Anyone else going for a secondary appeal now?

(45 Posts)
Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 13:04:13

Hi, I just received the news that my daughter did not get a place in the school she wanted. Been on the phone to the council, and it turns out she had not been put in the category I was expecting, so just waiting to find out from the school why that is.

She has been offered a place in her second choice, for which I am grateful, but I think only one boy from her class had chosen that school, so she is not keen.

Not looking forward to telling her the news after school.

Anyone else in a similar situation?

Overtiredbackagain Tue 01-Mar-16 13:07:57

We're in Kent and don't find out until after 4pm today! Longest day ever!!

Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 13:09:02

Good luck!

tiggytape Tue 01-Mar-16 13:17:37

Thistly - if she was placed in the incorrect admissions category and as a direct result of that was denied a place then, in theory, you should not even have to appeal to get that rectified and a place offered.

Some councils make you appeal even in those circumstances but an admissions error leading to the loss of a place would be grounds to win an appeal.

However if there is some debate about which category she should have been placed in (I know categories such as "nearest school to the child's home" which some councils use cause all kinds of confusion and I know some parents don't get into a higher category as they don't present the correct evidence when requested) then you may have to appeal to establish who is right and also to put forward your other reasons for wanting a place at that school.

If you want to post more details, there are lots of people on these boards who can help.

Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 17:05:06

Tiggy, is that right?

That has given me hope.

It is a catholic school, and I thought she should be considered 'other Christian' as a Quaker. But I have spoken to the school admissions officer and she says that it does not count because she is not baptised. Quakers do not baptise. Membership is determined by attendance, and she had a letter of support stating she has attended since birth.

She is going to discuss with the head and phone back tomorrow.

If she had been placed in the correct category she would have had a chance at a place through random allocation.

I like the idea that they might just give a place, and not have to go through the appeals process! Although I am prepared to do so if necessary.

Thank you for your words of hope.

Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 17:07:54

Did you find out, overtired?

RedHelenB Tue 01-Mar-16 17:38:05

Baptism is usually a higher category in Catholic schools

tiggytape Tue 01-Mar-16 17:42:23

Yes it is correct but you need to read the admissions criteria carefully to see how they define "other Christian" to see if you are covered by that.
Do you already know that baptism isn't part of the published criteria and only attendance is? If so the admissions officer is incorrect to say that baptism is needed. If it isn't part of the published criteria, they cannot use it as a deciding factor at all.

I suspect that they have not considered whether Quakerism counts as part of the Christian faith or is a religion with Christian routes. I don't know enough about it to say one way or another but perhaps you know whether it is officially a branch of Christianity? Because if so, and they haven't included you in the right category which cost you a place, and if you meet the attendance criteria or whatever else they use for that faith criteria, you should be offered a place without having to appeal (but may have to appeal to get it).

You are going to need to scrutinise the exact wording of the admissions criteria including all the footnotes and definitions to see if they've put you in the wrong category. When deciding you (and they) should only use what's written in that document and not any other criteria they mention later that isn't written down (so if baptism isn't mentioned in the criteria, they cannot use it to decide who's Christian and who isn't).

meditrina Tue 01-Mar-16 17:51:26

Quakers are on the list of members of Churches Together, which is fairly widely used for admissions purposes as a definition of Christian. Do your criteria and supporting definitions mention this organisation?

tiggytape Tue 01-Mar-16 17:53:29

roots not routes!
meditrina - that sounds promising and something to look for. I suppose it will be down to the exact wording and the criteria they use to prove faith qualification.

prh47bridge Tue 01-Mar-16 18:05:42

Catholic churches normally insist on baptism for Catholic pupils. Insisting on baptism for other Christians is not something I have come across before. A number of denominations don't baptise infants - the Baptists, for example. I would therefore question the fairness of any criteria that gave priority to "other Christian" but only if they have been baptised.

The big question is what the criteria say about "other Christian". If they don't say anything about having to be baptised in order to qualify under this category the school has definitely got this wrong. If they do say children have to be baptised to qualify as "other Christian" I would still challenge this on the basis that it unfairly excludes children from those Christian denominations that do not baptise infants or young children.

The fact that they use random allocation makes this a little more complicated in that, unless all children in the "other Christian" category were admitted, you can't prove that your child would have been admitted if placed in that category. However, it seems clear that you have been unfairly disadvantaged which is definitely grounds for an appeal.

Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 18:11:28

Thanks so much for your replies.

The criteria says Non-Catholic children who are of a Christian faith who live within a feeder parish or attend a Catholic School within a feeder parish . The footnote requires baptismal certificate or letter of support from minister.

I will check to exact wording when I am on my pc.
I met the head before applying, and he said that Quaker counted as christian in his view, so I was confident she belonged in that category.. But I'm not sure how much that counts for now.

I have seen the 'churches together' list mentioned in the admissions booklet when we were applying for a primary school place, but not for secondary.

Thistly Tue 01-Mar-16 18:22:50

Thank you prh47...
It sounds like this might be an extra argument we can use in appeal, on top of a few other reasons we already had in mind.

I was liking the idea that they could just give her a place as she had been unfairly disadvantaged, I must admit!

but i have already been told that not all the children in the 'other Christian' category were allocated a place, so I think I need to be ready for an appeal.

The school said they would get back to me about it tomorrow.

I do appreciate the feedback you are all giving me about this situation. Thanks.

Thistly Wed 02-Mar-16 10:35:16

Still waiting for phone call from school. Now would be convenient, while baby is napping!

Anybody else thinking about appealing?

tiggytape Wed 02-Mar-16 10:40:43

If you don't hear today Thistly (or even if you do in fact) put everything discussed so far in email form to the school i.e. what they said to you, what information you gave them, what they decide or promise to consider.
Appeals are not normally heard until spring or summer and it is useful to start a paper trail right away so that there's no dispute about what was promised way back in March.
The same applies to any emails they send you - print off and keep all copies.
Saying that, I hope it is good news and you get an offer before it gets to that - it's more a just in case.

Thistly Wed 02-Mar-16 20:46:10

That's such a good idea. Thank you tiggy.
They did get back to me and agreed that she had been put into the wrong cateegory. She has been moved into the correct category now. I now need to go through appeals, with this added into my two other reasons why my daughter would be better off in the school.

Not looking forward to it, I must say, and it will be an unsettled few months for my daughter to have the uncertainty hanging over her. No other children in her year are going to the school she has a place at.

Katenka Thu 03-Mar-16 07:09:52

I appealed last year. You have my sympathy. Dd was was discounted because we live across the council boundry , but close to the school.

The LEA argued that meant she wasn't entitled to a place as we don't pay council tax to them. However, ds goes to school in that area. They were obliged to give dd a place is that area also because the two areas have different holidays (don't know if that's the rule everywhere).

Also we found documentation that said that the council boundry wasn't an issue.

These mistakes do happen. It is an unsettling time, when appealing. Just make sure you have everything documented, and take it all with you to the appeal.

The appeal itself was very difficult, but definitely worth it.

Good luck!

prh47bridge Thu 03-Mar-16 07:24:35

The LEA argued that meant she wasn't entitled to a place as we don't pay council tax to them

How ridiculous. Councils have known since the Greenwich judgement in 1989 that they must treat children living outside their area the same as those who live within the LA. So if a school does not have a priority admissions area and uses distance as the tie breaker a child living 1 mile away in an adjacent LA gets priority over a child living 2 miles away within the school's LA.

Katenka Thu 03-Mar-16 07:36:25

prh47 that's not even the worst of it. The woman at the LEA wrote to dds sendco at her junior school to reprimand her for writing a letter saying why the school we were appealing was the only one suitable. It's said that 'the LEA may take further action'.

We found information stating that teachers from the school you are appealing aren't supposed to write supporting letters, but nothing about teachers/sendco at the school she was currently at.

We entered that as part of our appeal as we felt she had tried to intimidate the sendco. She attended the appeal with us. The panel were clearly shocked.

At the appeal the LEA accepted they shouldn't have done it. I was quite appalled at the LEAs behavoour during the appeal time.

Thistly Thu 03-Mar-16 10:25:46

How awful,
Outrageous in fact.

I am hoping our lea and the School are going to play nice for us... They have all been sympathetic over the phone... Are they just lulling me into a false sense of security?
I have other reasons not to trust the council, but hopefully the individuals I have dealt with count?

meditrina Thu 03-Mar-16 10:30:32

"They have all been sympathetic over the phone."

Just in case you need a paper trail, send a follow up email after phone exchanges, summarising your understanding of what had been said/agreed. Then if they have misspoken, they have a chance to correct things before you rely on them. And if they don't want to make any amendations, you have your record of what was said and can show it was not challenged at the time.

tiggytape Thu 03-Mar-16 10:30:37

Thistly - did you get to the bottom of the main question in your case?
They admit DD was placed in the wrong category but, had she been in the right category from day 1, would she have got a place at the school?
Or did some people in the 'other Christians' category miss out so you would have missed out anyway due to the distance tie-breaker even if you'd been in the correct category?

Katenka - That is truly awful. I have heard of some mildly underhand LA tactics before but that is just shocking. And as prh says, the fact they were nearly 30 years out of date on legislation is also appalling. I always love hearing of successful appeals but I am really, really glad you won yours!

Katenka Thu 03-Mar-16 10:32:42

The admissions office were lovely and really helpful.

Our post is terrible, things comes weeks late so they told me to ring every week to see if the appeal date had been released.

You just have to go into knowing that the person at the appeal is doing their job and will try and win at all cost. It's their job. We just got someone who didn't know where the line was.

The way she acted made me wonder if she got some sort of bonus or incentive for winning.

She even called me a bad planner and a bad mother for not preparing my child for going to the school we got (she was attacked by a pupil who was going there. The police charged him and dd was suffering from ptsd).

Not all appeals or people who do them are like this. But I went into knowing I had to have the same 'take no prisons' attitude whilst trying to not be aggressive or angry. And have all the paperwork to back me up.

Note she didn't call dh a bad parent. Just me. Thankfully our sendco was really good and backed us up and rebuffed the 'she needs to get over it attitude'.

Thistly Thu 03-Mar-16 10:41:44

Katenka.... That sounds so gruelling and brutal!

Tiggy,
So far they have moved her category. If she had been in the correct category she might have got a place... Some but not all did, through random allocation, so impossible to know if she would have been one of the lucky one (which is what the woman at lea said).

I queried the fact that she might have been offered a place, had she been correctly categorised and the school said to proceed with an appeal, but that they would discuss it.

So I guess I wait and see if they get back to me about that, but in the meantime, I write some emails, and fill all the forms in.

tiggytape Thu 03-Mar-16 10:46:24

Wow - that sounds horrendous. Most appeals are definitely not like that at all.
Yes, the other side has a duty to present their case - after all if they didn't every parent could win at appeal and the school would face unlimited numbers in Year 7. But personal attacks are not just crossing a line - they are unthinkable in that situation.

Their case should not be an emotional one. It is just that: the school is full, we cannot take anymore because it will cause the lunch room to be more crowded and there are only 20 computers in the IT room.
The allocated school should not even get a mention let alone a mother be criticised for not preparing for it! The other school is not relevant.

The parents then present their case. They say that the school cannot be that full because they took 8 extras last year with no problems in the lunch hall and anyway, their child has such a serious need for a place that sharing a computer once a week is very minor compared to a serious medical or other problem that would result from not getting a place.

If the panel agree, the parents win. There's no need for anything other than a factual exchange. I have only once heard of a case before where the admissions authority got a bit unprofessionally uppity and that was because it was an academy where the school did it's own 'defence' and was getting tons of pressure from the parents with children already at the school who didn't want any extra children to be taken on at appeal (several children did win).

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