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Urgent help: Reception admission Appeal

(38 Posts)
B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 12:11:33

Hi all, I desperately need advice for my hearing set up for 6th June, as I have paniced.
I have a 4 year old daughter with severe anaphylaxis contact allergy to dairy. Her allergy worsened over time, initially only anti-hystamines used to control it, since Sep 2010 she carries Epipen. She started at a children centre when she was 1.5 years old at a place near where me and my husband work in central London. It was reasuuring to be close in emergencies which were many. It was a steep learning curve for staff to get to know her limits.
She has been refused a reception place in the same school becasue we live out of the borough. However I had applied under Medical/Social route which comes before distance criteria in that LA. They simply dismissed the medical reasons and put her on distance criteria. I am now appealing and I believe it shouldn't be the infant class size appeal, becasue I had medical resons and supporting letters.
I have letters from her Paediatric stating that staying in the same place is to her great medical benefit. I can not afford a trial learning time in a new school at her expense,as it would increase the risk of anaphylaxis shock. At the current school they got to know her while her allergy was milder, now it is life thretening. This I believe makes exceptional link between her current school and her needs. She is confident here, her friends know her limits. I also found out that in US small children with anaphylaxis allergy with no reading skills, get a certificate of hidden disability until they are able to read (food labeling). I have mentioned that in my appeal notes.
My question is how can they over write the advice of her doctor and put her in a new school which inevitably increase the risk.Who is responsible for this? Who guarantees her safety? I know that most/all school are able to deal with allergies, but continuity is what is best for which would minimize the risk. Any advice?Similar cases? Is there any material I can use?

Many Thanks

baffledmum Wed 25-May-11 12:14:43

There are some good advisors on here so I am sure that someone will be along soon.

The one bit that I cannot quite follow is whether the school is at the same place as the children's centre?

LIZS Wed 25-May-11 12:21:29

Good luck with the appeal. However I fear you may be a little naive in expecting the precautions and systems in place on one part of the site to seamlessly transfer to another. Also not sure the US reference is of relevance , sorry.

teacherwith2kids Wed 25-May-11 12:30:37

Along with other posters, I feel that you need to be very clear about the link between the children's centre and the school.

Is the children's centre within the same building? Does it have the same head as the school? Is it run by the same staff ie is there one 'staff' under one management team, with the children's centre being treated as one 'section' within the school? Will the staff trained in looking after your child's particular needs remain with her as she starts school?

Or, is the Children's centre separately managed, separately led, in another building close to the school, with a separate staff group? With a completely new set of staff who are based in Reception class who will be unfamiliar with her needs when she arrives?

In the latter case, I think a reasonable person would argue that although it is slightly 'easier' for handover of information to happen in a single site, the transfer of information about your child's needs could be equally well done between staff in the children's centre and staff at her allocated school, in the same way as happens for any child with additional needs as part of the normal transition process.

B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 12:36:14

Yes, the children centre and primary are linked and in the same place. Nursery and Reception class share an exclusive out door play area. Children are often free to move between nursery and reception.
I know that this is UK, but my argument is that there should be a starting point some way. I am sure there was a day when school dinners contained nuts (in sauces, pastes etc), but at some point it went off the menu. I am not advocating dairy goes off the menu, but I am tired of hearing my child's crucial need as "dietary". With respect to all dietary needs for whatever cause, if a vegetarian child for example is given meat by mistake, she is not gonna die, whereas my child would.
Unfortunately, I did not see this day, and have not taken any photo of her even touching butter on her face. You would think who punched my child this hard on her face? PS. dairy is in everything! cakes, creams, icecreams, pizza, custard...most kids favorites...
The difficult thing for my child with English her second language is also the fact that she eats non-dairy equivalant of icecream, so if asked would u like an icecream...the answer is yes.

teacherwith2kids Wed 25-May-11 12:44:51

It's OK, I know about dairy being in everything - my son was allergic to dairy (as in milk protein, not lactose intolerance - when he accidentally ate part of a biscuit containing whey powder it looked like he had been dunked in boiling water) as a baby and toddler but we were one of the lucky ones as he grew out of it.

The thing is, schools quite frequently deal with children with severe peanut allergy who could die if they come into contact with peanuts (my children's school has one, the school has to be hyper-vigilant about the contents of everyone's snacks packed lunches etc as although they are not served in school meals the contents of packed lunches are much less under their control). I don't think that a severe allergy is so unusual that it could be regarded as a reason to have to go to a particular school, most schools either have or can rapidly acquire the training and techniques required.

B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 12:47:10

@teacherwith2kids,
Yes, school and children centre are in the same building. Reception in fact is within children centre on the ground floor of the building. Year1-6 are one floor up. The staff would be the same, nursery and reception have their doors open to their shared outdoor space.
The head of the school is the head of children centre (although children centre also has a head who works under supervision of the primary head)
My child already knows teachers of recption as she sees them when they play outside, and assistants are shared between nursery and reception. and going to reception she will benefit from seeing her nursery teachers every day. That will give her more confidence. she is already stressed when I told her she may have to change her school, statred twitching...for a while and doesn't want to talk about the change at all. she feels so part of this school community. Having said that her health and safety is my prime objective. I know having friends living far from you is not ideal, but I believe this is best for her until she is older and can self manage her allergy.

BarbarianMum Wed 25-May-11 12:58:21

Well, give it a go and appeal by all means. But as teacher says it is quite common for schools (esp. the larger primaries) to deal with life-threatening allergies (some do so better than others unfortunately).

When I selected schools for ds1 allergy management was top my list but all the schools I visited convinced me that they could manage his allergies. My sympathies though, a severe dairy allergy is really the pits (ds1's friend has one, ds1 luckily outgrew his).

clarence1972 Wed 25-May-11 13:33:34

We are in a very similar position, escept its nut and egg anaphylaxis. Our LEA does not give priority to medical or social need.

We are also appealing, luckily the school I want has alot going for it as there are 4 older children with severe allergies, all staff trained in epi pen and first aid, small school, attached to nursery, really good policies including lunch box checks, no bringing in food to share for birthdays etc. Most of thier peer group are going there.

the school they have been given has no experience, no policies in place, culture in school of bringing food to share and also very high number (nearly 80%) of children with english as additional language and lots of movement with kids in and out of the school throughout the year so would be difficult to communicate to all parents. i have a letter from the specialist who states it wont be safe.

Other things I have mentioned are childcare and difficulties getting safe provision, school I want has wraparound on site.... other has nothing. One I want is 200m away and have family very close incase of emergency, other doesnt. We cant use informal childcare e.g other parents picking them up etc

We mentioned social side e.g parents and children already know about thier allergies and work to include them in parties etc important at this age as they get increasingly independant.

Dont know if it will be enough but got to try!

PM me if you want more info, would be happy to email you my appeal statement if it would help to compare notes!

BetsyBoop Wed 25-May-11 13:53:55

the LA's case should tell you if it is an ICS appeal (classes of 30), it's nothing to do with which category you think you shoud have been in.

If it is ICS then you have to show the LA made a mistake or made an unreasonable decision.

The crux of your appeal is around why you weren't placed in the "medical/social" category.

If the LA ignored the information you supplied, you can argue a mistake was made & you should have been in the social/medical category.

If the LA decided that it wasn't a "good enough" reason to put you in the medical/social category then you need to build a case to convince the panel that this decision was wrong (or "perverse" to use the terminology of the admissions code)

Hopefully the LAs case should tell you which one of the two above applies & if the second one, why you didn't fit their criteria to be classed as a social/medical case, so you can then build your agurments as to why you should have been.

If it isn't an ICS appeal you have a much better chance of success as you just need to convince the panel that the the needs of your DC to be in that school are "more important" than the impact on the school of admitting another child.

Hope that helps, good luck.

B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 14:54:40

The LEA had social/medical criteria. I applied under that grounds but in my case which they say is now distance, becasue they simply wrote to me that they did not see any exceptional link between this school and my child's need, therefore they categorized it as distance criteria. Now I am appealing. Thanks for the advice, then I think I should convince them that they are wrong, they can not just simply dismiss an application, and all the information I supported becasue they don't see the exceptional link. Specialist doctor wrote supporting letter advicing her to stay in the same school. I had written statements etc...

teacherwith2kids Wed 25-May-11 15:03:34

I think that you need to think more carefully about WHY it is exceptional - as in why your case is different to those of all the other children with severe allergies who have applied for school in that LEA this year (as if they have not been considered as social / medical then it is perverse if you are).

As stated above, it is common for schools to cope with life-threatening allergies. Therefore it is not on the face of it perverse for the LEA to say that there is no exceptional link between your child and a single school - unless the alternative school she has been offered is next to a cheese-making factory or something??

PanelMember Wed 25-May-11 15:14:14

BetsyBoop's hit the nail on the head.

If this is an infant class size appeal - which, in a London borough, it almost certainly is - then the onus is on you to show there has been a mistake. Parents cannot decide on their own that their child should be in the 'medical/social need' category. That is for the LEA to decide. In our borough (and I guess in others) such cases are referred to a panel made of paediatricians, social workers and others who decide whether the child does have a medical or social need which a particular school would be best at meeting. It's a two-fold decision: does the child have a social or medical need and does that need require them to be at a particular school?

You should certainly ask your LEA whether your case went before such a panel (and if not, why not) and what the panel concluded. I think it is quite likely, though, that the panel and/or the LEA took the view that childhood allergies are these days not rare and any school ought to have protocols in place to enable them to give appropriate care to a child with life-threatening allergies.

If this is an ICS appeal, your best (probably only) chance of winning is if you can convince the panel that the LEA's decision was so utterly unreasonable that it could be regarded as perverse. If this isn't an ICS appeal, you have more chance of persuading the panel to support you.

B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 20:00:00

I asked the LA about the panel's decision, no reply yet. As of now, they consider ot ICS appeal. That is my question, how can I convince them that they were wrong and decisin was perverse, in dismissing my medical appliction and consider the application on distance. I understand that schools can acomodate children with allergies, but what I want to avoid is increasing her risk of anaphylaxis shock by changing to a new place and start afresh with a new set of staff, parents and most importantly pupils. I chose my first choice out of the borough I live, purely because my of daughter's health, the fact that when me and my partner are both working close to the school, we are sure that we can be there quickly in emergencies...and now being told that I live xxx meters far from school sounds funny. I knew I wouldn't have a chance in distance.
PS. This is not a great school academicaly, their ofsted is satisfactory, all I want is the continuity, I have 2 close friends (one is her former childminder) who live 100 meters away from school, SO i have back up childcare there...but nothing near where I live... School also has a nurse on site all the time becasue they share the campus with a speacial need school...these have all been to my childs' advantage....How can they simply ignore her paediatric letter...Can I argue that they were wrong in considering her application as distance and not medical/social?

B4r4joon Wed 25-May-11 20:11:57

PS. when I submitted my appeal notes, I didn't know what appeal it was exactly....although I mentioned all my medical and social related reasoning...Do i need now to write another letter to the appeal panel asking why LA thought I shouldn't be in medical category, or my reasons was not good enough for medical criteria? Or I can say these in the hearing?

admission Wed 25-May-11 20:43:35

I would be tempted to send a further note for your appeal, stating that the reason for the appeal is that you believe that the LA have failed to understand the complexity of your child's issues and they should have been in the medical category.
That means that when it comes to appeal that the panel will only have one decision to make and that is did the LA properly carry out a review on your child's medical problems. If they agree with you that they did not then the probablity is that you get the place. if they do not then you have not lost anything but it will mean that you have to go to plan B and look for another school.
You need to build as much data as you can on the severity of the situation if your child contacts dairy. Some photographs of the effects would actually be good here just to bring home to the panel what can happen. At the appeal you need to question carefully the LA representative about who made the decision to not allow the medical category and hope that it is somebody without medical knowledge.
Having said that I think you also need to bolster as much as possible why this is the only school that can cope with your child, because that is the question that the panel will be asking. So things like the nurse being on site are positives.
You also need to understand the way that appeals happen. With an infant class size appeal, the only criteria under which you will be given a place is if the LA made a mistake. That is why you need to convince the panel that the LA should have put you in the medical category, which would have meant in all probablity that you would have been offered a place, because you would have been high on the lists of applicants. The panel has no latitude to consider other issues in such an appeal.

mummy22gorgeousboys Wed 25-May-11 22:23:52

I would certainly send another letter as Admission suggests.

I also have an appeal for our son in 2 weeks time.

Again the LEA have expressed they see it as a 'Class Size' Appeal, and I feel it is not.

So, I have just spent 2 hours trawling through the Governments' School Admissions Code, ( google it if you like for more info) to see if I could put forward my view differently and that they have not followed the School Admissions Code, and therefore they were mistaken in not offering him a place in Reception - and maybe get him in!!

It is a very long document to read, but I feel it has really helped me and feel more confidant about my appeal now- I am also going to write to LA again with the new info I have.

Let us know how you get on.

PanelMember Wed 25-May-11 22:42:28

Mummy - Whether it is an infant class size appeal has nothing to do with your feelings or your reasons for appealing. If the school admits in multiples of 30 or has 30 pupils in its KS1 classes, it will be an ICS appeal, whatever you feel about that. The law limits infant class sizes to 30 pupils with 1 teacher, so if your school has already admitted 30/60/90 pupils, you will win your appeal only if you can show there has been a mistake which has deprived your child of a place or the LEA's decision was so unreasonable as to be perverse.

It is always worth reading the admissions code. What you are looking for is any significant error on the LEA's part or any way in which the admissions arrangements differ from the requirements of the mandatory parts of the code.

prh47bridge Thu 26-May-11 00:19:43

I agree with the advice you have been given. Just to emphasise, whether or not it is an infant class size appeal is purely about the size of classes in Reception, Y1 and Y2. The fact that you believe you have medical reasons for your daughter to be admitted to this school has absolutely no bearing on that at all. Neither you nor the LA has any choice as to whether or not it is infant class size.

B4r4joon Thu 26-May-11 11:53:49

Hi all,
Thanks for all your advice...As I need to send any further documents 1 week before the hearing (Monday 6th June), I really need to send it special delivery or fax it tomorrow. I just draft the small note and post it here, appreciate if you can correct it.
@admission: I don't have a photo of my own child (she looked so hurrible in that circumstances, that believe me no mum would want to document that as I was so worried for her getting through it)....
WOuld just a short note, (the first sentence you sent already) be enough (becasue I have already written about medics)? Please help , I am used to writing reports and research, but believe me I am hopeless in this case, as I only have time until tomorrow.

admission Thu 26-May-11 16:50:17

Yes it does not have to be any masterpiece of an essay, as long as you have put down the basic facts of why you are appealing. When you go to the appeal you will be given the opportunity to expand on the reasons and the panel will ask questions if they are unsure about anything.
If you have no photo of your daughter is it possible to get a photo of somebody else with the same condition, just so the panel understand the level of problem this may cause?

B4r4joon Thu 26-May-11 19:18:59

New Information: There was a panel to decide if my application will be prioritised as Medical. I was informed finaly today that I lost it then with 2 votes against one vote. (SO atleast one person thought I had a point).

This is part of the email I got, The capacity of people mentioned here don't seem to related to medics??? Or am i totally wrong?:

The panel members who have considered your case are all representatives
of the Islington School Admission Forum, and have been appointed by the
Director to decide whether cases can be prioritised for admission. Each
panel member has extensive knowledge of all schools within the London
Borough of Islington and are highly experienced. The panel members
are: Mrs .... (Head of Policy, Communications and Specialist Services
and is appointed as Chair of ISAF ), Ms ......(Head of Universal
Services) and Mrs ...... (Community Representative and is appointed as
Vice Chair of ISAF).

admission Thu 26-May-11 22:02:55

Having spent a while rooting around on Islington's site I finally found a briefing note about their admission forum and it specifically mentions this sub committee as dealing with such requests. So it may well be totally right. I don't know of any specific info on this but there may be buried somewhere in the Department for Education something that confirms that this is how it should be done.
The admission code does have a section on this, it is paragraphs 2.27 to 2.30. The only bit that seems relevant is that 2.29 says that admisison authorities must give a clear explanation of what supporting information is required and must say how this will be assessed objectively. The admission code also gives a definition for the admission forum and this is a statutory local body charged with monitoring and advising on the effectiveness and equity of local admission arrangements. So should members of this body actually be taking part in things directly related to admissions, which they are supposed to be monitoring? I would say no
You are also told that two of the three members of this sub committee are actually senior members of the LA, which again is a bit dubious to me, especially when it comes to things being assessed objectively. How can they be objective if they are involved in it!
I can't find anything that refers to should it not be someone medical who decides, which is what you are really asking about.
The only way to get an outside legal view on this is to go to the school adjudictor and see whether they will rule on it.
Obviously at an appeal the LA will confirm that you have been rejected as a medical category, but this does not stop the panel taking a different view, especially if you show that the decision was not taken by an completely independant committee with medical representation.

prh47bridge Fri 27-May-11 00:09:24

I agree with Admission. Although there is nothing that says they need someone medical to decide, I would certainly be asking about the independence of this committee. Assuming you submitted the letter from your paediatrician, I would also be asking what qualifications they have that allow them to overrule the paediatrician's recommendation without examining your daughter.

B4r4joon Fri 27-May-11 00:37:18

Thank you all very much, I am so happy that I took a friend's advice in sharing my problem in mumsnet forum.
I asked for supprt from the school, I was told that there used to be choice advisor which with budget cuts, has been cut!!! Instead they freaked me out about the appeal panel, and it being intimidating and advising me not to go on my own. I have to, as my partner has to look after my daughter, they have inset day on Monday 6th, and nursery is closed!!!
I feel already better about it and more prepared as to what to ask...........
Thx thx thx...

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