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Primary school appeal

(10 Posts)
Geordiegirl4 Mon 11-Jul-11 13:02:17

Hi there. I'm currently still awaiting the outcome of a primary school appeal. I live just out if the greater catchment and have a 6 year old sibling in the school already. The school currently has 4 children admitted who should nit have been offered places in the first 30 (school was oversubscribed). Class is currently at 31. This was due to a child being wrongly put down as being out of catchment with sibling instead of greater catchment with sibling. This error was corrected immediately. They didn't withdraw the place from the 30th child and put them back in 1st place on waiting list as council have the right to do. Then we brought to their attention at out appeal that two applicants who submitted their forms well after the deadline had received a place and that no proof of residency had been requested for an over subscribed school. They adjourned our appeal immediately to requested the proof. We also requested that all applications be checked to see when received and they found a third late application. One was as late as 11th March!!! Council last week offered two places out which would take class to 33. Both never appealed when place was refused initially and declined the offer of a place last week. They say the 1st person disadvantaged by late applicants had already gained entry by their first admin error. We are currently sitting 1st on waiting list with the other parents appealing who also have a sibling in the school in 2nd place. No others have appealed. The three late applicants are all catchment. The person who was responsible for processing our school was being made redundant at the time of the whole process and no one else is admitting they knew about the late applications (school was aware as parents told them they had forgot to apply). Any advice would be appreciated!

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

There are a few misunderstandings here.

Firstly, when they offered a place to a child as a result of a mistake they were absolutely right not to withdraw the place from the 30th child. Contrary to what you say, the council do NOT have the right to do this. That would be a breach of the Admissions Code.

Secondly, if they have made a mistake by processing late applications as if they were on time they are supposed to offer places to the children who should have got them regardless of whether or not the parents have appealed.

What the appeal panel will have to sort out is whether or not your child would have been offered a place if the mistakes hadn't been made. Given that the Council has already offered places to other children I'm guessing that they think the answer is no. If they are right that would mean that your appeal should fail. However, if your child would have been admitted if they had processed these late applicants correctly your appeal should succeed.

The way it works when the Council makes a mistake is that they should offer places to the children who should have got them if they hadn't got it wrong (unless there are a lot of children affected in which case an appeal panel has to sort out who gets in and who doesn't). They are not allowed to withdraw places that have already been offered so the result will be that the school ends up admitting more children. They have to get back down to the correct size as quickly as possible, especially when the admission number is a multiple of 30. So if any children drop out for any reason it does not leave a space to be offered to people on the waiting list. Therefore I'm afraid the fact that the parents offered the 32nd and 33rd places didn't accept them doesn't help you win your appeal.

Geordiegirl4 Mon 11-Jul-11 14:34:30

Withdrawing offers of places
1.50 ​Once an offer of a school place has been made it is only reasonable for an admission authority to withdraw that offer in very limited circumstances. These may include when a parent has failed to respond to an offer within a reasonable time or the admission authority offered the place on the basis of a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application from a parent (for example, a false claim to residence in a catchment area) which effectively denied a place to another child; or where a place was offered under co-ordination by the local authority, not the admission authority, in error. If a parent has not responded to the offer of a place within a reasonable time, the admission authority must remind the parent of the need to respond within a further seven days and point out that the place may be withdrawn if they do not.

It was a agreed in the appeal that if they hadn't of made any errors they can not say for sure who would of accepted, declined and appealed and won. The appeal panel also can not take into consideration position on waiting list nor if this school was their 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice. Therefore they can not say for definate that we have been rightly refused a place.

prh47bridge Mon 11-Jul-11 15:47:59

I'm afraid your understanding is still incorrect.

What you have quoted in 1.50 is correct. Look at the limited circumstances in which an offer can be withdrawn. There is nothing in your original post to indicate that anyone made a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application. Indeed, you have indicated that the error was the other way round - that the LA mistakenly classed an in catchment child as out of catchment. So there is no justification there for withdrawing any offers.

Parents failing to accept the place within a reasonable time is not the issue here so that leaves us with offers made in error. It has also been well established by the Local Government Ombudsman and the courts that the LA has limited time to withdraw an offer once it has been made in error. If it does not withdraw the offer within a day or two it cannot do so. I therefore stand by my original answer that the LA was correct not to withdraw any places when they admitted a 31st student.

It is true that they cannot say for sure who would have accepted, declined or appealed if the LA hadn't made any mistakes but I'm afraid none of that is relevant. All that matters is who should have been offered places when the original offers were made. The only question the appeal panel should consider is whether or not your child would have been offered this school on offer day if no mistakes had been made. The fact that your child may have been admitted subsequently due to declined offers is irrelevant.

The LA has determined who it thinks would have been offered places if they had got it right the first time round. They have offered places to the children affected. The fact that the parents concerned have declined the offers does not mean they now have to offer the places to others. Indeed, under the regulations they cannot offer the places to others nor should an appeal panel do so. They can only start offering places again once the number of pupils drops below the admission number.

Geordiegirl4 Mon 11-Jul-11 17:37:29

The first error was found immediately and the LA have admitted that they could have withdrawn the 31st child offered in error but didn't. Where can I find in the code the timescales in which it is acceptable to withdraw an offer if offered in error by the LA? Also I know I would have been the last person admitted if the three late applicants hadn't of been put through as one of the parents of the places offered last week said she would have asked for a place at her catchment school anyway instead as she had only applied for this one so her child could start with his nursery buddy but they didn't get a place either and would of been pointless. Her catchment school did and still does have places so she would have been able to swap. Im so angry that if they hadn't made any errors I would of been the 30th place but yet your saying this is irrelevant. Now I have to wait until two children leave before I will be offered a place and there is also the possibility that another child may come into the waiting list in the meantime and push me back. I'm not taking my 6 year old out of the school as he is on a reading recovery program and lacks confidence and is sensitive. he has been with his friends since the pre school and he is in a nice small class of 20. I'm not on a bus route to either school and not entitled to any school transport. I'm the only person who can do the school run so will have to have my youngest always late in the morning and late being picked up. I don't know anyone at the school I have been able to get a place at and it has no wrap around club. If I don't get a place at this school with affordable wrap around club, I can't return to work and financially I need to.

Geordiegirl4 Mon 11-Jul-11 17:46:55

Forgot to say the school I managed to get a place at is now oversubscribed at 31 with an appeal for maladministration pending. They have appeals running till 21st July. Also I don't believe that the three late catchment applications put through were an admin error but put through knowingly by the LA as they were catchment and if they appealed and won risked a class of 33.

BetsyBoop Mon 11-Jul-11 18:34:05

From what you've said, I agree with PRH <waves hello>

If I've understood your posts
30 places were offered on offer day.
At this point you were technically in spot 31 BUT the LA discovered they had made an error in another application, so you would have really been at spot 32 if this error had not been made.
The LA offered the place for the error, class of 31, you at 1st on waiting list

IF the LA had withdrawn the "extra" offer (which as PRH said they only have a couple of days to do this in the case of an offer made in error, there is a LGO ruling on this - it's not in the admissions code) then it would have been a class of 30 & you 2nd on waiting list.

So either way you would not have had a place on offer day, in spite of the LA's error.

What went on after that with the are-they-or-aren't-they late applications is neither here nor there as far as the appeal goes. If offers had not been made then it would have bumped you down the waiting list anyway.

I know it's far from ideal having children at different schools, but it's not something appeals panels can take into consideration & TBH that's the risk you run when you apply for out of catchment schools where in catchment children have priority over out of catchment siblings. You will need to find a solution for the school run (childminder etc) as neither school will be happy with a child arriving late or leaving early I'm afraid.

prh47bridge Mon 11-Jul-11 19:26:49

<waves back at Betsy>

I'm afraid I wouldn't trust any statement from the LA saying they could have withdrawn the offer made in error. Many LAs seem to think they have the absolute right to do this despite the fact that they are told by the Local Government Ombudsman every year that they can't. If they had withdrawn the place and the parents of the child had appealed I would confidently expect them to have won their appeal or, failing that, for the LGO to step in and tell the LA to admit the child concerned. And, of course, as Betsy says that child would have been ahead of yours on the waiting list anyway so it really doesn't make any difference to your case.

As Betsy says, the timescales are not in the Admissions Code. However, there have been a mixture of court cases and LGO decisions which indicate that they've got to withdraw the offer the same day as making it or, at a push, the following day. Any longer than that and the parents will be able to get the decision overturned. In the best known case concerning this a number of offers were made by mistake and withdrawn as soon as the LA became aware of the error. The parents heard that the offers were being withdrawn 3 days after receiving the offers. The LA concerned was told this was too long and ordered to reinstate all the offers.

I'm afraid the comments from the other parent do not help you at all. On offer day her child would have been offered a place before yours. The fact that she may have chosen to reject the offer is not relevant. All that matters is what should have happened on offer day. If you should have got a place on offer day your appeal should succeed. However, everything you have posted indicates that you are relying on events after offer day. I'm afraid that isn't how the system works when dealing with infant class size cases such as this.

I am sorry you find yourself in this situation and I wish I could find a way for your appeal to succeed. Unfortunately the information you've posted indicates that your appeal should fail. Having said that, appeal panels do sometimes award places when the rules say they shouldn't so I hope you get a generous panel.

Geordiegirl4 Mon 11-Jul-11 20:25:45

We dont have funds for extra childcare and seems I won't be able to return to employment now unless it fits in with school runs and not during school holidays. Both heads disagree that siblings from out of catchment should rank 5th and second last on oversubscription criteria. They offered places to 19 catchment, 5 greater catchment with sibling and 7 greater catchment no sibling. No special needs or care children. One of the heads hadn't even known about the greater catchment (catchment area for nearest high school) which came into place two years ago apparently. Current reception class is just 22 and 20 year before. Neighbouring authorities place siblings straight after Catchment. Both heads will have to work with us and the other family who are in exact same position with same schools.

If our children are going to be in an oversubscribed class then it makes sense to have them in same school as their older sibling. Then just one class will be oversubscribed instead of both. Both schools are in the same partnership group and work closely with each other. Hoping the reading recovery program that my 6 year old is on will help decision.

prh47bridge Mon 11-Jul-11 22:14:46

I'm afraid what the heads think about where siblings should be in the admission criteria is not relevant, nor is what happens in neighbouring LAs. The LA determines the admission criteria for all the schools they control.

There is a difference between a class being oversubscribed and being oversize. Any school is oversubscribed if the number of children naming that school is greater than the number of places. And I'm afraid infant class size rules do not allow an exception on the basis that it makes sense.

I really hope it works out for you and your children.

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