Help! Re school reception place appeal

(32 Posts)
mlmx Mon 13-May-13 16:47:52

Hi, I am new to this site; i came across it whilst searching for guidance regarding my appeal for a reception place for my daughter.
I applied for a place at my local catholic school, however, the application wasn't successful.
I didn't put any other schools as a preference as I really thought she'd get a place there - in hindsight I can see that I have been naive. I only have 1 child and have never had to do this before and I'm very unfamiliar with the whole process.
My application for a place at the school wasn't late, however, I was late bringing the documents into school (i.e proof of address/baptism). This was because we were away at the time, by the time we returned home and I'd opened our mail it was already 1 day past the deadline. I took the documents into school the next day. I was told my application would be considered as late. I did check the school's admission policy before we went to check if there were any dates advised on there but there wasn't.
My daughter wasn't baptized at the time of the application so the baptism certificate was also given in late. We were practicing Catholics prior to the baptism, however, due to family circumstances my daughter wasn't baptized until after the deadline for documentation.
I am hoping for any advice anybody can with with regards to what to base my appeal on.
Will any of the circumstances I've noted below be of any interest to the appeal panel?
1) The school my daughter has been offered isn't Catholic (or Christian).
2) We live in the catchment area for the school I wanted
3) I think it is unfair my application was considered late
4) The school we were offered is 1.8 miles away (35 minute walk for a healthy adult, more like a 50 minute walk for a child who will of only turned 4 in August). It is along a very busy main road. It is the total opposite direction to my place of work. As i work full time, it would be impossible for me to make the journey and I would struggle with childcare. I would have to give up my job.
5) My daughter now fits the criteria for a place there.
6) After speaking to the school receptionist, there planned admission number was 45, although they have accepted 50. There must be room for extra places?

I have already submitted the appeal and I'm waiting for a hearing place.
Does anybody have any advice on what's best to focus on the appeal? Or what could help me? I have already spoken to the Father where we attend mass to ask he writes a letter of support, however, as he is a Governor on another school he doesn't want to look as though he is
"poking his nose in" another Father's business.

Any help would be appreciated as I'm really stressed and upset about this.

Thanks xx

Skinnywhippet Mon 13-May-13 16:59:55

Do you really want her to be given a place for a school thAt is not over subscribed by 5 children? I totally understand your disappointment and worry- this is your daughter's education. However, a line has to be drawn somewhere or we will have classes of 40 before long!

tiggytape Mon 13-May-13 17:08:02

There are 2 types of appeal and you need to find out which yours will be. It all depends on how many children are in each class:

If they have 30 per class at any point between YR and Y2 (including mixed age classes) it will be an ICS appeal and only an admissions mistake that cost you a place is likely to help you win

If it is not an ICS appeal (i.e. if the classes remain below the legal maximum of 30 from YR - Y2) then you might be successful at appeal if you can explain why your child needs a place at this school or would benefit from one.

To take your points though:

1) The school my daughter has been offered isn't Catholic (or Christian).

This has no bearing on an ICS appeal but may have some bearing on a normal appeal. You would have to explain why you listed no other Catholic or faith schools for example if a faith school is your preference and perhaps also why baptism was so late if a faith education was a key factor for you. If it isn't an ICS appeal though, evidence for wanting a faith education could help.

2) We live in the catchment area for the school I wanted

No - this has no bearing at appeal. Very often far more people live in catchment than they have places for. It is only relevant if you find out everyone in catchment who applied got a place and therefore it suggests a mistake if you haven't been offered one too.

3) I think it is unfair my application was considered late

Possibly yes. This may be the case because you did submit the actual application on time BUT unless them treating it late cost you a place, this won't win the appeal. And I suspect the thing that cost you a place is the lack of baptism by not being baptised at the deadline for applications. You could check this out though. How late were your other forms and documents - days or weeks or months?

4) The school we were offered is 1.8 miles away (35 minute walk for a healthy adult, more like a 50 minute walk for a child who will of only turned 4 in August). It is along a very busy main road. It is the total opposite direction to my place of work. As i work full time, it would be impossible for me to make the journey and I would struggle with childcare. I would have to give up my job.

No - journey time, work and childcare do not carry weight at appeal. Only if a child had severe asthma or mobility issues for example might this be taken into account. A parent's work reasons are not generally considered because these factors apply to virtually everyone who applies.

5) My daughter now fits the criteria for a place there.

No - this will not help either except it should bump you up the waiting list. Do check that it has. At the time of application, your DD was not baptsied and therefore was much lower priority than other children. You cannot apply the admission criteria in retrospect else everyone who got turned down could get their child baptsied and demand a place.

6) After speaking to the school receptionist, there planned admission number was 45, although they have accepted 50. There must be room for extra places?

This may help you if it means they are not going to have classes of 30 in the Infants and have less per class. If this is the case then you can state why you want your child to attend the school and you may win (focusing on reasons about why the school suits your child - not transport and childcare issues).


Your best bet is to find out if there are 30 per class so you know what type of appeal it is.
Then check the council know DD is baptised so she is moved up the waiting list for the faith school.
Then get her name on more waiting lists for every local school you can.
By all means appeal but virtually always, waiting lists are a better option if you don't have a place you are happy with unless you uncover some huge council mistake that directly lost you your rightful place of course.

admission Mon 13-May-13 20:23:55

I think that the only real possibility here is around the reasons why you were not considered as on time.
You need to look very carefully at the admission criteria in the LA admission booklet and also what it says on the school website to see if it gives a deadline for submission of these documents.
If you want to PM me with the school and LA I can look for you and see if I can spot any dates.

mlmx Mon 13-May-13 21:13:48

Thanks everyone.
I'm not sure how the classes are split Skinnywhippet but I don't think it's one class for 50 children. It's quite a large school though so I'm presuming it will have 2 reception classes.
I really hope it it's not an ICS appeal.
I know the appeal panel will hear the emotional pleas all the time so I'm trying to keep it as factual as possible but it's quite hard sometimes when you're desperate! :-(
Thanks tiggytape that's really helpful. I think I was about 2 days late handing the proof of address in and 2 weeks late for the baptism certificate. The receptionist said they'd already made the decisions by the time I'd handed it in.
I have now put her name on 3 other schools waiting lists, I went to one today and the receptionist there said they are over subscribed and their waiting list looked very long!
I suppose I've been naive about the whole process I somehow thought they'd understand but it's all based on facts and dates - which I know is needed but doesn't stop me thinking there's no room for personal circumstances.
Thanks admission, I did have a look and couldn't see any but I'll message you the details. If you get chance to look that's great, if not, don't worry.

xx

NynaevesSister Tue 14-May-13 07:45:47

You need to find out how the classea are divided. If there are two Reception classes of 25 each then it is not an ICS appeal.

If there is one class of 30 Reception and two classes of 30 mixed Reception and year 1 then it is an ICS appeal.

This will affect how you appeal so it is important to know.

They cannot legally have one class of 50 in infants. They have to get a second teacher.

prh47bridge Tue 14-May-13 10:14:00

If there are two Reception classes of 25 each then it is not an ICS appeal

Not necessarily. If they mix Y1 and Y2 they could have 3 classes of 30 in those years, in which case it would be an ICS appeal. So it is important to know how they organise classes in all three years of Infants - Reception, Y1 and Y2. Note that what matters is how many children there would be in each class if all three years were full, not how many are in each class today. If in any of the three years they would be running classes of 30 with a single teacher the appeal will be an ICS case.

As NynaevesSister says, they cannot have a single class of 50 in infants with one teacher. They must have two teachers.

As Admission says, if this is an ICS appeal your only real argument is around whether or not they should have treated your application as on time. Being two weeks late with the baptism certificate suggests you will have an uphill task with that argument but it depends what they say about dates in their admission arrangements.

lougle Tue 14-May-13 10:28:45

If your DD wasn't actually baptised at the date of application deadline, then she didn't fit the criteria.

I can't see any appeals panel accepting that someone who got baptised after the deadline for documentation should be considered as baptised at the time of the deadline, because they weren't.

lougle Tue 14-May-13 10:29:02

You need to find out under what category the last place was offered.

mlmx Tue 14-May-13 12:23:14

Thanks prh47bridge I will call the school again! I think the secretary is getting sick of me now, does she have to provide me this information? I want to go into this appeal as prepared as possible so although these extra facts may not support my appeal on their own, I'm hoping combining them will show iv attempted to do my research and I am serious about the appeal.
Thanks lougle, I know she didn't fit the criteria, just that she does now; tiggytape has already kindly pointed this out that I couldn't base my appeal on this. I will ask what the last criteria the final place was offered though.
Thanks again everyone x

tiggytape Tue 14-May-13 12:34:35

mlmx - yes they are requires to give you the answers to any reasonable questions you ask in preparing for appeal.

There's definitely no harm in giving it your best shot but it is good to hear you are on waiting lists for other schools too. Make sure if any of those are faith schools that they also know she is baptised and get any forms they have about mass attendnace signed by your priest (it could bump you up the waiting list no matter how long the list is if you meet their highest criteria).

ProudAS Tue 14-May-13 13:03:34

The local authority are required to provide certain information under the freedom of information act. I'm not sure how it applies to schools.

Make your FOI request as specific as possible - in this case how the intake/ child offered the last place fitted in with the published oversubscription criteria. For example, if baptised catholic children (which your dd wasn't at the time) are top priority and all those offered places are baptised catholics then she was not turned down wrongly but if a child who would have been a lower priority than your dd was offered a place then that is a different matter.

As regards getting dd to alternative school and yourself to work you've got a few months to put arrangements in place. Does it have a breakfast club or could she go to a childminder who drops off there thus allowing you to drop her off earlier and get to work? What about requesting flexible working which as a parent you are entitled to do?

tiggytape Tue 14-May-13 14:30:34

You don't need the Freedom of Information Act

The Appeals Code (which has the force of law) says that you must be provided with any information that you require to submit your appeal.

mlmx Tue 14-May-13 22:16:17

I'm pretty sure that all the places offered were to baptized catholic children and the decision to turn down the application wasn't wrong in terms of that but I will appeal based on the application being deemed as late, I guess I'm hoping for a sympathetic panel! Which I'm sure won't be the case.
I have checked re the class sizes, there are 2 reception classes. So, based on what the receptionist confirmed (50 places offered) it does seem as though the places are split. I'm guessing 25 in each class.
Year 5/6
Year 5/6
Year 4/5
Year 3/4
Year 3/4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 2
Year 1
Year 1
Reception
Reception
Nursery

Would this class split and the fact that 50 places were offered mean it isn't an ICS appeal? (confused)

Thanks again

tiggytape Tue 14-May-13 22:21:54

I'm guessing 25 in each class.

Don't guess! You need to know exactly how many are in each class. Your whole appeal depends on it.

If it is 30 per class, then proving a mistake cost you a place is your only real hope of winning. Whilst there may have been a mistake treating your application as late, it is likely that this did not ultimately cost you a place. Your DC was not baptised by the deadline date and other children were baptised by then so they quite rightly have all been given priority.
If it is 30 per class, you whole appeal depends on finding out who got a place and if they were baptised on time or not.

If it is 25 per class you don't have to rely so much on proving an error in order to win. You can talk about suitability and your child's needs being met and your preference for a faith school and all sorts of other factors that will carry no weight in an appeal with 30 in the class.

lougle Wed 15-May-13 07:36:13

If it is an ICS appeal, you won't win on your late vs on-time argument. Working it through logically, it was either:

- Late, because the evidence must be submitted with the application to make it complete.

or

-On time, because the actual form was submitted, but the child in question was not baptised at the time of application.

You can't have it both ways. Either way, you failed to get into the category which got a place.

Your only hope is a non ICS appeal, but if there are other children appealing who were in the category which was the last offered and missed out on distance alone, say, they may well have a stronger case.

Even if you are right about the 25 places , that would leave a maximum 5 places for appeal if the school has capacity.

ProudAS Wed 15-May-13 08:34:12

If it is not an ICS appeal the panel will weigh up impact on the school of admitting an extra child against what the school can offer your DD that allocated/alternative schools cannot. About 1 in 3 succeed.

Simply because a school has a PAN of 25 does not mean that it can take 5 more children as building size etc come into the equation too.

mlmx Wed 15-May-13 21:18:15

1 in 3 sounds a bit more promising. I'll be surprised if it's successful from going off all the internet research I've been doing lately!
Fingers crossed though.
I've never really appreciated how stressful this time of year can be for parents as I only have the one child and have never had to do this before!
I guess I can only try and see how it goes.
I did find out that my daughter is number 2 on a waiting list for another RC school abit further away, the ofsted report is outstanding there. It's just the childcare I'll have to worry about next as I cant reduce my hours at work or do compressed.
Has anyone ever had experience of waiting lists, or been number 2 then offered a place for start of term in Sept?

tiggytape Wed 15-May-13 21:26:37

The bad news is that the 1 in 3 figure is an average which includes KS2 and KS3 appeals where legal restrictions don't prevent strong appeals from succeeding as they do for reception, Yr1 and Yr2.

If there are 30 children per class, the chances of winning an appeal in KS1 (when no admissions error has been made) are virtually zero. In many authorities not a single appeal in that age group will succeed. If there are less than 30 per class however the 1 in 3 figure is probably about right.

The good news is that 2nd on the waiting list may very well lead to a place being offered over the Summer. If the school takes 60 or 90 pupils per year or is located in an area of higher turnover, the chances are even higher. I would be very hopeful of getting an offer from 2nd on the list. You can call the school and ask how far down the waiting list they went last year to get a rough idea.

mlmx Wed 15-May-13 21:47:03

Ah right... I need to speak to the school again to find out for sure. The receptionist is going to hate me soon!
That's a bit of a relief re the waiting list. From reading the ofsted report i think there is a an above average turnover so that's a good sign.
I still would struggle with travel/childcare as it's near enough the same distance away as the school we were offered a place at but that school wasn't RC and it's not got a great reputation.
I shall ring the receptionist again!
Thank you tiggytape for all the helpful info

admission Wed 15-May-13 22:45:40

Mlmx did PM me, so I can confirm that the school has a PAN of 45 and the current classroom organisation, from the school website, is as she has said in an earlier post. with 50 places being offered.
The only sensible explanation for the current classroom organisation is that the school has less pupils at the top end of the school than the 45 or 50 they are taking in at the infants end of the school.
If they actually had 45 in each year group the usual split is to have two small reception classes of 22 and 23 and then three year 1/2 classes of 30, followed by six classes of 30 across years 3 to 6. Any appeal in this case would be an infant class size appeal because of what is called future prejudice in years 1 and 2 classes.
However they appear to be taking 50 in each year group now and have twelve classes. It is not easy to predict what the actual class organisation would be in this case but if it was 50 in each year group then I would have 6 infant classes of 25 each and then 6 junior classes with either 33 or 34 in. Any other organisation in the infant end of the school give lots of split year groups and very messy organisation.
Mlmx 's problem is that whilst it is not an infant class size regs case under those circumstances the reality is that any appeal panel is going to be looking at the class sizes in the junior end of the school and saying do I want to increase the class sizes any more when this reception year group gets to be junior classes. That means you need a really good case for part 2 as to why this school is the only one that is appropriate or prove that it should have been counted as on time and therefore a place should have been offered in the original admission round.

tiggytape Wed 15-May-13 22:51:34

Ahhh - so even if the infant classes are 25, there could still going to be resistance to admitting extra pupils since this would create future junior class sizes of upto 35 children - which is probably too many for an appeal panel to agree to lightly.

lougle Thu 16-May-13 07:01:06

That's useful, prh.

I still can't see how the OP can say her application would have got her a place though. If the application was 'on time' because the form was submitted by the deadline, then the facts on that date are that the child was not baptised. The last admitted criteria was baptised child.

If the application was late, then she wouldn't get in anyway because all places were allocated in the first round.

you can't have it both ways and either way the OP wouldn't secure a place.

lougle Thu 16-May-13 07:03:26

What I'm saying is that it wasn't simply a case of late evidence. The child wasn't actually baptised. You can't apply criteria retrospectively.

tiggytape Thu 16-May-13 08:51:13

Agree lougle - but from what I understand, OP doesn't yet know that the last child to be admitted was definitely baptised. If the school admitted all the baptised children and still had places left over to awarded on distance then, if OP lives close, she could say that being treated as late disadvantaged her and lost her a place. She could say one of those spare 'distance' places should have been hers.

If however she finds all places were awarded to children baptised before January, or that not even all the baptised children got a place, then evidence of a baptism taking place after January won't help because whatever way you shake it, more children applying for the school qualified more highly than she did and therefore she was righfully denied a place.

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