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yr3 transfer - school say there is no prejudice but admissions authority still refusing to admit

(23 Posts)
JackiePaper Wed 08-Jun-11 20:14:36

I posted on here last week about my son who is being bullied in his current school. I have seen the school in the next village today and the head told me that she is more than happy to admit him even though they are full. They have a PAN of 15 and there are currently 31 in the yr 3/4 class as there are 16 in the current yr 4, this has not caused any problems. As it stands the school would have 30 in next years 3/4 class, and are therefore happy to admit my ds, making it 31. The head has phoned and e-mailed the local authority saying she feels there is no prejudice and she is happy to admit ds.

The local authority originally said this would be fine and it wouldn't have to go to appeal. However they have now backtracked saying it will have to go to appeal becaise there is a waiting list for that year group.

Their published admissions criteria says that the only reason they can refuse an application is if the school is full and it would cause prejudice to admit another child. No where does it state they can refuse an application because there is a waiting list.

Can they do this? and more importnantly if I argue the toss with them can they say oh ok, the school can accomodate an extra child - we will give that place to the child at the top of the waiting list? am I better to argue this with them, or should I wait to go to appeal?

Any advice very gratefully recieved, thankyou smile

JackiePaper Wed 08-Jun-11 21:00:15

bump smile

admission Wed 08-Jun-11 21:17:19

Yes, they can do this and it is the correct process to go to appeal. The year group is full at 15 and the head teacher is wrong to be saying to you that it is not a problem. The LA are quite correct in saying there will not admit above the 1.
The only proper way for anybody to be admited over the 15 is by going to appeal and the panel agreeing it. The fact that there is a waiting list means that the parents have already been to appeal and lost or that they simply have not bothered to go to appeal. The LA cannot normally admit another pupil above the 15 PAN and certainly not one off the waiting list.
That does not stop you appealing, it will be interesting to see whether any waiting list candidates then suddenly appeal as well. But at the appeal you should and must use the head's willingness to admit as a major tool in convincing the panel that actually one more is not going to be an issue for the school. I hope you have a copy of the head's email to the LA - if not try and get hold of a copy from the head before the LA tell her not to do anything like that.

JackiePaper Wed 08-Jun-11 21:42:41

Thankyou very much for your advice admission.

I thought perhaps that because it says they can only refuse my application if it causes prejudice - then maybe I could argue they should allow it without an appeal. Looks like I will have to go to appeal. Good point about getting a copy of that e-mail, I will call and ask the head to send me a copy tomorrow.

I don't know if you remember but I have a dd who is due to start reception in sept. They currently have places, but if I wait for the outcome of an appeal those reception places may well be gone. bit of a nightmare! The LA are saying the appeal is likely to be 27th or 28th July, which is the first week of the summer holidays, when we're away. Do they not have to do the appeal before the end of term? Obviously the sooner the better as I need to secure a place for dd.

Is it possible to win an appeal by proving there is no prejudice? Which should I focus on - that the head feeld there is no prejudice or that my ds is being bullied and needs to move?

Thanks again for your help smile

JackiePaper Wed 08-Jun-11 21:47:09

Also - how can the LA argue there is prejudice when the head has said she feels there would be no prejudice? I'm confused confused

prh47bridge Wed 08-Jun-11 22:16:53

I agree with Admission.

The head may say there would be no prejudice but the LA have to work on the assumption that any admission over PAN will cause prejudice. The presence of a waiting list means that other children have been refused admission so they cannot now simply admit your child. He has to take his place on the waiting list unless, of course, you win the appeal. If the school can admit an extra child without prejudice today that place has to go to whoever is at the head of the waiting list (which could, of course, be your son).

I think you should take the reception place for your daughter while it is available. If someone else takes the place it will be an infant class size appeal to try and get your daughter admitted, which means you would be very unlikely to win. However, I appreciate that could leave you with a problem if you don't win your appeal.

As this is a transfer, not an appeal for a normal year of entry, the appeal does not have to be heard by the end of the summer term but there are still time limits they have to comply with. When did you submit your appeal?

Yes, it is possible to win the appeal by proving there is no prejudice. You should focus on both aspects of your case. In part one of the appeal the LA will present the case to refuse admission and you will try to show there is no prejudice. In part two you will talk about the problems your son is having with being bullied at his current school and the school's failure to resolve the issue.

PanelMember Wed 08-Jun-11 22:20:37

LEAs always argue that going over the PAN is in itself prejudicial to the children already in the school - that's why the PAN is set at whatever level it is. All appeals above Key Stage 1 are decided on the balance of prejudice, ie whether the prejudice (disadvantage) to the child in not being admitted is greater than the prejudice to the school in having to take another pupil. The Head here may be arguing that going over PAN is manageable (and that will be the main plank of your appeal) but they have (perhaps) misunderstood the meaning of prejudice .

As Admission says, if you win, you win for your child, not the child(ren) on the waiting list.

JackiePaper Wed 08-Jun-11 22:30:15

OK thanks everyone, I understand it better now.

I'm worried about appealing because the head at the current school refuses to admit to there being a problem, and insists ds is happy at school. (I can assure you he is not) The LA also say that in order to have any chance of winning I need independent proof of the bullying. I don't have any independent proof I don't think - what do they mean by this? I'm worried because if the LA approach the current head, she will insist ds is fine, and it will be up to me to prove the bullying, which is not an easy thing to do. The last time I went in to talk to the current head about ds, she said he could be making it up to get attention at home angry

prh47bridge Wed 08-Jun-11 23:16:01

It is not up to the LA to decide what evidence you need to win an appeal. It is up to the appeal panel (who are independent) to decide. I would, nonetheless, include any evidence you have including letters/emails you have sent to or received from the school. Point out that the school's refusal to admit there is a problem is part of the issue.

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 11:58:59

I have spoken to the admissions authority again this morning and they have confirmed that the have received my letter saying I want to appeal, however it will apparently be august before the appeal will be heard!
They have also told me that there has already been one appeal for that year group which was lost. I am really worried now that that means I stand no chance.

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 14:46:16

If you get the email from the head that puts you in a strong position but there are no guarantees.

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 15:47:45

I've got a copy of the email now. It says that there are currently 31 in the year 3/4 class and she would be happy to have 31 next year.
Can I use this in my appeal? I know schools are forbidden from writing letters of support for appeals? Would they allow this email? I'm just trying to work out if I've got a good chance of winning or not, considering there has already been one appeal which was lost. It just makes it so hard to know whether to accept the reception place for DD or not.

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 17:08:51

Yes you can. This is not a letter from the school supporting the appeal. This is evidence that undermines the case to refuse admission.

admission Thu 09-Jun-11 17:17:31

You can use it in your appeal because you have got in your hands and should use it. It is not as though the LA do not know that the head has said this, as she sent emails to the LA. The LA are going to be unhappy but they cannot do anything about it other than tell the head off!
You have absolutely no idea what the circumstances are around the previous appeal or which year it was - it could have been when they started in reception year. Yes I know they say it was for this year group but you cannot know that for sure. As such that appeal is irrelevant to your appeal. Your ace in the pack is the head's email, saying they are comfortable with 31 in the year 3/4 class. The appeal panel have to take that as a serious bit of evidence in favour of finding no prejudice at the end of stage 1, no matter what the LA say.
However you do need to get as much written evidence of the bullying situation at your son's current school to use at part 2 of the appeal when you talk about your personal circumstances. I don't quite know how the LA believe that you can furnish any independant evidence, the evidence there can be is either from you or from the school, unless you have friends who can write a letter confirming that they have seen bullying going on. As a panel member I would however be a bit sceptical about that, unless it had very compelling new evidence, it is too easy to see that as just one of your friend's helping you without it really being evidence.
The appeal is for an in-year admission and therefore has to take place within 30 school days of your appeal being registered. I suspect that 30 school days (in effect 6 weeks) actually potentially puts you into September before they have to do the appeal. There is nothing stopping them doing appeals in the summer hols but many LAs do not because they have trouble getting the info from the schools. If you take that into consideration then i agree with PRH, you cannot afford to wait much longer before taking the place for your daughter, you certainly can't afford to wait till after your son's appeal. That is a risk but i think you have to take that risk or potentially find yourself with no place for your daughter.

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 17:38:07

Thankyou both so much for your help. 30 school days from today makes it 21st July by my calculations, so they shouldn't be making me wait til august then?
With regards to the bullying the only way I can think of getting independent evidence is to ask the lady who runs the nursery attached to the school we are appealing for to talk to my ds and get him to explain to her what is going on, and then asking her to put this in writing. She is in a perfect position because she has a good relationship with ds and also knows the school very well so could say how it would suit his needs. Would this be allowed as she works at the nursery not the school, although she is a governed at the school?

I also know the ex headmistress who no longer works at the school and she knows ds well, could I ask her to write a letter or support?

The LA have now emailed me telling me last year there were 4 key stage 2 appeals, all of which were unsuccesful sad

Thanks again for your input it's very helpful smile

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 17:49:31

Actually just thought the ex head is still employed by the LA as head of another school so I can't ask her can I?

admission Thu 09-Jun-11 18:23:56

As a governor they should not be getting involved in admissions, so my feeling is that you should not put her in the awkward position of having to say no. Also it is not evidence, it is simply repeating what your son has said. Any other person needs to be able to say they were an eye witness to bullying, not just repeating other people's comments.
As far as the timing is concerned, when do schools finish for the summer hols, around here it is the 15th July, which would mean that the LA could extend the time through to 6 school days into September.
The 4 KS2 appeals are interesting to know about but are actually irrelevant. What you do know about which is relevant is that there are 16 in year4, 1 above PAN and 31 in the current year 3/4 class which the head has said they would be quite happy with in next years 3/4 class. If the LA try to introduce the 4 unsuccessful appeals then I would protest that it is irrelevant to the appeal you are involved in.
The honest truth here is that the head wants your daughter in reception as they are low on numbers and is prepared to accept the 31 to achieve that.

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 18:30:12

Ok I thought that might be the case. I just can't think of any way of getting any other evidence. Schools break up on 22nd July here, so technically they should hear the appeal before the end of term shouldn't they.

My mum and dad could write letters saying thy have seen how upset ds was but that is not independent.

Can the ex head who no longer has any ties with the school but is now head at another school write a letter of support?

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 18:39:07

Or what about one of the other members of staff at the nursery who isn't a governor? Would that be allowed?
Sorry for all the questions!

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 21:25:16

Regardless of whether or not it is a good idea to involve members of staff at the nursery, it still isn't evidence unless they saw the bullying themselves. Getting them to simply repeat what your son has said to them adds no value whatsoever.

JackiePaper Thu 09-Jun-11 22:17:18

But wouldnt it prove that I'm not making it up? Which is what the LA implied that I would need to prove?

admission Thu 09-Jun-11 22:59:12

The LA are giving you the wrong information. For the panel to find in your favour you need to show that bullying has been going on, that you have interacted with the school on multiple occaisions and that the school have not responded positively to this.
I am afraid that you have to accept that panels hear a lot of bullying stories. It is very easy to say and very difficult to disprove, so most panels want to see real evidence of it being sustained and not being handled well by the school. At that point most panels will accept that it then represents a reasonable reason for wanting to move to another school. I am not saying you will win your appeal, it depends on all sorts of issues but that is in my opinion the minimum you will need.
From what you have said you can show that you have corresponded verbally and written with the school and that they have responded negatively, which will all help. Being able to quote dates of incidents etc is also good.

prh47bridge Thu 09-Jun-11 23:32:44

Agree with Admission and just to say again, it is not up to the LA to say what evidence you need. They are quite wrong to imply they have any kind of say in that. It is up to the panel to decide whether they are happy with the evidence you present.

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