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Appeals 2014- Did your DS/DD Not Get Any of Their Secondary School Choices

(79 Posts)
JohFlow Sun 02-Mar-14 04:39:19

Let's share ideas on how to appeal successfully.

Open forum - but no school names/identifiers please.

For parents that are facing this this year - how are you doing? What questions do you have?

Any parents that have been through the process previously are most welcome to share what works.

I put down two schools with a solid reputation and was offered one that is going through special measures with OFSTED and has had to merge with another school to stay open! I knew competition for the first two schools would be tough and we are on the border as far as travelling distance goes. We were prepared to travel for a good education.

I have a strong education philosophy (being a teacher myself) but if I am strictly honest the two schools chosen are personal preference based on quality standards and where I see my son fitting in. Do I need to come up with more water-tight reasons for my appeal paperwork...?

Over to you...

givemeaclue Sun 02-Mar-14 09:18:42

Did you only out 2 schools down? Were you allowed more I.e 3 or 6?

givemeaclue Sun 02-Mar-14 09:19:18

From your post can't see anymore grounds for appeal?

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 09:35:54

There are no set "grounds for appeal" as such. This is a common misconception - that you have to have a special reason to appeal. You don't.

It is true that at Infant School age you are highly unlikely to succeed unless you can prove an error in admissions for example. But that's because the law limits their class sizes to 30. No such limit exists for Year 7 children (or indeed any children from Year 3 upwards). For Year 7 appeals it is a balance of prejudice. The panel hears both cases and decides whose is stronger - the school or the parents'

However you have to remember you are appealing "for" one school not "against" another. So telling the panel that the allocated school is rubbish and in Special Measures is not going to help. You need to focus on explaining why the school you are asking for meets your child's needs and interests. This might be a medical or social need or it might be to do with the clubs and GCSE subjects they offer. Your appeal should barely mention the allocated school in fact.

The other part of any appeal is addressing the school's objections to taking another pupil. If they are at PAN they are full. However, many schools regularly have more space if they've extended in recent years or have extra pupils in some year groups and cope just fine. Mentioning these points also helps. You are allowed to ask the admission authority for any info on this that might help your appeal.

yoyo2014 Sun 02-Mar-14 09:40:14

How do you know your allocated school already? National offers day is tomorrow?

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 09:43:27

JohFlow - in your case I would also suggest you add your name to waiting lists of some schools you did not previously apply to. It sounds like you have listed 2 schools that you weren't sure of qualifying for and as such you may be a long way down their waiting lists too (that won't be known for a few weeks yet).

You may be happy to travel for school but the point is most schools give priority to people living closer. If you are able to identify a school that is better than the one offered and that you meet the criteria for, ask to go on the waiting list for it ASAP.

Being on waiting lists and accepting initial offers does not hinder your chances at appeal. In fact a panel will expect this and see anyone who declines all sensible interim options as perhaps not being entirely reasonable in the process.

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 09:44:50

yoyo - some regions told people yesterday and some people found out on Friday. March 1st being on a Saturday this year seems to have caused confusion at councils about the definition of when the national day should be. Everyone will know by tomorrow though.

yoyo2014 Sun 02-Mar-14 09:59:20

Thanks for the explanation Tiggy.

JohFlow Sun 02-Mar-14 13:29:18

Thank for your responses so far. Yes tomorrow should be an interesting day on this forum.

Useful information especially from Tiggy. I have tasked myself to call the pupil access team tomorrow and I am sure that your suggestions will help form the basis for questions to ask.

Questions for LEA:

I will be asking about

1.) The PAN for the two schools involved and any special challenges that the LEA has had this year in allocation.
2.) About available places at other schools and waiting lists in operation.
3.) I will enquire about PAN numbers for last year as a measure of if schools are capable of taking extra children.
4.) I will also ask about the history of appeals for the two schools and what percentage have been successful.

Can anyone else think of any more 'juicy' questions to ask the LEA prior to appeal?

littlepurplealien Sun 02-Mar-14 13:49:12

How did you get your offer ? I thought offer day was tomorrow.

littlepurplealien Sun 02-Mar-14 13:50:02

We, like you will definitely be appealing straight away if we don't get our first choice. It is an ideal school for dc1

prh47bridge Sun 02-Mar-14 14:01:31


The PAN for the two schools will be in the LA's admission booklet which will be available on their website. I'm not sure what you mean by "special challenges". The process is fairly straightforward.

Last year's PAN is almost certainly the same as this year's but by all means check. What is more interesting is whether they are currently over or under capacity and how many year groups are over PAN. It is also useful to know if any year groups have been over PAN in the recent past.

The history of appeals and percentage success rate doesn't really tell you anything. It certainly isn't something you can present at appeal. Successful appeals don't generally set precedents.

Make sure you can explain why the appeal school is the right school for your child, but keep well away from Ofsted reports, league table rankings and the like.

JohFlow Sun 02-Mar-14 17:12:54

Hope Tiggy's explanation above answers your question on how I found out Littlepurple. In our area we applied online and consequently found out before the post is due i.e. after all info was inputted on Friday. However; reasons for refusal are not on the net - so letters will be useful tomorrow.

LIZS Sun 02-Mar-14 17:16:49

Do they normally give a reason for refusal though , isn't it just an offer letter ?

JohFlow Sun 02-Mar-14 17:18:32

Thank you for your input prh. In your opinion/experience - Why do you think I should stay away from OFSTED reports, league tables, rankings etc?

prh47bridge Sun 02-Mar-14 18:12:01

LIZS - They are required to give a reason for refusal in the formal letter. Some LAs give more detail than others but it should say whether the OP's child missed out due to being in too low an admission category or due to distance. If it is distance the distances involved should be quoted.

JohFlow - Because these things apply to lots of children. The parents of every child with a place at the allocated school could say the Ofsted report is poor and the school is in a low position on the league tables. The appeal panel need things that are specific to your child. If you start going on about Ofsted reports, etc. at best you will be wasting time, at worst you could end up alienating the panel.

littlepurplealien Sun 02-Mar-14 18:27:42

We applied online too so will only receive our offer online but because the LEA try and make if fair between those who applied in writing (and will be getting a written offer in the post tomorrow), we can't access the offer online until tomorrow. I think however it is going to be available online from midnight tonight.

busymummy3 Sun 02-Mar-14 18:55:06

Our LA were keen to poi
nt out the advantages of applying online in that places are to be notified on March 3rd if you applied online you get your decision by email on that day , if you applied by paper your letter will be posted tomorrow SECOND class so would not find out until later in week.
We applied online for first time other DC's were paper as no such thing as online at time. Just hoping get email and that it doesn't go missing.
Have checked my email address given so many times just in case ! Even though I know should be no problem as I received my acknowledgement ok .

JohFlow Sun 02-Mar-14 19:18:42

Thanks prh. I had no intention of blinding them with stats smile and agree that detailing your child's character and abilities is much more unique and important. I will make a cursory mention to some stats at some point though just to illustrate the gap in performance between the schools I applied for and the one that has been offered (opposite ends of the scale somewhat).

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 19:44:47

* I will make a cursory mention to some stats at some point though just to illustrate the gap in performance between the schools I applied for and the one that has been offered (opposite ends of the scale somewhat).*

Really, the advice is not to do this at all. Not even to hint at it.
What do you hope this would achieve? That they will say that of course you cannot go to such a comparatively awful school? Because the fact is that someone has to go there. There isn't enough room in every “better” school to take all the people who may want a place.
And even if superiority of results was an issue, how would that help explain why your child more than any other child should be allowed a school with better outcomes?
If you really want to focus on those areas you’d be much better saying things like the school you have selected offers triple science and your child excels in science whereas the other school is unable to offer this. That kind of argument is fine but a “I want my child to go to a good school not a rubbish one” argument is not going to work.

prh47bridge Sun 02-Mar-14 22:15:37

I agree with Tiggytape. There is no upside to mentioning the gap in performance. The appeal panel cannot give you a place on that basis.

PanelChair Sun 02-Mar-14 23:04:02

Just to echo the advice already given.

Arguing that you want to go to a better, more highly regarded school will not win your appeal for you, for all the reasons already stated. It stands to reason that just about every parent would want their child to go to a good school, but the fact remains that good schools are oversubscribed and the allocation process means some children will be given places in the less good schools. That's disappointing for you, but not the basis of a winnable appeal.

ForeverProcrastinating Mon 03-Mar-14 10:35:31

Thanks for the thread, another unlucky parent here. We were not allocated a place at any of our three choices, just at our catchment school which is severely under performing and in receipt of a pre warning letter from the Sec of State.

So we can appeal at all three choices - anything is better than the catchment school?

tiggytape Mon 03-Mar-14 10:39:25

Sorry to hear that forever.
The figures this year are showing a some areas where a lot more people aren't getting any of their choices at all so you aren't alone.
You can ask to go on the waiting lists for all 3 schools
Yes you can also appeal at all 3 choices.
Appealing is separate from the waiting list.

You may want to alter the content or tone of each appeal to suit each of the schools you are appealing for because success hinges on explianing why you want the school you are appealing for not why you don't want the one offered. If you need more specific help you can ask here or, if you start a thread with "appeal" in the title, quite a few MN experts will be able to help.

ForeverProcrastinating Mon 03-Mar-14 12:37:56

Thank you tt helpful words.

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