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C of E Reception Appeal Letter.. Pls Help!!

(37 Posts)
Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 13:30:10

Hi all, I know there is a lot of threads on School admissions but did a quick search and couldn't find what I was looking for.

I'm trying to right a letter of appeal to a C of E school for a reception place for my dd. I've never done done anything like this before and I don't really know where to start :s. She currently attends the nursery which i know isn't really relevant it is mainly due to more personal reasons that I would prefer her to remain there.

If anyone has any experience or tips please advice me... Many thanks in advance :] x

kerry4kids Mon 16-May-11 14:07:19

Hi Busyizzy,

Just wanted you to know im in the same boat sad..Iv not done my appeal letter as yet because im waiting on paperwork to come. Its quite scary when you have got to think as to what to write.

cookcleanerchaufferetc Mon 16-May-11 14:14:53

What is the criteria for getting a place? My local Cof E has a strict critieria - it is a points sytem. Something like regular churchgoer in X parish gets you 10 points, same in neighbour parish 8 points, family previously attended 6 points etc etc.

Why do you think you should have got a place and why were you refused?

sunnyday123 Mon 16-May-11 14:28:37

someone will pop along soon to give you advice but from what i've read from all the experts on here (there's some good ones) if the classes are 30, 60 90 in size then you can ONLY win an appeal if you demonstrate a mistake i.e. they put you in wrong admissions category. If its for other reasons, no matter how important they are and how much the panel sympathise with you, you won't win. In my DD school this year 10 siblings didnt get in because of infant class size and all are planning to appeal but the criteria is legal and no mistake was made as catchment came before siblings. How does your intended school allocate?

In terms of writing letters most people say focus on strengths of intending school- do not complain about the one allocated. Say what the school has that benefit your child. Honestly you need to get as much info as you can that could demonstrate an error e.g. you were put in wrong category etc

sunnyday123 Mon 16-May-11 14:30:20

Meant to say good luck smile - just re-read my post and it sounds no negative! - sorry just trying to give you a realistic expectation. Your letter wording really depends on why you didnt get a place too

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 15:11:24

Thanks Kerry. I know, it is :S.

The admission process goes in order of priority, that being:

1. Children in local authority
2. Sibling at the school
3. Children living within the area of the parish
4. Children whose parents attend worship at said parish(s)
5. Other children whose parents request a place and,
6. Children whose parents requested a place after the deadline.

We fall into number 5. Dd had a rough couple of years prior to starting nursery, witnessing domestic violence and emotional abuse. We (the two of us) were very isolated and she was a very reserved child although she was very advanced. We went through a lot to get her father out of our lives. Dd started nursery at the school in September, she settled in straight away and came out of herself massively. She is confident, out-going, energetic, the works! She is very sociable, now. I know this could have happened at any school however here the school and teachers are aware of the situation and have been very supportive towards both her and myself. Dd doesn't speak to me about the past or her feelings but she does talk to her teachers about it which I feel is invaluable. She feels safe and happy at this school. She has suffered a lot of things she shouldn't and is very settled here, she has also had a list of inconsistence in her life especially when it comes to relationships with people yet this school thanks to the children and the support of the staff have provided her stability. She is also doing very well with writing, reading, numbers etc, she has excelled in the nursery.
I know that may seem a selfish reason and I'm aware it may not seem good enough to deprive another child of a place but the school hold back a certain number of places for appeals and have a high success rate so I think most will get in. I'm just a little anxious maybe self conscious as most if not all of the parents there are over thirty (or even more), married, with there own homes tho I am non of those things and my daughter is the only ethnic minority in the class (one of very few in the entire school).
The school is over a mile away and uphill, it takes me 30 mins alone or 45-50 together to walk each way and we have been doing this in order to go to that school. It means alot to me, I just don't know if that is enough.

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 15:14:00

Thank you! Opps, didn't get a place as most people fell into the higher categories, and there are schools closer to us than this one.

LIZS Mon 16-May-11 15:24:47

" we have been doing this in order to go to that school" sorry but attendance at the nursery rarely guarantees acceptance into Reception. If you realised it was a risk presumably you had the chanceto attend one of churches(Cat4) or live closer(Cat3). I didn't think they could "hold back places" even if they have their own admissions process, they have to follow the declared criteria for allocating places. In which case, they can't admit your dd unless others in category , living further away, have already been accepted.

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 15:33:15

Hello BusyIzzy. I'm sorry to hear of the difficult time that you and your daughter have had.

You don't say what the Published Admission Number is. Is it a multiple of 30? As Sunnyday says, if it is then the infant class size regulations will kick in, and (according to the admissions appeal code) you should only win your appeal if you can demonstrate that there has been an error or maladministration or the admissions criteria are so unreasonable that they should be set aside. If the PAN isn't 30 per class you have more scope for winning your appeal.

On the information here, I can't see any evidence of a mistake. As you probably know, attending the pre-school doesn't give priority for admission to the school and you are in a way paying the price for putting your daughter in a pre-school outside your catchment area.

However there are two things which might just help you. Schools are not supposed to hold back places for appeals, but the fact that the school has done so maybe means that the appeal panel takes a more lenient attitude towards allowing appeals than the law says they should. The other thing that surprises me is that there is no admissions category for social/medical need. You could argue that if the school had adopted such a category, your daughter would have fallen into it because the difficulties she experienced in her early years give her a strong claim for staying at the school for continuity and pastoral care, over and above any other child who's been in the pre-school. Can you provide letters of support from professionals (health visitor, police family liaison officer, court official, etc) to confirm that your daughter witnessed domestic violence and in their professional opinion she would benefit from staying at the school where she has made such good progress?

Don't worry that you and your daughter don't 'fit' the demographic of the school. That's not relevant to the appeal, which should be decided on its merits. Just go in there and do your best for your daughter.

One last thing. Winning an appeal does not mean that another child will lose their place. There are very limited circumstances in which school places can be withdrawn and another child winning their appeal isn't one of them. Children admitted on appeal are 'excepted' which means that they are admitted over and above the usual class size limit of 30.

Good luck.

janeyjampot Mon 16-May-11 15:36:17

I don't think schools can really hold back places for appeals, I'm afraid. Any places they have must be allocated against the admissions criteria as you've listed them.

If I were you I'd try to find out some information. First of all, are you on the waiting list, and, if so, where are you on it? Do you stand a chance of getting a place this way? (Do many people move in/out of your area?). Bear in mind that you can go down the waiting list as well as up if people move into the area and fall into a higher admissions category than you do.

The other thing you need to know if whether or not this is an infant class size appeal. There must be one teacher for every 30 children in the Infants. If the admissions number is a multiple of 30 (or even 15 or 45) it probably is an infant class size appeal. If this is the case then you will probably only win if you can show that there was a mistake in your DD's admission.

If it isn't an infant class size appeal then you stand a much better chance, especially if you can get a professional opinion to support your concerns.

I'm sure you'll get some good advice here as well.

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 15:36:23

I should also point out that another way in which the school isn't following the admissions code is by putting late applications in a lower priority group. Late applications are supposed to be slotted into whichever admissions category applies. The penalty of applying late is that the places may have already been filled - there is not supposed to be an additional penalty of being placed at the back of the queue (so to speak).

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 15:51:17

In order to go to that nursery i meant,sorry. I wouldn't attend the church just to get her a school place, and we are not ourselves church of england, and live closer no not possible, we live in the closest housing association properties, as all of the surrounding area is private. They do hold back places or have extra places otherwise they would not be able to accept appeals as it would be full already.

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 15:57:36

So are you just assuming they hold back places, because they accept appeals? That really shouldn't be the case. Any decision to refuse a school place attracts a right of appeal, even if (as they nearly always are) the class is full. The fact that appeals are being taken doesn't mean there are vacant places waiting to be filled -the school cannot refuse to consider any appeal that is made to it.

As I said, I think your best hope is to persuade the panel that it is unreasonable of the school not to have a category for social/medical need (as most other schools do) and that this has deprived your daughter of a place. If this is an infant class size appeal then (unless the panel errs on the side of generosity) this still most likely won't be enough, but it's the strongest argument you have, in my opinion.

annh Mon 16-May-11 15:58:30

Busyizzy, I would be surprised if they held back places. Do you have any firm evidence of this? They have no choice about accepting appeals, if you wish to appeal, that is your right or anyone elses, regardless of the strength of your case. If it is a KS2 appeal, then they can in certain circumstances go above the recommended class size of 30. In KS1 there are also cases where they may have to accept an additional child (or children) if a mistake has been made in the allocation of places, which doesn't seem to be the case for you. They cannot take away a place legitimately awarded to another child. However, none of that means that they are "holding" places for appeals.

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 16:05:43

Thank you for your advice. PanelMember you made some good points which I hadn't thought of smile

Yes we are on the waiting list although I didn't ask where abouts. The admissions number is 43 and when I spoke to the school the lady said there are a number of appeals but judging on the success in the past few years I don't see any reason she won't be accepted. Maybe I'm wording it wrong re places but I know what I mean like maybe the admit 30 pupils but they accept upto 43 if that makes more sense.

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 16:11:25

Well, this all sounds very odd.

An admissions number of 43 does sound as if possibley they are expecting actually to admit 45, which presumably then means some mixed year classes so that there are 30 pupils per class, which would make any appeal after that an infant class size appeal.

As has been said several times, they really shouldn't be keeping vacant places 'just in case' someone wins an appeal, but this is raising my suspicions that actually they are doing just that. After all, a school which flouts the admissions code by making late applicants go to the back of the queue (and then advertises the fact in their published admissions criteria) may be breaking the code in other ways too!

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 16:15:07

Panel- No I'm not assuming it's what I was told but I guess it could be wrong. I will definitely include your point into my argument as you said if they had that category she would most likely have fell into it.

Annh- Erm, they didn't mention anything about there needing to be a mistake in the allocations as far as I'm aware I think that doesn't apply to C of E schools.

Is there anything else I should be including in the letter, my reason for wanting a place or just my reason for appealing the decision?

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 16:18:40

Yes I see what your saying, but then the lady did say 'most' of the appeals will be successful implying more than just two places? I'm confused by all this already!

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 16:20:19

BusyIzzy - You wouldn't be the firsts person who's been given dud advice on school admissions or appeals by someone in the school office (or even in the LEA)! Voluntary aided schools (including C of E schools) are bound by the same admissions code and admissions appeal code as all other schools. You can find them on the Dept for Education website (and links to them on my general tips for admissions appeals thread).

In your letter, you need to set out why you want a place for your child -focus on what your child needs and what this school can offer that other schools can't.

PanelMember Mon 16-May-11 16:22:32

This just gets more and more bizarre! How can anyone tell you that most appeals will be successful, before they've even been heard? They're supposed to be decided on their merits. Still, if the appeals are just a formality and most appellants will get in on the nod, that does at least help you.

<<Puts head in hands>>

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 16:25:59

Okay, that's worrying! I rang them for information not nonsense!

Yes that's what I thought I should be writing... Now it's just about saying the right thing in the right way.

admission Mon 16-May-11 16:39:00

Busyizzy,
It does not matter what kind of school it is they all have to abide by the admission code. So where the infant class size regs do apply there cannot be more than 30 pupils with any one school teacher.
However if your school does have an admission number of 43 then it does not apply immediately. 43 is a very weird number for an admission number and as panelmember says maybe the actual admission number is 45 and they are keeping back two places. That is illegal and really the Local Authority should have spotted it and done something about it. The something is to admit the next two pupils on the waiting list, which may or may not be to your advantage.
Could I suggest that you look in the admission book produced by the Local Authority. That will have all the schools in it and it will quote an admission number. If it is 45 and they have actually only admitted 43 then i would act a bit dumb and speak to the admission office and say as they have only allocated 43 places, please can I have one of the two available places. If the LA is on the ball they will realise there is an issue, if not there is always the possibility they may just give you a place!
The negative side is that once they get to 45 pupils per year group the probability is that the infant class size regs will come into play as they will be combining the year1 and year2 pupils into three classes of 30. If it is an infant class size case at appeal then you can only effectively win if the school made a mistake in the allocation of places.
If it is not an infant class size appeal then anything you say as to the reasons you want to go to that school can and must be taken into consideration. I would actually push the issues relating to your ex and the effect on your child. You should include any info that you can on what happened, especially any formal documents (police, social etc). The weakness of the reason is the time span involved since the split but you may get a panel who looks sympathetically at the background.

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 17:19:21

I maybe wrong but the admissions booklet states 'If the school is over-subscribed, then the school governors will look at the applications and use their
own admissions criteria' so I interpreted this to mean it was different. I also looked at the stats and it states in 2009 there were 43 available places, 74 applicants and 37 offers it doesn't state number of appeals. It does say 43 tho.

Busyizzy Mon 16-May-11 17:34:19

And will it not seem desperate to include the issues about my ex?

admission Mon 16-May-11 17:39:28

As a church of england school they are allowed to set their own admission criteria rather than the one that all community schools in the Local Authority have to abide by. The statement is simply confirming that they will use their own agreed criteria to decide which pupils to admit, not that they can take more pupils than the agreed 43.
Last years figures show that there were 43 available places. 74 separate people applied for a place at the school but this includes those that put it down as second or third preference. Actually the school only offered 37 places because 37 pupils had actually put it down as second or third preference and were offered a better preference. So the school was not full in reception last year.
On the letter you got it should say why you did not get a place, other than we are full. It should give you an indication as to whether you missed out on distance or whether they were still filling in parish places when they ran out of places. You need to know that information and also where you are on the waiting list to give you an idea of where you stand on this. The natural assumption would be that if they only offered 37 places last year and that if they are full with 43 pupils this year that there cannot be many pupils who are waiting for a place but you never know from one year to the next.
I would also try and find out what the class organisation is because with 43 pupils it could be anything. So how many classes and numbers in the classes in reception, year 1 and year2. You might be able to get that info off the school website.

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