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Late Grammar School offer: over the moon but stressed/flummoxed

(1000 Posts)
PermaShattered Mon 29-Apr-13 19:35:12

What a 3 days we've had - any insightful comments welcome. In short:

1. Our daughter was offered 3rd choice (her 11+ score was about 30 down on passmark);
2. 3rd school is outstanding but we appealed to 2nd choice school as was our preference;
3. Last Friday took calls from our local Ed admissions authority saying why appealed when have offer from grammar school?
4. Said we hadn't. She made further calls to other relevant admissions authority and came back and told us we definitely have an offer and it would be in post next day (Saturday just gone);
5. It duly arrived, and we posted our acceptance same day (they should have got it today) - verbal acceptance of place given by phone on Friday;
6. On Friday the Authority also withdrew both our place at 3rd choice school and our appeal to 2nd choice school;
7. Today i take a call from a friend whose daughter got substantially higher score than my DD - and she is 188 on waiting list;
8. I call our admissions auth to check they received our acceptance (they said still in posttray but will be dealt with this afternoon);
9. I query whether there could possibly an error and i'm told categorically 'no'. And if there was, we have a written offer, accepted it and they can't take it off our daughter;
10. Finally, my other DS is that grammar school.

I'm perplexed. What could be a possible explanation?

PermaShattered Tue 07-May-13 10:28:50

Thanks so much for the links etc. Quick qu: this one (99C01786) isn't the case where three days is referred to - which was was that?? Not sure how this one really helps - except for the references to maladministration.....

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 11:27:28

There were two elements in Complaint 99/C/1876 to the LGO:

It concerned a headteacher of a school who offered 5 places to children directly (even though the LEA was the admissions authority). Three days later the LEA wrote to the parents and withdrew the offer of those places.

The Ombudsman found maladministration because the parents ought to be able to rely on an offer made by the headteacher and the withdrawal of the offer three days later was too long; the parents' expectation of the offer of the places had not been overcome because of the delay.
In a similar case where the offers were withdrawn on the same day it was found that the parents' expectation had been overcome.

PermaShattered Tue 07-May-13 12:03:05

Thanks Tiggy smile

PermaShattered Tue 07-May-13 14:34:06

I've sent the appeal form with the initial statement as to why we are appealing. Now, it's a matter of gathering all supporting documentation/evidence.

My DD was not good this morning - did not want to go to school. It also appears she has a tooth infection which suggests she's run down sad She's not sleeping very well either and is still feeling sick much of the time.

In other news, I'm suffering whiplash - thanks to a moron in his BMW who drove straight into the back of me while i was stationary at 1pm today. Life's never dull in this household!

tiggytape Tue 07-May-13 14:45:34

I'm glad you got the appeal form in - that's the main thing.
Sorry to hear about your neck and poor DD though. It is bad enough as parents wading through school admission problems and processes - it must be even harder for the children because there's nothing they can do but wait despite having waited so long already.

Fingers crossed, this time next year, your DD will be settled at the school you want and all of this will be a horrible but distant memory. Hopefully you will get your appeal date soon or better still, the LA will decide to reinstate the place and not fight it. Don't forget to check any deadlines for getting the rest of your submission in though and good luck.

lougle Tue 07-May-13 14:54:02

Sorry to hear you're in the wars.

Well done for getting that form in. Now, it's a waiting game.

PermaShattered Wed 08-May-13 15:51:29

Hi People, it's been suggested I write to the Governors about the situation in the hope of bringing this whole mess to an end before the appeal date (which is 5-6 weeks away sad )

What are you views? I don't want to do this without good reason, and I don't want to put 'due process' in jeopardy....

PermaShattered Wed 08-May-13 15:55:28

Another question:

Mr Admissions Director has obtained no answers or explanation from the other LEA (the admissions authority) about the error. He's given me a contact name there so I can contact them direct.

Again, is this advisable given they are effectively 'the other side'? And would knowing how the error arose and the nature of that error make any difference to my case? If I asked and they give no information could that (as suggested )amount to withholding relevant information if it is relevant?

AlienAttack Wed 08-May-13 19:40:17

I hope the experts will be along shortly to advise. However, my understanding is that your local education authority are the ones with the responsibility to coordinate offers etc. From my reading of your posts, I worry that your LEA has consistently tried to portray this as a problem caused by the other admissions authority. In an earlier post you said they agreed with you that the other LEA didn't have a case; have they offered to document this for you? I'm really surprised they are suggesting it is acceptable for them to simply ask you to contact someone at the other LEA? As I understand it, your LEA offered you your third choice but then said you had already been offered your first choice (the grammar school) so surely they also made a mistake in offering you a place when you already had one (at the GS)?

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 19:47:58

Now that you have appealed you will be sent the case from the other side automatically. It might not answer all your questions (or any at all) but, now the appeals process is underway, I don't see what would be gained from talking to the other LA direct. They already know what happened - they made the mistake and your LA has told them this already.

Your earlier posts suggest your own LA has communicated your case as strongly as they can and advised the other LA that they basically don’t have a leg to stand on. This hasn’t deterred them for forcing it to go to appeal though.

prh would be able to advise on whether talking to the Governors or other LA direct would be problematic in terms of appeal formalities. I don’t see that it would make any difference but it is best to make absolutely certain as at the moment your side of the case is very strong so you don’t want to jeopardise anything at this stage.

beatback Wed 08-May-13 21:01:05

It"s a shame we dont still have "Assisted places" because if we did, this whole mess could be solved. The L.A who have made a Disgraceful mess,would be able to offer a private School to the OPs DD and the whole mess would go away, because after being offered that place,you cant just take it away and not offer something similar.

PermaShattered Wed 08-May-13 21:47:48

Tiggy I shall wait to see if prh comes back. I do have my doubts about talking to the other LA and I don't want to muddy the waters. At the very beginning of the whole saga my home LA phoned through to the other LA to check there was an offer and it was confirmed so alien it does certainly appear to a fact that the other LA made the mistake.

Yes - I have a email between me and my home admissions director that confirm the telephone conversations where we both agree we have a very strong case. He also emailed me to tell me he told the other LA that we have a very strong case. As someone commented in an earlier place, he put his neck on the line to do that.....

AlienAttack Wed 08-May-13 21:56:50

That's great. I hadn't realised you had that certainty of support and email records from your home admissions director. Good luck.

prh47bridge Wed 08-May-13 22:00:13

Now that you have appealed you are in a strong position to get answers. The LAs (both of them) are required to answer any question you ask within reason to help you prepare for your appeal. The governors are not required to answer questions unless the school is its own admission authority but there is no harm asking. And if they don't answer you can ask the question via the LA.

My view is that an explanation isn't necessarily going to help you other than being able to give a more detailed account to the panel of what went wrong although it is possible something could emerge that would give you even more ammunition. However, if the LA refuse to answer you can tell the panel you have been hampered in your preparation for the appeal by their breach of the Appeals Code. You don't need to know whether or not the information would have been relevant. All that matters is that this is a reasonable question to ask and therefore the LA must answer it.

My general view is that you should find out as much as you can. If you get information that doesn't help your case you don't bring it up in the hearing! I like to work on the basis that you should only ask a question in the hearing if you know the answer (copyright Rumpole of the Bailey!). I wouldn't treat that as an absolute rule but it is a useful guide. It means you can stick to asking questions where you know the answer will help you.

Having said that, you shouldn't have a great deal to worry about in this case. From what you have said it is pretty open and shut.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 08-May-13 22:00:41

My dd passed her 11plus (ust scraped the pass mark) and didn't get a place due to distance. She was 2nd on the waiting list and we appealed.

We lost our appeal, one thing the panel asked in the appeal was that did I not think that dd might struggle a bit seeing as she'd only scraped the passmark. I was at the time annoyed at this, mainly because we weren't appealing on whether she was bright enough to get in, etc as she had passed.

Anyway she's now at a comp and I'm glad we lost our appeal. She is so happy been top of the school, its done wonders for her confidence and she's constantly pushing herself to do more.

If she'd gone to the grammar I worry she might have had her confidence knocked been near the bottom of a very bright cohort.

OP, think carefully about appealing. Missing the mark by 30 is a massive difference. How many dozens and dozens of children got a higer mark but didn't get a place? That's one thing I'd want to know.

If passmark is 200 (for instance) and your child got 170. Say the top 20% got above 200 and got a place. What about the other 80%? I would imagine the majority of them would come between 170 and 200.....there is a huge difference between appealing as missed the mark by 1 or 2 and missing by 30.

Anyway I really hope it works out for the best, whatever you decide to do. smile Comps aren't the end of the world.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 22:15:24

Viva - the fact this is a selective school has muddied the waters a bit. OP was offered a place. Days later (far too late) the LA tried to take that place away and this is not allowed. Therefore OP should win her appeal - academic ability should not form a major part of winning the appeal as it would in almost all other grammar appeals.

I don’t want to put words in Perma's mouth but she has explained that she has another child at the grammar already and feels her DD is of a similar academic ability. A test score on one day is not always the best indication of any child's ability. Most parents however have to live with what the 11+ test score says even if it fails to reflect a child's ability because that's just the way the system works. OP however, due to this LA mistake and the kind of stress most people are very glad not to go through, has the opportunity to disregard the test score and win back her DD's place on the grounds that it had been offered in error but retracted too late.

PermaShattered Wed 08-May-13 22:22:30

I think the critical information I want from the other LA is whether the error was restricted to the LA or whether there was any contribution to/cause of the error by either the schools Foundation or the school itself. So unless anyone comes back and says, not a good idea, maybe I'll put that to that LA tomorrow and see what response I get.

prh thank you. Again smile

vive thanks for your input: really pleased to hear your DD is happy. We have been thinking long and hard about our DD. We would not want her to struggle and really do not believe she will struggle. There are a number of factors that bring us to that conclusion: she is level 5 all round (top 5 for reading/writing); as of next month she will be studying music theory grade 4 which is GCSE level (her piano tutor has offered a letter in support of our appeal).

(Incidentally, although our appeal is based not on non-qualification but on maladministration, we decided to pull all our rabbits out of the hat to ensure her case is as strong as possible).

On the day of the test, she was very nervous, and she had timing issues which contributed to her score. But we did not contemplate appealing on the basis of non qualification - arguably we had no grounds to do so). But this is a completely different story now.....

Critically (going back to her ability to cope) we have seen what's expected in the first two years from her sister. Whilst her sister is on a different level (she was on the gifted/talented register) we know what score, particularly the first year. So looking at the picture as a whole we feel she won't struggle - and she will have the support she needs.

A more general comment about the 11+ and results (because of various comments made over the past few days). The 11+ and similar selective tests do do not separate the thickos from the geniuses. Nor is the test intended to be 100% proof of a child's academic ability. In someone else's words, it is a crude, but necessary, brief snapshot of a child's potential academic ability on a single day.

PermaShattered Wed 08-May-13 22:31:33

tiggy you took the words right out of my mouth - and put them in a different way ;)

The overall picture I'd like people to have is we accepted without question in March that DD did not have a place at the GS.

Then, through no fault of our own our hands have been forced. We owe it to our DD to fight this for her. To witness her have 5-6 days of acting on her 'legitimate expectation' of this place only to face the prospect of having that ripped away from her - through no fault of her or her parents - has been traumatic (she's just come downstairs because she can't sleep - it's all on her mind.....).

Imagine being offered a dream job. You spend nearly a week making preparation to leave current employment, plan your new wardrobe, research your new role, etc - then to have a call from human resources saying: "Sorry, there's been an error - the job isn't yours, it should have been offered to someone else." That, effectively, is what has happened to my DD.

And it's our responsibility as her parents to ensure this injustice is righted. And without the input, help, advice of many here on this thread I could not handle this as well as I am (at the moment). Whether or not we win - you cannot know how you have and are helping smile

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 22:44:35

The 11+ and similar selective tests do do not separate the thickos from the geniuses

I know this isn't relevant to OP's own case but I do think many people don't understand this point eg some posters here have been shocked that a child who failed the 11+ could win a grammar school place on appeal (not the OP but those who every year win by showing a panel that their child is in fact of selective ability despite failing the test)

In some grammar schools nearly 2000 children sit each 11+ test.
These aren't a mixed bunch. They are all clever children because frankly if you are not a top-of-the-top-group type child, there's no point even turning up on the day. Those 1800+ children are the top 4 - 10 children from every primary and prep school in a 30 -50 mile radius. Arguably, the majority of them are of grammar school ability.
Almost all of them will go on to get high level 5's and level 6's in their SATS.
Only 1 in 12 of them will get an offer at that grammar school.

It isn't about weeding out the dim ones. It is about taking 1800+ very bright children (of whom maybe 800 are super bright) and narrowing it down via difficult and fast paced exams to the last men standing (well the top 300 scores or so).

And even then, aside from the top and bottom few, most of the scores are clustered within a few points of each other so the difference between being 50th on the waiting list and 150th might only be a few points (lots of candidates share identical scores)

VivaLeBeaver Thu 09-May-13 06:07:24

TiggyTape - I do understand that legally the OP can win the appeal.

What I'm trying to say is does she really think its the best school for her child? A child who has missed the passmark by 30 points will struggle at a grammar school. How miserable is school going to be when you're struggling to keep up with children who are all a lot brighter?

imaginethat Thu 09-May-13 06:31:42

Oh give it up Viva, the OP has addressed that issue about 10 times.

Needmoresleep Thu 09-May-13 06:51:04

I wonder if there is a tactical advantage in asking questions.

Your own Authority has spoken to you and appear convinced you will appeal and will have a good case. The other Authority has not given in and reinstated the place.

This implies the second has not listened to the first. If the first are now suggesting you speak directly they may be hoping that you will get the message across.

I would follow prh's advice and also use the interactions to convey the message that you are organised and informed and will go to appeal, where you have every chance of winning. With luck they will take a step back and think. And capitulate quickly.

lougle Thu 09-May-13 06:56:57

Viva, it's irrelevant.

-The OP knows her DD.
-The OP's DD is scoring level 5s across the board.
- The OP's DD has a place offered at her first place school.
- That place has been withdrawn in error.

Whether someone thinks the OP's DD won't cope it's besides the point.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 09-May-13 06:58:11

Fair enough, I was just trying to be helpful.

lougle Thu 09-May-13 07:12:57

I agree and if it were me, my questions would be centering around:

When the initial offer was logged.
Why the OP only found out about the offer after she lodged appeal.
When the Admitting Authority realised that there was an error.
When that knowledge was conveyed to the admitting authority's LA.
When the admitting authority's LA conveyed that to the home LA.
When the home LA contacted the OP.
What the nature of the error was.

It should be very easy for the LA in question to provide that detail.

As it's the home LA which makes offers, even if the admitting authority's LA can demonstrate that they withdrew the place on the same day by contacting the home LA, their argument should be blown out of the water because the clock ticks until the applicant is informed, not until someone realises they've made a mistake.

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