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School admissions help

(11 Posts)
ethanameliamummy Fri 27-Jan-17 18:51:45

I applied for a grammar school place in Warwickshire back in October as my son got a really good score in his 11+ exam meaning he should get in.

I sent back proof of address as requested but have now had a letter saying it wasn't received and the application is classed as late.

I phoned admissions to be told they had received proof of address but it was too old and therefore his application would definitely miss the first round.

I'm devastated as is my son. Can anyone advise whether there's anything we can do?

Thank you x

titchy Fri 27-Jan-17 18:57:51

I'm sure the appeal experts will comment, but I'd have thought that was a good case for successful appeal. They should have informed you if the proof you supplied wasn't sufficient.

They have accepted your application isn't fraudulent and that you did live at that address on application day so I'd say they aren't applying the procedures correctly and thus depriving your child of a place.

ethanameliamummy Fri 27-Jan-17 19:06:04

Thank you x

prh47bridge Sat 28-Jan-17 01:00:44

Unfortunately this is an area where the Local Government Ombudsman has changed its position.

Some years ago there was a case where parents said they had submitted the required proof of address but the LA said they had not received it. As a result the child missed out on a place at the preferred school. The LGO in that case decided that, as it made the difference between getting a place and being refused, the LA should have contacted the parents about the missing proof of address and that their failure to do so meant they were at fault.

In a more recent case a school required two types of proof of address. A parent maintained that she had submitted both documents but the school had no record of receiving the second document. As a result of this the parent's application was considered incomplete and their child did not get a place. There is no evidence that the school made any attempt to chase the missing documentation. The LGO in this case decided that the school had acted reasonably.

These two decisions are clearly inconsistent. Unfortunately the more recent decision supports the grammar school's position.

Having said that, an appeal panel may not be aware of the more recent LGO decision and may be sympathetic to the view that the school should have contacted you when they realised that your proof of address documents were too old. But it is also quite possible that they will take the view that you submitted the wrong documents and that the school had no responsibility to do anything about it.

I would say it is definitely worth appealing once your son has been refused entry but it is by no means certain that an appeal will succeed.

Have you checked here in the "providing proof of address for grammar schools" section to see if the school is right? If your proof of address met the requirements set out on this page that would put you in a very different situation and mean that an appeal should succeed.

ethanameliamummy Sat 28-Jan-17 09:03:48

Thank you so much for your reply. That isn't the news I wanted to hear:-( Unfortunately, the documentation was incorrect. The first document with child's name and address was fine but for the second, I accidentally enclosed the 2015/16 Council Tax bill instead of the 2016/17.

I just feel it is so unfair that my son can work hard, nail the exam and then not be considered because his mother enclosed the wrong paperwork. What's worse is I am normally very organised about this kind of thing.

Just reading the second case above, I have now sent in the paperwork so my application is classed as 'late'. Would that make a difference to the outcome on an appeal?

Is there anything else I can do at this point, or do I just wait for the inevitable?

Thanks again for your help. I am feeling like such a failure at this point.


prh47bridge Sat 28-Jan-17 11:08:00

Would that make a difference to the outcome on an appeal?

It shouldn't.

In my view you should appeal on two grounds. Firstly, your son is of grammar school standard and the disadvantage he will suffer through not going to this school outweighs the problems the school will face through having to cope with an additional pupil. Secondly, whilst it is true that you accidentally submitted the wrong Council Tax bill, the school clearly accepts that you had given the correct address and it is therefore reasonable to expect that, if they could not accept the application as it stood, they should have contacted you earlier to point out the mistake and give you a chance to correct it. I would say something about customer service on this point. Note that the second point will only work if your son would have got a place but for this problem.

I think the fact the school has written to say they did not receive the correct proof of address helps you. I would argue that, if they can write at this stage, they could and should have written earlier when you still had the opportunity to correct the error.

I doubt there is anything you can do at this point that would make any difference but I would be very tempted to write to the school suggesting that, as they did not contact you earlier and allow you to submit the correct document, they should now treat your application as on time. It probably won't achieve anything but it is worth a try.

ethanameliamummy Sat 28-Jan-17 11:41:11

Thank you again. I really appreciate this. I had texted a friend and she had said you were the poster who would be best placed to help!

Yes, that's true. It is ironic. Is it best to write to the Admissions Service or to the School direct? Also, can I appeal now or do I need to wait til after the places have been allocated on 1st March?

prh47bridge Sat 28-Jan-17 13:09:27

I would write to whoever sent you the letter saying that your application was being classed as late. If they do agree to process your application as on time make sure you get that in writing. That way you will have proof if they don't do what they've said.

You can't appeal until your son has been refused a place, i.e. after you receive the offer letter telling you which school has been allocated. You can kick up a fuss at this stage but formal appeals come later.

You are very welcome, by the way. Always happy to help.

ethanameliamummy Sat 28-Jan-17 14:04:07

Thank you! I have written a letter to the person/department that sent the letter to me and will see what they say. I have explained the whole sorry mess and sent further copies of the documents needed. I will let you know! Thanks again xx

admission Sat 28-Jan-17 18:17:56

As PRH says the first step is get the right document back to the school and ask them in writing, as it was a simple error and it is clear that you do have the appropriate documentation that you be considered as an on-time application. The answer will probably be no but you need to get an answer from them in writing as a document for any appeal.
There seems to be a bit of an anomaly in what you are saying has happened. Did the letter from the school actually say they had not received it and then when you questioned the situation they then said that one pieces of the information was out of date. These are two very different things and it begs the question as to whether their system is robust enough.
If the school say no to you being accepted as being on time then you need to wait till you are officially told that you have no place at the school. You should then appeal. As PRH says a panel may take a different view of the situation to the school. They clearly did have time if they recognised that you had one correct document which was on time and one that was just out of date to contact you and ask for the right document. They clearly made a decision not to do that or did they forget ? (and that is why you were originally told the documents were not received.)
If you go to appeal there is a parallel argument that you can use on the panel to suggest that the school should have recontacted you. That is to use paragraph 2.12 of the school admission guidance. This is about when parents are offered a place and then do not respond to the offer. The legislation is very clear that the admission authority (in this case the school) must give the parent a further opportunity to respond before any offer is withdrawn. Surely there is a parallel argument that when the information asked for of the parents is partially correct that the school should make the effort before the December deadline to allow the parent to correct the error.

ethanameliamummy Sat 28-Jan-17 19:40:04

That is helpful, thank you. Basically I received a letter yesterday which stated my application would be classed as late, either because I had not provided the required documentation or because the documentation provided was not sufficient. It was only when I phoned that I was told that they had received 2 documents, one of which was fine, the second of which was too old and as a result the application was 'late' and my son would not be considered in the first round of offers. The letter was postmarked 20 Jan, 20 days after the deadline had passed and this letter was the first correspondence I had received indicating there was a problem. I have now sent another three documents with proof of address which they should receive tomorrow. If they had just let me know, I would have sent something through immediately:-(

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