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

ModeratelyObvious Wed 04-Sep-13 20:07:01

Good luck didi

didireallysaythat Wed 04-Sep-13 18:56:21

Another update (if you're still following)

We put the appeal in today.
Day one at school B was of course fine for DS (and awful for me but that's not the point).
The taxi from school B to school A's after school looks like the only after school option but relies on the taxi company answering the phone...

didireallysaythat Mon 02-Sep-13 23:24:40

Dear all

Quick update: the appeals help desk reopened today and the woman manning the phone was very useful. She essentially echoed the combined comments above, and was puzzled by the PAN. She is going to get back to us tomorrow on this.

She particularly liked the submit short, supplement later approach.

Meanwhile back in RL, we get to see school B in person tomorrow, and hopefully find out if its the blue or white polo shirts I'll be returning to the store because they're not part of the uniform...

Fuzzymum1 Mon 02-Sep-13 12:37:28

17 is a very normal PAN for a village school with 4 classes - 4 classes of 30 children is 120 children - 120 spread over 7 year groups is around 17.1 so makes sense to me.

didireallysaythat Sun 01-Sep-13 23:00:16

All - continued thanks for your comments and suggestions. A quick google reveals that the PAN number has been 17 at least back as far as 2007. I think we will put in an appeal on this basis and then get all the facts and numbers about the class sizes in the interim, in order that we can counter this part of the reason not to get the place should it come to that in the appeal itself. We will go back to the head teacher and get the classes and year group sizes, and for how many hours a week the class is big (and presumably what activity they will be doing for this - feels like it's more like to be sport than literacy) so that we can see the full picture, but given that school starts on Wednesday, it seems reasonable to get the appeal in, start the clock ticking and then gather more facts once the mayhem of the beginning of the term has passed.

admission Sun 01-Sep-13 21:44:55

In the initial appeal document I would try and keep it as simple as possible. The reason for the appeal is that the year group in question is not up to the PAN and therefore son should be admitted as per the School Admission Code. That question will be handled in part 1 of the appeal where the school representative, which will be from the LA, makes the case why they will not admit the child. In part 2 of the case it is your opportunity to state why school A is the correct school for your child. So in the initial appeal document you also need to state some of these arguments.
Get the appeal document in as soon as possible but state on it that you will be expanding on the reasons for the appeal nearer to the date of the appeal. This gives you a bit more time to build as good a case as possible for part 2 of the appeal. Be careful though that you get the information to the clerk of the appeal panel at least 7 days before the appeal, so that the further information can go to the appeal panel and the school's representative.
It is difficult to advise much more on how to win at part 1 at present other than stating the obvious that you are not full, I want the place. However the panel has to both decide whether the correct legal process has been followed (we don't think so) but also whether the admission of one further pupil to the year group would prejudice the effective education of all the other pupils in the year group. This is in effect when the panel will be considering whether adding a 34th pupil to the class would be an issue, assuming that they come to decision that the correct legal process has been carried out. The panel is not allowed to take into consideration what alternate classroom organisation may be possible, so they cannot decide that if head teacher just moved some more year 5 children into the year 5/6 class, so we can admit.They can only take into consideration whether a further child into the class, making it 34 would be a problem for the school.
Much depends on exactly what the school's appeal document says when it comes to you before the appeal date as to how to effectively counter the school's case at the actual appeal hearing.

prh47bridge Sat 31-Aug-13 08:44:22

At the hearing there will be yourself, a representative of the LA to present the case to refuse admission, the panel and the clerk. The head may also be there if either you or the LA request her presence to answer questions.

The panel is independent. They are appointed and trained by the LA but are required to act independently. Most LAs use external bodies to train their appeal panels. If the appeal panel do not interpret PAN correctly the LGO will intervene.

Regarding your outline case, I wouldn't include anything about school B. You are appealing for school A, not against school B. It is ok to explain why school A is right for DS by saying it has X which school B doesn't but that is as far as you should go in discussing school B.

PAN, year group sizes and classroom arrangements should all be covered by the LA's case to refuse admission. If I were writing your case all I would say is that PAN is 17 but there are only 15 children in Y3 therefore your son should be admitted and leave it at that.

You are correct that friendships, convenience for you, after school provision, etc. are not things that the appeal panel can consider.

didireallysaythat Sat 31-Aug-13 07:25:56

Silly question perhaps: what is the makeup of the appeal ? There's us, someone from the LA I presume and then the panel who make the decision ? The panel aren't associated with the LA ? I'm trying to work out if the unusual interpretation of PAN will be held by the panel as well.

I will be taking up all your offers of reviewing our appeal. I would favour a succinct paragraph or two to include

1. Why the school A is right for DS (this is the reason to appeal)
2. Why school B isn't ? (less confident on this)
3. PAN and year group sizes
4. The class room arrangements for year 3,4,5 during the week, including class sizes.

I presume points like already children in school A won't add (the appeal will be in 6 weeks so DS will have friends in school B by then), convenience for me and my work (A on way to work, B opposite direction), after school provision have no part of the process.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Aug-13 23:08:59

You can ask the admission authority (the LA if it is a community or VC school, the school itself if it is an academy or VA school) anything you want within reason to help you prepare for your appeal and they must answer your question.

By the way I agree with Admission that the LA's interpretation of PAN goes beyond both the legal position and the statement in the 2010 Admissions Code that I reproduced above. How the school chooses to organise its classes is never a good enough reason to refuse to admit up to PAN. If every year had 17 in Reception and they all stayed with the school until Y6 the school would have to cope.

The PAN issue is not the LA's decision. There is a very good chance that an appeal panel will decide in your favour simply because they are below PAN in Y3. As I said before, I would definitely include that.

I wouldn't trust the DfE to give the right answer on PAN, by the way. I hope they would get it right but I've come across a number of cases where they have given incorrect advice. The information I have given comes from the relevant legislation - the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. That takes precedence over anything the DfE or the LA might think.

I wouldn't raise the catchment issue in your appeal. If the school don't mention it in their case I would raise it as a question in the hearing - would my son have been admitted if we lived in catchment. If they say yes a properly trained appeal panel will have no choice but to admit your son.

By the way I'm happy to be contacted via PM if you want any advice on matters you don't want to post publicly.

ClayDavis Fri 30-Aug-13 22:54:14

You can ask the LA or school for that information for your appeal and AFAIK they have to give it to you. Refusing to let you have it is unlikely to go down well with an appeal panel. I think I'd want to know how the KS2 classes are organised for the rest of the time other than those two afternoons. I'd also be tempted to send an e-mail to the head confirming the content of the phone conversation that you had.

didireallysaythat Fri 30-Aug-13 21:41:45

All thank you so much for your continued input. admission I believe that the headmistress was probably hinting along these lines. Alas we dont have her reasoning in writing. I hope to have a clearer head (yes, DD is actually DS - shows you how out of kilter I am!) this weekend and to be able to put down a coherent list of reasons for our appeal. I have to admit that I've found the LA to have a different interpretation of PAN to others I've found on the internet, but I accept that, with the exception of mn, you shouldn't believe all you read on the internet so I want to find the department of educations definition. If the LA doesn't budge on the PAN issue, I'm not sure the in/out of catchment comes into it. I can find out the classroom arrangements but getting an absolute headcount for years 4 and 5 maybe more of a challenge - unless I can directly ask the school or LA for this information ?

admission Fri 30-Aug-13 20:49:47

Can I confirm that the PAN is definitely 17 and has been for at least 2 years, OP having told me where the school is.
I think that the LA have a very different version of what the PAN means in other year groups other than reception than most other LAs and would love to hear what the Ombudsman would say about that. What is the point of a PAN if they do not apply it in all years? OP can I just say that knowing which LA it is and knowing that they do have some quite "unique" ideas, I would appeal, you do have nothing to loose.
I am with PRH here that what the head has said is unacceptable. It does not matter whether you are in catchment or not, if there is a place then you can ask for it and expect to get it. Whilst I can accept the school saying we have a very full class we do not want to admit, my experience is that the only time this argument can succeed at appeal is in a situation where it is an infant class appeal and the numbers would mean breaching the infant class size regs.

lougle Fri 30-Aug-13 20:04:39

Absolutely. If the school could cope with your DS if he was in-catchment, why is it that they can't because he is out of catchment?

teacherwith2kids Fri 30-Aug-13 19:45:29

I had assumed that the class mix was a 'full time' thing when I posted above. If it's only for 2 afternoons a week that the class is so large, then that completely changes things.

It means that the 'normal' class size is much less than this, and that they have accommodation available to split the classes in a different way but are choosing not to do so for 2 afternoons a week (I suspect that they have 3 KS2 classes normally, and combine these into 2 for 2 afternoons).

Why is the class mixed that way on 2 afternoons, and only 2 afternoons? I suspect that it may be due to 'PPA time' - non contact time for each class teacher - and many small schools cope with this perfectly well without having to 're-mix' classes (e.g. external providers for sport or music, or even at a push an HLTA delivering a lesson prepared by the class teacher)

An argument for non-admittance based on the size of the class on just 2 afternoons really doesn't fly (and as prh says, the catchment area is not relevant - my understanding is that if they have a place, and you want it, and there is no-one with a better claim to it than you have, they have to give it to you (I obtained a Y1 place for DS when we lived over 30 miles away). I would probe very carefully into the class arrangement for the remaining 4/5ths of the time, and make certain that is given prominence in your appeal.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Aug-13 18:43:38

The head's argument for refusing to admit doesn't fly. If she uses that at the appeal I would expect you to win. If there were other applicants who were in catchment they could legitimately give any places to them instead of you. However, as you are the only applicant they cannot refuse to admit simply because you are out of catchment.

The appeal panel will have to decide whether the problems the school will face through having to admit an additional pupil outweigh the problems your son will face through not being admitted. Your case for appeal therefore needs to talk about the reasons this is the right school for your son. Look for anything this school has that is missing from the other school and which would be of particular benefit to him. For example, would he benefit from being at a smaller school?

You can still put forward the argument that PAN is 17 and they are refusing entry despite Y3 being below PAN. It will then be up to the school to convince the panel that they are justified in refusing entry. If Y4 and Y5 are at or below PAN I think the school will struggle.

Overall I think this is a very winnable appeal.

(I've assumed your child is a boy, by the way. Your last post is inconsistent referring to DD (=dear daughter) but then referring to "him". If your child is a boy the Mumsnet convention is to refer to him as DS)

didireallysaythat Fri 30-Aug-13 17:06:08

Ok. Here's a quick update.

From the LA
The Published Admission Number applies to the first year of intake i.e. the reception year group and the school must admit up to that number. However for other year groups it is guide and will depend on how the school is organising and what children they already have in the school and therefore they do not have to admit up to PAN in other year groups.

So that doesn't sounds too promising.

DH spoke to the headmistress however who had spoken to the LA today about our application. I should mention now that we are out of catchment although in past years we would have been in catchment.

I asked about the reasons for the rejection and she explained that the limit is the class size when they amalgamate years 3, 4 and 5 for two afternoons a week. She said that the limit for the class size is supposed to be 32 but they hit 33 on those occasions. She said that had we been in catchment, there would have been no question and we'd have got a place anyway, but because we're outside, the admissions people have decided that the class size is already too large, even though there's still essentially a place in year 3.

The HT wasn't anti appeal (but obviously she can't express an opinion) so I think we will try as we have nothing to lose. However the PAN argument seems to have fallen away and we are out of catchment so I'm starting to struggle to see on what grounds we could apply. I'd welcome any thoughts on this.

In the meantime, I'm seeing if Amazon can get a navy sweater to me by next Wednesday, I've bought a week's holiday from school which I'll spread over two-three weeks so I can leave early to pick up.

The bigger school (school B) definitely has some merits. DD is fairly bright (3C at the end of year two) and I think could definitely benefit from a class room in which a two (or three) year age group is not being taught. The Ofsted for school B suggests that children are not stretched, but I'm not a fan of the reports so I'm not too bothered.

So a turbulent week lies ahead but it would appear that I'm the one that's the most upset. DD is taken it in his stride. When I told him he'd be in a year of 60 rather than 15, he said "Great, more friends!"

didireallysaythat Fri 30-Aug-13 14:10:48

The school B out of school takes 26, had 6 on the waiting list for most days. The person I spoke to I was very unlikely to get a place this academic year. I guess their head count is limited by space otherwise they could expand... But I don't have the energy to fit this one too. The current plan is to shift my hours to start at 6am for the first month and hope I find something else. Or taxi to school A after school which takes up to 30 and where we have a place.

I will read the other comments properly in a while - got to pick up from football camp now....

mummytime Fri 30-Aug-13 13:32:50

In my opinion school B sounds better (bigger schools have more money, better friendship groups and more resources). Also I would ask about room in the out of school care, my DC's primary doesn't have a maximium number as such, but porbably only has about 20-30 children on any one day (school size 390 ish) because parents make all kinds of other arrangements after school (grandparents, CMs, shared care, part time working, au pairs etc.).

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.

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.

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?

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?

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 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.

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).

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