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Is it worth appealing Reception place at Catholic school?

(17 Posts)
j1977 Sun 05-Jun-11 21:47:36

Hi all,

Our little boy is due to start school in September and has been refused admission into all four Catholic schools that we applied for. This is purely because of where we live as our road comes under a Parish which happens to have no Catholic school (other than a private one!) and so we are not a priority for any of the four Catholic schools applied for (even though they are all within 5 - 10 minutes drive away from us). The fact that we have attended church every week for a few years now, had all the forms signed by the Priest of our nearest Church (which is not the same as the Parish we live it -v confusing!!) and are trying to raise our children as Catholic appears to be completely irrelevant!

We feel that we are being treated completely unfairly as basically, anyone living in our Parish will NEVER get their child into a Catholic school. All the Catholic schools are brilliant and oversubscribed and there will never be any places left to give to 'practising Catholics living in other parishes' which unfortunately is the category we fall into.

We have informed the nearest of the schools of our intention to appeal and have received the forms and appeal hearing date (which happens to be the day we go off on holiday!).

Having been all fired up to appeal etc, I am now having doubts as to whether it is worth putting ourselves through it all. Not because we feel less strongly that we would like our child to go to a Catholic school, or are less frustrated by the injustice of the whole system, but because the more people I talk to, and the more reading up I do the more I realise we have no chance of winning this.

Does anyone else have a similar experience? Should we be appealing to a specific school or putting our case to the Diocese who sets the Parish boundaries and should be made aware of the failings of the current map system??

Any advice/feedback/comments would be gratefully appreciated. x

PanelMember Sun 05-Jun-11 22:18:14

Hmm. I understand your dilemma.

I'm assuming that each of the Catholic schools has oversubscription criteria which place Catholic children in the parish above Catholic children outside the parish (or don't have a separate category for Catholic children outside the parish and place them in the same category as all 'other' applicants, to be decided on distance to school) and that all places were filled before they got to your category. Is that (more or less) right?

Will this be an infant class size appeal (as discussed on several other threads)? If it is, you need to demonstrate that a mistake has been made or the decision to refuse your child a place was so unreasonable that no other admissions authority in the same circumstances would have made it. I certainly think you have an arguable case if the admissions arrangements for all the Catholic schools taken together have the effect of excluding people living in your parish, but whether the panel would think this was so unfair as to be unreasonable (in the sense of irrational) I really don't know. I doubt it. If this isn't an ICS appeal you have more chance.

Irrespective of the appeal, I think you should point out to the diocese that the admissions system disadvantages people in your parish and suggest that they look at the issue diocese-wide.

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 09:37:36

Thanks so much for your comments.

Yes, you have assumed correctly re the oversubscription criteria and because they are all so oversubscribed we would never stand a chance!

I'm not sure whether it's an infant class size appeal or not really? My argument is that we have four local Catholic schools and because of the road we live in (which happens to be right on the boundary of the neighbouring Parish which would have got us an offer in one of the schools!) we cannot get into any of them. I'm not sure that this would make it an ICS?

I will write to the Diocese anyway. They may not be able to change the whole Parish map system but should at least change the admissions policy of at least one of the schools to include our Parish.

titchy Mon 06-Jun-11 09:53:26

If the admission number into reception at the four schools is 30, (or 45) it IS ICS appeal, regardless of your reasons for appeal. Plenty of threads explain!

PanelMember Mon 06-Jun-11 09:56:27

I'm trying to pensiosn off my PanelMember persona but here goes ...

There are several threads about infant admissions which discuss infant class size appeals and you would do well to read them. In a nutshell - whether it's an ICS appeal depends on how many children are admitted to the school and how classes are arranged. The ICS regulations limit any class in the infants to no more than 30 pupils with one teacher. If the admission number is a multiple of 30 (which it is for most oversubscribed schools in urban areas) and/or the school groups children in the infants into classes of 30, you can win the appeal only if you can demonstrate that a mistake has been made or the decision to refuse a place was so unreasonable that it could be regarded as perverse.

So, it should be plain whether your appeal will be held under ICS rules or not. Your arguments or feelings don't make any difference to that.

If it is going to be an ICS appeal, you would need to convince the panel that the exclusion of any Catholic child in your parish from this and other nearby Catholic schools was so unreasonable that it was perverse. The school is likely to argue that it has to serve the needs of local children first and, although it's regrettable that your child didn't get a place, priority has to go to children from the parish. The panel may well agree with that, but you have nothing to lose by appealing and won't know unless you do.

If it's not an ICA appeal, you can bring in some wider arguments about the benefit to your child in attending a Catholic school and the balance of prejudice (ie disadvantage) to your child in not attending the school vs the prejudice to the school in admitting another pupil.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 06-Jun-11 10:05:22

Unless you can prove they made a mistake, you have little chance of winning an appeal.

Of course priority has to go to those in the catchment, only fair on local children.

Given you have only been attending the last few years, it seems this was only done to secure the forms re catholic admission. If you were willing to attend church to get a good school, you could have moved to ensure you were in catchment for the school you actually wanted.

You can raise your chidlren in any religion you choose, schools dont impact on that. He'll have friends locally and having friends over after school is much easier if they live close by.

admission Mon 06-Jun-11 12:30:24

If there is a "blackhole" in the catholic admission process I would raise it immediately with the Diocese officers. Whilst in theory it should not make a difference to your situation- they cannot retrospectivly change the admission arrangements - they will I am sure make things happen for the future.
That future could be in the next week, next month or next year as things can move in mysterious ways when it comes to faith schools. So I would definitely appeal and I would in contacting the Diocese make it clear that you are appealing for four catholic schools, none of which you are eligible for under normal circumstances, when you should be for at least one.
Sometimes catholic schools can get very protective if they feel somebody, who is clearly of the catholic faith, is being disadvantaged by the system, so keep talking to the nearest school as an absolute minimum. It might also be worth talking to the priest who signed your form to just confirm that you did not get a place but you would welcome any help as you are appealing for a place.
Having said that you do need to come up with Plan B because the probability is that you will not get a place at appeal.

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 13:16:21

Hi - thanks for this. We are local though! We are walking distance from the first choice Catholic school. We just happen to be right on the boundary when it comes to the marking out of the Parishes.
Oh, and when we moved we weren't even thinking of starting a family!!!

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 13:17:35

Thanks for this.

I have emailed the Diocese and will see what they have to say.

I will definitely keep talking to our first choice school also - if nothing else to see where we are on the waiting list!

thelizard Mon 06-Jun-11 13:42:18

Hi, just wanted to say that we were in a similar situation this time last year. We live on the border between two counties, a bit of a grey area as to which county we live in, is a new house etc. Applied to our two local catholic schools, in county a, there are no catholic schools in our parish which is in county b. Did not get either school, so we appealed to both. Was an infant class size appeal and neither was successful. However the panel were sympathetic and the governors and head from both schools both spoke to us privately after the appeals to say they would keep our son in their minds. Our ds started at a different school in September, but we kept him on both waiting lists, kept in contact with both schools and he was offered a place at one and started after Easter.

Although the appeals did not directly get this place, they helped to make us known to the schools which I think helped with getting our place eventually.

Bet of luck, it is a really hard situation to be in x

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 15:24:55

That's great that you got a place in the end! How far down the waiting list were you at the outset if you don't mind me asking?

I was only going to appeal to our first choice as it is the nearest and the one we stand the most chance of getting into. The headmistress of the second choice called me just after the results were published to explain that they had had an extraordinary amount of siblings this year and that even if we had been treated as coming under the Parish where we attend church we still wouldn't have got in as the catchment was tiny!

Do you think I should just appeal to all four anyway? I am on the waiting list for all four and 12th on the list for our first choice.

PanelMember Mon 06-Jun-11 15:36:23

If you are keen to get your child into a Catholic school, it makes sense to appeal to all of them. You haven't answered my question about whether these will be infant class size appeals but, if they are, the odds are very much against you so (it seems to me) you need to do what you can to maximise your chances. From what you have said so far, I don't see that your changes of getting in at any one school are greater or less than at any of the others.

I'm glad to hear that Thelizard eventually got a place, but it shouldn't have been the case that raising the family's profile at the school got it for them. If things had been done by the book (and of course I have no way of telling whether they were) the waiting list should have been held in the same priority order as the oversubscription criteria. The headteacher shouldn't have bumped the child up the waiting list because s/he knew the child and so getting the place should have been simply because the child's name came to the top of the list in the usual way and the calls to the school were coincidental.

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 15:56:32

Sorry, yes, I think it is an Infant Class Appeal as there are 60 children in the year and I know they are limited to 30 per class in all four schools. I will read all the threads on ICAs when I get a chance!

saintfranksdisco Mon 06-Jun-11 16:59:11

Sorry you are going through this. I just wanted to add I would strongly recommend getting your name down on all 4 schools waiting list. I know of several families who went through similar last year and all were eventually offered a place at a school of their choice. 2 were offered a place before the start of the school year, 1 in the first week of the new term and another mid way through reception year. Are you in London or the South East? We are finding in the London catholic schools that the year intakes are more transient with far more movement on the waiting lists than in previous years. It's def worth talking to all the schools.

j1977 Mon 06-Jun-11 17:15:46

Thanks saintfranksdisco. We are on the waiting list at all four schools and I intend to call regularly to see which position on the list we are. We have already moved from 19th to 12th place on our first choice which is promising as at least we are moving in the right direction (although I know we can move downwards again!).
We are in London so fingers crossed!
We have a place at a local non-faith school which is actually a nice little school so if we have to go with that one in September then so be it - there is always hope that we will move far enough up the list at some stage during the school year!

sunnyday123 Mon 06-Jun-11 17:27:45

wow 12th! Does that mean the other 11 have siblings too?

sunnyday123 Mon 06-Jun-11 17:29:50

sorry - wrong thread i'm getting confused!

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