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Primary school appeal

(16 Posts)
Hillypink Mon 11-Jul-11 21:32:14

Hi
I was hoping to get a bit of advice. We recently went to appeal and failed to get our dd into her first choice school. Sadly we failed to get in as the appeal panel were legally bound. Application was for reception at the school my daughter is now in at Nursery. We were out of catchment and the class was over 30. Although she could have got in now a problem would have occured by 2013 as by then the school would have been full. Presuming no movement was made during that time. My first question is, if the appeal panel were legally bound, why did they let us go to appeal? They would have had all the information to read beforehand so surely would have known they were legally bound beforehand? The other problem I have is that when I questioned the LEA whether they check addresses of applicants he said 'no', and nothing further was said (it was very stressful and I feel that I remained too polite through the whole process) but I have read a seperate thread on here which said that the appeal was adjourned whilst checks were made when this question was raised by parent. Is this something that I should take to the ombudsman? The final thing that has been bugging me is that before the appeal, I spoke to a lady from the LEA who was very friendly and helpful. I asked her if she had received all the replies accepting school places, after the closing date had passed, and she said she was still waiting for a couple but that these had siblings in school so she felt they would be accepted but they had just forgotten. I accepted this at the time but now the more I am thinking about it ( I want to be sure that I did everything possible) the more I feel that they were wrong to do this as it states in the letter that a place may be lost if a reply is not received. Could somebody please help me to understand whether all correct procedures have been followed. Sorry to go on but putting it all down quickly before I forget anything.

prh47bridge Mon 11-Jul-11 22:28:38

They are not allowed to reject your appeal without giving you a fair hearing. It was possible that evidence could have emerged during the hearing to show that the LA had made a mistake which cost your daughter a place, in which case the panel could have admitted her. However, in the absence of a mistake they were required to refuse admission.

An appeal being adjourned while checks were made would almost certainly have been about checking the measured distances from home to school. Adjourning to check addresses would be very unlikely.

Were you required to produce some evidence of your address when you applied? Most LAs will want something to show that you live where you say. But they will generally only check in detail if there is reason to be suspicious. I suspect that was what the LA thought you were asking.

The LA is following the correct procedure regarding accepting school places, although they are being a little slow about it. The initial letter may say that a place may be lost if a reply is not received but the LA cannot actually take the place away until they have sent another letter giving a deadline for accepting the place. They do not have to send this second letter but they cannot withdraw the place unless they do.

Hillypink Tue 12-Jul-11 13:38:33

Ok thanks for that, it has made things a little clearer. It has been a horrible time as my little girl is very shy and has taken ages to settle into this school since Nursery, settling well now and has made lots of friends. Horrible taking her away from it all. Also it is a welsh school and we are a welsh speaking family. She has got in to another welsh school thankfully but it is further away. I had started to accept it all but now everybody is telling me to take it further by starting petitions and solicitors etc. I really don't know what to do about it now. Whether there is anything a solicitor/petitions could do.

fluffycauliflower Tue 12-Jul-11 16:56:36

I think tht if you are out of catchment there is nothing that can be done, and trying will only cause more stress to you.

prh47bridge Tue 12-Jul-11 17:12:54

Are you in Wales? Some of the rules are a little different if you are.

sunnyday123 Tue 12-Jul-11 17:15:50

PRH - sorry to hijack thread Hillypink but we live in Lancashire LEA and they dont ask for proof of address when applying and only check if they suspect someone has lied - and even then they need written confirmation naming the individual. Is there nothing in the admissions code saying they should verify addresses? Its just i know loads of people who do this for other schools. My DD school is over subscribed and theres loads of rumors of people lying but noone repeats their names! I feel my DD2 is not going to get in next year because of people lying yet i wont be able to prove it?

BetsyBoop Tue 12-Jul-11 18:26:21

Sunny - I'm also in the Lancs LEA - I believe they check addresses against council tax records rather than asking parents to supply proof - they definitely ask you for info about which council you pay your council tax to on their form. I'm assuming if there is any discrepancy they would then follow it up.

admission Tue 12-Jul-11 18:36:11

Hillypink,
I do appeals in Wales and there is nothing that you have said that immediately strikes me as grounds to go to the equivalent of the local government ombudsman in Wales. PRH has given a likely explanation for the questions that you have asked.
To be honest starting a petition or getting a solicitor involved are not going to change anything unless you know that a mistake was made and you would have been offered a place if the mistake had not been made. That is really the only criteria for winning an appeal which is an infant class size regs case. If you have good cause to suspect that the appeal process was flawed then you need to contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in Cardiff. You should also be aware that if the distance to the school is more than two miles, that you will under the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 be entitled to free home to school transport

prh47bridge Tue 12-Jul-11 19:42:09

Sorry Hillypink, but just to say to Sunnyday123 and BetsyBoop that I'm also in Lancashire. I expect they check against council tax records and the electoral roll. Their current Primary School booklet also says they will investigate all applications which show a change of address prior to or during the admissions process.

The Admission Code says that the LA can ask for proof of address but doesn't say they have to. The Code also says that the application form must allow the parents to give their address including documentary evidence in support, but this wording means that they only have to allow parents to provide evidence, not that they must insist on such evidence. Interestingly it goes on to say that the form must allow parents to provide the name and address of their child but is completely silent on the question of documentary evidence for the child's address even though that is by far the most important address! There is nothing in the Admissions Code that specifically requires the LA to verify all addresses.

Hillypink Tue 12-Jul-11 20:08:03

Thank you everybody. Yes I am from Wales. They don't ask for proof of address but say it may be asked for. Like Sunnyday 123 we have heard lots of rumours that people have lied about addresses to get in but again nobody will give any names or proof. The LEA did state that if there was any reason to suspect somebody they would investigate but this isn't done automatically. I think that when there is an appeal situation they should check all addresses as they must realise that this kind of thing is happening.

From what you are all saying it probably won't do me any good to take things further although I did hear from one of the other parents that they knew somebody who went to solicitor before appeal and when the LEA received the solicitors letter they backed down and it didn't go to appeal. The class size had room for 60 and they ended up letting in 66 that year. This is probably what raised my hopes.

Thanks again everybody.

Oh and to add to this, have heard today that they are changing the ruling from 2012/13 (I don't know if this is just in Wales) so that siblings don't get priority. They will firstly try putting you in your nearest Welsh School, then putting you in same school as sibling will come next!! This means that now we have accepted the school that is 6 miles from us, when we come to apply for our ds to go to school (he is one now), we may have a problem getting him in. As we have a welsh school that is 1.5 miles from us (which isn't a very good school), then there will be the school we have just been refused from 2.6 miles away. So could be going through this again in a couple of years to prevent having my children in seperate schools. Definately won't be moving my dd again as this move has been hard enough.

sunnyday123 Tue 12-Jul-11 21:05:38

i spoke to the lea recently in lancashire and they only check addresses if their is a suspicion - they dont check each automatically - i know as 2 people got places at my DD school this year on false addresses. People told on one who had her place withdrawn but noone told on the other so she got away with it! (i didnt know who it was)

Hillypink Wed 13-Jul-11 19:44:26

Its so annoying when you do it all by the book and then don't get in, when others are lying and getting in. Oh well, thanks again for all your comments

admission Wed 13-Jul-11 21:26:13

Hillypink,
What LA are you?
In england the latest admission code and the code currently out for consultation is actually strengthening the sibling link, so that in many LAs they are moving to having siblings above catchment zone or nearest school.
It will not be an all Wales thing as each LA is allowed to set their own admission criteria, as is each school who are their own admission authority as long as it meets the admission code

Hillypink Thu 14-Jul-11 09:36:18

Hi

I'm with Wrexham LA. They currently have siblings above catchment zone or nearest school at the moment but they are changing it from 2013 to try putting nearest school before sibling. Can't see it working. There are going to be so many parents appealing as it would never be practical to have two children in different schools. I'm seriously contemplating moving house within the next two years to avoid all this stress again

admission Thu 14-Jul-11 16:23:21

Wrexham!
Wrexham LA are falling into the same trap that Flintshire have fallen into in assuming that the nearest appropriate school is actually in their LA. There are actually quite a few areas where the nearest school is not in Wrexham but in Flintshire or Cheshire West or Denbighshire. So that will be fun.
The admission criteria they are moving too is in effect the same as Flintshire LA.
The other big change is that Wrexham are changing from a first preference getting priority system to an equal priority system. Whilst that might not have that much effect in primary schools I suspect it could have in your more popular secondary schools.

Hillypink Fri 15-Jul-11 19:52:22

I hadn't realised that. I thought it would be the nearest school within the Wrexham LA. I really can't see it working, they are going to have loads of problems when they put it into effect. Am hoping it does cause major problems so that hopefully they will revert back to old system!!!

Oh yes I had heard about that too. Its a worry but I really can't see how it will work, although if it is already in effect in Flintshire LA maybe it does work? Who knows, time will tell I suppose.

I wish the welsh school by us had still been good, we wouldn't have a problem now!.

On a plus note I have been taking my DD to the new school since last week, (thought it would be beneficial to her to phase her out of her original school and start her in her new school, rather than just start her in September, and the headmaster was more than happy to help) and she seems to be settling well and making new friends. Glad I did this now rather than worry about it all summer holidays!! Thanks again for your information,

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