measure distances how they like. There's no rule that says it has to be from the child's home to the Infant School site.

Based on what you have said, the school has followed the admissions process that it set out. Unless you are saying the official document printed by the LA contradicts the school's own booklet?

Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 21:41:16

What I am saying (not very clearly) is that the official booklet from the LA doesn't mention "Distance to school is the distance from the child’s permanent home to the nearest school of the School B School A alliance", it only mentions the categories as follows:
1) SEN, 2) siblings at either school called the School B School A Alliance, 3) children for whom school A is the closest infant school; 4) siblings; 5) children within the designated catchment area. It says also that the distance from the school for the purposes of category 3) is measured from permanent home address to school A.
However, on the school website it also says all these things and then says:
"Distance to the school for the purposes of ranking within a category only: Distance to school is the distance from the child’s permanent home to the nearest school of the
School B school A alliance".
So I can see that the school does lay it all out and then qualifies how it will treat distance within the category in the event of a tiebreaker, but that on the LA website it only mentions distance from school A.
Obviously I should have checked both and am clutching at straws, but now have a school 7 miles away as my next nearest 4 schools couldn't admit me!

Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 21:42:12

sorry category 4 is siblings that need a 2 form entry school

prh47bridge Thu 09-May-13 21:43:14

It is difficult to be certain without seeing both the LA's admissions booklet and the school's admission arrangements. It sounds like they have complied with the admission arrangements published on the school's website. The question is whether the LA's admissions booklet gave different information.

Madasabox Thu 09-May-13 21:45:09

and if the LA did give different information then would that have been a mistake or does it not matter?

tiggytape Thu 09-May-13 22:37:29

Are you saying that the LA's booklet gave an incorrect definition of how distance would be measured?
That the LA booklet said distance is measured from the child's home to school A only and forgot to mention the crucial bit about school B?

Are you certain you haven't missed a footnote in the LA booklet where distance is further defined perhaps?

Because if the LA booklet is incorrect and doesn't even mention measuring to School B then, yes, this indicates a problem since you potentially met the admissions criteria set out or, at the very least, the criteria is unclear for parents.

5madthings Thu 09-May-13 22:43:17

So the booklet you get gives different rules re distance than the school website?

Which as tiggy says is misleading and would give grounds for appeal?

tiggytape Thu 09-May-13 22:57:30

5madthings - if the booklet does not have any footnote or further notes about the measuring process and in fact gives totally the wrong definition in the criteria, then yes OP could appeal.

The trouble is that none of the people (like OP's friend) already allocated a place can have those places taken away and if this is an LA booklet error, potentially dozens of people or more may be affected. There is no way they would all win at appeal so then it would be a case of the panel having to try to do the best it could i a very difficult position.

Having seen a few LA booklets however which include faith and academy schools, they normally give admissions criteria in a broad fashion and then have awhole host of extra bits at the end or in footnotes that further define every single point (eg what counts as a sibling, what counts as home address etc). OP needs to go through the booklet with a fine tooth comb and be absolurely certain that it fails to mention measuring to school B if she would like to appeal the decision on the grounds the admissions process has not been followed.

5madthings Thu 09-May-13 23:00:47

Yes my booklet was like that with an appendix of footnotes at the back.

God it sounds a pita, IF the booklet did fail to make it clear what could happen tho?

admission Fri 10-May-13 11:45:47

madasabox, this sounds like there may be an issue of the school having a different admission criteria to that which is in the formal admission booklet of the LA but I would want to read the detail before commenting further.
If you PM me the school name and the LA I can look through the school website and the LA booklet and then comment more appropriately.
It is not unknown for a faith school who are their own admission authority to be operating their own understanding of the admission criteria, which is different from what is actually stated in the admission booklet

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 10-May-13 12:10:54

The LA website doesn't seem to give any tiebreaker details from what you have posted, which seems unlikely - it says distance from A will be used as the basis of closest infant school but nothing about how the ranking happens within that category. It's either an omission or it's detailed in a footnote somewhere as mentioned.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 10-May-13 12:33:16

It doesn't sound very good for it to be so ambiguous. I do agree with others that it's going to come down to the precise wording the school and LEA use.

fatfloosie Fri 10-May-13 13:30:18

Hi OP there may be a catch all statement in the booklet. Along the lines of:

"If the school is a community or voluntary controlled school, the admission criteria are listed on pages 27 to 35. If the school is an academy or foundation, trust or voluntary aided school, a summary of their admission criteria is given in the list of schools enclosed with this booklet. However, you will need to get the full details from the school because the governing body of the school concerned is responsible for its own admissions."

(If you are in the LA that I think you are this is on page 9.)

I have no idea if it is sufficient for the LA to say this; admission, prh47bridge and the other experts would have to advise on that.

Good luck. I appealed for a school last year and lost but found the process fascinating (hence still looking at threads on here!). Turns out I prefer the allocated school to the one I appealed for so all ok in the end. Hope everything turns out well for you too.

prh47bridge Fri 10-May-13 14:14:02

It would be better if that was stated for each school involved but I think most appeal panels would accept that this means the LA's admissions booklet is not the final word on the matter.

I am also happy to take a look at the published information if you PM me the name of the school and LA involved.

PatriciaHolm Fri 10-May-13 15:07:20

I think I know where you are too, and unfortunately I think it's reasonably clear from the LA docs that you need to read the school criteria too.

In the primary schools admissions booklet, it says as fatfloosie has above. In the summary they refer to, about the school in question, it doesn't state how they will tiebreak in criteria 3; it simply states "children for whom school A is the school closest to their permanent home which admits children of the appropriate age range". Clearly in the case of oversubscription there needs to be some way to tiebreak.

You need to look at the school's own site to find out how they do this tiebreak, but they are very clear about it there - in fact they put it in Bold.

It's annoying but I don't think an appeals panel will see this as a problem. The rules have been applied as stated, with LEA pointing you towards the school site for the full rules.

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