Primary school admissions - medical grounds

(8 Posts)
MoreSnowPlease Wed 27-Apr-16 20:50:28

My son got our 4th choice school due to start in September. We are well out of catchment and since applying we are moving house and will be even further away. I am just wondering what our options are really.

I understand i have to accept/decline the offered place by 2nd May I think. I know everyone advises to accept the place, then go on waiting lists for other schools, but really there's no way I want him to go to his allocated school. Reasons for this are:

He has regular asthma attacks which put him in hospital for a few days and then usually out of action for a few weeks due to the stress illness causing the attacks. He is then weak and vulnerable for a while after the illness too. Unable to walk far at all. The school we have been allocated is 30 minutes drive, we wouldn't be able to walk it. I want him to walk and don't think driving will do his asthma any favours.

We are going to move house soon and will likely be further from the allocated school. We have been advised to make a late application when we move.

I also have a chronic illness which makes it very hard for me to walk long distances, causes stress, anxiety, pain. Lots of symptoms which make our lives significantly harder if we had to travel by car every day. It really would, I wouldn't cope and the kids would suffer alot.

My son is affected quite badly by change and large groups. I'm hoping to get near a schools which is 1 form entry and try and get him in there because of this.

My question is, are either of our medical grounds valid in terms of school place allocation? What is my most valid/likely chance for appeal/moving higher up waiting lists?

Thanks!

tiggytape Wed 27-Apr-16 23:26:15

I understand i have to accept/decline the offered place by 2nd May I think. I know everyone advises to accept the place, then go on waiting lists for other schools, but really there's no way I want him to go to his allocated school
The reason people say to accept the place isn't to signal you are happy about it but so that you have a worst-case-backup option and a guaranteed school place somewhere in Sept. If there is absolutely no way at all you will ever send him there (even if it is literally the only state school option you are given) then you can reject it but knowing that you are then probably looking at Home Education or private schooling if waiting lists or appeals or other applications don't pan out.
There is nothing to be lost by accepting it and sitting on the place just in case.

We are going to move house soon and will likely be further from the allocated school. We have been advised to make a late application when we move.
If you are moving to a whole new area then you can apply when you arrive at your new home and you will be offered a place at the nearest school that happens to have a vacancy left. This may or may not be at a school that is local to your new home. You have a chance to express preferences again but, realistically, most of the popular schools are going to be full by then so it will be a case of seeing what's left.
If you aren't moving that far away, a fresh application even with medical grounds is not going to get you a place at a school you have already missed a place at and that is now full.

My question is, are either of our medical grounds valid in terms of school place allocation? What is my most valid/likely chance for appeal/moving higher up waiting lists?
As a late applicant, your own medical reasons may be given consideration if the school you want has a medical priority category (not all of them do) and if it extends to parents (not all of them do) and if you can supply enough evidence to support your case (usually professional evidence).
Your son's asthma may also be considered but again only if the school you want gives medical priority and only if a professional can explain why a school a car ride away would be unsuitable for him.

If you get all of that it still won't help you if the school is full but, if your medical grounds are accepted and if there is a suitable priority category for medial priority then you will be placed higher up the waiting list than children below that medical priority category which may mean you get a place sooner should one come up.

tiggytape Wed 27-Apr-16 23:28:18

I'll mention appeals separately to stop it being such a long post:

In terms of appeals, your chances are very low if you are looking at schools with 30 per class (Infant Class Size laws apply and restrict class sizes by law).
Possible grounds would be is if the school you wanted had a medical category and you supplied ample evidence to be placed in that category at the time of application but the admission authority ignored all that evidence.
If the appeal panel agree the evidence you supplied at the time of application clearly demonstrates need and that by ignoring it, you were wrongly deprived of a place or your application was subject to error because evidence was ignored, then you could win.
If you did not submit evidence with the application, if the school does not have medical priority or if the school did give your evidence consideration but find it not strong enough then it is more likely they will find no error occurred and appeal is unlikely to succeed.

PatriciaHolm Wed 27-Apr-16 23:40:03

Tiggy has given you a lot of good advice.

You need to start with the admissions criteria, and the PAN (admissions number for reception).

If the number is multiple of 30 (and very possibly if it a multiple of 15) then you are faced with an ICS appeal, which can only be won if -

-admissions criteria are unlawful
-the admissions authority made a mistake (e.g. got your distance wrong, or failed to notice you had ticked the siblings box)
- the decision to admit was so perverse no reasonable person would have made it.

Does the school you want have medical/social criteria for children (and possibly parents, though this is rarer) as an admission criteria? As Tiggy says, if they do and you submitted all the relevant evidence as to why you/he needed this school specifically and they ignored it, you may have a case.

If they don't have this criteria, then things are much harder as you will be reliant on trying to convince the panel that the decision not to admit is so perverse no reasonable person would have made it; a very high barrier.

If they have the criteria and said your reasons are not good enough, you could argue under the mistake criteria, but you would be reliant on the panel seeing your evidence as compelling for your needing this school (and this school specially, not just a.n.other school than the one you have).

When you move, your place on waiting lists will move as most lists are ordered mainly by distance to school.

chamenager Thu 28-Apr-16 10:15:20

A question to the experts, if a LEA allocates a school that isn't on the parents' preference list, how far away can it be from the child's home? Can they make a reception child travel for 45 minutes/60 minutes/75 minutes each way every day, and thereby fulfil their duty to have found them a place?
All I can find is that they have to provide for transport if it is more than 2 miles away, but surely they can't just bus children from overcrowded areas to ridiculously far away empty schools. But what is the limit?

I'm asking because OP said their allocated school (which was one of their preferences, from their old address) was 30 minutes drive away, and may be even further from their new address. If it was, say, a 40 minutes drive from their new address, could the LEA say 'well they have a place already' and thus discharge themselves from their duty to find the child a place? Or would that be too far, and they would HAVE to come up with a place somewhere closer. Would accepting/not accepting the offered place make a difference to this? In as much as the OP was clearly accepting of a 30 minute commute (was on preference list, and accepted the place), so must now also accept the e.g. 40 minute commute after having moved.

tiggytape Thu 28-Apr-16 11:22:10

A question to the experts, if a LEA allocates a school that isn't on the parents' preference list, how far away can it be from the child's home?
There is no official limit. The council will allocate the nearest school that has a place when all other on-time applicants have been dealt with.
Hopefully that will be a school close to home (but probably not as close as many other schools that are full) but it can also be one further away.

Guidelines say that upto 45 minutes each way is considered reasonable but these are just guidelines not limits. More than 45 minutes would probably be justified if it was a simple journey eg only 1 bus.
If they allocate a place that is well over an hour away and involves changing buses for example then that is moving into the territory of unreasonable and at that sort of point, an appeal for a close school might succeed.

30 or 40 minutes would not be considered too far for children even at age 4.

MoreSnowPlease Thu 28-Apr-16 13:19:55

Right so maybe we go private sad

The problem we had is we had only just moved to the town when it was time for applications from well outside, so we didn't know it at all. Then our son got sick and only DP could look at schools, and add he was working he only got round a couple so we were choosing blind.

I was also diagnosed within this time period and so couldn't have submitted any medical evidence for my illness. I can't remember exactly but I think the diagnosis was after application closing date.

I should have submitted my sons medical evidence, but again, with moving/very sick son I didn't get the time to.

So I'm guessing I don't have any grounds for appeal. Will just be a case of late application with medical grounds and see where it gets us. Thanks for all the advice, really great!

tiggytape Thu 28-Apr-16 13:57:06

It is still very early in the allocations process. The waiting lists are yet to start moving so a good first step would be to try to quickly identify some more suitable schools (ones you didn't necessarily apply to already) and ask to be added to their lists.
If you have medical evidence and, if the schools you join lists for have a medical criteria, then submit your evidence in the hope of being added to the top of any list. The evidence needed though is not just diagnosis, it will have to explain why the school best meets your son's medical needs
Few schools give priority for parent's medical needs but if you find any locally that do, you can also submit your own evidence again explaining why this school journey meets your needs.

If you get added to enough lists, hopefully you will get an offer from one of those which may not be your ideal school but may be better than the one you've been offered. You can stay on the lists until Christmas at least and you need not send your child to the allocated school until the term after he turns 5 or summer 2017 whichever comes (i.e. you can hang on to the place as insurance but not actually start at school in Sept).

You can appeal as well of course but ICS appeals are just so hard to win because, even though I am sure the panel will sympathise a great deal, their hands are tied by the law that limits class sizes.

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