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OK recieved LA's case for the Appeal. Anyone mind giving me some pointers?

(39 Posts)
JackiePaper Tue 05-Jul-11 21:38:26

We are appealing for a yr3 place for our son as he is currently being bullied at his current school. We have accepted a reception place for our daughter at the school we are appealing for.

So, I received the LA's case today and they are saying their reasons to refuse admission are Fair Access Protocols meaning that potentially 4 more children could be admitted to that class (mixed yr3/4 class). Which could potentially mean a class of 34, and for this reason they will not admit above the PAN.

They have however also said that 1 statemented child has been admitted under this protocol for 2 afternoon per week (different class), but the only other child admitted to the school above the PAN was admitted on appeal.

They have also said the usual about prejudicing the provision of efficient education and use of resources. Although they have not specifically said how. They have said that cloakrooms, corridors, toilets, dining and play space will be put under strain by admitting additional children.

Also there are 2 appeals being held -ours for yr 3 and someone else appealing for yr2. The other peoples appeal is an infant class size appeal - will our appeals be held together, as I think that would be a bit confusing as the prejudice arguement doesnt apply to them?

Any advice on how best to respond to the authoritys case would be very welcome. We already have an e-mail from the head saying that the current yr3/4 class has 31 in it and she would be happy to have 31 next year.

Thanks in advance smile

admission Tue 05-Jul-11 23:30:57

Is it possible to send as a private message or on here exactly what it says in relation to the fair access protocol because I do not understand what they are trying to say with regard to potentially being 4 more pupils. They cannot hold places and the protocol should be used when there is no available spaces in the district. I find it hard to believe that there are 4 fair access protocols over the 30 in the class all for year 3.
I would agree with you that holding one appeal for a school where both infant class size and "normal" appeals will be held could be confusing but it is not uncommon for this to happen. The first stage when the the LA presenting officer talks about the school, you will both be involved with and then they will hold seperate meetings with each appealant to discuss their individual circumstances. It will have no effect on your appeal.

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 07:58:00

The bit about the fair access protocol is saying that schools are required to admit up to 2 children per year group under this protocol. Because they have mixed classes (year 3 and 4) this could potentially mean the school having 34 in a class, and for this reason they won't admit above the PAN in any year group to ensure the curriculum is suitably delivered to children currently in the school and for those who may be admitted in the future'

prh47bridge Wed 06-Jul-11 08:28:25

What they are saying about the Fair Access Protocol is completely wrong. As Admission says, they cannot hold back places in case they are needed. That is a breach of the Admissions Code.

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 08:50:27

They're not holding places as the school is full, they're more using it as an excuse not to admit any more. I don't really understand it to be honest.
They have also said they can't admit any more children because it would be unacceptable to parents of children currently at the school hmm

prh47bridge Wed 06-Jul-11 09:17:55

They are effectively holding back places. I know they are full up to PAN but they are saying, in effect, that there are two additional places available in case they have to admit any children under the Fair Access Protocol. They cannot say there are two places available for children admitted under the Fair Access Protocol but no-one else can have those places.

In fact this statement in the LA's case should be enough to win your appeal. You should argue that the school clearly has an admission number of 17 in Y3 with two places reserved in case they are needed under the Fair Access Protocol. That means they have two vacancies. If there is a place available and someone applies they have to offer a place by law so you will have one of the two places thank you very much.

If the panel understand the rules they will have no choice but to award you a place. If they don't a referral to the Local Government Ombudsman would quickly resolve the situation.

And the statement about it being unacceptable to parents of children currently at the school is, in my view, completely out of order. The views of existing parents are not relevant to the appeal at all. It is not a popularity contest.

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 09:24:21

Thanks for your help, still not sure I understand it completely though. They've not said there are 17 places anywhere just that any ks2 class could be forced to admit 2 extra children under this protocol so if they admitted my child they would be potential for the class to become 35?

Don't know if this is relevant but the maximum capacity is 120, min is 105. Net capacity is 105. There are currently 107 on roll. Does this mean they could actually cope with an additional 13 children?

Sorry for all the questions and thanks again for all your help smile

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 09:31:36

Sorry should also have said they have said that 'the point has been reached where, for the benefit of children at the school and for those the school has to accommodate in the future, no further places can be allocated'

There is no way the classrooms could cope with 35 children so do they not have a good arguement that if 4 children had to be admitted under fair access it would cause a problem?

It's so confusing!

prh47bridge Wed 06-Jul-11 09:37:08

There is actually no limit to the number of children they can be forced to take under the Fair Access Protocol. But by saying that schools can be forced to admit up to 2 children per year group under the protocol and using that to argue against admitting your son they are effectively saying that they have 2 places reserved for use under the protocol. They aren't allowed to do that. At the very least the panel should not be taking these mythical Fair Access children into account. And I think a panel that understands the rules properly would see this argument from the LA as reason to admit your son.

Yes, the fact that they have set the net capacity at the bottom of the calculated range is helpful and you can certainly use that to argue that they can cope with additional children. If they come back with the Fair Access Protocol argument it will only serve to confirm that they are effectively reserving places for use under the protocol.

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 12:09:49

Thanks that's really helpful, is it all in the admissions code?

How about their prejudice arguement? They've just said it will put pressure on communal areas, should I be asking how and if they have evidence for this?

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 21:01:46

What sort of things should I ask about this 'pressure' on cloakrooms, corridors, play areas etc? Will the LA turn up with evidence of this or is their statement it?

Thanks again x

admission Wed 06-Jul-11 22:02:32

Can't really add much to what PRH has already said, this LA is playing a very fast and loose version of the law over the fair access protocol.
I am sure that the LA will argue that they are not allocating two extra places per year group over the admission number and by the strict definition they are not, but the implication is there that they would be very happy to admit 2 if necessary. The net capacity figures also backs up the idea that an extra 2 per year group would not be a problem.
Every appeal document I see at an appeal will say that extra pupils will place pressure on cloakrooms, corridors and play areas, it is a statement of the bleeding obvious but actually has little or no bearing on the case. If you want to challenge the statement ask the school whether they have had any reportable accidents that can be attributed to overcrowding. I have yet to see one in over 500 appeals!

JackiePaper Wed 06-Jul-11 22:29:47

Thanks ph47bridge and admission. Unfortunately I have just found this on the LA's website...

In-Year Fair Access Protocol for Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 & 6) Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 & 9) and Key Stage 4 (Years 10 & 11)
As part of the Worcestershire Fair Access Protocol, all schools with Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 classes can be required to exceed the published admission number (PAN) by up to 2 places in each year group to admit pupils;
a) Who have been or are at high risk of being permanently excluded from school
b) Who are relevant “Looked After” children
c) Who are recognised by the Local Authority as being „hard to place‟ pupils within the Fair Access Protocol. This will apply to pupils who have had their case reviewed by the relevant „Headteacher Fair Access Panel

Does this kybosh my arguement then? Are they allowed to refuse my son a place because 4 of these children may turn up, even though they have never turned up before?

Is there a national Fair Access Protocol or is it just up to the Local Authority to write it themselves?

Thanks for all your help

prh47bridge Wed 06-Jul-11 23:23:52

Each LA writes its own Fair Access Protocol. But writing it like this is ridiculous. What do they think would happen if some Y3 pupils moved into the area and every school was already 2 over PAN? They would still have to find places for the children. So the statement is ridiculous. The reality is that there is no limit. It might be reasonable to say that no school will be asked to go more than 2 over PAN until all schools are 2 over (although even that would be questionable in some circumstances) but to make this statement in the Fair Access Protocol and then use mythical children who may be admitted under the protocol in an appeal case is completely wrong.

No, this does not kybosh your argument. It confirms that they are willing to admit two more children to each year group. That being so, they cannot legally say that these two extra places are only for children admitted under the Fair Access Protocol.

admission Thu 07-Jul-11 19:51:12

So thats another piece of evidence for you that the class can theoretically take an extra 2 pupils, the LA have said so in this extremely silly Fair Access Protocol document.

JackiePaper Fri 08-Jul-11 09:43:03

Hmm just called appeals as I wanted clarification over whether we were a single appeal or with others and also because I was confused as the statement from the school is dated prior to us even applying for a place. That have told me that we are a single appeal but there were 2 appeals for the same school for the same year group back in may. Hence the old form. Both of these appeals were lost.

I'm now worried because I'm sure the LAs statement is the same as it was for those other appeals, and if the comment about fair access wasn't picked up on by the panel as a reason to admit them, why would it be for us. I was feeling like we had a pretty good chance but now I'm feeling all wobbly can I win when others have failed? sad

prh47bridge Fri 08-Jul-11 10:16:32

Yes you can. Give it your best shot. You can point these things out to the panel. Hopefully the panel will understand the rules and act appropriately. And if you lose you should definitely refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

JackiePaper Fri 08-Jul-11 10:49:48

Thanks prh, what can the local government obudsman do then? Can they overturn the decision of the panel?
Doesn't give me much confidence in the panel if the last two appeals were lost (it is the same panel I think) however the previous appealants didn't have help from you guys smile

admission Fri 08-Jul-11 11:14:38

The LGO is most likely to order that a new panel is formed and the case is heard again. A sensible LA will understand the vibes from the LGO and ensure that the Clerk gives appropriate legal advice to the panel or they could simply just admit defeat and granting a place at the school.

JackiePaper Fri 08-Jul-11 12:59:57

Thanks. Are the LA likely to expand on what they have put in their statement about pressure on communal areas? In the paperwork I have they have not mentioned anything specific to the school apart from including a floor plan and sizes of rooms. They've not actually said the hall or the classroom or playground are too small, just that admitting more than the pan will cause pressure on infastructure. What sort of detail are they likely to go into at the appeal cos I'm not really sure how best to argue against it given the lack of specifics.

prh47bridge Fri 08-Jul-11 14:46:01

The panel will have heard this argument in every single appeal they have every dealt with. They will ignore it. If you want to be sure, just ask whether the school has had any reportable incidents that can be attributed to overcrowding as per Admission's suggestion.

prh47bridge Fri 08-Jul-11 14:47:05

And given that they have effectively admitted that they would be happy to take two more children the rest of what is in their case is pretty much irrelevant.

JackiePaper Fri 08-Jul-11 14:53:09

Ok thanks i just think they must have something good up their sleeve to have 2 appeals this year and 4 last year all found in favour of the LA?
They must be able to prove prejudice somehow or they wouldn't have won those appeals, it's just not clear at all from their paperwork how they could prove prejudice would be caused.

Maybe I am just worrying to much!

JackiePaper Sun 10-Jul-11 17:03:02

Anyone in the know have any idea what sort of tricks the LA are likely to pull out of the bag on thursday? I'm getting really nervous now!

admission Sun 10-Jul-11 17:59:24

They are simply not allowed to pull any rabbits out of the hat on Thursday. They have submitted their appeal document and whilst they can expand on anything in there and answer questions on it, that is their case. If they atttempt to introduce any other information them you should ask for time to consider the new information that has been disclosed.
The only extra bit that would be acceptable is a statement that says yes we will be making an offer of a place because we got it wrong.

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