Reception Class Appeal

(32 Posts)
Banana1982 Thu 25-Apr-13 12:47:25

We recently found out that our daughter did not get into any of our first choice schools. Our first choice school and the school we are thinking of appealing to, will be changing to an academy for September intake. The admissions for reception was 50 children. When we heard from the school that they had automatically transferred 30 children from the nursery to the reception. When we heard this we where very shocked and seems at odds with the admission code. Can anyone offer some advice if they think this is good grounds to appeal?

tiggytape Thu 25-Apr-13 13:05:48

What did the admissions criteria for the schools say?

Each school is required to publish admissions criteria well in advance and places must be allocated to children who best meet the critreia if the school gets too many applications.

Some schools do give priority to nursery children. The two I know of are both CofE schools and say something like priority is given to children who have attended the nursery because it is on the same site or because it demonstrates parental commitment to a faith education (it annoys a lot of parents because the priority os for school nurseries that are half days and that working parents find hard to use).

To win at appeal you have to prove that a mistake was made but also that as a direct result you lost out on a place that you would have got were it not for those 30 children being given places that some of them may not have qaulfiied for under the published criteria.

Banana1982 Thu 25-Apr-13 13:21:16

Hi tiggytape, the admissions crireria make no mention of priority to nursery children, the oversuscription critera are pretty standard;

1. Looked after children
2. Siblings
3. Parents employed at the school

The remaining allocation are by random allocation, 50% within two miles 50% outside of two miles.

Even if I can prove that there has been a mistake with the admissions, that does not automatically provve my daughter would have got a place.

Without question she would have had a lot better chance though?

tiggytape Thu 25-Apr-13 13:41:00

I think you are going to need prh, admissions or Panel Chair on this one as the criteria make it pretty complicated and are unusual for a primary school.

The random allocation aspect alone means you cannot 'prove' you would have got in but equally they can't prove you wouldn't have done - obviously being in the hat for one of 50 places gives you a much higher chance than being in the hat for only 1 of 20 places.

Have the school LA said that the nursery children definitely got places just because they are all in the nursery? If it possible 20 of them have siblings at the school and 10 of them got lucky on the random allocation?

I think the first thing you should ask for is a breakdown of allocated places. So how many children got offers by virtue of having a sibling, how many staff children got places and then how many places were left for the random draw. That should show you if they have followed the process they should have done.

PanelChair Thu 25-Apr-13 13:54:44

Yes, asking for a breakdown of allocated places is a useful first step as it should corroborate (or not) whether the nursery children dud automatically get places.

I haven't double-checked what the new admission code says about nurseries, but the old one used to say that schools could give priority to children who attended the nursery as long as they did it in a way that did not disadvantage other applicants (which always seemed to me like a contradiction in terms).

If the nursery children did indeed get automatic places and the published criteria make no provision for this, then I think the line to take at appeal is that the admission process was flawed because it did not conform to the published criteria, nor to the admissions code, which says that it should so conform. I don't think you need to show that this directly cost your child a place (the lottery factor means you can't anyway) but you need to argue to the appeal panel that the whole arrangement was so unreliable that nobody can have confidence in it.

You can also ask the school to confirm exactly how your child's name was put into the lottery and how places were awarded. Again, if it isn't crystal clear you are looking to argue that neither you nor anyone else can have confidence in the reliability or fairness of the outcome.

Another issue to ex

PanelChair Thu 25-Apr-13 13:57:49

... Explore here us the admission number of 50. This us unusual because it is not a multiple of 15 or 30. What are the class sizes in YR and Y1 and Y2? If they are less than 30, this is not an infant class size appeal - much discussed on other threads - and you have much more scope for introducing wider arguments about why your child needs to be at this school.

Banana1982 Thu 25-Apr-13 14:09:13

Thanks for this, I already have been told how they allocated places, 30 got transferred. 9 siblings. 6 Lokked after. 5 Random.

I am correct in thinking that even if they did metion, nursery places where going to be transferred in admission criteria (Which they dont) this would not be legal anyway?

prh47bridge Thu 25-Apr-13 14:17:55

Agree with PanelChair.

The current Admissions Code simply says that it must be made clear to parents that a separate application must be made for transfers from nursery to primary school. There is no longer anything about whether or not children attending the nursery can be given priority, which I would interpret to mean they can. However, they certainly cannot give priority to children from the nursery if they don't say so in their published admission criteria. If they have simply transferred all 30 that is a clear breach of the Admissions Code. I would take the approach suggested by PanelChair.

As PanelChair says, a PAN of 50 is unusual but not unheard of - my local primary school has a PAN of 50. You need to find out how classes are organised as that will have a major bearing on how you approach this.

Banana1982 Thu 25-Apr-13 14:28:14

Surely the fact that the Admissions Code says, "Published admission arrangements must make clear to parents that a seperate application must be made"
This is nowhere to be seen in the admission criteria. The school in question is an transitioning to an academy, does this make a difference?

PanelChair Thu 25-Apr-13 14:41:15

Banana - I agree with prh47bridge here. If the school had said that nursery children would get automatic places that would not (as far as I can see) be unlawful because there's nothing now to prevent it. But what we are suggesting is that the difference between what the school says (in its published criteria) and what is actually dies puts it in breach if the Admissions Code and is gives you good grounds for appeal.

Banana1982 Thu 25-Apr-13 15:21:31

Thanks guys, food for thought.

admission Thu 25-Apr-13 21:38:16

I think that before answering this I would like to see a copy of the admission criteria for the school. Is it possible to PM me the school name and LA so that I can look it up.
Whilst it is clear that to win a case you need to prove a mistake was made and that you would have been offered a place, the problem for the appeal panel and the admission authority (which I think will be the LA still if the school has not converted to academy status yet) is knowing exactly which pupils would have got a place if they had done it correctly. That might take some working out, from what you have said.
50 is an awkward number for classes but the favoured one is to have 5 classes of 30 across reception, year 1 and year 2, which will obviously involved mixed age classes. As they clearly have a close relationship with the nursery it could be that they are operating a foundation stage mix of nursery and reception children. Again this I should be able to work out from the school website if I have the information on school and LA

PanelChair Thu 25-Apr-13 21:50:21

I see your point, admission, but it seems to me that, for any school that runs an admission lottery, no parent will ever be able to prove that they would have been offered a place, because they can't know that their name would have come out of the proverbial hat. So, in those circumstances, it seems to me that parents (and appeal panels) need to think in terms of how confident they (or any reasonable onlooker) can be in the reasonableness/reliability/fairness of the process or whether there is overwhelming doubt about it.

admission Thu 25-Apr-13 22:32:00

Panelchair,
I believe that nobody can prove whether somebody would have got in or would not have got in if the random allocation criteria was invoked, just by its very nature. There are 30 places at question here. I would assume that some of the 30 who are nursery children, will have siblings and could be even be looked after but the majority of the places should have been allocated by random selection based on the rules that have been specified.
The key question is what the admission criteria says and whether there is something tucked away in the admission criteria about the nursery or not. Questions also arise around the process of the random draw but lets sort out the key question first.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 26-Apr-13 07:07:59

If entry is randomised, wouldn't a ranking list be generated when the randomisation is done and then retained so it could be checked thereafter?

admission Fri 26-Apr-13 08:59:39

A good question. There is a random draw for the available places initially. If there are then available places later on because of parents declining places then a new random draw has to take place, assuming none of the pupils on the waiting list have priority as a sibling etc as per the admission criteria order. One of the reasons for this is the need to incorporate any late applications or waiting list requests. If the random draw is just a continuation of the previous random draw none of those will be included and will therefore have been disadvantaged.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 26-Apr-13 09:09:08

Ah, thanks.

PanelChair Fri 26-Apr-13 09:14:05

As admission says, it's supposed to be a fresh draw every time, which is why oarent's can never prove, as such, that they would have got a place. The most they can do is question whether the arrangements were robust and fair and (as I see it) the onus is on the school/LEA to satisfy the appeal panel that they were.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 26-Apr-13 09:19:41

So you can never move up the waiting list in that system as your place will change each time?

PanelChair Fri 26-Apr-13 09:32:09

As I understand it (no lotteries here), LAC and siblings will be in a fixed place on the waiting list, because it is held in admissions priority order (assuming the criteria include sibling priority). But for places decided on distance, there will be a lottery every time, so there will never be a waiting list as such, more a waiting pool from which pupils will be drawn.

I stand to be corrected on this.

prh47bridge Fri 26-Apr-13 11:00:15

Yes, there has to be a lottery every time a place becomes available so you don't have a position on the waiting list. That is even the case for LACs if there is more than one - they will be in a group at the head of the waiting list but a lottery would be needed to decide which one was admitted when a vacancy arose.

If this school has got it wrong there is no way of knowing what the outcome would have been. The lottery would have involved only those children who did not attend the nursery. If the nursery children had been included the outcome could have been completely different.

PanelChair Fri 26-Apr-13 12:30:08

Ah, that's what I was wondering about, whether there would be a mini-lottery to decide (say) between siblings if there was more than one on the waiting list.

tiggytape Fri 26-Apr-13 12:46:47

I wonder what would happen at appeal if the OP demonstrated that the admission process had not been followed at all (i.e. nursery children were granted automatic transfer to the school)?

She cannot prove that she would have got a place in a lottery system but it is definitely true that her chances have been vastly and unfairly reduced by the school ignoring the published criteria.
Random allocation was only used for 5 children instead of potentially upto 35 children.

Does it ever happen (in cases where the whole process has been so badly handled) that the whole lot is done again? If a school ignore the admission criteria to admit 30/50 places, that seems a very big breach that would be very hard to resolve.

Banana1982 Fri 26-Apr-13 14:09:19

Admission, I will PM you some further details Thanks

From what I understand, parents who have asked to go onto the waiting list will then be subject to another round of random allocation for any further places that arise.

PanelChair Fri 26-Apr-13 15:07:54

Tiggy - Given that admissions procedure not properly followed is one of the winnable grounds for an ICS appeal, I think it would be open to anyone in OP's situation to argue that the outcome of the admissions round can not be relied upon, they may well have got a place if published criteria had been followed and so on the balance of probabilities they should get a place on appeal. I could certainly (depending of course on all the evidence presented on either side) be persuaded of that.

Banana1982 Fri 26-Apr-13 15:20:22

PanelChair - some days I believe we have a good case, others I don't. I suppose I just need to get together as much information as possible and present it in the best possible way.

prh47bridge Fri 26-Apr-13 16:32:56

Tiggy - They can't do the whole thing again as that would involve taking away offers to people who have already got them. If there are lots of appeals it puts the appeal panel in a difficult position.

Banana1982 - I am also happy to take a look if you would like to PM me the details.

PanelChair Fri 26-Apr-13 17:28:53

Argh. MN lost my post which said that offers already made can't be retracted, and if there are lots of appeals, the panel may have to decide how many more the school can admit and prioritise accordingly. As prh47bridge says, it could become very tricky.

tiggytape Fri 26-Apr-13 17:49:12

I see - that makes sense Panel and prh.
It just seems very unfair if the school have totally ignored published admission criteria not to have any form of redress for those that lose out (assuming lots of other parents will feel similarly disadvantaged - they can't let them all in at appeal).

Would the admission authority be penalised in any way for doing this - assuming it is discovered that they have simply admitted the children they wanted and not the children who met the agreed criteria?

In Banana's case the authority would have done this (if this proves to be the case) presumably to be 'nice' and help children in the nursery have continuity but other schools could do the same thing - admit chosen children - with less generous motives (like selecting children from certain areas above others). I guess I am saying it might leave the door open to discrimination if there is no challenge other than parental appeals which cannot successfully remedy the situation due to the number potentially affected.

prh47bridge Fri 26-Apr-13 17:53:41

Ultimately an academy that ignores the Admissions Code can have its funding withdrawn. That would, of course, be the final sanction if all else failed.

prh47bridge Fri 26-Apr-13 17:57:41

Pressed Post too soon! Before it gets that far the Secretary of State can direct them to comply with the Code.

Banana1982 Sat 27-Apr-13 08:44:14

prh47bridge, I have PMd you and Admission, Thanks for you assistance everybody.

From what I can understand, if there was lots of appeals that where successful, they would only admit the strongest cases. Up to the limit of what they believe the school could admit with Prejudice to the existing pupils.

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