The Education Funding Agency (EFA) - any experience?(84 Posts)
Yesterday was a good time for MNHQ to pull a couple of certain threads ;)
Today I have submitted a detailed application form to the EFA - the academy equivalent to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) - to look into the circumstances of the Admissions Appeal for my daughter which was both conducted and decided in breach of the existing legal framework.
I have a simple question: does anyone have any experience yet of the EFA which is a new body?
For the avoidance of doubt:
1. This is a genuine request for help/advice/useful information - nothing else;
2. The phrase '3 day rule' anything associated with it is banned. Look, I know I can't 'ban' it really but please, this thread is not about the legal issues.
Thanks in advance for respecting that.
You're right in your opinion Xoanon.
I would say it's more about the rights of the child, over and above the rights of the parents. It's my DD who has really gone through the mill with is - not us, her Mum and Dad. But she has had no recompense for it. Not even an apology. So yes, you're right about the lack of redress.
I don't know what I'll do yet - I'm waiting for an expert education/public law solicitor contact to let me know if the firm can take the case on a conditional fee agreement basis. For that to happen, the firm will have to be very very certain we have a very good case. Otherwise JR would financially be out of the question.
But Gove and my MP - yes, I think I should so. I'll keep you posted.
Anyway I definitely think you should pursue it and our disagreement over which element of the whole saga constitutes the public interest bit is irrelevant really - at the end of the day, there was an LA fuck up and you can't get redress.
No perma, I'm right, the wider issue, the one that it's important to resolve, and that may interest MPs, journalists etc is the reduction in the rights of parents as a result of Gove's changes.
No, Xoanon, you're wrong. This isn't about whether she should have a place at the grammar school. It's whether she should have had the place that was offered, reinstated - when it was accepted - then withdrawn by the local authority after 7 days. I'll reiterate - the fact that it's a grammar school is not the issue: if it involved our 2nd choice school we would have still appealed. And gone to the EFA for the same reasons.
The issue here isn't whether your DD should have a place at the Grammar school - for what it's worth I don't think she should - but the fact that parents now seem to have fewer avenues to effective redress as a result of Gove's changes.
Because - as I said in my last post - Murdoch is way too cosy with Cameron and Gove. The Times and Gove form a stomach turning mutual admiration society on a regular basis - and the connection through his wife is another reason to avoid them.
If your MP is a Tory or a Lib Dem then he won't do anything. If he is not representing a coalition party then you have more chance of him going in to bat for you. My MP (with whom I was texting this morning, although not about education, since we are sharing anecdotes about friends in westminster ) has put Gove on the spot several times and was part of the (to be fair, widespread) pressure that got him to retract on his original English Bacc plans.
I know. MP too? I was chatting with him just 6 days ago actually - and I have a lot of respect for him. But what could he do? Just take it further up.....? A journalist's in depth investigation would be good. Why not the Times?
Well...you said 'PErhaps I should' so I took that at face value! Gove AND your MP. And like I said, the wider story of the fact that the EFA's remit seems qualitatively different from the LGOs and that parents as a result may find themselves effectively with fewer rights might be worth proper journalistic investigation, from a proper newspaper (so, the Guardian or the Telegraph - not the Times - Murdoch way too cosy with Cameron and also with Gove himself). But not your specific case.
I wouldn't Xoanon It's not in my nature to do anything remotely like that. I might write to Gove though.
Going to the national press is never a good idea. Write to Gove, write to your MP, take it to JR, but never involve the press. UNLESS you take the issues prh47 raises to eg The Guardian. Without actually mentioning your own situation - the removal of effective redress against LEA failures in the handling of the application process for academies is clearly potentially a wide ranging issue that will increasingly affect parents all over the country as the number of academies increases. They may be interested in following it up. But I doubt the original story about the offer of a grammar school place will get sympathetic traction from all quarters and it might bring very unwelcome attention to your DD which surely is the last thing you want.
Perhaps I should also write to Gove. Perhaps I should go to the national press! And embarrass this education secretary who I saw described just this morning as 'mentally challenged'
I don't know if I will get any joy from Gove. My view is that if he is to achieve what he seems to want he needs a robust appeals system for academies. As things stand the net effect could be that more parents go to judicial review successfully for matters that could have been sorted out by the EFA. Each time that happens the school concerned will lose out financially.
Do you think you will get any joy from Michael Gove?
It sounds as though the judicial review is the best route to follow. If that then upheld the EFA parents would then know where they stood, even if that is basically an unwelcome 'tough luck'.
I hope PermaShattered doesn't mind me answering this question. I have seen the EFA decision letter.
The EFA do give reasons. The quick summary is that they appear to be taking a very narrow view of their brief. The LGO will intervene in a case if the appeal panel's decision is unreasonable (e.g. clearly contrary to the evidence or previous legal decisions). The EFA appears to be unconcerned as to whether or not the decision is reasonable as long as the panel has followed the correct process.
One part really annoys me. The EFA acknowledges that a mistake was made by one of the LAs but appears to accept the appeal panel's view that it is not their role to do anything about that (which seems to me to be contrary to the Appeals Code and is definitely contrary to previous LGO decisions). The EFA suggest that the OP seeks redress from the LGO regarding that mistake. Even if the LGO would take the case (which I doubt), what do the EFA imagine they can do? The LGO certainly can't get the school to admit the OP's child. This seems to open up the possibility that, unless you were willing to take it to the courts, you would have no redress if, for example, your LA failed to pass on your application to an academy or free school resulting in your child missing out on a place that should have been theirs.
In another part the EFA respond to the OP's complaint that the panel did not test the school's case by questioning their representative by saying that the clerk has assured them that the panel questioned the school prior to the hearing. Really? And the EFA think that is acceptable? If the panel had a private meeting to ask their questions that is a clear breach of the Appeals Code. If they asked their questions in the first appeal hearing relating to this school and didn't repeat them in subsequent hearings that is, to say the least, poor practise as later appeals would not have heard answers which may have been helpful to them.
Near the head of this thread Lougle posted some figures which suggested that the success rate for parents was similar for the EFA and LGO. Looking closer at these figures I believe parents are significantly less likely to succeed if they have to use the EFA. The EFA upholds or partially upholds complaints in 28% of cases with half of these requiring a fresh appeal. Since a fresh appeal is the only remedy offered by the EFA that means only 14% of cases resulted in a remedy for parents. The figure for the LGO is 28%.
I intend to make these points (and more) in a letter to Michael Gove.
Did the EFA not give reasons for their decisions on the various heads of complaint? Surely it has to?
I'd definitely go for JR. To clear up what the reason is for the clear reluctance on the part of each of the two appellate bodies to allow the appeal.
It's not so much the emotional energy as it won't be for our/my DD's sake; it's the lawyer in me wanting to see a properly reasoned decision. The law and codes seem to have been discarded and that cannot be right. Time limit? V short: I think it's a matter of weeks in which to launch a JR.
It does seem as though the rule book has been ripped up, and since increasing numbers of schools are no longer under LA control, that is very worrying. Is it just a question of whether you have the time plus the emotional energy to pursue it? What is the time limit for taking further action?
*LaVolcan" I expected comments like forma's - I'm amazed it's the only one - so far! I've been advised I have good grounds for a judicial review as both decisions are so off the mark as far as existing law and codes are concerned. Whether or not I will, i'm undecided: if I decide against it I will always feel that i'm letting others down because I don't want to see any other child go through what mine has.
What an ungracious post FormaLurka. OP has 'moved on' and her DD has settled into her new school.
So not only does this appear to contradict previous judgements made in respect of LA schools, but failing to meet laid down timescales also appears to be irrelevant.
Various people back in April was telling you that you had no grounds for appeal. Since then you have appealed the appeal and failed at each stage. Yet you still refuse to accept it. Time to move on.
AT LAST I've heard from the EFA. And it seems what the Appeal Clerk says trumps what the law says . Ie the EFA has rejected every single complaint. For those of you with expertise in/practical experience on appeal panels - I suspect you might be as astounded as me.
The EFA did not even uphold my complaint that the letter notifying us of the decision was nonsensical: ie no errors had been made. But then acknowledging an error. Notably, the EFA has made no mention of the issue of the time period between offer and withdrawal of the offer.
So if your child gets an offer of a school place at their first choice school, and it gets withdrawn a week later - it's tough basically! Sod the law.
Many thanks for the update: great news that DD is enjoying her new school, and also that EFA are investigating.
It's rather disturbing, though, that the EFA appear to have let the deadlines slip
mmmm, prh - FAR more than 20 days have passed since I was told the clerk was notified/info requested. And I've heard nothing from the EFA about delays/action proposed. Nor have I had a response from the EFA with a request for an update. So no, they haven't stuck to their own procedures!
There are various deadlines involved.
After receiving a complaint the EFA has 10 working days to respond with a summary of the complaint and, if necessary, request further information from the complainant. Once they have contacted the complainant the clock stops and doesn't start again until the complainant has agreed the summary and provided any information requested.
Once the clock has started again the EFA has 20 working days to get information from the clerk to the appeal and, if necessary, the academy. If there are delays at this stage they are supposed to inform the complainant and say what actions they are taking to deal with the delay.
When they have all the information they need the EFA has 10 working days to make its decision.
Having said all that, they do appear to be over time with this case and haven't stuck to their own procedures unless they have told the OP there will be a delay.
Very good to hear your DD likes her new school PermaShattered but isn't the EFA into overtime now? If you lodged the complaint on 2nd July, shouldn't there have been a resolution by 2nd Sept? Perhaps I've got that wrong but I thought they had up to two months but no more. If you want the option of moving your DD then the sooner the better I'd have thought. I'd be rattling their cage myself!
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