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appeals - do they succeed?

(16 Posts)
sun1234 Sun 03-Jul-11 21:15:31

I want to change school this summer for a variety of reasons. My children are about to go into Y3 & Y5. A local (heavily oversubscribed) RC primary has indicated that a place will very likely be available for my older child to start in year 5 in September, but there isn't a place in the current year 2/ about to be year 3 class for my younger child. The school secretary was hinting that I should appeal in September once my older child has started (and therefore there will be a sibling in the school).

The admissions criteria look like this:-
1, Looked after RC children
2. RC children with medical or social needs
3. Baptised Catholic children of committed practising Catholic families (and that subdivides into various categories of how often the child attends church)
4. Other baptised catholic children
5., 6, 7, 8, 9 other criteria for non catholic children

The tie breaker is done on first siblings in the school and then on distance from the school

Both my children are baptised Catholics but they have only been to church a handful of times in their lives.

Its the million dollar question, but would it be likely that we'd win the appeal? I ask because there are no decent alternatives around (and we are about to move house to be near that school), so if my younger child didn't get a place, i'd have to home teach.
Does anyone have any experience of appeals?

prh47bridge Sun 03-Jul-11 22:32:09

There is no easy answer to that question.

This would not be an infant class size appeal. That helps as such appeals are difficult to win - almost impossible for admission outside the normal admissions round. To win you will therefore have to show that your younger child will be disadvantaged by not going to this school and that this outweighs any problems the school will have through having an additional pupil. Having a sibling at the school will help a little but you should also look for things this school has which are not available at the current school and will be of particular benefit for your child. That will strengthen your case. Don't talk about transport or child care difficulties through having your children at different schools. Those things won't help you win your appeal.

Good luck.

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 08:33:27

The real reasons are:-
1. The school is better than where we are (which is failing my youngest son)
2. It is a feeder for a really good secondary
3. His brother will be there so drop off and pick up will be achievable. If I can't do this, then someone will be late every day ( or both will be late every other day)
4. Its better for family cohesion/ sibling relationship if they can attend the same school
5. I think he'll be a credit to the school - at least he won't be difficult to teach or misbehave (based on his reports until now)

Does any of this sound good enough?

I coud attend church every week starting now, but this would be suspiciously about a school place, so I don't know what difference it would make to the priest on the governing board and it might even irritate him.

mummytime Mon 04-Jul-11 08:50:21

Well I would certainly start attending church, and say your renewed faith is part of the reason you want him to attend a Catholic school.
The sibling relationship might have some influence.
Otherwise you need to bring out what the school has to offer which particularly meet your sons needs, eg. extra curricula activities etc. If they have any special programs for special needs, and these might be of relevance to your son I would flag those up too.
Anything else you can bring up, especially about why you want your child to receive a Catholic education, will help. Did you or DH go to a Catholic school? Can you get a letter from the priest who baptised your boys? Is there any reason you have found it hard to take them to church? Are you going to prepare them for first communion?

prh47bridge Mon 04-Jul-11 10:01:48

The short answer, I'm afraid, is no. The sibling relationship helps a little but transport difficulties (e.g. someone being late every day as per your reason 3) are not something the appeal panel can consider. They are not allowed to take into account your reasons 1, 2 and 5 at all.

Look at extra curricular activities, after school clubs and the school's facilities. As Mummytime says, you should be flagging up anything that is relevant to your son's needs.

A lot will depend on the strength of the case to refuse admission. Sometimes the case is so strong that no appeal can succeed no matter how good a case the parents make. Sometimes it is so weak that almost any appeal will succeed and the parents don't need much of a case at all. Most cases to refuse admission are somewhere between those two extremes.

You have to convince the panel that your son will be disadvantaged by not going to this school. Things that inconvenience you may be important to you but the panel aren't allowed to take them into account. Your case therefore must be all about your son, his needs and the reasons why this is the best school to meet those needs.

admission Mon 04-Jul-11 12:03:46

PRH is right in what is important.
I think that whilst it could be seen to be very hypocritical to start going to the church on a weekly basis if you are honestly moving nearer to the school to get a place at this specific school, maybe you need to re-evaluate whether your commitment is to the school or the faith before you make such a large decision such as moving.
Clearly from the school and the church' s point of view a catholic family moving into the area and showing a commitment to the faith both in terms of attending church and wanting to attend the catholic school is an attraction. It should not make a diffference in terms of school admission but i would be naive if I really believed that, having seen a lot of admissions that have been slipped in to the school on that very basis that we cannot refuse a practicising catholic family.
If there is a place in year 5 then I would be tempted to grab it now, assuming that you are really commited to this house move and need to get places at this school. There is no point in thinking about a year 3 appeal if you do not already have the other place .

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 12:07:40

Mummytime - I spoke to the priest yesterday after mass. Its the first time I have ever spoken to him and he was really unpleasant. Even DH said that his behaviour was churlish (and DH never sees bad in anyone). I don't know why he was that way, but its made me nervous of having to deal with him.

I am failry certain that he would never accept any newly recovered faith. (He's an adult convert to catholicism whereas I am a catholic by virtue of my grandparents, parents, schooling, weekly church visits from babyhood, stations of the cross every Friday in Lent, rosary every night in May and November, holy days of obligation etc and the reason I dropped away was because it was all too suffocating).

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 12:20:21

admission - its a far flung parish. I live at one end and the school is at the other. So I have been in the parish for two years already.
I handed in my notice to my landlord over a month ago with a view to moving away from the area altogether (in order to get my children into better schools) and then last week, out of the blue, I got an email saying that a place was coming up in the current year 4 at the good RC school. The landlord has found a new tenant and I have to move, but I hadn't signed a lease yet on a new house, so its not too late from that perspective.

I know all the language about being a catholic but the evidence is there that I have not been practicising for at least two years, and I have made no attempt to prepare my children for first communion.

We can start going every week but I am afraid it will appear cynical and I have no good answer to the question about why I stopped but now want to resume. I was planning to ask the priest to help me renew my faith but this priest has put me off that by his manner yesterday.

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 12:22:50

Would home teaching my younger son strengthen my appeal case, weaken it or have no impact? He's not progressing at the school he is in now and I don't want to risk leaving him there for another year. Home teaching seems/ is extreme but at least he'd be learning.

prh47bridge Mon 04-Jul-11 12:36:04

In theory home educating will make no difference. However, you need to be careful how you present this to the panel. Many appeal panels will have come across parents who believe that saying they will home educate will force the panel to admit their child. If the panel think you are trying to blackmail them they are less likely to give you the benefit of any doubt.

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 13:37:14

so at best it will make no difference and at worst it could prejudice my case?

There is another option that I was going to go for until late last week when that email arrived. The other option is also a RC primary school with an excellent secondary nearby but its 60 miles away in another county and it only has a place for my older child too, with the head and the school secretary encouraging me to appeal once my older child has started.

We'd rather not move 60 miles away but we were willing to do it to solve what is a big headache for us re: education for our children. Would this convince an appeal panel that we do hold strong concerns and its not a blackmail attempt?

Having met this priest, i think it would be easier to convince a new priest of our new-found willingness to commit. My problem is I don't know what to do and time is running out to find a new home.

Poppyella Mon 04-Jul-11 14:06:26

I have just completed an appeal to get my dd into year 3 in sept at the school where her brother is currently in year 5. It would increase that year group to 31. Very similar to your case, except no religion involved!

If you would like to see what I have written (and I have had a LOT of help from the experts on here) please pm me and I will send you a copy.

prh47bridge Mon 04-Jul-11 14:15:19

Yes, that's about right. It should make no difference as long as you present it properly but if it were me I would be tempted to leave him where he is until the appeal is over and then start home educating if the appeal failed.

The problem is that your concerns, whilst understandable, are not something the panel can take into account. They are supposed to assume that all schools are equal academically. Of course that isn't true but that is the way the system works.

Have you spoken to the head of your local school? Does he/she want your appeal to succeed? The school isn't allowed to directly support your appeal but it is not unknown for them to get across to the panel in more subtle ways that they would actually like this child to be admitted. It shouldn't really happen but it does.

sun1234 Mon 04-Jul-11 18:56:10

Poppyella - yes please. i will try to pm you (never did it before).

prh47bridge - I think the head is sympathetic or at least empathetic. I get the feeling when I talk to her that she wants to help.

I emailed the school today to ask how many children are currently planned for Y3 in September, but no reply as yet. So far the head and the admissions secretary have been very helpful so hopefully I haven't asked something that I should not.

More worryingly, the priest's secretary hasn't replied to my email with an appointment to see him. I don't know why he behaved as he did, but I really understood that he was very underwhelmed by me.

prh47bridge Mon 04-Jul-11 22:06:45

The school has to give you any information you reasonably request to help you prepare your appeal. The number of children that will be in Y3 certainly falls into that category.

sun1234 Wed 06-Jul-11 17:32:55

I had a couple of less warm conversations today with schools about appeals. The situation is that there are two primary schools to which I'd be happy to send my children. Both have places for my older child, but not my younger one who is going into year 3. (Apparently current year 2 was a high birth year). So both say I can go on the waiting list and appeal.

Obviously there are 100s of other schools but the good ones are always full - except one other which has places for both but I can't afford the area.

The secretary at the school I'd like most more or less asked me this morning not to put her/ the school through an appeal for my younger son as "it is a lot of work". Her suggestion is that I rent a house nearby, secure a place for my older son and then join the waiting list but she's keen to make sure I don't have high hopes of getting son no. 2 into the school anytime soon.

The secretary at the other school - 60 miles away - is saying that I can appeal and she confirms that son no.2 would be top of the waiting list, but she also warns of virtually no movement.

In both cases I would have to rent a home nearby which isn't a problem per se as we are moving this summer anyway, but its a big commitment to move to a new area, sign up to a 12 month lease, get DS1 into school and then find that there sin't anywhere for DS2 if the appeal fails.

Anyone got a crystal ball so i can see which option to go for?

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