Impending Infant Class Size Appeal

(24 Posts)
katie17892 Sun 23-Jun-13 04:05:41

We have appeal hearing due in 7 days time and would welcome any advice on what we may do/say to improve our chances of success. Brief circumstances are that we are SpecialGuardians of our grt grn child. She was placed in our care by social worker, who emailed admissions a letter supporting our application to infants at sch where nursery currently attended. Similar emails sent by Spec Guardn Support Soc Wrkr and Health Visitor.
Reason for letters of support being that the nomadic lifestyle of her mother and the effects of poor parenting have had on the child, a move to a different sch at this time would be detrimental to the child's health and would most likely 'set the child development back' when what is needed is the stability and continuity that remaining in familiar surroundings and moving up with her peer group would provide.

This resulted in Admissions placing child in Cat.1 'looked after child' which we believed secured her a place. However, this was changed when admissions then chckd back (months later) with LA, who then said child never 'looked after' this put her into cat 5, out of area.
(We also have ongoing appeal against LA re 'looked after' status).
School has 2 infant classes of 30, with 1 teacher and 1 teaching asst in each + Spec Needs support.

katie17892 Sun 23-Jun-13 04:41:26

Also school is over-subscribed (with 51 applications refused, 13 of which out of catchmnt but attending nursery) and the number of appeals is 12.

BetsyBoop Sun 23-Jun-13 07:54:45

Don't know if this helps, but I found this legal definition of looked after.

You have a strong case if you fulfil the requirements for looked after and haven't been placed in that category.

If not does the admissions authority have a social/medical category in their criteria? (not all do) if they do you can argue it was unreasonable not to consider you to bein that category if you didn't meet the requirements to be in the LA category.

prh47bridge Sun 23-Jun-13 09:00:30

The central question is whether or not the child was looked after. If she was there has clearly been a mistake and you should win your appeal. If she was not there has been no mistake and it is unlikely you will win. The central question is whether or not she was in public care. What authority did the social worker have for removing this child from her mother and placing her with you?

prh47bridge Sun 23-Jun-13 09:00:56

Sorry - two central questions in that! But I hope that is clear.

lougle Sun 23-Jun-13 09:08:50

For once I disagree with prh47bridge. If the admissions criteria has a 'social/medical' criteria, then you can argue that the category should have changed to that and I would think the social worker's letter would be good enough evidence.

If there is no s/m criteria, then prh47bridge's assessment is unfortunately correct.

lougle Sun 23-Jun-13 09:30:38

Actually, there are a few more questions I have:

When you applied, did you tick category 1, or did you apply under another category and then the LA changed her to category 1 after your social worker wrote to them?

Did you have a place confirmed in writing, or was this all done before allocations day? I.e. did you have a place withdrawn or was it never given?

prh47bridge Sun 23-Jun-13 10:12:55

Actually I agree with Lougle on the social/medical criteria point. I was thinking purely about the question of whether or not the child is entitled to LAC status.

And if the place was offered and then withdrawn that puts us into a whole different ball game.

admission Sun 23-Jun-13 17:39:30

Think that we need some more info here. You say about being in cat 1 and then
" However, this was changed when admissions then chckd back (months later) with LA, who then said child never 'looked after' this put her into cat 5, out of area. "

Does this mean you were offered a place as Cat 1 and then had it removed or did they realise before places were offered. What you do at appeal really depends on the timing here and whether child was truely "looked after"

lougle Sun 23-Jun-13 17:57:43

I agree with both prh47bridge and admission.

It will come down to the chronology.

I'll illustrate with a few timelines:

A

Application form: Cat 1. ticked by OP.
SW writes to LA confirming need for school.
Allocations day: Offer received
Intervening period: LA checks with SW who says 'not LAC'.
Offer withdrawn several weeks later.

In this situation it's possible that because you gave the incorrect information and the child hasn't started school, that they withdraw the place. You would take it to appeal.

B

Application form: Cat 5. ticked by OP.
SW writes to LA confirming need for school.
LA assume that child meets Cat 1. criteria and changes priority.
Allocations day: Offer received
Intervening period: LA checks with SW who says 'not LAC'.
Offer withdrawn several weeks later.

You should win any appeal - they made a mistake and corrected it too late.

C
Application form: Cat 5. ticked by OP.
SW writes to LA confirming need for school.
LA assume that child meets Cat 1. criteria and changes priority.
Allocations day: Offer received
That day: LA double checks with SW who says 'not LAC'.
Offer withdrawn the next day.

You'd likely lose and they would be allowed to withdraw the place.

These are only examples and the timing will be crucial.

katie17892 Mon 24-Jun-13 23:23:51

Thank you for your responses. It is a bit complicated.
~Child a risk of neglect (known to soc serve since before birth -young Mum) for over 2 yrs.
~RCPC mtg nov2011, chair states last chance for parent, gives 3 mth period for Mum to step up to mark or child to be put in care pending Adoption. In meantime SW to do reports for placement within family.
~ End Jan 2012 Mum asks us to look after child for 1mth only. We let SW know where child is. End Feb we inform SW that Child returning to Mum. SW says that they do not want that to happen and ask us to keep child. we ask the alternative, SW says she will be put in care pending adoption. We felt we had no choice but to agree to keep her. We believed that as per the RCPC plan, the SW had effectively placed child in our care at that point. Nothing was ever said to the contrary. Child remained in our care from end Feb 2012 to Dec 2012 when we got SGO.
We had been far from satisfied with way SW managed case an had put in appeal (Panel Hearing held last Wk -re LA status of child, but no outcome as yet.)
~We applied online to scl Admissions stating that CLA, Cat Residence/Special Guardianship and ask SW to write letter of support to Admissions. SW emailed them 'fully supporting' child going to that sch (out of catchment but attached to Nursery child currently attends). Sch Adm Auth replied saying child put in Cat 1.
~then when places being allocated Sch Adm contacted SW who said Child never Looked After. We knew nothing of this until we got letter saying out of area and appeal via class size appeal.
~asked SG support to write to Ed Auth, again supportive email sent but not accepted as child not LA.
~health visitor also wrote ltr of support as did solicitor who confirmed child should have been considered 'Looked after' at the point at which SW ask us to care for child. It has never been a family arrangement.
Appeal hearing on Mon.

lougle Mon 24-Jun-13 23:38:38

Unfortunately, I think there are a few things that go against you here.

Looked After Child

The definition of Looked After Child in the Admissions Code is:

"A looked after child is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions (see the definition in Section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989)." (Page 31)

Your Great Grandchild was never 'Looked After'. She went from her Mum to you informally for 1 month, then stayed with you under a SGO. There was never a point when she was accomodated by social services or placed in foster care. She was not a Looked After Child. This is a major issue with SGOs and kinship care.

The error was yours

You applied for the place stating that she was a Looked After Child. The SW wrote an email 'fully supporting' the place. The LA used the combined information to decide on Category One.

However, you ticked the wrong box, because your GGD was not a LAC.

The error was corrected before allocations day

Although the error was made, giving you Category 1, it was corrected before offers day and you never had a place allocated.

It is possible, though, that you have a case for appeal based on:

Expectation of place
You were given the impression that your GDD would definitely get a place because you were informed that you were allocated Category 1 priority and you weren't informed that you'd been downrated to Category 5. If you had been informed, you could have challenged the LAC status earlier and possibly had it confirmed prior to the allocations.

I think it would be very unlikely that you will win, to be honest. LAC is a legal definition, not a common sense one, and in the legal sense your GDD has never been a LAC.

katie17892 Mon 24-Jun-13 23:54:06

Just chkd Adm criteria and it does say that if child has med/soc needs that can only be met by a specific school, and are supported by written statement from Dr, SW or other relevant professional that they may decide to override criterias 2-6.
I do hope this will work.
Please let me know if you have any other comments. I will post outcome.
Thanks again for your help.

lougle Tue 25-Jun-13 00:09:18

In that case I think your appeal is as follows:

You incorrectly applied for Cat 1. place in the belief that your GDD was LAC due to the SGO and the fact that the SW requested you look after her.

You were confirmed as having Cat. 1. status.

The LA subsequently found out that your GDD was not LAC. and down rated you from Cat 1. to Cat 5.

If you had been informed of this, you would have asked that they consider your evidence under social/medical. You were not informed.

Clause 2.12 of the appeals code says "...Where an offer is withdrawn on the basis of misleading information, the application must be considered afresh, and a right of appeal offered if an offer is refused."

Although you weren't ever offered a place, this clause shows how misleading (not fraudulent) information is dealt with. If you had been able to correct your application, you believe that your child would have qualified under the social/medical route due to the SW support.

katie17892 Tue 25-Jun-13 00:22:23

Our Appeal against Childrens Services began in July 2012. If SW had refuted LAC earlier (back in Jan when we first applied for School place) we may still not have had a decision on LAC status before Admissions decision in May as that appeal only went to Panel last wk and even now we may not know their findings for yet another 5 weeks.
However, it is worth trying that angle.

Hopefully, the tip re Med/Social needs will work for us.

katie17892 Tue 25-Jun-13 00:30:11

Thanks for that lougle.

lougle Tue 25-Jun-13 07:06:14

That may be more tricky. If your appeal for LAC status was active before you applied for the place, it's very clear that at the point of application you knew that your GDD did not have LAC status.

I think your only hope now is to say that had you known they were changing your category you could have asked for soc/medical and that not inform you of such a significant change was so perverse that no reasonable authority would do so.

katie17892 Mon 01-Jul-13 03:32:00

Ah, sorry, in effort to be brief misled you. The appeal against Children's Services was due to this SW handling of child's case: phone calls/ emails etc ignored; recommendations of RCPC's not actioned nor minutes circulated; meetings cancelled/not set up; child (at risk) not seen by SW for months even when access refused by C mother. these were few of the areas of complaint raised. We had never been told that we were expected to get the SGO. We had never had dealt with anything like this and were told it would be a SW led approach to C being removed from parent and placed with us pending SGO - we believed all along that she was a LAC and now maintain that the only reason she has not been classed as such is that the LA did not follow proper procedures when placing her with us. We have now had Panel Appeal hearing re this and await their decision. If they uphold the appeal in that C should have been LAC then we have asked that they inform admissions (however, not likely to get any decision on that before School Appeal tomorrow) and of course neither appeal may find in our favour and we must just 'take it on the chin' and get on with our lives. I do thank you for your advices in this matter and will post outcome.

lougle Mon 01-Jul-13 07:08:03

I think it is quite common for children to transfer between birth parents and family members without intermediate foster care; that's why Local authorities like Special guardianship orders. I think it's quite likely that they will conclude that your dd has never been a LAC and that SS merely facilitated the transfer of care between family members.

katie17892 Fri 05-Jul-13 02:15:13

I think that the SW took it upon herself to ignore the plan and recommendations of RCPC and asked us if we would look after child, when asked the alternative she said she would be put in care. What was I supposed to do! - send her to strangers, had she not suffered enough. I had NO choice but to agree. my agreement was with SW and NOT with my granddau (childs mothers). Therefore should have followed Plan if placing her with us. The placement was only to cover the interim period betwn then and the issue of SGO. SW also told us we'd be given SGO Allowance that wld be backdtd to date we agreed to take her. There was lots of other errors on part of SW, eg. when staus 'At Risk' SW didn't see child for months and took no action when mother refused then access. also, child status change from 'at risk' to 'in need' but no CIN mtgs ever held. the list goes on.
The outcome, I have no doubt will be the closure of ranks behind the SW. It has left us feeling used and hoodwinked. the appeal was nothing but my Don Quixote tendencies of tilting at the windmills of power and getting nowhere.
I'm not expecting to will the appeal re school admissions either.
Sorry for lil rant, just blowing off some steam.

lougle Fri 05-Jul-13 08:14:51

This document has a chapter entitled "exploring options to prevent a child needing to be a Looked After Child". Sub-chapter 3 is "Special Guardianship Order".

I'm really sorry that you feel mislead, but when the SW said that the alternative would be that the child would be put in care, that's what she meant. At that point the child had not been put in care, so was not a "Looked After Child".

That means she does not get the provision of Category 1 admissions criteria.

I think threat your strongest argument would be that the admissions code states that if a mistake is discovered in the information provided by a patent, they should be reassessed using the correct information. No reasonable Authority would fail to reclassify your GDD under criteria of medical/social, so she should have got a place.

katie17892 Tue 20-Aug-13 02:19:05

Unfortunately, despite all our efforts the appeal was not found in our favour. I did put to them that as a mistake had occured her case should have been reassessed using the social/medical criterion and that irrespective of the original classification of LAC being mistaken, her application had had the full support of 2 soc wrkrs and her health visitor, but to no avail.

admission Tue 20-Aug-13 20:11:41

Sorry to hear that the appeal was unsuccessful. Would be interested in knowing exactly what the reasoning of the appeal panel was, as it is one of those cases where practically any answer was possible to come to depending on how the panel viewed the information.
Given that it was an infant class size case, I would presume that the panel looked carefully at whether a mistake was made and came to the conclusion that as you were not LAC that the admission arrangements were correctly applied in this instance. What is not at all clear to me is then what the panel decided as they should have considered your reasoning of being reassessed as social/ medical criteria and also whether the decisions made by the LA were reasonable given the confusion over the LAC issue.
If you could give any more information either here or on a PM to me it would be appreciated as anybody hearing appeals needs to understand how panels come to make decisions in set circumstances.

prh47bridge Tue 20-Aug-13 23:49:26

I would also be interested in knowing the reasoning of the panel. If they haven't said anything about the social/medical criteria or the reasonableness of the LA's decisions you may want to think about referring the case to the LGO.

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