Primary school admissions - opinions please...(45 Posts)
Hi. My son didn't get a place to start in reception at our preferred school. I'm devastated. Not just because it's a wonderful school (and who doesn't want their child to go to one of those!) but because I am so heavily involved at the school and have a huge emotional attachment to the place. It's an infant school and my dd is currently in yr2 there, so moving up to junior school in september, which means the sibling admission rule didn't apply. We live out of catchment but not by much at all. I have been a governor at the school for nearly 2 years and am vice-chair. I know the school really well, have spent hours there working with the Head and other staff members on various things and I know everyone so well. My son has also spent loads of time there and is really familiar with the school and all the staff. He thinks he's going to start there in Sept . I am so sad and all over the place as to what to do now. The school are being really supportive but there is very little they can do. We have placed him on the waiting list and judging by where some people live who have got a place, I'm hopeful we might be fairly high up on it but we can't find out until 13th May and even then it probably won't get us a anywhere. I've spoken to lots of people, some of whom know about the appeals procedure and the advice I'm getting from them is that I don't have a case - basically it would be based on emotion which doesn't come into it. Everyone I speak to who doesn't know the system instantly says I should appeal though, which just makes me wonder if I might be able to win a panel round. I'm pretty sure it's a vain hope I'm clinging to but I'd be grateful for any thoughts people might have on our case. To add to the equation dd is transferring to a linked but completely separate Jnr school and although the sibling rule doesn't apply at present it is due to start being applied from next sept which would probably mean he'd get in. Rubbish.
Well, I think the clue is in the words, "everyone I speak to who doesn't know the system. "
They don't know what they're talking about. You can only win an Infant Class Size appeal if you can prove that Admissions have made a mistake, basically, or that their decision defies rational thought, which presumably doesn't apply here.
Waiting list is your best bet.
clam is right unfortunately if there are 30 children per class, unless you suspect a mistake (eg distance measured incorrectly), you would not win an appeal on the basis that you really like the school and have strong links to it.
If there are less than 30 per class, you can appeal citing all the reasons the school would suit your DS and if you have a strong case you could win an appeal on that basis.
Despite long odds, you do have the right to appeal and could perhaps bring up the sibling link problem and other reasons. It is worth doing as long as you go into it knowing your chances (assuming 30 per class) are low
The waiting list sounds more hopeful and with any luck you will get a place that way. Also, once your DS starts Juniors in September, the new sibling link should work in your favour and boost your younger child to the top (or near top) of the list if he's still waiting at that point.
Another option for some parents is to keep your DS in Nursery or at home while you wait if he is born later in the year. You still accept the place at the allocated school but defer starting in the hope that a place at the preferred school comes up before he has to start at the other one (to save moving schools after just a few months).
I hope it works out for you.
My daughter was offered a place in a school was is very close to my house and a week later, the offer was withdrawn by the LA by a phone stating that they had made a mistake in calculating the distance from my house to the school.
Can someone please tell me if they have the right to do that and if there is anything I can do.
I call the Lewisham education but the said that there is nothing they can do.
Someone please help me
I dont think they can withdraw a place like that but might be worth starting another separate thread.
The short answer a place can't be withdrawn unless it was a fraudulent application or within a couple or days after the place was offered in error.
The LA have about 3 days (based on the outcome of court cases which have ruled on this issue) to withdraw a place given in error. If more than 3 days have elapsed, the council cannot take it away unless the parents lied on the forms or made a fraudulent application in which case there is no time limit to taking away the place.
Put in an appeal. You will always have a 'what if' if you don't try.
mamajessicaangel09 - Lewisham Education are in the wrong. There is something they can do. They can give you back your place. Whilst the Admissions Code does allow them to withdraw a place that has been offered in error, Tiggytape is right that they have limited time in which to do this. One week is too long. If they continue to refuse you should appeal.
mamajessicaangel09 You should go back to Lewisham in writing and say that whilst you accept that in the 2012 code it now does allow a place offered in error to be withdrawn, the legal precedents for doing so are that this has to be within a short period of time (3 days) and therefore you expect the LA to reinstate the place within the next 7 days. You need to give them a deadline so that you know what to do and what to say on your appeal form.
I am shocked that they have done this by telephone and I hope that they are following this up by letter and confirming that you can appeal the decision.
MaisyMoo123 there is nothing you can do in the short term but hope that some people decide not to take up their places.
It is sensible to accept the place offered as a back stop but you may wish to consider, depending on son's birthday of not starting at the allocated school but deferring entry. That gives you more time for hopefully for somebody to drop out and you be top of the waiting list.
Can you confirm as an infant school, how many pupil are admitted each year, as this is crucial for what chance you have at appeal, and what class structure the school runs. Whilst you may not feel you have a chance at appeal, you never know what might happen in terms of errors being found and if you do not appeal you will never know.
Thanks for your thoughts. I fully appreciate that appealing would be a long-shot and I know my case is very weak. The problem is I feel so strongly about it and it's hard to reconcile the so called "logic" of the system with this feeling and my sense of justice. The school are 100% on our side but they are advising against appealing because they say that an unsuccessful appeal means that the LA would limit them to their PAN whereas if they have no appeals (or no unsuccessful ones?) then they can agree to take more later - probably after start of term. Does anyone know if this is right.
I'm not sure that infant class size rules would apply as the intake is 40, taught in 2 smaller reception classes. I know that numbers later on in school are taken into account but they are taught in 3 mixed year 1/2 classes and they tend not to go over 28.
We do at least have a place in an ok 2nd choice school, which happens to be on same site as the junior school my dd is moving on to BUT, it's very different. Obviously we don't have the emotional ties with the place but even putting that aside (and I'm more than willing to throw myself into another school if needs be) I just don't feel ds would be as happy there. He knows our preferred choice so well - all the staff know him and he's spent hours playing with duplo in the Head's office while I've been in meetings. He thinks he's going there and why wouldn't he. I can learn to live with the disappointment in relation to my own emotional attachment to the place (eventually) but I feel like my involvement, and by association ds's familiarity with the school is going to end up causing him a huge amount of anxiety when he realises he can't go to the school he's been imagining and getting excited about for the past 3 years. I know they have to have an admissions criteria and I don't count that it's been applied fairly but it's really sad that such strong emotional cases as this have no forum at all. I feel like there's nowhere to go but a waiting list that might not even move and it's so hard.
they are taught in 3 mixed year 1/2 classes and they tend not to go over 28.
If this is the case for all classes between YR and Y2 (i.e. that they do not exceed 28) then it is worth appealing.
ICS appeals (infant class size appeals where the the legal limit of 30 per class has been reached) are so hard to win but, for class sizes of 28, you aren't having to fight that point which makes a huge difference.
If you show the harm (prejudice) to your DS outweights the harm (prejudice) to the school of taking one more child, you can win a 'non ICS appeal' in that way. You'd need to show how the school meets his needs and abilities and interests and why it would be of benefit to him if he could attend.
You also need to chip away if you can at the school's case to refuse a place so you would need to show, if you can, that they aren't as crowded or limited in resources as they will claim (most schools at appeal say there aren't enough desks / computers / seats in the lunch hall to accept more children). You need to show they won't be badly affected by accepting more children.
In your position I would say go for it.
Other parents will probably do so and may even win since it isn't an ICS case.
The main thing to be careful of is that you must avoid emotional issues and focus on what the panel will want to hear.
So many people are desperately disappointed by their school allocation especially this year - it is a high birth rate year so siblings have been split up, people have missed out on the only school they ever imagined their child attending, children have been separated from all their nursery friends and a lot of people feel as you do.
The appeal panel will be very sympathetic to your strong attachment to the school but this will not win an appeal. The appeal has to be about your son and showing what is in his interests.
OP I would appeal if it's not going to be an ICS appeal... but
I think possibly you are overstating the importance to your son of going to this school. Really, kids are (for the most part) very adaptable and will do well in most settings (provided they are not really crap). I know you have put your heart and soul into this school, but honestly, your DS is only 4 and he won't have the same level of attachment to the place that you do.
So many of the kids in DD's preschool class didn't get a place in the attached reception. They went to a variety of other schools and as far as I know all of them are very happy where they ended up. There is something to be said also for having both of your children on one site. Otherwise, how are you/ is your childminder/nanny going to manage drop-off/ pick up?
Thanks Tiggy and Narmada - god advice. It's mildly encouraging that a non ICS appeal is more likely to succeed but I'm still doubtful I have a strong enough case. I am sure this school is best for my ds - because he knows it so well and is looking forward to going there BUT, as Narmada said, he's only 4 and would probably adapt to any school. How could I ever convince a panel enough that it would prejudice my son not to go there - i could come up with a number of relatively sound reasons but if they are all going to be thinking this at the end of the day what chance do we stand?
One other issue is that our preferred school is CofE controlled. We are church-goers and attend the church attached to the school. Our 2nd choice school isn't CofE. As it's only controlled I know this will hold little weight in an appeals process but would they take it into account at all?
As far as numbers go, I know they can take more than their PAN - they've told me so! What kind of evidence would a panel need on this? At the same time though, this is their argument for me not appealing as they say that they could up numbers later, providing their are no appeals. This could obviously work in our favour if we were high enough up on the waiting list but would of course rely on nobody else appealing.
Narmada you do have a point about it being logistically much easier to send ds to the other school. It would make life a whole lot easier and DH has come round to that way of thinking. We could manage if ds did end up getting into our top choice though and we'd obviously thought about it before we put it top of our list - I'd end up running across town and back but I'm willing to do that.
To appeal or not? I just don't know!!!!
You can certainly raise your desire for a faith school and the benefits this brings for your son at an appeal. Other things to consider might be the way the curriculum or classes are managed that would suit him, clubs and activities that interest him and anything the school does or can offer that would be beneficial to your son.
Schools can increase PAN but I dont' know as appeals can hinder this process. I suppose the school is saying that it looks a bit odd to fight appeals in May with arguments about the school being full only to increase PAN in September afterall.
I am not sure how much you should let that influence you though - you won't know yet (and wouldn't be able to prevent) other people appealing. And even if PAN is increased later on, this doesn't help you unless you are top of the waiting list.
Anyone who moves into the area between now and then who gets a sibling into an older year group and anyone who lives or moves closer will go above you or be above you on the list. You place on the list is not static.
By law waiting lists are held until Christmas at least so any increase in PAN will have to be done using the current waiting list so a lot of your calculations will depend upon how popular the school is. Is it so popular people would accept a place in September despite having started at another school or is it so popular that people will Home School for a few months in the hope of getting a late offer? Is it so popular lots will appeal and possibly win to raise class sizes to 30 long before any change of PAN is implemented?
It sounds to me like, supportive as they are being to your face, the school do not want to take your child as they will have to increase their class sizes above what they want them to be.
You may well win an appeal but you need to think about the implications of this in terms of your relationships with people in the school if you have forced their hand to take another child (and possibly another four children - as if your DS can get in, others who appeal may also be successful).
I do think you are really overstating the needs of your child. Unless he has special needs or something he will be absolutely fine in any school. I know how you feel as these things used to make me feel very anxious, but having re-located to another country with an 8 and 4 year old I can tell you that my 4 year old could not give a monkeys what school he is at as long as the teachers and other children are nice to him! My 8 year old is having slightly more trouble but even still she has settled extremely well, despite having previously lived in the same community since birth and having had most of her friends since birth too. Familiarity certainly helps but not having it does not seem to hinder at all - it is far more important to focus on your inidividual child and their resilience.
Also FWIW - I am having to take my kids to 2 different school sites (5 mins drive apart) until December as we couldn't get them in together initially where we have moved to. I wouldn't choose it for anything as the stress of worrying about being late (for pick up rather than drop off) is a real issue. There is no reason why the drive should take too long other than a major car accident or something but you just never know. Therefore if I were you I certainly wouldn't be actively choosing to do this for 3 years when you have the choice of another school on the same site.
Have you considered how vice-chair of the governing body winning an appeal (and pushing up class sizes) might be viewed by other parents? Obviously, due process would be followed, but often people don't consider those things. And you'd be having to mix with those people on a daily basis.
Actually, the fact that the Vice-Chair didn't get an offer in the first place just demonstrates how fairly applied admission criteria are and how rigidly the rules are stuck to.
The appeals panel are independent from the school and will judge cases on merit just as the admissions authority judged original allocations on meeting the criteria. Being a parent involved with the school does not come into it.
As to how the school will cope with taking extra pupils: if it is a popular school which already plans to increase PAN and will only have non ICS appeals, the case to refuse admission to any parent who appeals is weaker than in many other appeals.
As such any parents who decide to appeal have a better chance of winning. So if OP doesn't appeal but many others do, the chances are that some of them could win. Her not appealing does not protect the small class sizes.
Appeals are part of the process - it isn't like suing somebody! Nobody is going to be outraged if you win and you wouldn't be able to win if the evidence was that the school just couldn't cope with extra numbers.
Thanks for all your replies - all interesting points. My head feels ready to explode now though!
I completely disagree that the school don't want to take my ds. They were genuinely upset when we found out and there were even tears from one staff member. My ds has built up a very strong relationship with the Head and other members of staff and I believe that they would welcome him with open arms even if it did mean a larger class size. I really don't think that's an issue I need to worry about. They are suggesting that I don't appeal because of the PAN issue but that's only really going to factor if we are very high up the waiting list and relies on nobody else moving into area or appealing - all way out of my control. It feels like everything is hinging on factors I can't influence or control. At least going to appeal would be something I could have some impact on.
The school is popular but not crazily so. They have out of catchment children on their list for starting in Sept (just a bit closer to school than us but not much). Others may appeal - they have had 2 successful appeals in past 5 years so it's not a regular thing. People don't regularly defer entry or home ed in order to get chidlren in later either, but that's nothing to say they won't this year.
As for me being vice-chair - everyone I've spoken to, many of them parents/friends from school have been shocked and sad that we didn't get in and have almost all suggested appealing as soon as they heard. I agree with Tiggy that the fact that we didn't get in under the admissions process shows that it holds no weight and the appeals panel is completely independent from the school so there is no room at all for any strings to be pulled. Fundamentally I don't think it should be taken into account - there has to be a fair, transparent process and I never went into being a governor for any preferential treatment. Ultimately it's about what's right for my son now - if we do go to appeal and win then I don't really care if someone takes issue with it because of my V-C role. I know who my friends are.
I agree that 4 year olds are adaptable and I'm sure he would do ok wherever. He doesn't have special needs (other than a slight stammer which he is currently having speech therapy for). I can totally see why people might think I am overstating his needs - and that is a fundamental problem in terms of an appeal (!?!!?) but I know my son, and I know the school and I know where he would thrive and be happiest. That's the bottom line. I'm starting to veer towards appealing but is it really a strong enough case. The opinions are so emotive and extreme on this!?!
Maisy - only you can decide whether to appeal or not but in your shoes, I probably would. In fact any YR appeal that isn't an ICS appeal is worth serious consideration just because it is possible to win and, if you don't try, you won't know. If anything being Vice Chair and wanting to do the right thing is possibly holding you back more than if you were just a regular potential parent who, upon hearing class sizes are small, probably wouldn't hesitate to try for a place at appeal.
If your DS has dysfluency then anything that makes him less anxious is a good thing. Anxiety and stuttering have a direct link and cause/effect relationship. If the SLT would be happy to write a note to say something along these lines or to even state that a familiar school is best for him, then that would help at appeal.
You can also raise your preference for a faith school and any other points that the school offers that would help or benefit your son. You seem very certain that it is the right one for him but you need to explain why this is for the panel to be able to make a decision if you decide to go for an appeal.
My point about what some parents might say if you got in at appeal was not to suggest for one minute that there would be anything untoward about the process. But some people are determined to look for the unpleasant connotation in anything and, above board or not, might start a whispering campaign. One would hope not, and if anyone came out and said anything to your face, you could counter it with the facts, fair and square. But often, these things can go on behind your back.
Anyway, if that's not a concern then scrap the thought. If I were you I would go ahead with the appeal. What have you got to lose? You don't even have to tell the school actually; it's all done through the LEA.
I am not saying the school didn't want to take your son per se - and I am sure that they did want him to get in through the normal admissions procedure but if by taking him through appeal it forces them to have bigger class sizes and opens them up to other appeals etc they may not want to do so that way. They have already indicated that they do not recommend you appeal.
I do think your appeal is unlikely to progress unless you can get more on your DC's special need. It would only really count if he has a SEN statement but that is the only avenue I think that would give you any chance of success.
I am sure you think you know where he would be happiest but what I was trying to say is don't focus on this as if he doesn't get the place you will feel like he is going somewhere that is second best for him and this is likely to impact on his feelings about it (much as you try to hide how you feel). If he goes to the other school chances are he will be just as happy and it is unhealthy for you and him to dwell on where "he would thrive and be happiest" - you don't have a crystal ball so you can't know that for sure and it certainly won't give you any points at appeal.
It would only really count if he has a SEN statement but that is the only avenue I think that would give you any chance of success.
Mutley - that is not at all correct.
Children with statements are not part of the normal admissions or appeal process at all. They get automatic entry into the school names on their statement.
Children without statements (with and without additional needs) can win appeals as long as they can show their need for the school outweighs the disadvantage to the school of taking more pupils and assuming their are less than 30 per class.
Don't all parents choose their preferences for a school based on where they feel their child would thrive and be happiest? That's not to say he won't be just as happy somewhere else but if everyone went by that mantra then people wouldn't be worried about which school their child ended up at and there would be no preferences, waiting lists or appeals. That's not the world we live in. We are offering a level of choice and finding a place where you believe your child will thrive and be happy is surely fundamental to making that "choice". I'm not saying I can't see him happy anywhere else and I would get over it and make the very best of it for him - but I don't think I'm wrong to want this in the first instance!?
I don't think my son's stammer is significant enough to hold much weight in an appeal. It's certainly nowhere near statement level. The unfamiliarity and stress of going somewhere rise could well exacerbate it though.
My concern is that I don't have enough for an appeal - I can't see how I could constructively argue the benefits of this school over another for ds other than his familiarity with the place. The other infant school is very similar in size and class structure so I can't argue that he'd benefit from the way one is organised if the other is the same. There are no special clubs or ways of working there that mark it out either. They are very different schools but the differences are not tangible - one is more ordered and the other a bit less so etc but that's not an argument is it and I know that comparing one with another isn't helpful anyway. It's just his familiarity with the place and the fact he has been imagining himself there that is the real issue - but not strong enough to stand up in an appeal on its own. I could bring in the church link and potentially the stammer but really, that's not enough is it?
I know only I can decide but it's really helping me to thrash my thinking out on here. Thanks for helping!
MaisyMoo - the concept of 'good enough' is a grey one for appeals
An appeal is a balancing act. The disadvantage to the child of not being admitted is weighed against the disadvantage to the school of taking the child. The outcome therefore depends on the strength of the cases relative to each other.
If the school was packed to the rafters with children, horribly overcrowded and struggled with existing numbers, their case would be so strong that even the strongest case from a parent would be unlikely to overcome that.
However if the school said they weren't that full at all and in fact were happily considering increasing PAN, this would make their case very weak and a parent's case would only have to be marginally stronger to win overall.
So sometimes people with hugely important reasons lose appeals and people with more 'minor' reasons win an appeal. There is no universal standard of what is 'good enough' to win at appeal.
In extreme cases people have won appeals by just turning up to the appeal hearing! They appeal, the school offer no evidence against them and in fact say they're more than happy to take 10 extra pupils and everyone who botehredt to appeal wins (this is rare of course but just shows that it isn't how strong your case it necessarily only how relatively strong it is).
My DH is a governor at DS1's school. DS2 is still waiting for a space in Reception from last September's intake. Parental involvement makes no odds, it is all down to how far away you live (and we're under 0.9 mile away)
sorry still terrible spelling (am in a hurry today but wanted to reply)
Thanks Tiggy - I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to reply! My spelling is just as bad - I blame the phone!
I know being a governor makes no odds at all and I've never expected it to. It's just that my heavy involvement in the school means that my son is so familiar with the place and so at home there - so, me being a gov is relevant only as far as the impact it's had on him and his attachment to one school. Part of me feels penalised by it if anything - I feel like me spending so much time there has unrealistically built his expectations around starting school - we've never said he'll definitely go there he's just assumed as his big sis is there and he's always in and out for things!
I think I need to talk to the school again and talk about numbers and whether they do see me appealing might cause them problems. We have a very good, honest relationship so I think we can be upfront about it.
Sorry, maybe the tone of my post was missed. I meant to say that we know how it feels to be attached and yet denied. I'm on the PTA, I help out in the classes, on trips etc but DS2 can not be involved. Makes me and I feel for you too.
Our only hope it that we still have the sibling link, so we are near the top of the list and are just waiting for someone to leave Reception.
tiggytape - You have misunderstood what I wrote, which is in fact correct if not very well phrased. I understand that SEN statement children get automatic right to a place which is why I said that would be the only way a special need would really count.
What I meant by the sentence you have quoted is that in my view the only avenue for success that this OP is likely to have in appealing is focusing on the special need and the possible impact upon this need of one school versus another. And in this instance there is an argument for the familiarity minimising anxiety and therefore the issues associated with the stutter. In my experience of friends and people I work with appealing on the basis of this is far more likely to be successful than arguing a social and emotional type reason.
Maisy - of course you make the choice you believe to be in your child's best interests but what I'm saying is you are now past that point in that he hasn't been allocated the place and it was on that basis I suggested you consider the other options positively. You may get through on appeal but you don't seem to have significant grounds and I have seen friends go through the heartache of failed appeals.
Mutley - you are correct.
A documented medical need to attend the school will lend weight to an appeal. But it is perfectly possible to win non ICS appeals without any additional needs being a factor.
People can and do win purely on social and other reasons although it does of course make sense to include additional needs if any are relevant.
The trouble with thinking "my friend lost and she had a really good medical reason" or "my friend won and she only had a social reason" is that this is only half the story at an appeal.
An appeal on what you might consider very trivial grounds can win if the school isn't that full and doesn't put up much evidence that it can't cope with more children.
Equally a person with overwhelming medical needs can lose at appeal if the school's case that it cannot cope with more children is convincing.
For that reason nobody here can tell the OP how likely she is to win. The only advice would be to include anything that is relevant and that documented proof is better.
For the reasons above, nobody with a really strong case should enter the process feeling sure they'll win and nobody with a weaker case should feel sure they'll lose at appeal. It just doesn't work like that. The best to do is to join waiting lists and a plan B but use the appeal as only one avenue - not pin all your hopes on it.
Thanks Tiggy - your advice is very sound. Do you mind me asking what your background is and how you have such a good understanding of it all?
I appreciate what you're saying about appeals not being scientific. It sounds like whilst the key reasons for appeal are obviously factors, a lot of it comes down to who's on the panel, who else appeals etc. This makes it all the more difficult to decide whether it's worth putting yourself through the ordeal for though.
Can anyone shed any light on the kind if cases that do win at appeal? Everyone keeps saying only very compelling cases get through and people just keep telling me what wouldn't win (I.e everything as far as I can tell!) It's fairly encouraging to hear Tiggy say that "social" cases can win - but that goes against everything I've been told so far, which has basically lead me to believe that nothing, other than proving admission criteria have been wrongly applied, would get a second thought. I'm SO confused.
Ted (think that's right!?) I understand your point now and good to know someone understands what it feels like to be essentially excluded from a school you're so entrenched in. It's more painful than I thought it would be
get a grip, you chose to be so involved in the school. I would not be impressed if you got a school place because your child had spent hours playing duplo there!
MaisyMoo123 - I am a parent who went through a complicated admissions process for my first child and as such know far more about appeals and admissions than any one person would want to - but definitely less than prh admissions and Panel Chair - the other regular posters here who are admissions experts / chair appeals. They are the ones who will be much better placed to help you with the Stage 1 aspects especially (the bit where you seek to prove the school won't be disadvantaged by taking more pupils as opposed to Stage 2 which is your reasons for wanting a place)
The reason so many people will be very negative about your chances is that reception appeals are almost always ICS appeals which are very hard to win unless you can prove an admissions error. Normal reception appeals are notorious for almost always failing.
You are different. You in the slightly rarer (and from an appeals point of view, luckier) position of this not being and ICS appeal which totally changes things in terms of your chances of success.
You can win at appeal if the panel feel the disadvantages to your child of not being accepted outweigh the disadvantages of the school of taking him.
If the school's case is to say they see little disadvantage to taking more pupils, your appeal (and others) will be much easier to win than it would be at schools who put up a real fight and have very compelling evidence that the school simply cannot admit more pupils.
If the schools case is so weak as to be non existent (and I have heard of it once) everyone who appeals can win with none of their reasons for appealing even being looked at! That's rare though. Examples of people who may get to stage 2 and win at appeal include a (documented) shy child wanting to stay with friends, a child new to the area wanting to build local community friendships, a child with hearing problems preferring a school with smaller classrooms rather than open-plan ones, a child wanting to be in a faith school or with siblings or in a school that offers orchestra clubs if they are good at music, a school with wide doorways or no stairs for a child with mobility problems.... all sorts of things.
But people with the exact same reasons can also lose at appeal even if they present an identical case to somebody else who won somewhere else. There are no precedents set by appeals.
If the school is full and really struggling with the pupil numbers, then sometimes nothing the parents can say will overcome that and even evidence of quite strong medical needs will lose at appeal.
It is a balancing act and although you may not feel faith and dysfluency are strong reasons (I would say the dysfluency would be stronger if you got a letter detailing advantages of this school in terms of ease of transition), that doesn't mean you cannot win.
Because in your case, the schools case may also come across as very weak - they have no more than 28 per class and are actively discussing increasing PAN. Therefore they may not convince a panel that 28 pupils is the absolute limit and the sky will fall in if they take one more.
The panel balance you against them. They don't have a chart somewhere that says 'these reasons win appeals and these don't'
I don't think there's any need to be nasty here kilmuir. I know I choose to be involved in the school and but I certainly don't expect my ds to get in on the back of it. No appeal would ever be won on a child having played duplo in the school and I have never suggested it would. It was just an illustration of how much time he's spent there and how familiar he is with the place. I know none if these reasons mean he is more entitled to a place than any other child and it's not about my child stealing a place from another child anyway.
Tiggy - thanks again. It's great that you're using your experience with all this to help shed light on it for others. Your insights are so helpful. The other 2 appeals experts haven't responded yet - might start another appeals related thread rather than this vague one and see if they spot that.
kilmuir did you mean to be so horrid?
OP is upset. Why say nasty spiteful things.
Maisy - that's a good idea. prh, Panel Chair and admissions are often around but may miss something added on to an older thread. If you start a new thread for advice and put in the title that you need ideas for an non ICS appeal, I am sure they will be able to offer advice and support.
Can't add much to tiggy's comprehensive advice, but I am puzzled and alarmed by the school apparently trying to talk you out of appealing with a vague promise to raise the PAN to admit your child. There is a proper formal process for any school to go through, to increase the PAN, and it's unethical (in my view) to dissuade anyone from exercising their right of appeal. Besides, as you see, if they create an extra place there's no guarantee it will go to your child if you're not first on the waiting list.
In constructing your appeal, you need to establish what current numbers in each class are (ie below 30), similar information for previous years would also be helpful. Do set out what your child would gain by attending the school, but (as others have said, some gently and some not so gently) don't go overboard on your child expecting to go to the school or playing with duplo in the HT's office. That will sound flimsy - plenty of children get a school other than the one they expected and do just fine - so you need to look for more concrete reasons, such as the school's Christian ethos, aspects of the curriculum and after-school provision etc.
Thanks Panel - that's really helpful.
Just to clarify - the school weren't trying to persuade me not to appeal and implying that they might be able to swing a place for us if they go above PAN later. They're assuming we'll be fairly high on waiting list, in which case there would be the potential for that avenue to be helpful to us. Absolutely no guarantees though.
Their advice was also that we didn't have a strong enough case and that the waiting list was our best option - and I'm still not sure. There are so many differing (and extreme!) opinions on this! I'm just not sure we can build a robust enough case. You say that we need to gather evidence on class sizes - I've also heard that the school will be asked to do this? Would it need to come from both of us?
The school has no clubs that would especially benefit ds (in fact alternative has more!!!) I fear I'm hanging way too much on his familiarity with the place but I know this will look way too flimsy to a panel
You need to gather your own evidence on class sizes, because you need to demonstrate that admitting your child won't take the class above 30. If you find that any recent class has had 29 or 30 in years R to 2, that helps your case.
The reason I say don't go overboard on the 'familiarity' argument is that that is the argument always used when children in an attached nursery don't get a place in the school and, on its own, it never works. That said, those are usually ICS appeals, which are argued on narrower grounds, but even so you need to find some other arguments to add to the mix.
I've just had a quick chat with the head. She's very supportive. Tahoe confirmed that they currently have 42 in reception and their PAN is 40 - so thinking that's positive?
They have written to everyone who's been offered a place and asked them to confirm that they want it by today. So far one has declined and they're still waiting for 8 to be returned. Plus, there's one person who's accepted the place but is appealing to go elsewhere. Obviously this information is fairly academic as it depends where we are on the waiting list but a little encouraging - especially as judging by where others have hot in from we might be fairly high. Who knows though.
Our case is the fact they can (and have) take more, familiarity with school, established relationship with staff and the fact he's already part of the community, The faith element (- would a letter from vicar help with this if it's only controlled?) and his dysfluency which might be exacerbated by unfamiliar school. I'm struggling to think of any features of this school over the other which we could argue on other than the fact that the other is more chaotic (and actually feels more crowded) which won't suit his personality but that's flimsy I know.
This is so hard but I'm reaching the point where I think I have to get an appeal form submitted and see how we go.
An appeal is the logical next step. So many of the variables are beyond your control that, whilst sitting tight and just waiting may work, if you are way down the waiting list, you may not get an allocation any other way.
The school can chase offers but cannot enforce deadlines so soon. They certainly cannot take places away from the 8 people yet to apply. Not until every avenue for contacting them has been exhausted.
The person appealing to go elsewhere is even harder to rely on. As you know, most YR appeals are ICS ones and have virtually no chance of success (unless there's been an error). If the school they want has 30 per class, their chances are very slim at best.
The list thing is a bit of a pain. Most schools / LAs will tell you your list position at this stage even if they stress a million times that it isn't static and more may be added above you as late applicants are dealt with.
All of your arguments are fine for a non ICS appeal. They might not win an appeal on their own but as a combination may sway a panel especially where a school's case to refuse entry is weak (they have gone over 40 before and coped just fine)
Yes a letter from the vicar will help. And a letter from your SLT too if you can get one. It would be useful for her to say the familiar environment of the school will ease transition anxiety which could exacerbate DS's speech problems. If she doesn't feel comfortable naming one school even a letter saying small class sizes and a less busy environment would be good (because you can then join the dots to show that the school you want offers such things)
Thanks Tiggy - wise words yet again!!
The school has written to all those offered a place and asked them to confirm purely because they had 5 children just not turn up on the first day of term last sept and they just want to avoid that happening again if they can. They won't take any action themselves in terms of releasing places etc it's just for there own admin purposes really. Obviously the actual list is being managed centrally. I know there's nothing concrete in any of this for us really, but little things give me some encouragement anyway!!
It's very reassuring to hear you say that my case is ok. I guess it's a question of pulling all the elements together into a coherent argument. I will endeavour to get a letter from the SALT - she's very nice and I recently touched base with her on the issue so she's aware. Your point about linking the effects of the more chaotic school on ds's dysfluency is really helpful. I'm sure the vicar will be happy to provide a letter too - guessing this should emphasise our links to the church and the fact that ds is part of the community (which includes church and school!?)
I've been told we can call on 20th to find out where we are on the waiting list and that's the day they reallocate spaces too. Seems ages off so time to turn my attention to filling out the appeal form. Do I just list the arguments set out above or do I need more context? And can I submit letters later on?
There will be a space tt the back of the form to write your reasons for appeal.
You can put the reasons in bullet point form and then elaborate on each one on a separate sheet. You can send letters of support and other evidence with the form itself or send them at a later date as you get them (but well in advance of the appeal hearing when a date is granted)
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