Anyone have experience with the efa for maladministration

(37 Posts)
Boygirl5 Thu 04-Jul-13 22:47:00

Hi everyone, I'm new on here, so here goes.....
I had an appeal hearing on 17th June. First the school rep gave his case, I had no questions. Then it was my turn, I had prepared a script to read from which I asked could I read from. I offered the clerk a copy and he accepted. When I had finished the panel said they had no questions and neither did the school rep.
Panel asked school rep to sum up and he declined they then asked me if I wanted to sum up I said yes I had some notes. The chair then asked if I had copies of that too i said yes. So he asked me to just leave my notes as they would read themselves as they had nearly 60 appeals to hear!

I rang the efa later that day as I wasn't happy that I hadn't been asked questions, allowed to sum up, nor had they made reference to any of the many letters of support.
The efa advised that I should wait until I receive the outcome of the appeal before putting a complaint in.
I found out on Friday 28th June that my appeal had been unsuccessful, I have sent an email of complaint to the efa the same day 28th June.

I believe this constitutes maladministration. Does anyone have any thoughts on this or experience on how likely I am to be granted another appeal or indeed how long these things take.

Many thanks in advance for any advice/support

tiggytape Fri 05-Jul-13 08:54:36

Your best bet is to look at the 2012 Appeals Code and highlight any points you feel apply to your appeal.
For example there is no requirement for anybody to ask you any questions at appeal (although it is good practice and normally necessary for them to do so) but 1.12 says The chair is responsible for "ensuring that the parties have sufficient opportunity to state their case and ask questions." You would say that you did not have sufficient opportunity if you were told to leave written notes (as opposed to being invited to do so and agreeing to this).

2.12 states "Appeal panels must allow appellants the opportunity to appear in person and make oral representations."

Your letters of support may or may not have been part of the decision making process depending on what they were (if they were from the school or an MP for example then they either carry little weight or cannot be taken into account. If they were from a Dr it is very poor that they haven't been looked at).

Regarding the letter:
2.25 says "The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible so that the parties can understand the basis on which the decision was made. The decision letter must contain a summary of relevant factors that were raised by the parties and considered by the panel. It must also give clear reasons for the panel’s decision, including how, and why, any issues of fact or law were decided by the panel during the hearing."

So if your decision letter doesn't do this, you could also complain there too.

Boygirl5 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:17:40

Hi my letters of support were from, Dr, hypnotherapist, private tutor, current year head, priest, football manager, friends and family.

The letter says a brief outline if matters considered, 5 bullet points, the rest of the three page letter details the schools over subscription part and says the schools case outweighed my own.

Thanks

tiggytape Fri 05-Jul-13 10:46:15

It is hard to say whether correct consideration was given because it depends on what the letters said as well as who they were from – for example your letter from the Dr (if expressing his professional opinion on a matter directly related to a medical condition and its implications for the choice of school) should have been acknowledged so you knew it was taken into account.

However I cannot think of anything a letter from a friend could add that would sway an appeal panel. Generally letters of support have to be from a professional expressing a professional opinion and demonstrating why only the school you are appealing for and no other is suitable. It is possible that the letters you supplied did not meet this criteria but I agree that the decision letter should still have told you this so you knew why you lost your case.

In the hearing, you were given the chance to ask questions and that is important. You were not however given the chance to read your case aloud. Depending on whether you readily consented to this or were told you could not present the case personally would shape the view the EFA take of it I suspect. If you were prevented from speaking and had wished to then you would definitely have a case to say you had suffered maladministration. If the decision letter does not refer to the main elements of your case then this too indicates a problem with the way the decision was made. That’s not to say the decision would be a different one with anther panel – it may still have been unsuccessful – but parents have a right to present their cases individually even if there are 60 appeals to get through and have a right to a letter detailing how the decision was arrived at.

If the EFA agree with you, they are likely to order a fresh appeal. If this happens, you might want to review your case - the list of your supporting letters hints that perhaps you need to focus on the key elements a bit more so you don't dilute them with letters than an appeals panel wouldn't give weight to.

Boygirl5 Fri 05-Jul-13 23:42:53

Thanks tiggytape, I agree with you. If I do manage to get another appeal I will be making it much more focused and for just one twin. I think applying for two places probably never helped much either.

The letters from friend is actually my cousin, we share childcare her child got a place whilst mine did not.

The doctor explained he was suffering from depression. The school I was appealing to prides itself on its pastoral care, which is why I wanted it.

Thanks, I'm just hoping I get another appeal now. Do you have any experience with the efa? Or maladministration issues? Thanks

tiggytape Sat 06-Jul-13 09:35:46

No sorry - the efa is quite new. Only since academies were formed has there been a separate body from the LGO to deal with their school appeal problems. And the efa also had a predecessor called the YPLA too so has only been going for about 15 months.

prh47bridge Sat 06-Jul-13 10:40:39

I don't have any experience with the EFA either. They are supposed to work to the same standard as the LGO and I understand there were a lot of discussions between the two bodies to try and achieve this. I have seen some suggestions that the EFA is less likely to rule in favour of parents but I don't know if that is true. The only way to be sure would be to give an identical set of cases to both the EFA and the LGO and see if the outcomes were similar.

This is one area where I think change is needed. If the EFA and the LGO are not consistent we will end up in a situation where there is one set of rules for academies and another for everyone else. Personally I would prefer to see the LGO handle all complaints about admission appeals.

FormaLurka Sat 06-Jul-13 11:27:13

I have no experience of the EFA or admissions but IMHO you seem to have a weak case and the EFA probably fast forwarded your appeal because of that.

I mean, I don't see how letters from your cousin, priest or football manager is relevant. I have known people who successfully appealed because a school has specialist SEN provisions but pastoral care? hmm

prh47bridge Sat 06-Jul-13 12:55:39

The EFA hasn't done anything in this case yet. The OP is complaining about the appeal panel (nothing to do with the EFA). They should always give the appellant a proper hearing. However weak the case, preventing the OP from summing up is poor practise, as is arranging so many cases for the same day that the panel ends up rushing through them.

The EFA don't look at the strength of the case. They look at whether or not the appeal was administered correctly and, if not, whether the OP was sufficiently disadvantaged to justify a fresh appeal.

NotFluffy Sat 06-Jul-13 13:22:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Sat 06-Jul-13 16:35:13

Forma - the efa won't judge the parent's chances of winning or strength of their arguments - that's not what this is about.
They judge whether the appeal was managed correctly - as in following correct procedure.

If a parent is not allowed to speak or sum up at the appeal then that's not on. It doesn't matter how weak the panel thought the case was.
Parents are allowed to appeal on any basis that they want and rightly expect to be given the time and attention they want to express their reasons. And yes appeals can be won on pastoral care issues or even curriculum issues (eg one school offers better science options for a child good at science). It doesn't have to be based on special needs to be successful.

If the efa find the correct procedure wasn't followed, Boygirl should get a fresh appeal and I agree, if that happens, she should follow the advice to forget about childcare and letters from friends and just focus on the important points i.e. demonstrating that only this school meets her child's needs whether they are social, medical, pastoral or academic needs or a mixture of all 4.

FormaLurka Sat 06-Jul-13 17:04:38

I obviously got the appeals panel confused with the EFA. But even if the EFA decides that the appeal was incorrectly handled, the best that the OP can expect is another hearing. If that is the outcome then all the OP gets is a 2nd attempt to present a weak case.

tiggytape Sat 06-Jul-13 17:27:13

Yes - that is true Forma. But at least if Boygirl gets a second chance she can try to firm up her case.
She has a Dr's letter so there is obviously a medical aspect to the appeal and if she makes sure the stronger needs aren't diluted by the weaker ones (or the irrelevant ones like childcare) she would have a better chance of winning.
Also she will get a fresh panel, not one that has the gloomy prospect of 60 appeals looming and seems overly anxious to zip through them. She'll get a chance to explain her reasoning more fully. On the basis that parents are normally only allowed only 1 appeal per academic year, a second chance to appeal knowing what needs to be improved upon would be a good outcome. It might not change the final decision but at least it will have been fairly reached.

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 11:43:30

Thanks everyone. Yes I would change the focus. My son was diagnosed with depression in yr 5. The dr and hypnotherapist agreed it had begun due to school issues, basically the teacher not teaching to his level.
During yr 6 his year head is very aware and has closely monitored the situation, he has overcome it with help and is leaving yr 6 with 2 level 6's and 2 level 5's in his SAT's
The school i am appealing to prides itself on the emotional well being of its pupil, hence the appeal.
I could of appealed to a grammar as he missed out by a few points and he sat the exam when he was still seeing the dr and therapist. However the pastoral care is not as good and I was worried there may be too much pressure there for him.
The case I submitted was with the help of a so called professional in school appeals. If I manage to secure another appeal I will be doing it myself with advice from here I hope.
I'm really grateful for your helpful advice. Thanks

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:25:12

Formalurka - the priests letter is to reinforce the faith part of our application. Basically the priest knows us and we attend church.

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:31:43

Notfluffy - I was in there around 15 mins which was for two appeals as I have twins.
What experience as a panel member do you have? The school I was appealing to is an over subscribed faith school, one which not only does very well, academically but prides itself on its pastoral care.
My sons current head of year recommended the school. It is only 2 miles from our house.
The person helping with my appeal told me to add letters from family etc to show current connections with school, my nephew attends already etc.
Also had letter from GP and therapist.
The head of year felt my case was very strong. Obviously she is not a panel member.
I would appreciate any help you could offer. I was advised that without a dr letter no appeal would be successful.

Thanks

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 13:35:02

Tiggytape - thanks for all your input. Are you a panel member yourself? I'd had no experience with appeals etc which is why I paid an 'expert' to help and advise.

Thanks

NotFluffy Mon 08-Jul-13 15:32:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prh47bridge Mon 08-Jul-13 15:35:01

Some of the advice you were given seems very poor. Family connections with the school are irrelevant, for example. This is why I always advise against paying "experts" to help with admissions appeals. Mind you, my wife keeps telling me I should set up as an expert so maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot! grin

15 minutes for two appeals is very quick. It would be quick even for one appeal. Fingers crossed the EFA will send it back for a fresh hearing with a different panel.

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 17:54:07

Notfluffy - thanks for replying. Yes I'm of the correct faith. I applied under the faith criteria, the selection is made via random allocation.
It was a private hypnotherapist I hired along with a private tutor.
I feel it vital to mention he has a twin, who I am happy to attend the offered school. It's not a witch hunt for the offered school by any means, far from it.
I, as a mother, know what's best for them and what support they need and where they would thrive. Two very different people with very different needs. Hope this makes sense.
The info gathered re:pastoral care was on the prospectus and speaking to staff on the open evenings of the four schools we visited.
I do appreciate any advice you can give, and hope if I manage to get another hearing you don't mind me asking some questions. Thanks

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 17:55:02

Prh47 thanks for your help. If I get another hearing ill be asking a million questions

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 18:27:20

Notfluffy - the paperwork was basically that the school was full.
I applied only under the faith criteria. Thanks

NotFluffy Mon 08-Jul-13 20:13:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 21:39:38

Ahh I see what you mean. Obviously when I hired tutor and therapist I didn't do so thinking I would need them for an appeal.

The gp letter said he suffered depression due to school related issues resulting in 10lbs in weight loss and hair loss. (At 6stones and 10 years of aGe it was a lot). It said Tom had seen a tutor and therapist to help him.

The therapist was recommended to me by someone I know and the tutor I hired through the Internet. He works at a local grammar, he was quite young and I thought he would 'connect' with my son. He has his only business as a private tutor also.

I didn't bring it up at the original application quite truthfully because I was hoping they would get in via random selection. There are two of them therefore twice the chance (if one is selected the other automatically gets a place).
Also hadn't gathered any evidence as such, his head of year was aware and was addressing the situation in his current school. I didn't really feel the need to start collecting evidence to complete the LEA preferences.

The school he has been allocated has 240 children per year! I feel he'll be 'swallowed up' in a school that size. The school I'm appealing only has 150.
The allocated school pastoral care speaks of drug use and extreme bullying involving the police.
The desired school speaks of emotional and spiritual well being.

Thanks

Boygirl5 Mon 08-Jul-13 22:29:28

Also, if I manage to get another appeal..... Do I mention the other things about the school suited to my soms interests? Such as maths and science clubs etc
Or do these class as s irrelevant? He is a keen mathematician. And is generally very academic but is also a great sportsman.

The 'expert' who prepared my case last time said that for my case to out weigh the schools I must prove my children would be an asset and cause no problems hence all the support letters from football manager etc
Basically that to not attend would be detrimental to health and education.

Thanks

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