Secondary school place disapointment, is this grounds for appeal

(16 Posts)
HeyNow Sat 05-Mar-16 19:19:18

I'm asking for a friend who doesn't use MN but have name changed as this will out my area to anyone who knows the situation.

Friend lives in a village with a primary school, seven miles from town where the secondary school is.

This primary school and some other village primary schools have always been official "feeder" schools for the secondary school my friend applied to for her Ds and kids from this primary actually get priority over the kids who live in town.

There are two schools in town that kids from this village generally get to. The one my friend applied to (school A) is the one where 90% of the village kids go to. It's quite a crap school. School B is slightly nearer and also a bit crap and about 10% of village kids go there. School A is normally oversubscribed, school B never is. But allll the kids from this village have always got their first choice of these two schools. The better schools in town are the other side of town and no hope of getting there.

So this year only the kids with siblings got a place at School A. Turns out School A had decided to do away with feeder schools but hadn't told anyone. So it went on distance and filled up with kids from town. So all the open evenings people went to nobody said anything. The schoo liaison officer came to the primary school to do a presentation and didn't say anything. Nobody knew!

So some kids have got into School b as this was their second choice. But there is a fair number of kids whose parents didn't put down School B as a second choice as it never crossed their mind they wouldn't get a place at A. School B has filled up for the first time ever. These kids have now got School C which is a really crap school and there's no bus to it, school is eight miles away. This is where my friend's DS got a place as she didn't put a second choice.

Should the school have published this big change better? There is nothing about their admissions policy on their website.

tiggytape Sat 05-Mar-16 19:28:37

Turns out School A had decided to do away with feeder schools but hadn't told anyone.
This needs to be checked because schools cannot change their admissions policies late in the day and also not tell anyone. There is a deadline by which they must publish how they will select applicants in the event that they are oversubscribed.
Normally the consultation process will be on their website and the primary schools made aware - especially if they are feeder schools. If your friend is really certain that they changed the criteria last minute and didn't publish this then potentially she has grounds to raise that at appeal.

Unfortunately however not putting down a second preference is really risky and, as she made a decision to do that, she hasn't got a valid complaint that it led to a loss of place at school B.
Even people who feel they have a guaranteed place at their 1st preference should fill in all the other preferences (or at least list a further 1 or 2) because some years, even when admissions rules are followed to the letter, surprises happen and people who think they'll get in don't.
She can of course ask to be added to the waiting list of school B even though she didn't apply there originally.

She can also appeal for school A and B by explaining why her child would suffer disadvantage from not being able to attend and explaining how school A and school B (separate cases to be made for each) meet her child's needs and interests.

LIZS Sat 05-Mar-16 19:31:11

There would have been a consultation on the change to admissions criteria.

clarinsgirl Sat 05-Mar-16 19:32:45

I second the need to double check. All schools must publish their admission criteria and can't change it until next year. Chances are that they haven't changed it at all and people just made assumptions because kids got in previously.

Not putting a second choice puts you in a really poor position I'm afraid.

Oakmaiden Sat 05-Mar-16 19:38:27

The LA will have to provide transport though if they have allocated them a school 8 miles away which the parents did not request.

SavoyCabbage Sat 05-Mar-16 19:39:23

Did the parents check the admissions policy or did they just assume it was going to be the same as last year? It does seem strange if it wasn't mentioned at any of the open nights and things if it was changed.

I feel for you. My dd was out of school for three months as there was nothing school place anywhere for her.

tiggytape Sat 05-Mar-16 19:40:08

Here are the rules on consultation she should check (these rules are set by law so aren't optional):

For admission arrangements determined in 2015 for entry in September 2016, consultation must be for a minimum of 8 weeks and must be completed by1 March 2015.

Admission authorities must consult with:
a) parents of children between the ages of two and eighteen

b) other persons in the relevant area who, in the opinion of the admission authority have an interest in the proposed admissions......

and for the full duration of the consultation period (which must be at least 8 weeks for 2016 admissions soon to be reduced to 6 weeks for 2017 onwards), there must be details of the proposed changes on the schools website and also details of who to object to. Now it is possible your friend missed it but it seems very unusual that everyone missed it because some people already have children at school A and would surely have heard?

The Admissions Code (law on admissions) also states, failure to consult properly may be grounds for appeals. This is where your friend needs to start ideally.

HeyNow Sat 05-Mar-16 19:43:54

I don't think anyone bothered checking the admissions policy, just assumed it had stayed the same.

Ive just checked the admissions policy myself.

If you google "name of school admissions policy" the second hit on Google is their admissions policy on their website. (First hit is just their homepage). But it does say admissions policy 2012 however it does clearly state the list of feeder schools.

I then dug around on the website and there's a more up to date admissions policy for this year, but it took some finding. And there it says admissions will go on distance to school after the usual looked after kids, siblings.

It would be very easy of you googled it to look at the page which comes up and not realise it's out of date. I'm suprised it hasn't been removed off the internet.

HeyNow Sat 05-Mar-16 19:45:04

I'm sure they changed the policy in the correct timeframe and not last minute but they didn't publicise the change at all.

DadOnIce Sat 05-Mar-16 19:48:09

Check your local authority's criteria for appeal, and how and if these changes were publicised at all. One of the strong areas for appeal is usually if there has been anything amiss with the admissions procedure.

HeyNow Sat 05-Mar-16 19:51:13

Actually, I correct something.

The Google hit of their admission policy doesn't have a date on it as such. It just says in the second paragraph "the governing body approved this in 2012".

So you could easily think it's up to date and valid and that is the policy which comes up on their website when you google it.

bringbacksideburns Sat 05-Mar-16 20:01:55

You should never just put one school down- far too risky.

My children were at extreme opposites when it came to this. Son got first choice - no fuss, no stress, always been very happy there. School has gone down hill since he started there and now trying hard to claw itself back up.
Daughter didn't get ANY of her three listed schools. It was always a given before that she would get her first choice living where we do, but it's a very popular girls school that has been oversubscribed. That year was a very high birth rate for girls and those living closest got a place. Since then no one has got in there in my area unless they have a sibling. I did go to appeal for two schools but there were a lot of other parents appealing and we had no chance.

The school we were placed in (it was a new school,) has had a good ofsted but my dd still would prefer the faith school ten minutes from us. Even now she is in year 8.

I would say your friend hasn't got much chance at Appeal as she didn't put any others on the list. However she doesn't have to give up completely. I know a couple of people who eventually did get their school of choice in year 8 by constantly checking with the school and ringing them.
However it's hard to leave one school after a year and start again. It depends on the child. My dd still wants me to try atm so I will, have sent transfer form in and will keep ringing every so often.

BrieAndChilli Sat 05-Mar-16 20:17:23

So sometime between 2012 and now the admissions criteria has been changed. I would imagine it changed for 2015 or 2014 admissions and no one thought to look at it for this year and just assumed it was the same (anyone with a sibling, the sibling probably went 2012 or before even )
You need to google the admissions criteria for 2015 and see what it is. If it lists feeder schools then you may have grounds for appeal, if it lists distance then you won't.

tiggytape Sat 05-Mar-16 20:48:07

It would be very easy of you googled it to look at the page which comes up and not realise it's out of date. I'm suprised it hasn't been removed off the internet.

It isn't the school's fault what comes up when you Google their admissions. Old pages can come up in searches and the school has little or no control over what Google presents and in what order. It is presumed parents would go to a school's website, click info>admissions for year 7>over subscription criteria to get the correct guidance.
It does indicate perhaps though that the change happened a while ago and that's why nobody in this year's intake was talking about consultations or changes.

The most important thing for your friend to do is get on waiting lists. For school A and B but also any others that she prefers over the one allocated (but bear in mind that transport is only paid if you have to go to a school further out because you're sent there, not if you choose one that's miles away).

Appeals are separate and she can also appeal for several schools if she wants to but the waiting lists start moving in 2 weeks or so and it is important she is on them when they do as that's when there's most movement and most chance of a place.

Arkwright Sat 05-Mar-16 21:40:31

Your friend was really daft not to put a second choice. It is the first information we were told.

Do your LEA not publish a booklet with all the admission policies in? My LEA has this on their website. It has all the admission policies for each school and information on how to apply and dates of notification of places and about appeals.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Mar-16 22:45:14

The LA will have published a booklet with all admission policies. This is viewed as definitive. If this shows the correct admission criteria for the school the fact that people didn't realise they had changed won't hold water at an appeal. However, if the LA booklet still shows feeder schools there is a case for an appeal.

Your friend can still appeal on the grounds that her son will be disadvantaged if he doesn't go to this school. Note that this needs to be about things the school offers that the allocated school does not. It must not be about how awful school C is. But I'm afraid an appeal on the basis that she wasn't aware of the admission criteria will almost certainly fail.

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