decision on 1st March? Anyone want to sit and sweat it out with me?

(418 Posts)

Urgh I am starting to feel queasy. I just want to know now. PFB (dd1) doesn't care which school she gets into and dh is being irritatingly pragmatic.

Is anyone else twitching nervously?

ChippyMinton Sun 03-Mar-13 23:24:16

Thanks, but because it's subsciption only I can only read the first few lines. Never mind smile

gazzalw Mon 04-Mar-13 06:16:28

The article isn't that exciting really as it's essentially about appeals and employing specialists to help you win them.

mindingalongtime Mon 04-Mar-13 17:18:43

chippyminton i just hope this is okay!

Sunday Times article

As 10 and 11-year-olds nationwide waited anxiously last Friday to hear whether they’d be starting at the secondary school of their choice in September, their mothers gathered online.

“Feeling a bit queasy now — anyone else want to sit and sweat it out with me?” one anxious mother posted on the online parenting forum Mumsnet as the hours ticked down to National Offer Day, when local authorities announce the secondary school places.

Slowly news of the winners and losers trickled through. Some parents could check their emails as the clocked ticked past midnight on Thursday but others had to wait until 7.30pm on Friday. “That’s just evil,” posted another mum.

With the waiting finally over, those left without a place at their preferred school this weekend must now decide whether to appeal against the decision. Parents have a right of appeal to an independent panel, made up of between three and five members of the public.

According to Matt Richards of the education consultancy schoolappeals.com, parents should always consider challenging a school or local council’s decision, in spite of the lengthy quasi-legal battle they face.

Richards is part of a booming industry of experts and websites charging parents for advice and encouraging them to believe that they can take on their council and win. Such services include tips on how to contest the decision as well as access to advisers who will research the case, write a statement and even accompany parents to hearings, at a cost of anything from £50 to £2,000.

Richards, who expects to work with about 600 families this year (at £90 for the first hour), says that one in three appeals is successful nationwide and that with expert advice the rate can be improved.

His advice to disappointed families this weekend is to “think of your appeal like your GCSE maths or driving test: you need to do hours and hours of preparation”.

The key to success, he says, is to assemble a solid case as to why that school, and only that school, is the right one for your child.

“I have one child on my books who is passionate about engineering. He is 11 but he wants to be an engineer like his dad. The school he wants has an engineering club and excellent science facilities, which he wants to be part of. That is a reason for appealing,” says Richards.

“If your child is good at languages and you want to get them into a languages specialist school, that’s a reason for appealing. But just saying my child is bright and so she needs a great school is not enough. ”

The second line of attack is to show that the “the problems caused to the child by not being admitted would be greater than the problem caused to the school if it admitted an extra pupil”.

Paul Courtman-Stock, a business consultant, remembers feeling “worried” this time last year when his daughter Rebecca’s application to Hertfordshire and Essex High School in Bishop’s Stortford was turned down. Instead she was offered a place at a school further away. The family enlisted the help of William Allen, of my-herts-school-place.com, challenged the decision and won. Rebecca is now in her first year at Hertfordshire and Essex.

“Rebecca’s friends from the small primary school they had all attended had won places at Herts and Essex high school,” explains Courtman-Stock. “At the other school she would not have had friends in her first year, which would have been stressful for her. Also she is a bright child and we had chosen a school to optimise her learning potential.” Using an adviser helped the family “take the emotion out of our argument”, he says.

Sometimes, however, the process can be much longer and more contentious. Louise Flower and her husband, of Wilmington, East Sussex, spent several months and thousands of pounds fighting for a place for their youngest daughter, Indira, 5, at Alfriston School. They initially consulted a solicitor before turning to John Chard, of schoolappeals.org.uk, for advice.

Indira’s sister, Lorrie, had recently transferred to the school from another primary, where she had been unhappy, but Indira’s application for a place at Alfriston to start last September was unsuccessful. Primary class sizes are capped at 30 pupils, which can make appealing against rejection harder than at secondary-school level. Nonetheless, the family persisted.

Ooh, great beginning to that article everyone !

ChippyMinton Mon 04-Mar-13 17:29:01

Thank you minding smile

BTW We had a proper snail-mail letter come through the door today with a reply slip to return, so was happy to do that too, even though I'd already accepted online on Friday. Best to be sure I thought.
Sorry for anyone who's not got what they wanted and good luck for waiting lists and appeals.
Just waiting to find out which primary DNiece will be starting at now ....

jennybeadle Tue 05-Mar-13 10:15:10

Phew. DD2 got her no 1 choice. Worth the wait!

HolidayArmadillo Tue 05-Mar-13 15:02:28

Well. The plot thickens. I phoned the council yesterday to find out how to put DD on the waiting list for our first choice, I had to leave a message, today I receive a phone call from the council saying that DD has been offered a place at first choice school and a letter went out yesterday!! I have no idea how or why but I'm over the bloody moon!

ooh, will be nice to get the letter Armadillo
Hope that works out for you all, sounds good !

ChippyMinton Tue 05-Mar-13 15:48:49

That's a fast-moving waiting list Armadillo smile

kravings Tue 05-Mar-13 16:37:52

Armadillo - it probably means she must have been high on the waiting list and got offered a place as some one else rejected theirs.
So pleased for you.

HolidayArmadillo Tue 05-Mar-13 18:05:09

Whatever it means I'm very pleased as well. Can't believe it!

Blu Tue 05-Mar-13 18:25:34

one in three appeals is successful nationwide and that with expert advice the rate can be improved. from the Sunday Times article. How can that possibly be true? I was looking at some table about the number of applications and appeals at oone local school or borough, and less than 10% of appeals were successful. And if appeals were more than 33% sucessful, popular schools would be more than a third over capacity!

I mean, good luck to everyone who is appealing, but that article mainly reads as an ad for Mr £90 per hour. sad that appealing will now apprantly be yet another arena in which those that can fund a £90 per hour expert can leapfrog others. But smile that MN has it's very own experts, prh47bridge, Admissions and PanelChair who give extremely generous tips and support for free. Ongoing thanks to them!

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 05-Mar-13 20:57:01

Have to add thanks to all the admissions guys and gals. There's more than the 3 fantastic posters named above. I feel very fortunate that I don't actually need them as I was expecting to have to appeal this time around for DS3. thanks thanks thanks thanks

nipersvest Wed 06-Mar-13 11:52:41

well, am very relieved dd got a place at our local high school, by all accounts it is oversubscribed this year and the waiting list is 80+ long.

I just got a letter from out allocated school, confirming the place and asking for us to send a tear off slip back to them to confirm the place by Friday!

I'm now flapping - do I send it first class and get proof of posting, or recorded delivery?

jennybeadle Wed 06-Mar-13 16:05:52

How about Tracked? It's cheaper than recorded, and you can check on line when it's been delivered. It doesn't feel as obsessive either. not that I've done that with all my paper work, oh no

Thanks jennybeadle, I'll do that!

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