Year 3 entry appeal

(43 Posts)
didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 18:14:31

We have just moved into the area and found out yesterday that we were unsuccessful in getting a year 3 place at school A when school B rang me to invite me in on Tuesday next week to do the paperwork.

We are naturally disappointed as school A had had places in July when we visited and when DD spent a day there settling in.

The reason for not getting a place is that there are too many year 3 children already (15) and they are going to have a mixed year 3/4/5 class with 33 kids which they don't want to make larger. There's one class with year 5/6, whose size I don't know, along with two classes with reception, year 1 and year 2.

Is there really a limit for KS2 on how many year 3 kids in a class ? Isn't it just they don't want to have more children in the year 5/6 class ?

Bottom line: is there any grounds for appeal ? The reason just doesn't add up quite to me. We are in the catchment for A as far as I can tell from the web site.

Thanks

MirandaWest Thu 29-Aug-13 18:19:47

There are no limits for KS2 in the way there are for KS1. My DS was in a year 3 class of 35. Schools are limited by the actual size of classroom (ie they couldn't have 100 children in the class) but that is all.

I'm not sure about the wording of the sort of appeal you could make but hopefully someone who knows more will see this.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 18:45:40

MirandaWest thanks - that's what I thought but then I thought there must be more to it otherwise they have nothing to use against our appeal surely ?

Helpfully the appeals hotline is on holiday, back at the beginning of term.

My biggest issue right now is that school A has after school care. School B had 410 children and after school club for 26. Because only 26 children have parents that work I presume... I wish childcare was better in this country !

ClayDavis Thu 29-Aug-13 18:54:47

Whilst there isn't a legal class size limit in KS2 like in KS1 each school will have a set PAN. What is the PAN in school A? Is it 15? If it is then they are technically 'full' in year 3 and don't have spaces. The lack of class size legislation will just mean that your appeal is on the balance of prejudice rather than an infant class size appeal.

I'm not sure how much chance you'd have at appeal if the class size is already at 33 though.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 19:11:09

ClayDavis - that makes more sense. I presume the PAN is something that will be reported on a website somewhere.

Thanks !

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 20:08:51

The PAN is 17 according to the document I read....

lougle Thu 29-Aug-13 20:55:48

If the PAN is 17, they have to admit up to 17. They can't stop at 15 because they feel like it.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 21:50:53

lougle the pessimist in me says I've got something wrong.

If it's as simple (?) as them (who ever "they" are) having not kept to the PAN, having to go through an appeal process (which takes a month) seems a little bit like overkill. I'm unclear as to whether the application will have been turned down by the county or by the headmistress - ie is there any merit in ringing the school next week and checking that I've got my facts straight before putting in the appeal (if it's a county's decision).

nennypops Thu 29-Aug-13 22:07:50

It seems odd that they had places in July but don't any longer. Surely if you applied in July and they had a vacancy they should have offered the place there and then?

admission Thu 29-Aug-13 22:08:17

You absolutely need to establish the facts here before you do anything else.
If the PAN is 15 and they have 15 in the year group then the school can decide not to admit and you would have to go to appeal. If however the PAN is 17 and they only have 15 in the year group, then they have to admit. The fact that there are 33 in the class already is not a relevant fact in these circumstances of a year 3 admission to a year 3/4/5 class.
As of Monday it is for the school to make the admission decision, so I would get down to the school and ask for the absolute situation on pupil numbers in years 3, 4 and 5, how many are in the class and what the PAN is for the school.
I have to say that 17 is a peculiar number for a PAN and 15 is much more sensible. In your circumstances, if the PAN is 15, you have absolutely nothing to loose by appealing and trying to convince an appeal panel on the prejudice to you child to admit to the school. You will need to make a decision on the other school though if the PAN is 15 and I think you need to accept the place as places in other schools may not be available.

admission Thu 29-Aug-13 22:09:40

Sorry forgot to say, if you want to PM me the school name and LA, I can check for you exactly what the PAN is for the school, so you at least know that before Monday.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 22:42:55

nennypop unfortunately we applied for the school place after the end of term as we needed to have exchanged on our house purchase in order to fill in the form. Applications during the holidays are processed by the county but they then need to make contact with the school who are on holiday until next Tuesday. And if other children moved into the catchment over the summer holidays with a higher score on the ranking scale, they would have an advantage over us. So we understood that until our application was processed there would be no guarantee of a place. But yes we believed there was room for another 3 children in the year group as of the end of the summer term.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 22:44:05

admission I've taken you up on your kind offer, bless you.

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 22:49:45

And yes, and we will be accepting the place in school B in the meantime as the appeal process (if we have grounds) is 30 school days leading up to the appeal, the appeal meeting itself and then 5 school days for the decision - which probably takes us to half term.

clam Thu 29-Aug-13 22:54:02

How come your child had a day settling in in July though? Might you be able to claim in any appeal that that gave rise to an expectation of a place being given?
Mind you, I have to say that I would not want my child in a class of 34; nor would I want to teach that many - especially a composite group. Are you sure you wouldn't be better off in the school you've been given?

didireallysaythat Thu 29-Aug-13 23:11:02

We asked for and were given a visit day before the end of term.

I'm sure school B will be fine but its >400 children while school A is a little over 100 which is the same size as we are moving from. Mixed year groups must be hard to teach but that's what DD is used to. I don't know what size class school B will be (2 x 30+ I guess). I admit that 3 years in one class sounds sub optimal (!) but we believe that year 5 is the large year so they will be having an extra separate class just in the mornings, but back all together in the afternoon. There are a lot of support staff as you'd expect with mixed year groups I think.

We definitely had expectations but I don't think the school egged us on here as they were clear that we had to apply for a place and they couldn't commit to anything until the result was known. Which is part of why I don't get if this is a school decision (which would make me feel a tad miffed) or a county decision.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Aug-13 00:04:36

If the school is a VA school, academy or free school decisions on admissions are taken by the governors. If it is a community school or VC school the LA makes the decisions. Either way it is nothing personal. If they have a place available they must offer it. If no places are available they cannot in general offer a place unless the parents win an appeal.

ClayDavis Fri 30-Aug-13 01:44:02

Sorry. Ignore what I said about the appeal and the 33 in the class. I saw the 15 in your OP and wrongly assumed that would be what the PAN would be as it's one of the standard PANs for village primaries round here. 17 is unusual but, as others have said, puts you in a completely different position.

didireallysaythat Fri 30-Aug-13 07:31:52

Thank you all for your input. I am more knowledgeable now which can't be a bad thing.

We will try and make contact with the school today to get conformation that year 3 currently has 15 in it and that the PAN is 17.

The one remaining question I have is: if they confirm the numbers are as we think, is the appeal process still absolutely bound to have to happen, or can the appeal be bypassed ?

DH is understandably reluctant for DD to start a new school only for us to move him again in a couple of months time. I don't think that DD is old enough to have the final decision here (7 year old are swayed by size of football pitches etc).

lougle Fri 30-Aug-13 07:40:40

If the PAN is 17 then you need to contact the LA and say that as the school has a place, you must be given it (presuming that you are also top of the waiting list).

If it fits go to appeal, you will win because the school has to show they are full, which they can't do if they are under PAN.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Aug-13 10:35:09

Technically PAN only applies in the normal year of entry, i.e. Reception. However there is an expectation that the year group will retain the same PAN as it moves through the school. If the PAN is 17, Y3 only has 15 and they refuse to offer a place your only option is to appeal, I'm afraid, but as Lougle says you would have a very good chance of winning.

lougle Fri 30-Aug-13 10:54:26

That's interesting, prh47bridge. When I was observing appeals, the LA's case always referred back to the original PAN as a basis of their case that the school was full. i.e. "In the year of admission (2009) the current Year 10's PAN was X. The year group still has X pupils, therefore the year group is full..."

Are you saying that the expectation that the year group retains the same PAN as it moves through the school is not a requirement?

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Aug-13 11:30:25

In my practical experience, in schools with mixed-year classes 9and a limnited number of classrooms) two things seem to be taken into account:

- Number of children in each year group AND
- Total number of children in the school, and to an extent how they are distibuted in mixed age classes.

So my old school (mixed age classes, PAN of 20) some year groups had admitted over PAN - highly mobile population, especially Travellers, who sought us out as 'their school', very high number of children being admitted at points other than reception. Other groups were at or slightly under PAN. As long as the total number of children was under the total capacity, because we could to an extent flex the mixing of classes, children tended to be admitted even if it took some year groups over PAN. Where it was starting to cause a problem was when even more children applied, and applied in year groups where we were under PAN BUT the 'slack' had been taken up through children over PAN from a neighbouring year group, taking classes over 30 (for Reception - Y2) and over the safe capacity of some seriously tiny classrooms in KS2.

The school that you are applying to may have a similar issue, in that they may have no space to split the mixed year class down further because the neighbouring year classes are absolutely full, even if the PAN is technically not being exceeded (the fact that y5 is being split between two classes suggests that this might be the case if e.g. the Y6 group is very large) It will be harder to argue balance of prejudice in that case than it would be e.g. if the Y5/6 class is quite small and more Y5 pupils could easily be accommodated there, freeing up space for admitting Y3 up to PAN.

17, btw, is a really odd number. You need to find out about the Y5 / Y6 class and how / why Y5 is split
e.g. 17 Y6 + 13 Y5 = Y5/6 class of 30
4 Y5 + 15 Y4 + 15 Y3 = Y3/4/5 class of 34

However it may be:
15 Y6 + 10 Y5
5 Y5 + 14 Y4 + 15 Y3

in which case there would be scope to move more Y5s into the Y6 classroom IYSWIM.

As a teacher and a parent, btw (and i have mostly taught in mixed year classes), I would say that such a highly mixed class is NOT great, especially if it is big, and you may well be better off in the larger school anyway, particularly if your child is of an ability away from the average. A 2 year mix is hard, but possible, though it needs better teaching than an equivalent single year year group to enable all children to make maximum progress. A 3 year mix is VERY hard, as even if the Y5s are split on ability, they have different needs (and if they are split on ability, those Y5s may in fact need more help and so may be even harder to teach in a very mixed age class.

DS (ASD traits, history of selective mutism) moved from a small school to a BIG school at the end of Y1. Best thing we ever did for him.

Have they ever operated with more classes?

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Aug-13 11:35:09

I appreciate, btw, that my experience is practical and not 'expert' in the sense that prh is an expert. But that was how it seemed to operate in practice - that PAN was relevant, but not the only consideration, when admitting further children (one famous Monday we admitted 5 new children who simply turned up on the doorstep, and we seldom had a fortnight without an admission or departure, often of multiple siblings). Total capacity of the school and the classrooms was also taken into account, and these took opportunities for alternative mixed-year class arrangements into account.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Aug-13 13:15:30

The old Admissions Code used to say more about this than the current version. Paragraph 1.24 of the 2010 code said, "Although there is an expectation that this admission number will continue to be applied as that year group progresses through school, it is permissible to refuse admission to it if circumstances have changed since it was a ‘relevant age group’ and admission of an additional child would ‘prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources’." That remains the legal position under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 even though the current Admissions Code doesn't include this paragraph.

If the school wishes to argue that the PAN set in Reception does not apply to Y3 they would need to justify that to the appeal panel by showing that there had been some change of circumstances. That could be other years having gone over PAN as teacherwith2kids describes, particularly if there are mixed age classes so admitting up to PAN would result in a very large class.

In most appeals that isn't an issue. The school simply assumes it will have to admit up to PAN. And most appeal panels will take a lot of persuading that circumstances have changed sufficiently to justify refusing to admit a child to a year that is below PAN.

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