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appeal - not infant class size

(36 Posts)
clarence1972 Sat 04-Jun-11 20:18:45

Any advice or thoughts would be welcome!

I am appealing for a school which has admitted 28 pupils, I have been told by the secretary that on 2 previous years in the last 5 they have admitted 29 pupils but the info from the LEA, when i asked, said that only 28 had been admitted for the last 5 years. The LEA also said that the school had more pupils that the net capacity and that this figure was calculated on there being only 25 pupils in R, year 1 and year 2. Some classes higher up in the school have only 22, 24, 25 pupils. I have asked for classroom sizes but they havnt supplied them. I have also checked the website for the next years admission and it states the PAN as being 30 (previously has been 25 or 28 for last few years). Not sure how to present this when writing my statement, is it ok to use info from the secretary even though different from the LEA and should i use next years PAN, thinking that if they can take 30 next year why not know?

Ofsted have never mentioned anything about overcrowding or lack of space and school has gone from satisfactory to good on a recent inspection.

to complicate matters I have twins so want 2 places, anyone got any experience of appeals and twins. Will they hear the appeals seperately? Should i put that I need them to admit 30 children on the statement?

Both have the same medical condition but have written 2 seperate staements with supporting info from hospital etc but they are virtually identical.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 04-Jun-11 20:26:21

In order to win you are going to have to show that they have made a mistake in not letting you in, not that last year or the year before that they let in more people.

You say you have medical reasons, but these will have been taken into account at the first round if you stated them. Has anything actually changed?

To answer the question re twins, individual appeals, you could get one in and not the other. You may be better on the continued interest list.

Good luck in any case, it's a hard road to walk. So I hope you get the outcome you want smile

clarence1972 Sat 04-Jun-11 20:35:32

I thought that it was only infant class size appeals that you had to prove a mistake?

Our LEA does not give preferance to medical needs so they have not been mentioned before, other that a bit in "any other info" on the application form which i presume isnt even looked at!

I am on the waiting list as well but but its not much use with 2 unless i am willing to split them (which i am not) at least even if i only get 1 in on appeal the other will get sibling priority so will go to the top of the list and maybe then i would have grounds for a second appeal?

prh47bridge Sat 04-Jun-11 20:56:12

You are correct. It is only infant class size appeals where you have to prove a mistake. With an admission number of 28 this is clearly not infant class size. Indeed, an admission number of 28 is almost an invitation to the panel to admit 2 more. A mistake is still a strong argument but you can win in other ways.

I would certainly bring up next year's PAN. If they aren't making any changes to the buildings that is a good argument that they can cope with 30 now.

What is the net capacity for this school? With an admission number of 28 it should be around 196. Is it less than that?

It would be a good idea to ask the LA for the calculated capacity. This is actually two figures and the official net capacity will be somewhere between the two. If they have set it at or near the bottom of the range that would tend to confirm that the school can cope with more pupils.

The LA's case to refuse admission will include the number in each year. It may also include classroom sizes. If you have asked for classroom sizes and they don't provide them that is a breach of the Appeals Code.

Your case should concentrate on why this is the only school for your children. You can pick holes in the LA's case at the hearing. You can explain in your case why you think the school can cope with more but you don't have to. If you haven't seen the LA's case I would leave the discussion about how many the school can cope with until you have.

The appeals are separate. Having said that, this is a case where it would be easy for the panel to make a mistake and treat both children as a single appeal, so either both get in or both are refused. However, the rules are that they should consider each child separately.

admission Sat 04-Jun-11 20:58:21

Clarence, Are you in Wales?
I ask this because normally in England the admission number does not move around as much as you are suggesting it has at this school. Wales has a slightly different way of using the net capacity, which can give rise to changes in the admission number.
Assuming that it is england the admission number you have quoted for this year is 28 and this is the figure you need to base all your arguments around. At a figure of 28 it is not an infant class size case, but immediately it gets to above 30 it will be. So the first question has to be do you know that you are the only appealant going to appeal. If so not an infant class size regs case, if there is anybody else it immediately potentially becomes an infant class size case because to admit all would mean breaking the 30 barrier.
The appeals have to be separate and decisions made as separate pupils but a sensible chair is going to ask you about whether you would consider different schools for the twins, so it probably a good idea to say this is what you want on the appeal form. As you are effectively putting forward the same case for both twins they will either both win or both fail at appeal, unless there is more than you appealing!
The LA are probably playing semantics when they say they have only admitted 28 in past years. That is they only allocated 28 places, what happened at appeal is a different question. The alternative is that the school has also been creative and just admitted one or two above the admission number at some time in the school year. Very naughty but not unknown. The question that needs to be asked at appeal is what is the maximum number that you have had in one class in the school in the last 5 years.
On an assumption that the admission number is going to 30 next year from 28, without any building work being scheduled to take place, it becomes a very simple question for the panel is there a reason why we can not admit now to 30. You should be asking the admission presenting officer to confirm their is no building work scheduled, what the reason for going to 30 is (almost certainly because they have been here before and 2 have been admitted at appeal) and therefore what the problem is with admitting two twins now, rather than make them wait for 9 months and then apply again when the admission number is 30. The presenting officer will say that the admission number for your year group is 28 and they have to work on that (which is true) and you then ask them to confirm that in 7 years time that all year groups in the school will be at 30 admission number, so again why not now. The panel will hopefully get the hint but only if there are only your twins appealing and there is no building work expected in the school. Put it another way you are saving the panel having to ask the questions because they certainly need to.
I would certainly mention the increase in PAN for next year in you appeal documents but obviously not the questions!

clarence1972 Sat 04-Jun-11 21:25:05

Thanks for responding, the net capacity i have been given is 175 (based on 1.8m2 per child?) and there are 182 children on roll.

I have asked when this figure was calculated as there was building work 5 years ago and it seems to be that the pan went form 25 to 28 at roughly this time.

Unfortunately there are several others appealing... if the panel agree that more can be admitted will the most deserving, as it were, get places or do they use distance or just reject the lot?

I am still a little confused as to whether I put the numbers/ next years PAN etc on my statement or jut hang on to it and see what they come up with in thier argument then dispute it? I was thinking of just doing a seperate sheet for each child with numbers in each year group, copy of webpage with next years pan, link to ofsted/ sats results etc.

The other thing i was not sure if worth including was the recent draft schools admission code suggest making being a twin included on the list of exceptions re infant class size. One of my arguments is that appeal is the only way i can get my children into this school as i cannot split them so therefore cannot make use of waiting lists like other families.

clarence1972 Sat 04-Jun-11 21:25:26

Oh, and we are in england

prh47bridge Sat 04-Jun-11 23:52:09

Put next year's PAN in your statement. That is something you definitely need to get the appeal panel thinking about.

The draft admissions code is just that - a draft. It may change and it won't come into force until 2013. It is therefore not relevant to your case.

With several appeals, the panel first considers whether all the children can be admitted without causing a problem for the school. The answer will be no as admitting more than 2 runs into infant class size prejudice. So the next step is for the panel to look at each case in turn and decide whether the case to admit the child outweighs the prejudice to the school. At this stage each case is considered individually. Once the panel has done that, if the number of cases which merit admission is more than the school can handle the panel has to compare the cases to decide which ones to uphold.

admission Sun 05-Jun-11 19:37:29

A net capacity of 175, would suggest in a primary school an admission number of 25 (7 year groups). So the question then becomes could that be realistic if the school has now put it up to 28 and is going to 30 next year.
The net capacity is two figures, the actual calculated figure and then 90% of that. If the 175 was the 90% level then the maximum net capacity would be 194 (suggested admission number 28) which would seem to make some sense. A figure of 30 makes practical sense given the ICS Regs but it certainly predicts that the classrooms are on the small size and that 30 really is a maximum figure.

Given that there are more than just your twins involved the appeal is going to all depend on the strength of your personal statements, assuming that the panel will be prepared to admit to 30 in the class. Obviously for your twins that has to mean that you have the most compelling case for admission.

As PRH says the suggested admission code change on twins will have no direct impact on this appeal. In fact many LAs have a statement that they will admit over PAN for twins providing that the ICS Regs are not breached. I would check very carefully your LAs admission book for anything like that because if there is I would certainly put that in your appeal. What you need to be suggesting to the panel is that the LA put great emphasis on this in the book and therefore surely the panel should do the same in the context of the admissions. Whilst that is not strictly true in relation to reasons to admit it would seem an obvious argument for a parent to make and for the panel to have to rule on.

clarence1972 Sun 05-Jun-11 20:20:02

Thanks guys, you have given me food for thought and some things to ask on appeal day!

Unfortunately no statement regarding twins in admission policy here, it just says 1 will be picked at random if there are 2 children at the same address and i have been told that if 1 gets in on the waiting list the only concession will be that I can choose which one gets the place.

I just have to hope the health reasons are enough.... only time i have been glad they are both affected!

clarence1972 Tue 28-Jun-11 20:09:30

I have finally been given the figures I have been asking for but finding it hard to interpret them! would really appreciate your help...

capacity based on classbases 209
basic workplace allowance 75
maximum workplaces 209
minimum workplaces 157
capacity based on planned admission 175
Net capacity 175

How is that stacking up to get them to increase from 28 to 30 and how do i use it in appeal?

Asked for class sizes and have been told I would get them at the appeal!!!

God i wish they would hurry up, havnt even got a date yet and have got a horrible feeling it is going to be smack bang in the middle of my holiday!!

Thanks very much!

admission Tue 28-Jun-11 20:49:57

This is a load of figures designed to confuse.
I have to say I do not know for sure where they are deriving these numbers from. However 157 just happens to be 90% of 175, so if someone set an artificial total net capacity of 175, then the other figure that would be quoted at the appeal would be 157. This artificial net capacity comes from the comment of only having 25 in infant classes.
However as far as I am concerned the 100% net capacity is 209, that is the quoted net capacity based on classbases used for teaching. So the two quoted figures should be 209 and 188 (90% of figure). A PAN of 28 would tend to fit with these figures and so would at a squeeze 30 as that would have a total net capacity of 210.
The key to your appeal is to get the panel thinking that the school can take 2 extra pupils to the 30 mark and then hope that your twins are the two that have the best case for admission.

clarence1972 Thu 30-Jun-11 19:51:26

Confusing is right admission but I think i have sorted out the figures with some help from the DFES website!

The minimum workplaces figure is, instead of being 90% of max as usually quoted, at a lower level as the PAN of the school is set at 25 (rather than based on space). Its calculated on 1/4 of PAN and multiples of something, cant quite figure out how they got the number quoted! Apparently they use whichever figure is lower.

It says on the DFES guideance that schools sometimes set thier PAN low and use this figure for net capacity to allow for children with SEN. but seems schools and authorities can set a PAN at any number they want?

Does this sound about right? I guess the next step would be to find out how many kids with SEN in school and in this years reception intake , or just ask that at appeal if they bring it up when i ask why the PAN is so low?

admission Thu 30-Jun-11 21:54:35

Which bit of DfES guidance are you quoting?
The admission code states that admission authorities must set admission number with regard to the capacity assessment for the school, not the other way round. Having said that it is permissable to set an admission number which is lower than the capacity assessment (net capacity divided by 7) where it is appropriate. So if the capacity assessment says 28 it would not be unreasonable to decide to have an admission number of 25 or 30.

clarence1972 Thu 30-Jun-11 22:09:24

media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/s/assessing%20the%20net%20capacity%20of%20schools.pdf

I was looking at this, point 108 specifically.... i may of course be completely misunderstanding. All of this is an education to say the least!!

I dont know if I have said before but the official PAN is 25 although they have admitted 28 as standard (29 on occasion following appeal) for the last 5 years.

clarence1972 Thu 07-Jul-11 21:08:01

Ok so the PAN for 2012 has been changed on the website and is now back at 25!!! Cynical to think this has happened after i sent my statement in? I did send a printout from the website.

Also found out that 18 people are appealing.

On a positive note at least I now have date and it will all be over in 2 weeks!

admission Fri 08-Jul-11 12:11:39

Thanks for the information. This goes back to 2002 and though I believe it is still current legislation I don't think many now use the descriptions of how the PAN can be reduced by taking into consideration the number of SEN pupils. I suspect that at appeal that will just confuse more then help. As I have said it is quite possible to agree a lower admission number than the calculated net capacity suggests and this is what has happened in this school. The agreed figure for admission is 25, and it will be upto the panel to decide how many above that they would be prepared to admit. School numbers would suggest that this is 28 or 29.

The fact that there are 18 appeals is really bad news. The panel has as a first step (ignoring any infant class size regs issues) to decide whether the admission authority have made their case not to admit further pupils and the panel's decision is not can they admit another 2 or 3 but can they admit all 18. The answer to that is obviously going to be no. So it then comes down to the relative personal circumstances of all the 18 appealants and do they out weight the prejudice to the school of admitting further pupils. Depending on the weight of the parent's case my view is that the panel could admit to 30 but would not admit beyond the 30 number because of the infant class size regs. However if they do not believe any of the 18 appealants have a compelling case they might not admit any.

As far as size of classrooms is concerned, whch tends to influence admission number, the Building Bulletin 99: Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects Incorporating primary school revision to BB82: Area Guidelines for Schools is considered the key document. This now says that any new classroom should be built not to the old standard of 49 sq metres but to a minimum of 63sq metres for new foundation stage classrooms. It makes good bedtime reading, if you want to know things like the number of toilets a primary school should have.

clarence1972 Fri 08-Jul-11 21:49:39

we have just got the appeal documents and the schools case is based on the fact that the classroom is on 48.7m2. the argument is that teaching more than 28 children in a room this size will cause stress for teaching staff, H&S issues with movi8ng furniture,not enough room for children to move freely and storage problems.

The only resposes i can think to this are mentioning the large covered outside area which is free flow and observed to be widely used and asking about incidences of teachers work related stress or if there had been any accidents reported due to moving furniture.

I had asked for all class room sizes but they have not been given but thinking i will ask again to see if any other rooms are bigger.... the focus of thier argument is just on the problems it would cause in reception.

I also found out today that there is a place that has been offered that has not been accepted or declined, the guy in admissions would not put this in writing but said that if they didnt hear from the family they would likely hold on to the place until sept. being that we are top of the waiting list this would be given to us and we would only have to appeal for one twin. is there any way we can use this in the appeal, was thinking of asking how many people had accepted places and using this to point out that there would potentially be one space becoming available in sept anyway.

Thanks so much for your help.

prh47bridge Sat 09-Jul-11 00:13:32

The LA should have written to the parents who haven't responded giving them a deadline (at least 7 days after the letter) to accept the place. If they have already done that and the parents have not responded they are required to allocate the place to whoever is at the head of the waiting list immediately. They are not allowed to hold on to the place until September. Find out if they have given the parents a deadline. If they have you should demand that they allocate the place immediately. If they refuse to do so you can argue that the LA has made a mistake in not admitting one of your children.

clarence1972 Sat 09-Jul-11 09:13:56

Thanks, that makes sense!

Would you advise trying to sort this bit out now before the appeal or using it at the appeal?

prh47bridge Sat 09-Jul-11 09:44:12

I would try to sort this out now. If it isn't sorted by the appeal hearing I would use it at the appeal.

admission Sun 10-Jul-11 16:44:31

48.7sq metres is effectively 49 sq metres which used to be old standard for 30 pupils. So you could ask how old is the classroom and what was the accepted standard when it was built for 30 pupils. Don't push it too far because all you want to do is make the panel understand that the reasoning behind 28 pupils maximum is a bit suspect.
The next question should be does the school run the new foundation status syllabus, to which the answer should be yes. You can then ask what play areas the reception children have other than the classroom. My guess would be that an honest answer is any corridor space and the large outside play area. You can then make the point in question that the 49 sq metres is actually quite realistic for a class of 30 given the large outside play area and see what they say other than no.
By all means ask the questions about teacher's stress and accidents because the probablity is that there will be nothing.

swash Sun 10-Jul-11 17:30:40

I have just had a very long conversation with a friend about a similar situation. She was told there was no space at her local school but knew that class sizes were less than 30. Being very persistent, she kept asking admissions to explain why there was no space if the class size was under 30. None of the answers were satisfactory and she got the head of admissions to admit that the situation wasn't defensible at appeal! As a result, she has got a place for her dd.

Definitely pursue before appeal - and at appeal if necessary. Speak to the head of admissions if you can. And stay polite!

Vert Tue 12-Jul-11 23:08:08

Regarding the same appeal that clarence1972 is talking about ( i am the twins grandmother) the schools case is that to take 30 children the room should be 63m2. They say it was originally built for max 25 kids in 1999. Is this correct, or was the standard changed after 1999. Anyway if the standard changes surely this does not make schools built before it changes obselete.

prh47bridge Wed 13-Jul-11 00:58:04

Yes, the standard has changed since 1999. Changing the standard does not make older schools obsolete but it does allow the school to argue at appeal that the classrooms are too small for the number of pupils.

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