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School appeal failed

(55 Posts)
Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 19:21:59

We had our rejection letter today and it has totally knocked me back. Our appeal seemed to go so well, the panel nodding and agreeing with our points and agreeing sympathetically. The school authority seemed to be on our side and said they would welcome our child into the school and after even commented on how well we came across and presented our case.

So what went wrong it doesn't make any sense.....? They was basically given a green light, so I thought.

I attended 4 different appeals and thought I knew the difference between the good and the bad.

Surely there is still something more I can do?

lljkk Thu 13-Jun-13 22:23:54

Are you quite out in the sticks? May I ask what county you're in?

tiggytape Thu 13-Jun-13 22:35:46

I am sorry to hear your appeal failed. If you do not think your appeal was conducted properly, you can go to the LGO but this isn't a fresh appeal (although they may order one), it deals with appeals where the rules aren't adhered to or the panel's decision has not been made properly eg if they ignored overwhelming evidence on the need / best interests of the child.

I assume you had a similar case for all 3 appeals. What was it about the 4th choice school that won it for you where the others didn't. The decision letters should tell you. It could be that the school you won is less oversubscribed than others (so the prejudice to them is lower) but if you feel the compelling reasons that won you that case were ignored or not taken into account, you might want to refer it and see if you get anywhere.

In the meantime though, you will have to put the best brave face on it you can unless you opt to Home Ed or get lucky on the waiting lists, there is little you can do immediately. Have you made sure you are on all 3 other lists?

Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 22:42:08

We live in Hertfordshire a small village. I think you're right that all though all 4 schools are oversubscribed they seemed to be not as concerned about going over PAN. My case for the last appeal ( 1st choice school) was based on us wanting a Christian education for our child and it being the only school that can provide that so not sure how they figure that isn't a compelling reason ! Amongst l the other reasons .... Even the school said we did well explaining our case.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 22:42:32

The question is whether the out of county school is nearer to your home by the shortest safe walking route than the school you have accepted. If it is then the LA is right that by turning down that school you have forfeited your right to free transport. If however the school you have accepted is closer to home the LA is wrong.

The appeal panel has the final say as they can and do overrule the LA. Once the appeal panel has ruled against you your only options are to go to the LGO who will intervene if the appeal was not conducted correctly, or to go for judicial review which is expensive and unlikely to succeed. Apart from that there is nothing effective you can do. You can of course write angry letters to the local paper and demonstrate outside the council offices but that won't win your child a place at your preferred school.

Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 22:47:13

What is the LGO

VivaLeBeaver Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:32

How far away is the school in miles?

Herts transport policy says free transport will be provided for kids over 8 if the distance is more than 3miles.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 13-Jun-13 22:50:13

Ah sorry, didn't realise you'd turned down a closer school.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 13-Jun-13 22:51:37

Lgo is local government ombudsman.

That's who I complained to about our appeal but got nowhere.

Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:35

It is technically closer but would take her two hours and 30 mins to get home due to a bus not coming our way straight after school compared to the other 4 schools that are all 30 min bus rides straight after school finishes

Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 22:53:27

What grounds did u appeal on and what did they do and say

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 22:56:30

The only grounds on which the LGO will intervene is if the appeal has not been conducted correctly or if the panel's decision is clearly at odds with the facts. They would normally order a fresh appeal in those situations.

If the out of county school was closer I'm afraid the LA is correct that you have forfeited your legal right to free transport.

Hyland Thu 13-Jun-13 23:05:25

I'm surprised they can take away our rights to the free buss pass when it would have meant a child hanging around the streets before being able to get a bus home lol, honestly my worries have always been more about getting into at least one of the top three schools and my priority was always the 1st school she has 6 friends going there as appears to 2 in the school appeal she won

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 00:03:47

I'm afraid that is the law. In most cases you are only entitled to free transport if the LA was unable to offer you a place nearer your home.

LaVolcan Fri 14-Jun-13 08:47:25

Do they really expect people to wait for a service bus, if there isn't one for more than two hours after school finishes?

I know in my school days some children had bus passes issued instead of a school bus being laid on, but in that case the bus service was regular i.e. there was no more than a half hour wait. Those villages which had one bus in the morning and the return in the evening had a coach/minibus/taxi laid on.

Hyland Fri 14-Jun-13 10:18:38

I imagine they expect the parents to pick their children up, but seeing as I would be at work, that isn't possible. They probably also feel its my own fault for living where I do.... The issue has only been a problem the last two years.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 10:30:56

In the circumstances I think you may have been able to force them to provide a taxi to get your child home had you stuck with the allocated school, although you may have had to appeal to get it. They certainly can't expect you to pick your child up as they are legally required to provide free transport.

The law takes the view that if you don't send your child to the nearest available school that is your choice and you must therefore pay the transport costs. As far as the law is concerned the reasons for your choice are irrelevant. The LA is allowed to be more generous than the law, of course, but most are not. Indeed some seem to try to find ways of wriggling out of their legal responsibilities wherever possible.

Hyland Fri 14-Jun-13 11:44:44

Does it matter that the allocated school is out if county and no child from the juniors is going there... As they all benefitted from sibling rule

Hyland Fri 14-Jun-13 11:48:01

Seems like they have got out of the free bus pass by the loop hole of knowing that the village Has always been left no choice but to appeal for places due to being out in the countryside.

LaVolcan Fri 14-Jun-13 12:51:01

Are you saying that they didn't allocate a place at all because of your being in a 'black hole? There are counties where there is no school within 9 or 10 miles, never mind 5miles/7000 m. Or are you saying that you didn't realise that legally they would have been obliged to provide transport to the one on offer?

Maybe an expert could tell us what is defined as reasonable in an area where there is public transport but it's not very frequent? I'm sorry I am highjacking the thread a bit, but other people will read it, and getting to and from school is an important consideration, so it's worth knowing what the position is. I live in Oxfordshire which is quite rural in lots of places but they put on school buses for villages which only have one bus an hour.

There was a case last year where someone was in a similar position and on 1st March had a letter saying 'no offer possible' but in the end the LA did come up with a place which was some distance away - I think it took a month or so.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 13:18:08

As far as the law is concerned no, it does not matter if the allocated school is out of county with no child from the juniors going there. And I don't see how they have "got out of the free bus pass by a loophole". Anyone who accepts the school offered will be entitled to free transport. If you had stuck with the offered school you would have been entitled to free transport and, as I say, I think you would have had a good case for saying they must provide a taxi or similar to get your child home. It is only because you have chosen to send your child to a school further away than the one offered that you have lost that entitlement. Rightly or wrongly the law is not interested in why you made that choice.

I strongly suspect you will find that many people in the village have accepted the school they were offered and will therefore receive free transport.

LaVolcan - I'm not aware of any hard and fast rules. If the LA in the OP's case had refused to supply a taxi she would have had to appeal. The appeal would usually be heard by local councillors. If they rejected the appeal the OP would then have been able to refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman who can intervene if the council's policy is not fair or is not being applied fairly.

LaVolcan Fri 14-Jun-13 13:29:27

prh47bridge That's interesting - we had a case a couple of years back where the county was trying to cut the school bus service from a couple of the villages on the grounds that there was a good public bus service. Concerted opposition to the proposals knocked that on the head and the school bus service still runs.

(Never mind that the older children decide to hang about after school, miss the school bus, walk into town with their mates and catch said service bus at a time when it suits them.)

Hyland Fri 14-Jun-13 18:23:04

Thank you for everyone's opinion, all advise and views appreciated. My child and only one other was given the out of county school, they subsequently got a place else where on the continued interest list that was allocated at Radom. My child ( has no siblings) has meant they have been difficult to place. I have been advised that apart from the ombudsman I wouldn't be able to appeal until next year for a year 8 place. Unless my circumstances greatly change, apart from moving can anyone give any examples of what would be considered as reason enough to be considered again for this new term in September year 7 still. Also what is deemed as the panel being at odds with the facts! So I can decide if this is to be ruled out or not .

LaVolcan Fri 14-Jun-13 18:53:31

So you did get a school, but turned it down, (possibly on the grounds of not realising that they are required to provide free transport)? In that case though, the LA have discharged their obligation to you.

It doesn't seem to be quite like the case of the person last year, who didn't get anything on the offer day, but the LA had to keep searching until they came up with a place, and which the other poster accepted as far as I remember, but then managed to get a waiting list or appeal place.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 14-Jun-13 19:52:30

OP, it is hard for you but wanting a Christian based education seems unlikely to be enough for an appeal, many parents would want that and the school could not take all who applied on that ground.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 20:14:44

The panel being at odds with the facts would be them applying ICS rules when it wasn't an ICS case, thinking they were dealing with an able bodied girl when they were actually dealing with a disabled boy - that kind of thing. You may think they made the wrong decision but that isn't enough for the LGO to overturn it.

There is no definition of what constitutes a big enough change in circumstances to allow a further appeal. It could be something like your child developing a serious illness or the school adding extra classrooms. It is unlikely that you can do anything that would be considered enough to entitle you to an additional appeal.

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