I'm going to appeal. Tell me EVERYTHING I need to know

(25 Posts)
ShowOfHands Wed 20-Apr-16 11:09:54

I've started another thread (sorry) because there was quite a lot of identifying information in the last one and I was in a bit of a state.

I'm planning my appeal from now and starting afresh.

What will help? Are there good books to read? Anywhere online you recommend? Is it worth paying an Education Consultant who specialises in appeals to help us? Our local one has a good success rate and offers a free initial consultation.

It's an ICS appeal and we have exceptional reasons why our child should attend the school. These are not medical reasons but social.

I am in battle mode now and want to read, prep etc.

Is it better to go just with the exceptional reasons angle? I can argue that it's not only unreasonable but an actual risk for our child to be placed in a catchment school. Should I stick with that? Do I also mention that his older sister has been settled in that school for 5 years now and we're part of the school community? It is relevant because we would have to withdraw her too as we can't have two children in two different places AND it's important that both children are out of catchment. Do I mention that? I know they aren't interested in transport and childcare issues and all that jazz but do they care that the decision also impacts a year 5 child who would be forced to move? I don't know how much to include. I don't want to muddy the waters.

It's a VA school too. I understand that makes a slight different to who will be on the appeals panel. Is that right?

Arkwright Wed 20-Apr-16 11:35:09

The Ben Rooney book on school appeals is very good. I used it for my secondary appeal. I have heard that a lot of appeals panels don't look favourably on education consultants/solicitors working on your behalf.

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 11:37:57

As you don't want any identifying information here, I will be vague where necessary but the position is basically that this is an ICS appeal and as such the things the appeal panel will consider when deciding whether the law on class sizes can be breached are very narrow.
Basically:
1. an admissions mistake that directly deprived your child of a place that should have been theirs. This does not apply. Whether or not you submitted evidence of social needs at the time is irrelevant because the school choose not to have a special social and medical criteria Therefore they have done nothing wrong by not considering your special circumstances.

2. Admissions criteria that were illegal in how they selected children for places. This does not apply. The school uses lawful and fairly usual criteria.

3. A decision that is so unreasonable that no person faced with the same set of facts could defend letting that decision stand. This it the category you would be looking at. It means that all agree the admissions procedure is lawful and has been implemented correctly but, despite this, it has thrown up a result which is so unreasonable that it cannot be accepted. As you say yourself, one example of this would be where a child would be placed in potential harm as a result.

It does not cover things like having to cut down your working hours because the school run will be so awful or having to remove another child from their school. Those things are unreasonable to a parent but are things many people face with 2 children at different schools and would not add any weight. Even where people have produced evidence that the school run would make them late and lose their job, they have not been considered in this category because the standard set to prove "unreasonable" is so high.

The appeal panel will be an independent group of people no matter what type of school it is. The fact the school is VA however means it may not be the council or the LA who make the case for the other side. It may be someone from the school that represents the school's side of the argument that the classes are full and it is not feasible to take an extra child.

Finally, appeals are designed that parents do not need representation. There are no special tricks that you can pay an expert to employ. The whole thing hinges on whether the panel agree that your allocation is so unreasonable that it cannot possibly be left as it is so you are the best person to explain that really.

eddiemairswife Wed 20-Apr-16 11:51:55

Remember, for the decision to have been unreasonable the admission authority must have had all the relevant information at the time of application. They cannot be said to have been unreasonable, if new information is presented at the appeal, unless there has been a change in circumstances.

PanelChair Wed 20-Apr-16 11:54:55

I've always heard good things about the Ben Rooney book (I've never read it) but quite recently on here someone mentioned something (frankly, pointless and possibly counterproductive) that they were planning to do in their own appeal and apparently this daft suggestion had come from the book. So, if that's the case, I'm now less sure.

I've been reading all the recent threads but can't remember what (if anything) you said about precisely why you want your child to be at an out of catchment school. I'm guessing, from what you say here, that it's some sort of safeguarding issue. If that's so, I think you need to major on the "decision so unreasonable that it is perverse and should be overturned" ground for allowing an ICS appeal.

Did you mention these safeguarding issues when you applied? If the school ignored significant information about safeguarding, you will be in a stronger position than if you are raising it for the first time now. (This sometimes happens because people are so confident that they'll get a place anyway that they don't mention relevant information about safeguarding). Strictly speaking, the school can't be criticised if it wasn't aware of the safeguarding issues, but I think any panel will be receptive to the argument that not giving the child a place might put them at risk (although they might want to know whether there's any other out of catchment school that might meet the same need). That's not to say that they will necessarily allow the appeal, because the ICS rules are so tight, but it does seem to me that you might have a stronger case than most.

By all means mention your wish for both children to be at the same school, but that's never a compelling argument in an ICS appeal (as, sadly, all the current threads about siblings at different schools demonstrate).

PanelChair Wed 20-Apr-16 11:57:53

Ah, Tiggy and Eddie have already said much of what I wanted to say, while I was typing my screed!

prh47bridge Wed 20-Apr-16 14:41:41

Agree with the advice above.

As PanelChair says, if the school didn't know about the safeguarding issues when deciding your application they couldn't take them into account so strictly speaking their decision to refuse admission is not unreasonable. However, if you can show genuine safeguarding issues which, if your original thread is the one I think it was, you can many appeal panels will take the view that, even though you didn't raise these issues at the time of application, it is unreasonable to place the child's safety at risk and therefore the appeal should succeed. There is no guarantee but you have a decent chance of success in my view.

I would also be very cautious of paying people to assist your appeal. Some other posters who sit on appeal panels have had bad experiences of dealing with such "experts". One of them (Admission I think) told recently of an appeal involving one such "expert" who lost but who continues to claim on his website that he has never lost an appeal. I have done my best to help a number of parents who have lost appeals after being given very poor advice, in some cases destroying potentially winnable cases.

As for somewhere online to recommend, stick with Mumsnet. You will get the best advice available from the experts here completely free of charge.

admission Wed 20-Apr-16 18:59:11

Yes it was me, who has one of the so-called experts helping a parent and they were useless. They, like many lawyers who are not education experts, did not seem to understand what is and is not necessary in appeal cases. It is not the situation that you only have to bring in reasonable doubt to win the case but it is on the balance of probability that panels work. So when the expert spends ten minutes labouring a very minor point, actually whilst it might look good to the parent, it actually is having zero effect on the outcome of the case.
Really from what has been said already, your case assumes that you submitted evidence that would allow you to be in the medical and social category. So assuming it was submitted, why did the admission authority not accept your request (which it is allowed to do with appropriate reasons),is the first question and secondly did they not inform you of this before the cut off date so that you could at the very least argue your case with them.

tiggytape Wed 20-Apr-16 19:01:56

I don't think there is any social and medical criteria for this school admission.

ShowOfHands Wed 20-Apr-16 19:53:30

There was no social or medical criteria.

We did not mention the safeguarding issues at application stage because we assumed with sibling priority we would get in. Our mistake. Because they don't have a med/soc category as part of their criteria, we assumed that we could only be considered or ranked according to existing categories. Social reasons simply didn't form part of the admissions procedure. Is that not inherently perverse anyway? The admissions criteria not allowing for our exceptional circumstances? A reasonable decision can't be made if the criteria are flawed? Do you see me straw grasping, DO YOU?grin

Does the school exceeding PAN in reception already (in this year or recent years since 2012) strengthen our case? I know proving prejudice to existing students and resources isn't part of ICS appeals but on balance, does it strengthen our case that they have the resources as evidenced by being over PAN in other infant classes?

Oh this is so stressful. Thank you for your time so far. I am so worried.

I am thinking of selling everything I own and just moving into a shed in catchment. A nice shed mind.

SpaghettiMeatballs Wed 20-Apr-16 20:00:05

There is a good radio article from Adrian Child's BBC 5 Live show that went out Monday.

It was about 01-43 iirc. Should be on the website. It had a guy from Teach First, an admissions consultant and a woman recounting her experiences.

Worth a listen??

ShowOfHands Wed 20-Apr-16 20:00:29

Oh and part of the safeguarding issues (my position if anybody remembers), has only become relevant since applying for schools. It couldn't have been considered when we applied.

Sorry for the riddles. I have to be careful here.

ShowOfHands Wed 20-Apr-16 20:01:46

I will listen to that thank you.

ChanChan333 Wed 20-Apr-16 21:22:29

Hello all, just looking for a bit of guidance as unfortunately we were unsuccessful with our first and second choice schools and intend on appealing. We are devastated to say the least as our child already attends the nursery attached to our first choice school and their development has improved significantly. We have concerns regarding our child speech and language, social communication and sensory issues. As such our child now has been seen by a consultant paediatrician, speech and language therapists, is due to begin occupational therapy. We are awaiting diagnosis for autism etc.

At present an EHAP (early health assessment plan) accessible by nursery, healthcare professionals and LA has been opened to enable sharing of information about our child. We do not have a SEN or EHC (education, health and care plan) however, I will ask the nursery for an assessment or request one myself to be carried out by the LA.

I understand that the appeal will be an ICS and I wonder whether any of the above will carry any weight/suffice as grounds of appeal? I intend to ask the consultant paediatrician for a letter in support, particularly with the conditions he's exhibiting now and the effect it will have on our child should he not continue in the same setting.

I would be so grateful for any help or advice.

helenwilson Wed 20-Apr-16 22:04:29

Chanchan, you are better off starting your own thread as this thread is on a specific topic - however it might be helpful for your to read some other appeals threads on here, ICS appeals are extremely strict, I think you are going to struggle.

Show of Hands, glad you are appealing, I did read your original thread, you've had some great advice so I'm just posting to wish you luck. I think you are also very near the top of the waiting list too - I really hope you get in one way or another.

PanelChair Wed 20-Apr-16 22:18:40

ShowOfHands - it's unfortunate that you didn't mention the safeguarding issues when you applied, but the situation isn't (in my view) hopeless. You need to muster as much evidence as you can (letters from appropriate agencies etc) as to why your child might be at risk if not admitted to this school. As I said before, I would expect any panel to be open to such arguments, but (as I said before) you will need to satisfy them (in ICS terms) that not admitting your child would be so unreasonable as to be perverse. I haven't heard the discussion on R5 but there was a similar one on R4's Woman's Hour yesterday.

ChanChan - nothing you've mentioned so far sounds as if it is strong enough to win an ICS appeal, but start your own thread and we can discuss it in more detail.

ChanChan333 Wed 20-Apr-16 22:19:50

Thank you HelenWilson.

Hi op, I have 2 appeal books ( one is the Ben Rooney one ) which you're more than welcome to if u want to pm me.
I'm very happy to post them off to you and give me some closure grin

drspouse Mon 25-Apr-16 11:27:11

ShowOfHands we also have evidence that we didn't have at the time of applying in the first place (paediatrician's appointment which took place the Monday of the week when places were announced the following Saturday) and we've been advised that we are unlikely to win the actual appeal BUT it's possible they will then place us in the social/medical category meaning we'd be at or near the top of the waiting list.

So that's our straw we're clutching at.

lifesalongsong Mon 25-Apr-16 11:35:05

If I'm remembering your original thread correctly the social issue actually only came to light because of a comment that another poster made and it's not that you didn't think it relevant more that you didn't even think of it (apologies if this wasn't you).

I'm not sure if that would affect the chances of your appeal being sucessful, might the LA not just then offer you a place at a school in which the problem wouldn't be a problem iyswim rather than at the current full school?

drspouse Mon 25-Apr-16 11:58:15

In our area you appeal FOR one school and you also have to say why the allocated school would not be suitable. I think you could appeal for multiple schools that are not the unsuitable school but not sure many people would do that.

You can also go on the waiting list for more than one school.

But I know different areas are different - however it seems a bit unlikely that an LEA would say "OK so school X is unsuitable for you and you've applied for school Y and put yourselves on the waiting list for schools Y and Z but hey, we have a space at school A! You can take that instead of X or we are offering you no further alternatives".

AndNowItsSeven Mon 25-Apr-16 12:02:38

Surely for a safe guarding issue they could just allocate a totally different undersubscribed school?

ShowOfHands Mon 25-Apr-16 12:18:49

We did think of the safeguarding issue when we applied for dd 5 years ago. All local schools were under subscribed then. We chose based on location and what was right for dd.

We didn't, foolishly, give it a second thought when we applied for DS as we have sibling priority. What happened though was that in the last 5 years, DD's school has flourished and we're not the only sibling without a place.

There is no medical/soc category either so no opportunity to add the evidence at the admissions stage. Plus my situation with work arose after we'd applied and it only compounds the situation.

The problem now is that we can't just move DS. There's no before or after school provision so I need them in the same place so I have to find a school which can take both of them which means taking dd out of a school she's been in for 5 years.

ShowOfHands Mon 25-Apr-16 12:26:30

MissRabbit, you lovely thing you.

I ordered the Ben Rooney one yesterday! Does the other one guarantee success? <hopeful>grin

The other one is written by a former appeals clerk who knows the ins and outs of the process, it's very good!
Even with a seemingly watertight case with tons of medical evidence, we failed our appeal ( twice ) but it was for secondary and we couldn't have done any more!
Ds is now really truly happy at a school I would never in a million years considered. The appeal process is brutal, it took a year of my life away.
I've no regrets and would do it again if I had to, thankfully my dd is only in reception grin
You're very welcome to the book.

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