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Increasing class size to 31 to let dd get in.

(18 Posts)
Poppyella Tue 14-Jun-11 11:57:48

I have a ds who we moved to a different school just over 2 years ago whist in year 3. His old school just wasn't working for him. At that time we tried to move dd - then reception, now year 2 but that class was full so she had to say where she was.

Over the last 2 years, 2 places have come up at ds's school in her year, but we havn't got her in because we live in a very rural location and other children who lived closer to the school got those places. Annoying for us, but fair enough considering the rules on distance. And I know that in key stage 1 class sizes (in this school) can't go beyond 30.

So now she is coming up to key stage 2 we have applied again to get her into ds's school. The headteacher is very keen for her to join her brother and has openly stated that she would increase the class to 31 for her. So I thought this would easy and she would be fine to move.

But, when I spoke to admissions the other day, the lady said that it wasn't up to the head at all whether class sizes were increased and we would have to take it to appeal and it would be up to the appeal panel!

The head has agreed to come with us when we get a date.

Is this the norm? And what do you think are our chances of winning that appeal?

I would appeal on the basis of her having a sibling there, it is our catchment school, the head wants her to join, we have tried twice before (and will probably never get in on distance alone in view of where we live) and the fact that we want our twins to go to this school in 2012 and without their sister there, they won't have a sibling (ds will have left for secondary) there. And despite it being our catchment school, they may not get in on distance because this has even happened to kids living in the actual town this year.

I am gutted that what I thought would be easy this time, isn't necessarily the case and she still might have to stay where she is.

Thoughts anyone?

GypsyMoth Tue 14-Jun-11 12:01:16

i'd be worried about other parents getting wind of it tbh! increase for one and you would have to keep doing it for everyone

DeWe Tue 14-Jun-11 12:11:38

I can't imagine that the arguement that you need her there for the twins to get in on siblings having anything but a negative response from appeals.
Did those two who got in have siblings? If not I'd have expected her to be higher up than them.

Poppyella Tue 14-Jun-11 12:24:56

Why would you think it was going to get a negative response Ilove? I would only use that because we live 6 miles from the nearest town so having siblings in the school would help the twins get in because distance is so against us. And the fact that some kids living in the school didn't even get in is a situation that might actually happen.

Yes the other two did have siblings. And lived in the town. So fair enough.

The head would only increase for her (so she says) .No idea why at all tbh but am not going to complain.

irregularegular Tue 14-Jun-11 12:31:36

I don't know the ins and outs of the procedure, but I do know that Key Stage 2 is different from Key Stage 1. Our local school never let anyone in on appeal in Key Stage 1 of that took the class over 30, regardless of siblings, catchment area or anything else. However, when a family moved into the area in Key Stage 2, the class size was taken up to 31.

It might not officially be the head's ultimate decision, but it is presumably a good signal! Well worth a try, I would think - but do get some advice from the head on how to phrase your case.

LawrieMarlow Tue 14-Jun-11 12:37:14

Is she year 2 now - so will be year 3 in September? I can't remember the precise wording (you need one of the MN resident appeal experts for that) but from year 3 there is no 30 limit and at appeal you only need to show that basically there would be no prejudice to the rest of the class if an extra child (ie your DD) were to be in it.

We moved house last year when DS was in year 1. The school had already made plans to split the class into two year 2 classes due to numbers (there were 31 already before he joined. Not sure how it was that many - possibly an appeal of some sort). He was allowed to join the year 1 class from June until the end of the year and we didn't need to appeal.

More have joined now and there will be 35 in his year 3 class.

I wouldn't mention the sibling part - not sure that would sway the
appeal panel tbh.

Hope it works out for you.

noodles1966 Tue 14-Jun-11 13:41:11

Hi this is my first time on mums net , so please bear with me,
Have a look in the appeal admissions code section 3 . 17 I think. There is something in there where the extra teacher can be wavered for one year. Your child is in year 2, if they did that then when going into. Year three they are out of infants. Have a read to make it clear.

I am on my third appeal, I have two children 11 months aprt the younger having a statement naming the school, due to very high complex needs, which is physical only and has two to one support BUT the la would not put the elder in due to distance ,evenb though the la had put the younger child in, how do you get to children to two different school on time . This is hard and even harder where one is disabled. They even go to school sometimes with no breakfast, and I feel terrible and so bad:-( next step is to email the goverment

Good luck I hope this is of some help take care

TheHumanCatapult Tue 14-Jun-11 16:04:38

ddgot aplace in keystage 2 they went to 31 in her class and can do this for y3 ( school was full but we won on appeal as we ar eone of the closest to the shcool as well )

mamalocco Tue 14-Jun-11 16:29:47

I would be surprised if you didn't get in on appeal. Having a sibling at the school would pretty much guarantee a place on appeal at our school. Got ds in on appeal (no sibling but other reasons) for a year 4 place earlier this year which bumped dd2 up the waiting list for a year 1. A place became available for her about two months after ds joined.

The fact that you have support from your head is a good sign. The situation with your twins is irrelevant for this appeal though.

sunnyday123 Tue 14-Jun-11 16:40:13

do i presume the school prioritises siblings? i expect the head will support you if siblings being split is unusual ie. he may say he will let only you in because you are the only one waiting with a sibling in the school so he may present support for your appeal and then argue against other peoples. That may happen in my DD1 school. DD2 is unlikely to get in for reception 2012 as our school prioritises distance too but the head has said he can almost guarantee it for Y3 - nothing is set in stone as its up to the lea too but i imagine he will attend appeal and support us, whereas if people in catchment attend (without siblings) he may argue the schools case? Not entirely sure but its a faith school who sort their own admissions through lea. I am biased but i would hope an appeal by someone further away but with siblings has more strength/sympathy (even if not exactly following the policy) than a closer child without sibling (as long as other school places are available).

sunnyday123 Tue 14-Jun-11 16:42:13

just a thought - if the school admits your DD then will the twins be a priority? If not, would it not be easier to have your DD in a different or even her current school rather than face the twins not getting in next year - given that your ds doesnt have long left at this primary?

SheCutOffTheirTails Tue 14-Jun-11 16:45:00

Best of luck, OP smile

prh47bridge Tue 14-Jun-11 17:24:25

The LA is correct that it is not up to the school to decide to admit extra children. They can only admit beyond the admission number with the agreement of the LA. As the LA haven't agreed your only option is to appeal.

The head cannot support your appeal. The Admission Appeals Code specifically says that the panel must not allow representatives of schools to support individual appeals either at the hearing or by providing a letter of support.

I'm afraid the arguments you have suggested won't get you anywhere. The fact that you want your twins to go to this school is a complete non-starter. No panel will take that into account. Nor will they be interested in how often you have tried before. Having a sibling there may give priority on the school's admission criteria but it doesn't give the panel a reason to admit, nor does being in catchment. And, as I have already said, the head is not allowed to support your appeal.

To win your appeal you have to show that your daughter will be disadvantaged by not attending this school and that this outweighs any problems the school will face through having an additional pupil. You therefore need to base your appeal on things this school has which are missing from your daughter's current school and which will be of particular benefit to her. Things like childcare problems, transport arrangments, OFSTED ratings and so on will not win your appeal.

prh47bridge Tue 14-Jun-11 17:30:37

By the way, I'm sorry if my last post comes across as negative. I hope you can find a way to win your appeal. If the case to refuse admission is weak it may not be too difficult. But I don't want you to go in to the hearing thinking you have a strong case when at the moment I'm afraid you don't.

Poppyella Wed 15-Jun-11 11:49:14

Thank you for all your good advice.

May I ask prh (if you read this thread again!), what sort of things do actually win an appeal. I know you said I have to show that she will be disadvantaged by not attending the school, but I can't think of any other reasons apart from those I have mentioned, which obviously aren't good enough. Have you been a panel member? If so, what sort of things would you look for? Any examples you can give me that might hold some weight?

And when you say 'if the case to refuse admission is weak' what do you mean. How would it be weak?

Sorry, but am feeling stressy about this now, mainly I suppose because I was lead to believe by the head that it would be easy this time and now it's not going to be.

I also find it wierd that it was the lady from admissions who told me the head could come along and support me! Lots of conflicting info.

prh47bridge Wed 15-Jun-11 14:03:29

I'm from the other side of the table - I have won my own appeal to get my youngest into the local primary school (an infant class size case - it took 2 appeals and 2 references to the Local Government Ombudsman!) and helped other parents with theirs, both online and, in a few cases, by attending the hearing with them. Admission and PanelMember both sit on appeal panels. One of them may come by later.

To take your questions in reverse order...

Assuming you are in England the Admission Appeals Code is clear that the panel must not allow the head to support your appeal. The admissions team at your local authorithy really ought to know that so I am very surprised at the advice they gave, although I suppose it is possible that you were talking to someone junior who doesn't know the rules. It is more normal for the LA to take the head along to the appeal so that they are there to answer questions. And sometimes, even though they don't directly support the appeal, the panel pick up the message that the school is happy to admit this child. My suggestion would be that you ask the LA if they could arrange for the head to attend the hearing as you have some detailed questions to ask about the school. You could copy the head on that message as well, which gives her an entirely innocent reason for attending. Make sure the head knows that she shouldn't directly support your appeal but she can drop a few hints that she wouldn't mind an extra child. For example, you might ask her about the difficulties that would be caused by having an extra child which would allow her to say that it wouldn't be a problem at all. It's a bit naughty but...

At the hearing the LA will present the case to refuse admission. They will talk about the reason your application was rejected (the school is already full for that year) and the problems the school will face if your daughter is admitted. Sometimes the case to refuse admission is so strong that no appeal will succeed - the school is already full well beyond its capacity, the classrooms are small, all the classes are too large and so on. On the other hand sometimes the case is so weak that almost any appeal will succeed - the school is well below its capacity, there is plenty of space in the classrooms, the classes are small... I hope you get the idea. You will receive the LA's submission for the appeal before the hearing. You should look at it carefully and try to find any weaknesses (or post it here for advice). For example, are they already over the admission number in any other years, particularly in the later years? If they are already running classes of 31 in KS2 that will significantly weaken the case to refuse admission.

There is nothing that will reliably win an appeal. It always depends on the strength of the case to refuse admission. Ignoring mistakes by the LA and medical reasons as these don't seem to apply here, the kind of thing that would help is that, say, your daughter is musically talented and this school is strong on that aspect of the curriculum and has a school band or runs after school music clubs. In your case I would also bring up the fact that the head has said she would be happy to accept your daughter and would increase the class size for her. That shows you have been given an expectation that your daughter will be admitted which will help your case. And, although the head cannot directly support your appeal, she can confirm that she has said that to you. If she said it in writing you can submit the letter as evidence. If she is going to attend the hearing you may want to warn her that she might get criticised for this.

You are likely to be the only person appealing for a place in Y3 which will help. Add to that the fact the head has raised your expectations and, hopefully, will be able to give a nod and a wink to the panel and I would say you have a reasonable chance of success.

Poppyella Wed 15-Jun-11 17:27:37

Thank you SO much for all that advice, you are certainly knowledgable about the whole process and congratulations on your successful appeal.

I am going to print this page off and read it again and again and start preparing!!

PanelMember Wed 15-Jun-11 19:18:27

I can't add much to what prh47bridge has alreday said.

Did you apply for your dd to join the school right now (tail end of Y2) or for Y3? As has been said, your chances of wining an appeal for Y3 are far higher because in infant class size cases you have (broadly speaking) to find some mistake or unfairness in the decision to refuse a place, whereas for Y3 and onwards you have to demonstrate that the prejudice (ie disadvantage) to your child in not attending the school is greater than the prejudice to the school in admitting an extra pupil. You need to highlight things that your dd needs that this school can provide, so think about things like specialist provision for (say) music or sport, or the benefit of being at the same school as her brother.

The future benefit of getting your twins into the school is not a basis for appeal. Although the HT should not have said that she'd willingly take your dd, the fact that she did presumably means that you can show that classrooms are big enough etc etc.

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