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Any tips for primary school appeals?

(1000 Posts)
smallmotherbigheart Mon 04-Apr-11 22:30:26

This is my first time doing this, and I want to do this right. My son didn't get into any of the preferred schools that we listed? Has anyone done an appeal before?

easycomeeasygo Tue 12-Apr-11 01:31:50

Thank you prh47bridge I will also be asking why they allocated my son a faith school when i chose not to be considered for this type of school when filling in the form. (more like i'm clutching at straws)

Charmie Tue 12-Apr-11 09:58:18

I am about to appeal and was wondering how do you know if it is an infant class size appeal or not?
Though I do not think I have a strong case I am gong to try.
The school does have a class size of 30 students from reception through to Yr 2.
Really I am hoping the panel will be sympathetic to the fact that my daughter being a Catholic did not get into any of the Catholic schools....yes I know this is weak...also both her cousins attend the school and my sister and I share a childminder for all our children and it will be near to impossible for her to drop off and collect the children, which will result in myself having to pay for another childminder and finances are I said not very strong but want to go ahead with it anyway....

Any advice...?

prh47bridge Tue 12-Apr-11 10:38:22

As the school has 30 students in a class it will be infant class size. That means you should only get in if you can show a mistake has been made. Even if it wasn't infant class size I'm afraid that isn't a very strong case. You can still try and you may strike it lucky but be realistic about your chances.

southofthethames Tue 12-Apr-11 14:04:35

This might be a rather basic question but what is the difference between going on a waiting list and appealing? We didn't get any of the schools in our 3 choices, we really only need to go on the waiting list for 2 of them at most.

southofthethames Tue 12-Apr-11 14:28:52

Oh, my council says we've been put automatically on the waiting list of the first choice school. They say they will know what position next week. That's ok then. I think that kind of answers my question.

gcjtwins Tue 12-Apr-11 17:16:39

Thanks prh47bridge... the school takes 40 children in two reception classes so not sure if they would take
more because of having the space once they move up also one of the teachers told me that 2 years ago the
local authority asked the school to take an extra 5 children, this would be a great result! !!!!

prh47bridge Tue 12-Apr-11 18:11:07

gcjtwins - The Reception classes are clearly well short of the limit of 30 children but it may still be infant class size depending on the arrangement of classes in Y1 and Y2. However, it seems unlikely unless they are mixing Y3 students in with Y2 and/or Y1. That's good as it gives you a better chance of winning, but it would help if you could strengthen your case. Can you think of anything this school has which would particularly benefit your daughter and is missing from the allocated school?

musey Thu 14-Apr-11 23:25:45

Sorry in advance for the long post, I wonder if I could get some input on appealing a primary school offer. My son has been offered our 3rd choice of school. I was sooo shocked when I found out and couldn't understand it as we meet all the published criteria of the 1st (faith based voluntary aided) and 2nd choices. Anyway, when I phoned up to ask why it’s because they still have us down as registered at our old address??? Go figure, I updated our choices and address (or so I thought) the night before we moved as I knew this was the last day I would have internet access until after the closing date (I was off sick work at the time and not expected back until after the closing date and I had just lost my mum, her funeral was 2 days before we moved house)

The Admissions officer tells me not so.......I only updated the school choices not address??? I can't believe that, but obviously can't prove it as it was web based. I have provided proof of our new address in the form of house deeds/solicitors letter and have been told he'll go on the waiting list. I want to appeal, but not sure what tack to take. Do I go down the route of a mistake/weakness in the web based system or throw myself at the panel’s mercy and go down the road of the detriment to my son based on not getting into 1st choice (he would definitely got in if the address had been correct) and go into the more personal details of my mental state that may have made me miss something on the system?

The school had published they were accepting 60 kids but have actually taken in 75, I can’t get my head around whether this is likely to be an infant class size appeal or not?

MiraNova Fri 15-Apr-11 00:14:25

When I submitted our preferences online, I got an email back confirming the details. I would think if you made changes, you should have had an email on the same date, confirming which changes were made. Try checking your email for that, ours came from an email address like noreply@xxx . Try searching for eadmissions too. Good Luck.

musey Fri 15-Apr-11 01:04:10

Thanks I have all the e-mails since registering, they only confirm choice of schools and no other info, we changed the choices from those originally submitted when we registered and both e-mails are the same neither contain personal details. As such if, what they say is correct that I didn't change the address details I have no way of knowing that I didn't if you see what I mean.

I have come accress something else that I wonder might be useful. The school's own prospectus (I have a hard copy) states that closing date for application forms is 2 weeks later than the date that the LA state is correct. As such if I didn't update my details when I thought I had in Dec, maybe I could argue that I should have been able to update them up to the date published in the prospectus?

Mum21of3 Fri 15-Apr-11 08:45:27

Have just received a reception place for my 3rd child at my 3rd choice school. I moved my Year 3 daughter from this school at Christmas because she was lacking in confidence and seemed afraid of her teacher. Does anyone know if the LEA would have her listed at her new school by the admission submissions date as my 1st choice was her new school. Could I win an appeal on these grounds, or am I likely to be more successful from a logistics angle-I will have 3 children at 3 different schools-only 1 of them within walking distance!

prh47bridge Fri 15-Apr-11 09:39:21

musey - With an admission number of 75 it is likely to be an infant class size appeal but it depends how the classes are organised. If they have, say, 3 classes in Reception and 5 covering Y1 and Y2 that would be infant class size. On the other hand if they have 3 in each year it won't be. Since the reception number seems to have gone up at the last minute it may be unclear whether or not infant class size regulations apply. I would ask the school how Reception will be organised, how they plan to cope with the increased number in Y1/2 and, most importantly, whether the governors have actually taken the decision on how many classes there will be in future.

You can certainly try suggesting that a mistake has been made due to a problem with the web-based system but it will be hard to prove. How far that will get you depends on whether or not the panel is willing to accept that there may be a problem with the web-based system. I would also talk about the detriment to your son through not getting into your first choice. It doesn't have to be either/or. However, I'm not convinced the date on the school's prospectus being incorrect will help you. You can mention it but ultimately the LA is responsible for the co-ordinated admission scheme so the dates they publish are the ones that matter.

Mum21of3 - If the admission criteria give sibling priority and your 3rd child hasn't been given priority it would appear a mistake has been made, which would be grounds for a successful appeal. The logistics angle, on the other hand, is unlikely to work. Appeal panels generally can't take transport or child care difficulties into account.

musey Fri 15-Apr-11 15:12:34

Many thanks for yuor response prh47bridge its much apprreciated. I have spoken with the LA & school today. In previous years the number of places has been been kept to the advertised 60, the LA say that perhaps the school may argue that infant class sizes may come into play next year but that it shouldn't this year? Does that make sense? My brain is ringing with all the info to consider. The LA are looking at the IT angle so it may have legs yet, but I guess I'll have to see on that one.

Regarding the questions you suggest in relation to class sizes, would one ask those prior to appeal or at appeal?

Mum21of3 Fri 15-Apr-11 16:34:53

Thanks for the feedback prh47bridge, sibling priority is part of the admission policy but we are out of catchment of the preferred school. The school we have been offered a place at is where my oldest is currently in Year 6 and although I never gave his details on the admission application as he won't be there in September, I wonder if this has had any bearing on the place offered. We are also in the catchment of the school where the place has been offered.

admission Fri 15-Apr-11 16:37:25

75 in the year group is not going to be a straight forward infant class size regs case. The complication as far as you are concerned is that this is the first year that they have gone to 75 in a year group. If all three year groups (reception, yr1 and 2) had 75 then as PRH says I suspect that they will work on 5 classes of 30 across year 1 and 2 and that would be future prejudice as far as infant class size regs are concerned.
As you are the first year of 75, in twelve months time, you will have a year 2 with 60, a year 1 (your year) of 75 and a reception class of either 60 or 75. If they revert to 60 it is not infant class size, if they keep at 75 it is likely to be infant class size, though they will have mixed age classes all over the place. That they do not know what next year holds is why the LA is hedging their bets on whether there will be future year prejudice. However for the appeal the school as the admission authority will have to make a decision and this will be contained in the paperwork that you get prior to the hearing. I would work on the principle that it will be infant class size regs case, though knowing how poor some VA school are at presenting their case they might not even realise the situation they are in.
If it is an infant class size case, then you have to in effect prove a mistake by the admission authority. As such you do need to be saying that you believe that you did alter the address but that at the time you had various issues, which you should detail for the panel, so you cannot be 100% sure of doing it. It could be that the LA will be able to categorically prove that you did not alter the address or alternatively they might not, it depends how good their ITC system is.
Another thought is given it is a VA school was there a supplementary form to complete and what address did that have on?

prh47bridge Fri 15-Apr-11 20:59:14

Mum21of3 - For sibling priority they are only allowed to include siblings who will still be at the school in September, so your oldest wouldn't have counted even if you had put him on the form.

You need to ask the LA which category your son was placed in for this school. If it was not the correct category that is grounds for appeal. However, if he was treated correctly as an out of catchment sibling but just didn't get a place I'm afraid you don't really have grounds for a successful appeal. You can still try. You might strike it lucky and get a sympathetic panel who will admit despite the rules. But be realistic about your chances.

musey - You've already got the answer to the questions. As Admission says, they are hedging their bets at the moment. That is good as it means the decision hasn't been taken. That could be significant. If they want to argue infant class size they have to show that admitting your child WILL cause infant class size prejudice, not that it might under some circumstances. That means they should only be able to successfully argue infant class size if the governors have decided what will happen next year prior to the appeal hearing. I had a case with the LGO which turned on this point. I'll tell you more if they do argue infant class size.

However, your best chance of a quick resolution is your argument that there was a mistake over the address. If the LA are looking at the IT angle I hope they come up with something.

gcjtwins Fri 15-Apr-11 21:49:13

Hi.. (prh47) the school they have allocated is not a catholic school and the school my daughter has been in since nursery and is now in yr 5 is our local catholic school, its the boys (twins) that i am now trying to get in the school , as we live out of the schools parish area we are 4th in the admissions criteria as 1st is looked after children, 2nd - those who practice at the schools parish, 3rd- those who practice within the local community of the above parish ????? (think this means other catholic churches) the 4th- our parish which has no school attached ,so that makes the school my kids are in one of two of our local catholic schools but as my daughters there thats why i obviously wanted this school. After lookin at lots of other schools admissions if you dont practice at the local parish but practice at another local church near the area that does not have a school you seem to fall into cat:3 . which i think is unfair that at our school we are cat;4 it does'nt give us much of a chance ..

any advice appreciated

prh47bridge Sat 16-Apr-11 00:11:42

If it is not infant class size you have a decent chance of winning. However, complaining about the admission criteria is unlikely to get you anywhere unless you can show they are contrary to the Admissions Code. It doesn't sound like they are from what you have described. Having said that, if yours is the only Catholic parish in the area which doesn't get priority for one of the Catholic schools you could try suggesting that the admission criteria are unfair in that they disadvantage Catholic children in your parish where the parents want a faith school. I'm not sure a panel would accept that but it is worth a try.

I don't think you have an overly strong case so a lot will depend on the strength of the case to refuse admission and how sympathetic a panel you get. I would try to build a case around your son's speech difficulties (especially if you can get a letter from his therapist which supports your case) and the faith angle. I would also mention the transport difficulties but I wouldn't dwell on them too much as a lot of families face the problem of getting children to different schools so appeal panels can't generally take this into account.

Find out where you are on the waiting list and keep checking as that may be your best chance of getting a place. Don't build your hopes up too much for the appeal but don't give up. You may strike it lucky.

When you get the case to refuse admission I may be able to give more advice if you post it here.

Good luck.

musey Mon 18-Apr-11 14:14:33

I am still struggling to get my head around everything, had long conversations with school and admissions officer at LA. I am awaiting info back from the LA regards the IT system. I have looked again at all the papers I have and have printed off the app form from the online application site just for my records. On close inspection I see that it reads "this is the information that you have supplied to the LA online application system" and at the bottom the time and date correspond with the date I made the changes in Dec. Previous to this I just had to accept it when the admissions officer told me that I hadn't updated details for either of us.

Whilst the details for me & son are different, an email I have been cc'ed into by the LA seems to suggest that there should be a prompt to update child’s details if they don't match that of the applicant (even if there isn't currently). Is this ammunition to argue an error has been made I ask myself? Or am I clutching at straws? I have taken screen prints of the form as well as printed it off so I can't be accused of altering the details on the form.

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-11 17:58:21

If I understand you correctly you now have evidence that you updated your address, so the admissions officer was wrong or their IT systems messed up. However, I think you are saying that you updated your address but not your son's address. That weakens it a little. However, I would have expected their system to at least have required you to tick a box to say your child wasn't living with you before it accepted that your details were different. So overall I think this is ammunition to say an error has been made.

musey Mon 18-Apr-11 18:40:45

Yes thats what I'm saying, although I have been told verbally by the admissions officer that their IT system shows that on date of closure both my address and that of son's was the same......the old one. However I'm struggling with that given the print out I now have. I appreciate that I am somewhat weakened by the fact that on my copy the addresses are different, I was hoping to argue that there was no prompt to alter the childs details to match and that given the personal circumstances I was working under which I can evidence I can't exactly recall the website 4 months afterwards. Do you think they'll force me to appeal?

prh47bridge Mon 18-Apr-11 21:05:04

A lot of councils force people to appeal even if there is cast iron evidence that a mistake has been made. They shouldn't but it happens.

If there isn't a box you tick to say the addresses are different and you weren't prompted I think you can reasonably argue that the council's IT system was insufficiently clear, leading you to a reasonable belief that you had updated your address correctly. In any case, if the council say that you didn't change your address at all the panel should be asking some hard questions when faced with screen prints showing that you did.

admission Mon 18-Apr-11 22:20:14

I have been involved in cases where the appealant printed off a copy of what they thought that they had inputted but in fact they had not completed the actions necessary for the system to update.
Is it possible that this is the case?
I say this because I will more or less guarantee that this is what the LA will say at the appeal, that you did not complete the exercise.
Is there any other information that you can find that can establish that you did alter the address, because realistically this is going to come down to who the panel believe most, as neither side appear to be able to prove themselves or disprove the other side.

prh47bridge Tue 19-Apr-11 00:25:16

I also wondered that but I came to the conclusion that the fact that the screen print states "this is the information that you have supplied to the LA online application system" means it has to have been taken after submitting the information. However it is impossible to be sure without seeing the screenshot. If it says that on the screen before the information is submitted it isn't a terribly well designed system in my view.

musey Tue 19-Apr-11 21:48:42

Thanks again for the responses the input is really helpful. I have taken 3 screen shot, moving down the page by degrees so as to capture all information. I too feel sure that the LA will argue that I have not done something in order to finalise the application but am a losst at how to prove that I did not, not do something. The only information I have access to and can print off is that which says this is the information you submitted etc and which sows the date and time corresponding to the date I submitted it. prh47 I could send a sanitized copy for you to cast your eye over if you wouldn't mind?

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