Advice on School place Appeal

(25 Posts)
NittersAndSewers Fri 26-Jun-15 13:39:02

Hello smile

I've been advised on another thread to start a thread in here to jelp me get my head around the appeals process and submit a fantastic case! There is a lot of background on the other thread here but the rough outline is that year 7 my ds has been bullied in school and at the bus stops but has stooped reporting in fear of further escalation...he is often having to wait alone at the bus stops until we can collect him by car (different villages linked by 60mph roads with no pavements)... Essentially he is getting more isolated and anxious in school and very vulnerable at the bus stop. We are on the waiting list for another school and I would like to out an appeal case together to see if the move could be sped up.

The current school is fine but a pain to get to and they can't take further action unless he names the bullies again. The other school (he'd like to go to) has brilliant behaviour, he has friends there, and the bus leaves from the end of our road. Our catchment school also has a bus from the end of the road but has just come out of special measures and has an awful reputation for behaviour.

Hope that all makes sense!

Towards the end of the other thread I pasted my first draft of the appeal case and was luckily and sensibly advised by another poster than I needed to get more factual and less emotional. So at the moment my second draft is as follows:

^Dear Members of the Panel
I wish to appeal to you on the following grounds:
Safety reasons: xxxx is being verbally and physically bullied at his school bus stop (Evidence - email correspondence with school).
Transport reasons: we live 3.5 miles from the nearest bus stop to his current school, which sometimes means that he is waiting alone with the bullies until we can pick him up by car. The majority of the route home by foot is on a rural road with no pavements. The bus to xxxx school is 0.7 mile walk away from home. (Evidence - maps and bus timetables).
Wellbeing reasons: the behaviour policy, Ofsted report, local reputation, and our visit to xxxxx school have made it evident that xxxxx school has the clearest and highest behaviour expectations, an environment in which xxxxxx can flourish (Evidence - policy, ofsted report, our comparison of policies of different schools).
Social reasons: xxxx is becoming increasingly anxious and withdrawn from school. He has many friends at xxxxx school. He has been previously been targeted at the bus stop by a boy who was subsequently moved to the catchment school. (Evidence....).
Thank you for taking the time to consider my appeal. I look forward to meeting you, and answering any questions you may have^


Any thoughts EXTREMELY gratefully received smile

DeeWe Fri 26-Jun-15 14:16:45

My thoughts as a purely lay person:
1. Does the email correspondence with school have any point where they admit there's an issue. Because if all the emails are you saying "This happened" and them saying "we'll investigate but there's no evidence" then it's going to look a little thin. Would (question for experts) they consider bullying at bus stop a school problem or would they say roughly "well it's up to you because he's not at school yet?"
2. If the bus stop is 3.5 miles from home surely they should provide a taxi? I thought if the school was more than 3 miles then they provided transport; if that's the case, surely they can't expect you to walk/travel 3.5 miles to the bus stop. Or am I missing something here? (probably!)
3. The well being and social look fairly weak to me, as in it's roughly what I'd expect anyone to say.
4. Following on from 3, can you find other reasons, sports' clubs, music, chess club, something else that he'd have an interest (preferably documented) that the new school offers and the old one doesn't

NittersAndSewers Fri 26-Jun-15 14:32:15

Hi deewee, thanks for replying

1. The emails do have acknowledgements that ds has told them about incidents but not always names. Some of the conversations were unfortunately by telephone though. Hmm, looking weaker.

2. They would only provide a taxi to our catchment school (the one mentioned towards the end of the op, the one that was in special measures).

3. I know. It's a real and painful issue but put on paper it is difficult to convey without getting all emional. Any thoughts on successful appeals based on bullying?

4. The current and desired schools have similar facilities, nothing obvious that I can honestly use for this but I could have another think.

DeeWe Fri 26-Jun-15 15:06:45

1. I don't think names would/should be important. However if they're admitting there was an incident (s) that would help, even if it's in a "yes we got the same tale from your ds". If it's all "this happened" from you and "we know nothing " from them, well obviously you could do that with nothing happening at all, just to fit your appeal.
2. That explains it! I was just bemused on that. I think that's worth mentioning, but I wonder if it's worth having (for the hearing not on paper) something that the new school offers that the catchment doesn't, otherwise they might say why didn't you go for that. Don't know if that's possible for them to ask, one of the experts might know.
3. It's one of those where as a person you can sympathise, but as an official they may just get kind of "heard it before". Again better try one of the experts here.
4. Hmm difficult. Different languages spoken? Get a list of clubs perhaps and see if there's any you might be able to use? Subjects at GCSE?

I'm not an expert though, so I'm sure someone else can help you more.

NittersAndSewers Fri 26-Jun-15 15:35:30

1. Ok, well, that's something. I am cknsidering asking the head of year for a letter of support for ds's siutation but not sure if it would be acceptable for her to do that. She has verbally sympathised that he would prob be better moving after the way it has gone, but nothing in the emails.
3. I agree with you, that as an outsider having to look at it objectively, the panel members may not see enough strength in the case for a place even jf they can see they ds does need to move.
4. Re languages, they offer spanish gcse there (other two schools don't) but only in alternate years...and not to ds's year! Typical! Would have been nice because it has family links. Thenother school offers lots of lunchtime clubs, which ds was interested in, not available in current school, so will look further in to it.

NittersAndSewers Fri 26-Jun-15 21:34:23

Bumping quickly for the Friday evening crowd smile and blushing at all my awful typos in previous posts

NynaevesSister Sat 27-Jun-15 06:50:09

Nothing to add but hope it goes well. How old is your DS? What is the movement like at the preferred school? Is he old enough to be at home on his own and motivated enough to work on his own while you wait? There are excellent online home school resources.

prh47bridge Sat 27-Jun-15 07:43:21

Your case is essentially that your son is being bullied so needs to move to a different school to get away from the bullies. Your son's refusal to report bullying may be a problem in that this could lead the panel to conclude that this is the issue and that, if he co-operated, his current school would be able to deal with the bullying. If you have anything that shows the school failing to take the situation seriously that will help. As it stands this could go either way but the fact your son is in KS2 will make it easier to win your appeal.

Good luck.

prh47bridge Sat 27-Jun-15 07:45:11

Sorry - for some reason I thought this was the Primary board and your son was aged 7 rather than in Y7! Ignore the part of my post that starts "the fact your son is in KS2".

NittersAndSewers Sat 27-Jun-15 14:57:52

Nynaevesister, he's 11, in yr 7. I have emailed the admissions lady about some idea of movement but haven't heard back from her. Hopefully Monday. It is a desirable school locally so I guess people mainly would move their kids out if they move house. I hope everyone above us on the list suddenly needs to move far, far away ha ha! Not sure at all about hime educating him. He respinds very well to a group/classroom environment, I can't see him being as motivated at home (even if we were happy to leave him alone).

Prh47bridge, I see what you're saying about the non reporting being argued against enough being done. It's a tricky one. Ds won't be the first or last child to be too worried to report bullying after the first reporting made the bullies worse. Simple self preservation. So much of the problem is that stuff happens at the bus stop, not witnessed by anyone except some other pupils who either join in or don't want to get involved.

lougle Sat 27-Jun-15 15:23:29

You need to remember that you ate appealing for a school, not against a school. Your case seems to be that he needs to leave this school (and doesn't want catchment) but not that he wants this particular school.

I think I'd focus on the angle of bullying has dropped his confidence and he has an established peer group at the appeal school.

NittersAndSewers Sat 27-Jun-15 15:30:45

Good approach lougle, thank you. I'm struggling a bit to 'see' clearly how to approach this logically. You are right, I am arguing why he needs to be in the other school, not anything else. I am perhaps preempting too much the arguments that may be raised at appeal e.g. why not go to the nearest catchment school, why not report the bullying and handle it in current school, etc.

I think that because our lives now revolve around trying to make sure he is not bullied at the bus stop (as in family life has to work around being at the right place twice a day) that I have felt that is an important part of the case to move elsewhere, if that makes sense?

PanelChair Sun 28-Jun-15 14:30:55

I agree with prh and lougle.

Do remember that the appeal has to be about why this particular school is best able to meet your child's needs. Don't waste time arguing about any other schools out there - it's about the appeal school and (to some extent) the school he's already at.

Dig up the figures for how many children the appeal school already has in each class/year. If they have previously exceeded their admission number or usual class size, that helps you because it undercuts the usual argument from the school that exceeding those numbers will create all sorts of problems. Your argument would be that they managed before and would manage again.

Frankly, I don't know what the panel will make of what you say about bullying. Even schools with excellent behaviour overall have incidents of bullying. It's how they tackle it that makes a difference. I feel for you and your son, but the panel may be confused about why he won't report the bullying and is relying on the slightly risky strategy of moving school. You would, I think, be in a far stronger position if you were able to present evidence that the current school had failed to respond adequately to the bullying. It might help if you frame your arguments with that in mind.

NittersAndSewers Sun 28-Jun-15 20:07:39

Thanks panelchair

Where would I find info on class sizes for the other school?

I see your point about the bullying. It's a tricky one. He is scared to report because the bullying worsened after the first report and because he is sometimes alone with bully at the bus stop. Do you think that would not be considered a fair reason by the panel?

After the first reporting, there was a restorative conference at which all the boys involved, including ds, had to sign an agreement to move forward (stop the behaviour, stop discussing it, etc). The main bully would not sign it without his parents permission, and the school have skirted the issue with me about whether that was ever signed. I happen to know from previous conversations that the boy's mother has stopped her older son from signing an agreement in a school in the past, because a school cannot legally demand this.
Would the apparent clouding over of this non-signing be worth pursuing or mentioning?

NittersAndSewers Sun 28-Jun-15 20:09:30

NB not too clear in my in my last question, sorry! I meant is it worth raising that the school have never been able to confirm to me whether the boy signed the agreement, therefore making the restorative conference a success?

PanelChair Sun 28-Jun-15 20:58:49

The school and the LEA are both required to give you all reasonable help in preparing for your appeal, so begin by asking the school for the class size data.

It is tricky about the bullying. What you are saying makes sense to me, but it's simply not the more clear-cut situation that sometimes comes up at appeals, where schools have been feeble in tackling bullying and so the child and family feel (in effect) forced out by the school's inaction. I certainly think it's worth mentioning that the outcome from the restorative conference was inconclusive - if you've got an email exchange showing that the school fudged the question of whether the lead bully ever signed the agreement, so much the better. As ever with appeals, it helps (wherever possible) to have documents to back up what you're saying.

NittersAndSewers Mon 29-Jun-15 19:52:30

Thank you again Panelchair.

I had wonderful news today - DS got offered a place at the school he wanted! It came out of the blue, we really didn't expect to have such a short wait on the reserve list. We are overjoyed, amd DS hasn't stopped grinning smile

PanelChair Tue 30-Jun-15 08:01:30

Excellent news! Are you in a city? Schools in big cities often have a lot of churn, so places in Y8 upwards do turn up. Anyway, you got the place without appeal, so hooray!

prh47bridge Tue 30-Jun-15 10:19:50

Good news indeed. Glad you've got the place you wanted without having to go through the stress of an appeal hearing.

NittersAndSewers Tue 30-Jun-15 20:51:27

Thank you, both.

No, not in a city. Quite rural. I have no idea how or why a place came up so quickly but I have no intention of asking, I just want to be thankful for the lovely hand fate dealt us grin

Doonuts Thu 02-Jul-15 21:47:11

Nothing to add but I just wanted to wish you the very best of luck!!!flowers

Teabagbeforemilk Sat 04-Jul-15 07:44:49

Fantastic news!!! I am so happy for you. I just won an appeal and it was awful. So happy you got a place without having to go through it! Congratulations!

NittersAndSewers Sun 05-Jul-15 17:33:50

Thank you doonuts and teabag smile

Doonuts Sun 05-Jul-15 17:59:23

Ahhh sorry I think I cross posted. Congratulations!!!! wine

DeeWe Mon 06-Jul-15 00:27:12

Great news!

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