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Any tips for primary school appeals?

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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?

musey Tue 19-Apr-11 21:56:03

Apologies for spelling lol meant to spell check and forgot

prh47bridge Wed 20-Apr-11 00:21:49

I'm happy to take a look for you. I don't think you can send images via PMs so contact me at PM me when you've done so to remind me to take a look as that isn't my main email address. I'm at an exhibition this week so may be slower responding than normal but I will get back to you.

prh47bridge Wed 20-Apr-11 23:28:12

Just to say that I have now seen the screenshots and responded to Musey. For the benefit of anyone else following this thread, I think there are a number of features in these screenshots that clearly show Musey had completed the exercise of updating her address. To name a few of them, it is not a form for entering data (it actually appears to be intended to allow the parent to print the application form after submitting it), it says it "details the information you have provided" and states "application submission date and time". I think the LA will have a hard job convincing anyone that Musey had not completed the actions needed to update the system unless they want to argue that their system is too complex for the average user to understand!

What is more problematic is the question of the child's address being different from Musey's. This is where I suspect the LA will say that Musey will have been prompted but Musey says she wasn't. The fact Musey has an email indicating a previous suggestion that this didn't work correctly may help. I wonder if the system prompts correctly on the initial application but not if the parent subsequently updates details. It may be, for example, that the developer thought that the parent would already have been prompted on the original application if the addresses were different and therefore shouldn't be prompted again if they updated the form, but failed to consider the possibility that the addresses were identical originally but different following an update.

Musey - A thought which has come to me since responding to you. Perhaps it might be an idea to ask the LA to test their system's behaviour in the scenario I've just given, i.e. enter an application where the addresses are identical and submit it, then go back in and change the parent's address whilst leaving the child's address unchanged. I suspect they'll find it doesn't prompt the parent regarding the address discrepancy in this situation.

admission Thu 21-Apr-11 16:08:08

Oh I would hate to be on the appeal panel for this one. It is going to depend entirely on the way that the panel views what happened on the computer system and the two conflicting sets of evidence from the LA and you Musey.

I think PRH has a good idea in asking them to carry out the test. If it shows nothing it does not do you any harm. If the LA do find that there is a glitch in their system, firstly it helps you at the appeal in terms of pushing the emphasis on the LA that the system does not do what they say it does. The second thing is that LAs, like everybody else, do not like having to explain why things went wrong if they can avoid it. They can avoid it if they suddenly find there is a place available at the school, even if there are 31 in the class! If they make it public that there computer system is suspect can you imagine how many appeals they suddenly might find they have got.

musey Sun 24-Apr-11 12:48:00

Firstly thanks to PRH for looking at my screenshots, but back now for more advice. Whilst I'm confident of what my screenshots show the LA have now sent a series of screen shots (equally convincing) that they say evidence I changed neither address before the dealine. I had asked that as they were saying i hadn't changed either address before the dealine that they tell me when the address was changed but they are unable to do so. So I guess on the chances of the panel accepting an error has been made its down to who the panel believe as such I don't want to solely rely on that.

The school have said DS is 1st on waiting list but that it is possible another child would be placed before him. I have been asked by the school to provide proof of worship in the parish in order to place him in the highest category possible, yet the original additional application form does not ask for proof merely that the parent state which it unfair then for them to ask now for proof? This also makes me ask myself, how many children got into the school under the criteria "lives or worships in a feeder parish" didn't actually live in the parish, ie. got in one the worships....given that they ask for no proof anyone could say they worshipped but wouldn't have to evidence it. Am I chasing a redherring here? Or is it something to ask at the appeal?

On the subject of infant class size I am feeling more confident that this is not an infacnt class size case. I have found evidence (again I have a screenshot) which shows the school are recruiting for a temporary teacher (one year) to cope with a temporary increase in numbers as such I beleive that infant class size isn't an issue as this is the first year and it looks like the last that they plan to have this increased intake.

prh47bridge Mon 25-Apr-11 01:05:39

What do the LA's screenshots say about the date you submitted your application? The weakness of your screenshots is that, if I recollect correctly, they don't show the date on which you took them. However, if the LA's screenshots show an earlier submission date it may help the panel to believe you.

Also is there anything on the LA's screenshots that confirms when they were taken? If they were taken recently that could be quite significant. If there isn't anything on the screenshots I would ask the LA to confirm when they were taken.

Personally I am not impressed that the LA cannot say when you changed the address. If I were writing this system I would log that kind of information.

As far as I can see there are a number of possible explanations (ignoring the possibility that you faked your screenshots - most people wouldn't have the required expertise to do that and I am absolutely certain you didn't):

- The LA are right and you changed the address after the deadline. That would mean the submission date shown on your screenshot is the date on which you submitted your original application and your screenshots were taken after the deadline.

- The LA are wrong and you changed the address before the deadline. Assuming their screenshots are as you say, that would mean that their screenshot was taken prior to the deadline and therefore doesn't show your changes or it suggests some kind of defect in the system. All software has defects so this is by no means impossible. Persuading the appeal panel of this may be harder.

It may be worth asking the LA whether the submission date on your screenshots represents the date you originally submitted your application or the date you updated it. If it is the latter it would tend to confirm your version of events.

On your new points, I would certainly ask why they are requesting more proof from you now than they wanted at the time of your application. I would also ask them how they know that the children claiming to worship within the feeder parishes actually do so. I would ask them that question now so that you have the answer before the hearing. It may be that there is a robust process in place whereby they check with the feeder parishes. However, if there is no such process I would ask the question again in the hearing. It certainly can't harm your case and could help.

Regarding infant class size, the big question is whether or not the governors have decided what is going to happen next year. If they haven't it is not infant class size - they cannot argue infant class size on the basis of a decision which hasn't been taken. However, it is possible that neither the LA nor the panel will get this right so you may still find yourself facing an infant class size case.

prh47bridge Mon 25-Apr-11 10:45:50

Just to add a bit more as to why the date of the LA's screenshots matters...

I suspect they were taken recently in which case there are three possibilities to consider.

Firstly, they could show your application as originally submitted. If that is the case they are completely useless as evidence. What matters is the state of your application at the time of the deadline.

Secondly, they could show the state of your application today. That again makes them useless in determining what your application said on deadline day. However, it raises some questions. Given your screenshots showing a different address, are they saying you never made that change or are they suggesting that you made the change then changed it back again? Of course, they could be suggesting that you failed to complete the process of changing your address. However, I think the average lay person changing their details and arriving at the page shown in your screenshots would think they had completed the process. There is also the possibility that someone restored the database from a backup at some point and the backup used was taken before you made your changes.

Finally, the screenshots could show the state of your application at the time of the deadline. However, they can only generate such a screenshot now if their system knows whether you changed your address before or after the deadline. If they cannot tell you when you changed your address that throws serious doubt on their ability to say with certainty what your application said on deadline day.

Gilbo1972 Wed 27-Apr-11 12:54:40

Can anyone give me advice. My son will be leaving an infant school this july to go on to a junior school. he has received our 3rd choice C of E primary school which is technically our nearest church school.

the thing is this. We recently moved to the country where we are now, August last year, previous to this we were living abroad for a year and my son was in the local greek village school and previous to this he was in reception in a primary school in outer london, who could not offer him a place until he was 51/2 as the were building the class room. As you can see due to unforeseen circumstance he has had a very disruptive and unsettling start to his education.

He joined his present C of E infant school for year 2 as a late applicant. He was extremely lucky to get a place as it is oversubscribed and a lovely small village school. Sadly it only goes up to year 2 and everyone then tends to join the two local junior schools one is a church school and the other isn't. The school are so pleased with him as he come leaps and bounds and has become settled and happy and is storming ahead academically. We as a family feel we have more connection and are very much part of the school, church and village community of the infant school even though we are living in the neighboring village. Our place in the neighboring village is rented and in our heads temporary accommodation until we were settled from coming back from greece. We are in the process of selling a property abroad so we can buy here. We do not intend to stay here as the house is tiny and my son shares with his 5 year old sister. If we could we would move into the village where the infant school is, and nearly did but our buyer pulled out last december.

Unfortunately, because we are in the neighboring village, we do not live in the published criteria parish of the C of E junior school which was our first choice. But we are active members of the parish church affiliated to the present infant school and our first choice junior school.

My son has had some issues originally with settling and making friendships for the 3rd year running but now is really beginning to settle.

We have no connection with the school we have been offered which is in yet another area. We don't go to have no need to go to that area, we don't know anyone there, no one else from the infant school goes there. We don't know the local church. Fine if our son had had a good steady foundation, but with his history we don't really want him to have to start all over again. Our infant school is very supportive of our worries.

We are on the waiting lists for the other 2 local junior schools. But what really gets me is that on the council application for the schools, I put under over comments you think may be suitable, I put that we are in the process of selling (which we were at that time) and very likely to move into the parish in the foreseeable future. I then filled in the supplementary church form in good faith, only to learn they didn't even bother processing it as we were out of catchment area. So now we have no religious grounds even on the waiting list. (and if we had moved, I would not have known that we would not have any religious ground even on the waiting list in the right area, that would have taken us up a criteria). I know its irrelevant as we didn't move, but I find it quite arrogant that they didn't bother to find out if we really are church goers and take into account that at a later stage of application we may have been in their catchment area.

Anyway would we have any basis for appeal on our close ties with the schools and churches, and our son's history and progress for an appeal? Our infant school thinks we should and will do what they can?

many thanks

prh47bridge Wed 27-Apr-11 17:17:09

I'm afraid they are quite right to ignore your comments that you were expecting to move into the parish. What matters is your address at the time you applied. If you had moved before allocations were made you would probably have been treated as a late applicant so you still wouldn't have got a place at this school.

Do you think they have made a mistake and placed you in the wrong admissions category? If they have a category for children from outside the parish who attend church they should have placed your son in that category. However, if all out of catchment children are treated equally they have got it right. They cannot give your son priority because you are church goers who may be moving into the parish at some unknown date in the future. You describe this as arrogant but all they have done is follow the rules.

If you move into the parish now it will move your son up the waiting list.

To win your appeal you will need to show that the damage to your son through not attending this school outweighs the problems the school will have if they are forced to admit another pupil. I don't think that your close ties with the schools and churches are the basis for a successful appeal. Your son's difficulties with settling are also unlikely to lead to a successful appeal unless you have expert evidence to back you up and say that your son really needs to attend your preferred school. Having said that, you may still win an appeal if the school's case for refusing admission is weak so it is certainly worth a try.

musey Tue 03-May-11 14:39:25

I need to submit the appeal form for DS's school place this week. On reading the form, I am a touch confused, the form states....Grounds of Appeal - Please set out your reasons for appeal in the space below. You must state why you wish to I at this stage have to set out my reasons? This seems to imply set out your full argument or is it just the way I am reading it? Can I wait until closer to the appeal date, I haven't fully formulated my arguments yet and don't want to rush this. If I don't have to porvide full details now, what should I put down on the form?

wolfhound Tue 03-May-11 14:50:29

don't mean to hijack this thread at all, but prh47 seems to be so knowledgeable and useful i would like to ask my own question. Will be applying for DS1 school places this autumn. My situation is that DS1 has no special needs, but I have a severe disability which means i cannot drive and have great difficulty with public transport - so need a school within walking distance so that I can take DS1 there. Also important that it is safe walking distance (visually impaired so can't deal with routes without pavements or difficult crossings). Can this be taken into account? Or is it only the child's needs taken into account?

prh47bridge Tue 03-May-11 15:14:28

musey - Put an outline of your case on the appeal form and say you will provide further details later. Don't leave it too long, though. You don't want to end up with the appeal being adjourned because you were late providing your case.

wolfhound - It depends on the admission criteria used by the school in question. If they have a category for special medical needs you may be able to use your disability to argue that your son should go in that category.

wolfhound Tue 03-May-11 15:25:52

Thanks prh47, will look into it.

musey Sat 07-May-11 07:44:37

Ok so just to update. I took my appeal in by hand yesterday (and got a receipt). It was very short with just 3 paragraphs, I made it clear that I would be submitting more information at a later date. The council have confirmed it is NOT an infant class size appeal, which is good.

I have drafted an e-mail to the council asking for some information

A. Indicated admission number for school

B. Net capacity information for school, including when this was last assessed

C. Current number of pupils attending

Can anyone suggest other stuff I should be asking them for that might be useful to have in appeal?

In respect of the 'fuller' appeal document I am planning to submit,
1. Is it is wise to draft it as a statement as one might give the police or a series of bullet points that I can expand upon when at the appeal?

2. Does one refer to supporting documents as appendices?

Supporting Information to use
1. Letter of support from my old parish priest although bless him, he does state that I forgot to update all the details, so not sure if I should use it or not (although he is a very very influential force in my town and he hopes that given the circumstances that a place should be found)

2. I plan to approach new parish priest for the same.

3. Information on DS from Nursery

4. I am seeing Doctor on Monday to ask her to outline the distressing medical problem I had at the same time as breavement and house move that will hopefully go some way to explain why I can't really remember all the details of what the website looked like when I submitted the changes (this is very personal and I would prefer not to have to send it in at all, would rather take it on the day and pass it to the panel - is that a bad idea?)

4. Print out of app form showing DS & I at different addresses

5. Screen shots of the same (the ones referred to by pr47)

6. Copy of e-mail council email to IT support asking when I changed the address & the IT response saying they can't tell only that it was after the deadline (my screen shots & app form contradict this)

Can't think of anything else at the moment, although I'm sure I will.

prh47bridge Sat 07-May-11 12:48:45

You need to know the current number of pupils in each year. If any years are already over PAN that can strengthen your case as it shows they can admit additional pupils without the sky falling in. That information should be in their written submission to the appeal but it is worth asking anyway.

I would ask the LA how they know your change of address was submitted after the deadline if they are unable to say exactly when it was submitted. If the answer you receive is unconvincing this is definitely something you can bring up at the hearing. I would be very interested to know what they say on this point.

It is entirely up to you how you set out your appeal document. As long as you set out your case clearly, the way it is set out isn't going to affect the outcome. I wouldn't personally refer to supporting documents as appendices - I'd refer to them by name. But it is entirely up to you.

The information about your condition will be seen by the Clerk, the members of the panel and the LA's representative at the hearing regardless of whether you submit it before the hearing or take it with you. It is safest to submit it before the hearing so that the panel can prepare properly.

mamalocco Sat 07-May-11 13:58:53

When we had an appeal for DS in January we were asked to have all evidence submitted a week before the appeal date.

Apologies if this has already been covered but in addition to asking for current class numbers we also asked for details of the classes sizes over the past couple of years and numbers of children leaving the school. If it is usual for one or two children to leave during the school year, the increase in numbers in admitting your child will (obviously!) be a temporary increase.

Wolfhound - we won our appeal because of my medical condition.

Best of luck.

sethsmummy1 Sat 07-May-11 18:49:52

This is the first time I have posted and so I apologise for doing it on the back of someone elses thread but there seems to be some really knowledgeable people and I just wanted to capitalise on that knowledge.

My youngest has been refused the same primary school as her older brother due to class size. In the appeals pack there seems to be 2 grounds of appeal firstly a mistake (I think this is unlikely) and secondly an unreasonable decision and it is this that I seek clarity.

I believe the decision is unreasonable because they have allocated a school several miles away(thus not walking distance) and we walk to school. It is clearly impossible to be in 2 places at the same time! I spoke to admissions about this and they informed me they would pay for special transport. I believe it is unreasonable to expect a 4 year old to go on this transport to a new environment without her parents. I am also concerned about the psychological message this gives me daughter that we are able to take her brother to school but not her. Further concerns include safety issues i.e. taxi's / minibuses do not have child seats as standard. Do others think this counts as an unreasonable decision?

Other facts that are maybe relevent are that the boundaries of our catchment area changed last year so that our school of choice is no longer our catchement school. I did not put a second choice down (foolishly in hindsight) because I believed that we are unable to be in 2 places at one time thus any school other than her siblings is unmanageable, however we do live accross from our catchment school (although havent been allocated this either due to class size). A final point is that the PAN is 30 but my sons school runs regularly with class sizes of 33. Do they fill these extra places with appeals or will they have already been filled?

Many thanks for any comments / opinions offered

prh47bridge Sat 07-May-11 19:45:08

sethsmummy - You would get help from the knowledgeable people on any thread!

Decisions by the courts mean that "unreasonable" in this context means "irrational". I'm afraid your child will not be the only one expected to go to a school several miles away. It happens all the time. And they don't just ring up the local taxi firm and get them to send someone. They make sure the vehicles are safe and the drivers are CRB checked.

The LA has complied with the law. You didn't get in to your preference and, because you only named one preference, that means you get a place at the nearest school with places available. So I'm afraid you are unlikely to win an appeal with these arguments.

If PAN is 30 that is the number of children admitted. There are no extra places. They don't hold back any places for appeals or for any other purpose. If they get to 33 it is due to successful appeals, children admitted because the LA realise they made a mistake, children moving into the area when there are no other places available, children with statements of SEN admitted outside the normal admissions round, children in care admitted outside the normal admissions round plus a couple of other reasons.

With a PAN of 30, appeals for Reception, Y1 and Y2 should only succeed if a mistake has been made. Once we get to Y3 the rules change and it becomes easier to win appeals, so classes of 31+ in those years will be more common. If they are regularly running classes of 33 in infants they are probably breaking the law.

admission Sat 07-May-11 20:28:04

Do not under-estimate the influence of the old priest. They may not be able to influence the panel directly but they sure as hell will have some pull in the background. It would not be the first time that where the priest thinks the pupil should be admitted they somehow get admitted, legally or illegally.
I enclose the letter from the old priest but would also get the letter from the other priest because basically in this situation the more relevant letters you have the better your case.

Panelmember Sat 07-May-11 20:37:11

Sethsmummy - prh47bridge's advice is spot-on.

You are very unlikely to win your appeal - a panel may well agree that it is difficult to have two children in two schools but not that it is unreasonable or irrational - so you need a plan B. Can you share the school run with a friend? use a childminder? You can join waiting lists for other schools but (and I know it's easy to be wise after the event) your naming only one school has really backfired on you. If you had named the catchment school or some other nearby schools, you might well have got a place there instead of in the school miles away.

sethsmummy1 Sat 07-May-11 22:22:32

Thank you prh47bridge and panel member. Just two last questions, would I have any grounds in arguing that the LEA should have some sort of transitional policy for when catchment area boundaries are changed i.e. siblings become a priority over catchment for the first year? I know its a long shot. Second question (looking at plan B) is can I go on wait list for catchment school if I didn't put them down as a choice? Thanks

prh47bridge Sun 08-May-11 01:35:39

You can try arguing that there should have been a transitional policy. It is a long shot but you can make the point that you had a reasonable expectation of getting both children into the same school until the change of catchment areas. I don't think it will fly but you may get a sympathetic panel who will use this as reason to admit.

Yes, you can go on the waiting list for the catchment school even if you didn't put it down as a choice.

NormanConquest Sun 08-May-11 14:12:50

Hi. We didn't get our first choice and I don't think we have any real grounds on which to appeal. However, we've been told that our son is 2nd or 3rd on the waiting list, and so we were wondering what the chances might be of getting in that way? If we start him at the allocated school and after that a place crops up at our first choice, could we switch? Thanks very much for any advice or tips.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-May-11 15:29:26

NormanConquest, yes you can switch BUT be careful to find out how long waiting lists / continued interest lists are maintained for.

In some areas, the waiting lists remain in place until Christmas. In others, they are 'wiped clean' at the beginning of September as it is assumed that once all the children have started school, parents are at least adequately content with their allocation. Others are maintained forever.

You can of course 'return' your child to the waiting list once it has been 'wiped clean' but you have to actively do that, it doesn't happen automatically.

Also weigh up the prospective advantages of your first choice school vs the disruption to your son of starting him at school A with one set of children / staff and then moving to school B.

sethsmummy1 Sun 08-May-11 16:01:18

Thank you prh47bridge, I'm beginning to get an understanding of how the appeals system is going to work. A lot of researching and thinking planned over the next week, not just for the appeal but looking at plan B also. Thanks.

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