Would someone mind helping me with my appeal?

(23 Posts)
MrsBungle Mon 18-Apr-16 15:32:48

I hope this isn't too long winded (sorry).

My dd is currently in Y2 at an out of catchment school. My ds is due to start school in September this year and he did not get a place at her school.

When my dd started the PAN was 60. Last year this was reduced to 45. There are no mixed year classes in R, Y1 or Y2 so I am hoping that this is not an ICS appeal?

When applying for this school for my dd I had no idea that they would reduce the PAN - there was no transition with this. When applying for my ds I checked the school's brochure which clearly states that out of catchment siblings have a higher priority that other out of catchment children. I, therefore, took that at face value as being correct.

Today, I have been informed by the LA that the standard infant criteria has changed this year and out of catchment siblings have no priority and so my ds is in the same category as all the other out of catchment children with no siblings in school. He is, so far, 7th on the waiting list.

I told the LA that the schools on brochure states clearly that siblings do have a priority but they have said that this is an error and I should have checked the council website - their policy for not giving out of catchment siblings a priority has only changed this year - all other years he would have been prioritised.

The school we have been allocated has no after school club which makes life extremely difficult for me - I know the only local child minder and to be honest I would not send my ds there.

I believe the school can cope with an extra pupil - in fact they have coped fine with a PAN of 60 for many years.

I have asked the LA for net capacity figures but they have said that that information would be in their appeal paperwork and available 10 days before the hearing.

Any advice about what I should say in my appeal?

Thanks for reading.

TeenAndTween Mon 18-Apr-16 15:55:55

45 rather implies it is likely to be an ICS as it looks like they are planning to run mix year group classes for y1&y2. This is the main thing you need to check.

You said 'allocated' was this your second or third choice or a random one? Is there maybe a more preferable (for you) school that still has places?

I don't think the fact the website was out of date wrt siblings makes much difference. You presumably would still have applied there anyway, so the wrong information hasn't affected what you put down on the form, nor your DCs success at getting a place.

I don't really see that you have a case, unless it is not an ICS issue. However, I am in no way an expert, just know stuff from reading here. Someone better will be along in a while.

MrsBungle Mon 18-Apr-16 16:22:33

Thanks tween. They definitely do not have mixed year classes and have no intention to in infants.

tiggytape Mon 18-Apr-16 16:26:42

As Tween says, what you say at appeal and your chances of success are going to be completely reliant on whether this is an ICS appeal or not.

Just because they haven't mixed classes before doesn't mean they aren't planning to mix them in future and an admission number of 45 sounds to me like an obvious number for later mixed classes.
This is called "future prejudice"
It means that the law on class sizes still applies because (as an example) Year R in 2016 has 45 children and so will reception class in 2017.
This totals 90 children who are divided (at some stage) into 3 classes with exactly 30 in each.
Of course they may never mix those classes and may have smaller classes for the whole of KS1 in which case you'd be able to appeal without it being an ICS (infant class size) and as such would have more chance of winning.

TeenAndTween Mon 18-Apr-16 16:28:06

If they really have no intention to, then I think that is strange.

You are saying that in infants they will eventually have 135 children spread over 6 classes, with 22/23 in each.
Whereas they could have them spread over 5 classes with 2 x yR of 22/23, and 3 in total y1/2.
So they have lost funding for 45 children but still pay out for the same number of teachers?

And it can't be because of building work and a classroom being out of action, as then too they would need to amalgamate classes.

I don't understand it. But if you are correct then an appeal would be much easier to win I would think.

MrsBungle Mon 18-Apr-16 17:12:33

They eventually intend to lose one teacher at key stage 2 and have mixed classes there but there is no intention of mixed classes in ks1. I know this for a fact as the ht told me.
Thanks for your help.

tiggytape Mon 18-Apr-16 17:17:42

In that case it won't be an ICS appeal and your chances of winning are much better. That's not to say it's a guarantee but it's no longer near impossible - which is good.

As the appeal is not infant class size it will be a standard appeal where the panel consider whether prejudice (meaning harm or disadvantage) to your child through not being admitted to the school outweighs the prejudice the school will face through being forced to admit another pupil. You should concentrate on anything about the preferred school which shows it best meets your child’s needs or interests. Do not be negative about the allocated school though - you are appealing for one school not against the allocated one. Childcare and transport logistics are rarely helpful at appeal unless they relate to a child’s medical needs eg mobility difficulties for example. You can mention them but they would not form the sole basis for a successful appeal generally since so many people end up with 2 children at 2 schools or schools miles from home and those reasons are about the parent not the child.

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-16 19:59:39

If you still have the school's brochure I would draw the panel's attention to the fact that it carried the wrong admission criteria and you were therefore misled into believing that your son would get priority.

If they really have no intention to, then I think that is strange

My local primary school is exactly the same - PAN 50 with 2 classes in each year for KS1. When we were appealing for a place for my youngest the LA argued that it was an ICS appeal on the basis that the school would have to get rid of one of the KS1 classes and have 5 classes of 30. The appeal panel accepted this argument but the LGO overturned their decision on the basis that the school had not decided to reduce the number of classes at the time of the hearing and an ICS case should deal with facts, not speculation about what might happen in some circumstances. My youngest is now in Y7. The school still has a PAN of 50 with 2 classes in each year for KS1.

MrsBungle Mon 18-Apr-16 20:33:27

Thank you prh I've copied the school brochure from their website today. Since I mentioned it to the head it has been taken down so I'm glad I have a copy.

thanks also for the info about the PAN.

admission Mon 18-Apr-16 22:04:01

Mrs Bungle, any appeal is going to depend greatly on what exactly the LA have done in the past and what they are doing now. There seems no logic to a school that used to have a PAN of 60 and has now been reduced to 45, given the number of pupils without schools etc.
I suspect and you need to try and confirm this, that what actually has happened is that the school had some spare classroom capacity and as such for a couple of years has admitted more than the PAN. That is perfectly legitimate and now the school does not have anymore spare classrooms and is going back down to a PAN of 45. The difficulty of that belief is that it then clashes with the understanding that all the KS1 classes will only have 22/23 in them. The logical classroom makeup is 2 classes of 22/23 in reception and then 3 classes of 30 in year 1 and year 2, so a possible explanation is that the classrooms are small and not capable of holding 30.
You seem to be on good talking terms with the head teacher, so ask them whether the KS1 classrooms can take 30 pupils and also try and get exact numbers in the current ks1 classes.
We can then at least work out whether this is an infant class size case or not.

MrsBungle Tue 19-Apr-16 21:46:42

Hi admission. Thanks for this. I've asked for the net capacity of the school, the number on roll and numbers in each class as well as the square metre size of classrooms. I am actually work with the head in a professional capacity and know them well. I don't want to put myself but the school has gone through some issues and the previous head expanded the school a lot - which included increasing the PAN to 60 and building new classrooms. The school has coped fine with the 60 PAN for many years but school hall is crowded at lunch time although not unsafe. The current head wanted to make the school more comfortable and by bringing the PAN down for local children (quite a large percentage are out of catchment children) because the school had the size they were always the school that would be the mandatory offer. The current head wanted to change that and that is the reason for the change in PAN. They definitely have no intention of mixed classes in ks1 and I know they lost some appeals last year. Hope this explains it as I know it appears strange. The PAN has been 45 for 2 years now and no mixed classes in ks1 in that time and no intention to either according to the head.

MrsBungle Tue 19-Apr-16 21:47:34

Apologies for typos!

admission Tue 19-Apr-16 22:16:23

That is a slightly strange situation. So the first thing you need to know is the net capacity of the school because that divided by the number of classrooms (that are delegated as classrooms) then this will give you the average number of pupils that each classroom can realistically can be accommodated. I assume that they have changed some of the classrooms into things like PPA room and welfare room so they are not counted.
There is no way if the school are operating 2 classes per year group that this can be an infant class size appeal. More importantly for you, I can't in all honesty if the classrooms are of average size, see how the school can possibly defend an appeal until they have 30 in each class. Well lets put it like this, certainly in our part of the country that would be the situation, though anything is possible in other parts of the country.

MrsBungle Tue 19-Apr-16 22:23:50

I really hope our area is the same as yours then admission. Thanks for your help. I'm awaiting the information and hopefully that will add up to our advantage too. Do you mind if I ask another question? I've never done this before. How should I structure the information I send in? I want to give a copy of the school brochure showing the wrong criteria for admissions - do I literally do a word document setting out my case under headings like a mini report with appendices? Or is that off-putting and I should just bullet point?

MrsBungle Tue 19-Apr-16 22:25:36

Sorry one more thing! In the actual appeal hearing, I understand it will be a panel of 3 independent people. Can I ask who else is normally there? Is it an LA representative presenting th case as to why we should not have a place or the head or both? Thanks again, your help is invaluable.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Apr-16 22:35:47

How should I structure the information I send in

It is entirely up to you. Some people go for brief bullet points. Others set out their case in great detail. There is no right way to do it. But remember that the panel have to read your written submission. They won't thank you if they have to read War and Peace! Remember also that you will be able to present your case at the hearing. The panel don't want to hear you simply reading your written case.

Can I ask who else is normally there

There will be a clerk who deals with the arrangements and keeps a record of proceedings. There will be someone presenting the case to refuse admission. This could be the LA or it could be someone from the school. If it is a community school it would normally be someone from the LA. If it is some other type of the school it is likely to be someone from the school but that may not be the head. If the LA is presenting the case they will usually be on their own but they may ask the head to attend and answer questions.

MrsBungle Tue 19-Apr-16 22:54:47

Thank you prh
This is a community school - will the LA representative grill me? grin
Will they have a standard response to the appeal or will they go through my statement and pick holes in it? I'm worried they will baffle me with legal precedents or such like that I don't have an answer to on the hoof!

prh47bridge Tue 19-Apr-16 23:58:18

will the LA representative grill me

They will probably ask you some questions but it shouldn't be aggressive.

Will they have a standard response to the appeal or will they go through my statement and pick holes in it

Their case is likely to be pretty standard. It is likely to be the same case they wheel out for everyone else appealing for this school with just a little bit of customisation where appropriate. It is unlikely they will pick holes in your case when setting out their case. They will, however, use their questions to explore any possible weaknesses.

I'm worried they will baffle me with legal precedents or such like that I don't have an answer to on the hoof

Don't worry about that. School admission appeals don't set precedents and there is very little in the way of case law that they can wheel out (and what there is would mostly be in your favour). They shouldn't be trying to trip you up. Their job is simply to make the case that the school can't take any more pupils and to challenge your case. I (and others) will be happy to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case and, when you get a copy, any weaknesses worth pursuing in their case.

MrsBungle Wed 20-Apr-16 00:02:32

Thanks prh that's such a marvellous help. smile

admission Wed 20-Apr-16 19:20:39

I know it is easy for me to say this, when i am not the person appealing but one of the people sitting on the panel but the vast majority of appeals are held giving the appellant every possible chance to say what they have to say. You need to try and keep calm and answer the questions asked to the best of your ability. Just like a job interview, answer the question and then shut up. If the panel want to know more then they will ask. If you start going on about something you think might be relevant but not specific to the question asked, then you might damage your case more than help it.
Believe me i have a large box of man-size tissues and they get used frequently, so do not worry if you do get upset, we are as human as you are.

MrsBungle Wed 20-Apr-16 22:01:58

Thank you admission. In my job I sit on very different types of panels but I'm hoping it will at least be semi-familiar in structure if not content. are you able to tell me what kinds of things they ask about? Is it general stuff related to my child? He is currently in 2 different child care settings at the moment and both are writing a letter for me to include to say that they feel it could impact his emotional development adversely by going to a different school to our first preference and stating a couple of reasons as to why, is this likely to be helpful? He doesn't have any diagnosed medical conditions but is a noticeably shy, unconfident child who finds new situations quite difficult to deal with which to be fair I'm sure lots of 3 year olds do.

prh47bridge Wed 20-Apr-16 23:57:16

What appeal panels ask varies hugely from case to case and panel to panel. They will want to clarify any areas of your case that are unclear to them. They may also want to test the strength of your case. It really is impossible to predict, I'm afraid.

Letters from his childcare settings could help provided it is clear they are giving their professional opinions, not simply echoing your views.

MrsBungle Thu 21-Apr-16 00:12:55

Thank you again prh

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