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Anyone with experience of appeals? What do you think my chances are?

(12 Posts)
DomesticBlobess Tue 15-Sep-09 13:25:45

I'll try to be brief, we are moving house and new town has primary school within 5 minute walk of new house. Is good school, next nearest is 5 miles away, good but v v small.

The near school is full for DD1's year. Really want her to go there so are lodging an appeal to try to get them to make an extra place available for her.

Our arguments are:-

- we are new to town and to get to know people there I really feel DD1 should be at the school there to become part of the community

- school has nursery/pre-school provision and a place available for DD2. The other small school doesn't have this and I feel it is very important that the two are together.

- distance - we can walk there in less than 5 minutes door to door

BTW the place would be for an infant class - so I believe this makes it harder to win an appeal...

Would love any comments and hear others experiences of similar (and a bit of reassurance that I'm not fighting a losing battle...)

sinclair Tue 15-Sep-09 17:49:53

Not an expert but don't think this is grounds for appeal. LA has to offer you a place but not necessarily one at your first choice.

Can you get DD2 into the Nursery? That would put you top of the list for a place for DD1 should one come up assuming they apply the sibling rule.

School should be able to tell you whether there is mobility and places come up or whether this is unlikely and you can plan accordingly.

RedFraggle Tue 15-Sep-09 17:59:03

You need to have a reason as to why it wil be detrimental to your child to not go to the local school.

We have just won our second appeal for our daughter to go to her local Infant school. We too had just moved house.

Basically you need to make a case that "any reasonable admission authority would not deny your child a place".

Our grounds were that I have done my back in and am awaiting a surgical consult - I cannot always drive and therefore if my daughter went to the school near where we used to live she would have to miss days of her education due to my ill health.Also I have a younger child due to start at the local pre-school next year. If they were at different locations one child would always be late in. Also - safety issues of obne child always being collected late while you travel from one location to the other.

Is it reasonable to say that you cannot always drive her to school at the other localtion? If so why? Would you need to use public transport to get her there? What would be the effect on her quality of life? What about the effect on her sibling?

Basically you have to really hammer it all home, do your research on the distances etc. I printed off a map and labelled my house and the local and not so local school to illustrate distances. Have a bullet point list of all the points you want them to consider. You can read from and expand on it during the hearing and then pass it to the panel so they can refer to it as they make their decision.

hope this helps - it is scary but it can be done!

midnightexpress Tue 15-Sep-09 18:00:49

Misread 'appeals' as 'apples'.

I have nothing to offer here.

danthe4th Tue 15-Sep-09 18:07:04

You have to prove that the school can offer your child something that they need but the other schools can not offer ie experience with a certain special needs condition that the other school does not have. Do not say that it is easy to walk to or your child will be unhappy if she doesn't go or anything like that otherwise you don't stand a chance. There is a book available www.amazon.co.uk/How-Win-Your-School-Appeal/dp/1408111403/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253034352& sr=8-1

lou031205 Tue 15-Sep-09 18:13:42

Could you argue on grounds of efficient use of public funds & the fact that next year there will be no over-filling of the year because class sizes can be bigger?

Re efficient use of public funds, the LEA would have to provide transport for your DD to the school 5 miles away. This would be saved if they allowed the other school to take your DD.

cory Tue 15-Sep-09 20:49:47

You have to prove that the detriment to your child, from not getting whatever it is only this school can offer, is greater than that suffered by the children already there if they fill the class beyond the limit.

DomesticBlobess Wed 16-Sep-09 11:00:18

Great replies.

Key to this for us is to get DD2 in at local school which shouldn't be a problem (and actually we will be in such a rural area there really isn't any viable alternative pre-school provn), then hope that the appeal will get DD1 in.

RedFraggle - well done on your appeal. One of our arguments is that I want the two to be together - part of that is because I won't physically be able to drop two off at 9am if they are 5 miles apart. I think that would be obvious but I'll have to state the obvious with every point at the appeal. So each morning DD2 will be at the nursery I'll have to decide which one will be late that day - v disruptive for everyone and when she is 3 that will be every day!

Danthe4th - do you really think raising the "easy to walk to school" argument would limit our chances as this is a big thing for me? I want my children to walk everywhere as much as they can for the health benefits and not rely on the car for every journey - and obviously the school run is a big part of it. With the constant attention of the govt on healthy lifestyles for children I'd have thought they would be keen to support it where possible.

RedFraggle Wed 16-Sep-09 11:33:38

I think you can mention that you want to be able to walk your children to the local school but it can't be your only argument.

I stated:

1. The fact that there was precedent for having extra children in the class in very recent years.
2. My reduced mobility meaning she would miss school unless she was at the local school where I had a support network to get her there when I was incapacitated (give examples and why they couldn't get her to the other school)
3. Having two children at schools in different locations would make it logistically impossible to get them both there on time every day - I didn't want her to always be "the child who is late".
4. second child is in zone for local school so would be going there, I was not going to voluntary send him to the other school and consign myself to further years of motorway journeys every day.
5. School collection times when they were both full time would be impossible. One child would always be kept waiting for me - unfair on the child and the staff who have to stay with them until I arrived.
6.If I have to drive her to school every day I would be unable to take advantage of the councils own "walking bus" initiatives
7. The length of the journey in the car to the other school was 20 minutes on the motorway each day at peak rush hour. I would be adding to congestion, which the council claims to be trying to reduce.
8. My daughter would be associating with children from a different area. Any friends she made would live away from her which would reduce her social life.

Then I basically explained why we were in this stuation. House only sold after the decisions were announced. How I had done everything the LEA asked of me in good time. etc. That if the council insisted on sending her to a school over 8 miles from her home, it would be to the detriment of her education through no fault of her own.

Final sentence - We firmly believe that no reasonable admission authority would deny our daughter a place at her local school given these issues.

(Reason for final sentence is because this is the angle we were appealing against. If you read through all the documents you have two grounds on which to appeal. One is that the council cocked up and made a mistake, two is that no reasonable authority would deny a place at the requested school. Keep the point you are arguing for in your head as you prepare!)

I also had letters from my GP and consultant about my health problems, a letter from DDs pre-school about how sensitive and brilliant she was. A map with schools maked on, and home and the route of my journey, in case the panel did not know the area...)
I put it all together into a smart folder (one for each panel member) and handed them to them at the end so they would have all of our points in one place. They make notes but you don't want to worry that they have missed something - also it shows how important it is to you which I personally think helps too.

Best of luck - just remember Prepare, prepare, prepare!
smile

Jeez - what a blardy essay!

DomesticBlobess Wed 16-Sep-09 13:46:50

Thank you so much for your "essay" RF - it sounds quite similar circumstances to me (except I have no medical issues) - I wouldn't have thought of doing the info pack for the panel - great idea and will make sure no points get missed or forgotten.

We are appealing on the grounds of no reasonable authority would deny a place.

Your reply has prompted me to ask DD1's head teacher to write a "reference" - which will back up the argument why it would be bad for her to be in other school and then changed later on if a place came available at local school - we had an experience recently which will illustrate this.

Did you also send the map and the letters from GP and teachers in the post to the appeals authority with the original appeal form - or just provided them on the day of appeal?

RedFraggle Wed 16-Sep-09 17:23:38

I sent the GP, consultant and pre-school letters in advance but I did not send the map and bullet point list in advance. I also took extra copies with me just in case they were mislaid or anything.

I wasn't sure if the LEA would get to see my documents prior to the hearing or if it was just for the panel, so I decided not to take a chance on giving the council any extra prior knowledge just in case!

As it was our second appeal I was much more prepared and focused. First time around I was unsure what to expect. Also listen carefully to the LEA representative during the appeal. They sometimes say things that will help your case if you are listening out and making notes. They have to give you all the class sizes for the other years in the school so this can form your class size precedent argument. Also, you can interrupt with questions during their talk. Don't be afraid to politely question their logic or grounds if you feel they are wrong.

It was quite possibly the most stressful experience I've had in years, but I'm glad I persisted. grin

AMA40 Thu 17-Sep-09 11:47:14

There are always extra places avaliable it just depends on the circumstances. LEA's can instruct schools to take pupil's over the capacity. If your child had a medical need this is a completely different scenario. The LEA's build the case for the school, it is not the school's view all the time. They will argue on space in classrooms etc, you will need to find out if in previous years the maximum in a class has changed, ie if a child is statemented that overrides any of these rules and they will have to go over the limit.

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