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Question for Admission - Classroom Size Data to support Appeal

(24 Posts)
oliandjoesmum Mon 08-Aug-11 10:54:46

I have posted a number of threads about an appeal for my son to change schools in September when he will be in Year 3. I now have my appeal date, but not the LEAs case for admission refusal. I am assuming some of this case will be based on the school being unable to accomodate my son due to classroom/ communal area sizes. Can you tell me how I go about gaining this information about the school in question, and do I have a right to have it to support my appeal?
Having read a few of your answers on various threads I am guessing you have some involvement with my local authoruty (CWAC) so am hoping you can help!
I am so desperate to win as have no idea how I am going to be available for my eldest son who has autism when he returns from school in his taxi. Therefore I want to make sure I have done my homework and at least give myself the best chance possible.
Thanks in advance

prh47bridge Mon 08-Aug-11 14:18:07

You can ask the LA anything you want within reason to help you prepare for your appeal and they have to answer your questions.

oliandjoesmum Mon 08-Aug-11 15:53:17

thanks, I will contact them

admission Mon 08-Aug-11 18:24:50

You can ask the LA for the information and they should provide it as PRH says.
The panel will probably ask what the size of the class rooms are. The communal areas are not really important, it is the size of the classroom, the number of pupils and the number of adults in the classroom which are more important.
However being realistic the size of the classrooms is only relevant to part one of the appeal and you need to be concentrating on your personal reasons as to why this is the right school for your child. Part of that has got to be about the issues associated with your elder child and it is certainly worth mentioning that it is the LA who are dictating the time at which they will arrive home. Has there been any change to the arrival time that you could use to your advantage?

oliandjoesmum Mon 08-Aug-11 19:52:10

Thanks so much for the advice. I can wax lyrical on why this school advantages my son, I am just not sure whether that can outweigh the classroom size if it isn't big enough. At his current school Year 3 has just gone up to 31 in both forms as a result of appeals, but it is an unusually large primary school. My middle son will be finishing later than he used to when he was in infants, my eldest son return time in the taxi has not changed. This means I am going to be even later for him. The taxi driver has agreed he is happy to drop DS1 at the school I am appealing for, which means I get the time to discuss any after school matters relating to DS2 and DS3. The driver is not happy to drop off at the current school because of the horrendous congestion problems. He has to pick up another child after he drops my son off and he would be made even later than he is currently made by my late arrival home.
Finally, my autistic son was so traumatised by his time spent at DS2's school he has a severe phobia of it and refuses to go there so dropping him there unfeasible anyway.
Sorry for the waffle, sure all of this totally irrelevant to an appeal panel!

admission Tue 09-Aug-11 18:23:48

I would not get to hung up about the classroom sizes.
In part 1 the panel has decisions to make about whether the admission process has been carried out correctly and whether the panel do believe that the admission of a further pupil will be prejudicial to the school and specifically the year which is being applied for. The classroom size will be part of that decision and the probablity is that the panel will agree with the LA at this stage.
At part 2 the panel hears what the circumstances are that make you believe that the prejudice to your child out weighs the prejudice to the school that was found in part 1. It is very much a balancing act. If there are 30 in the class and the classroom is designed for 30, then prejudice will probably be agreed at stage 1, but the level of prejudice is likely to be low. So a good case for admission by the parent will quite often outweigh the prejudice to the school. However if there are 32 in the class already then obviously the prejudice to the school of admitting an extra pupil will be higher and the parent's case that much more compelling to outweigh the prejudice. The size of the classroom will probably only come into it at stage 2 if it is really small as a classroom for 30.
You do need to explain to the panel the circumstances including explaining DS1 phobia about DS2 current school as that is a good reason for not moving DS3 to DS2 school and that the only logical move is DS2 to DS3 school. Followed by lyrical waxing about how good DS3 school is and how it would advantage DS2. You probably need to talk also about how you ended up with DS2 and DS3 at two different schools, stressing that DS3 school has always been the preference.

oliandjoesmum Fri 26-Aug-11 18:23:50

Just back from hols, thanks very much for the advice. Busy now preparing for the case whilst trying to not get too hung up about it!
Small point, I now have the LEA statement for refusing admission. The summary paragraph at the end states 'we believe for these reasons it would be of detriment to the school to admit your child to reception'. Not sure if just a typo, or they really haven't grasped this is a Year 3 appeal....

admission Fri 26-Aug-11 21:21:31

Its probably a typo and that they have used the arguements put forward for the reception appeal cases this year as the basis for your case, with appropriate changes and that they have missed this one. Look at the introduction paragraph and just check that it says year 3 there, if it says year 3 there I would assume it is a typo, if it says reception then you need to speak to the admission office and tell them they have sent the wrong papers!

oliandjoesmum Wed 07-Sep-11 18:51:51

Sorry to resurrect this thread, but some more advice from the brilliant admissions experts on here would be greatly appreciated. I have my appeal on Tuesday and I need a bit of advice on Net Capacity v Pupil Numbers at the school I am appealing for.
1)Their Net capacity states 210, this is based on the school becoming a single FE school by 2014. At the moment it is in transition from a 2 form entry infant school, which means in years 4 and 5 there are 48 and 36 children respectively. This obviously puts the school well above 210, in fact there are currently 234. However this is to facilitate these extra classes through the transition. The 2 Year 4 classes are housed in portakabins that have not been taken in account when calculating the capacity of the school. Without the children in the portakabins there are in fact only 186 children in the main school. I know the school needs to accomodate non teaching time (assemblies, playtime etc) but all actual teaching time for Year 4 is completed in the portakabins. These portakabins will remain until the transition in completed in 2014.
2)Additionally, when the transition started the understanding was that a number of children would move from the infant school to the junior school the infant school used to feed. However, there was nothing to state that this had to happen, it was entirely at parental choice. In fact last year only 10 children actually left at the end of Year 2. Given there was no enforced transfer this would suggest the school must have needed to plan for the possibility of retaining all of their 2 FE classes until these children went to high school. This would have meant at some point the school would have had approx 290 on role. There must have been some consideration that dictated the school could accomodate however many children wanted to remain at it until Year 7.

Are either of these valid points to raise?? I am aware the second one is a little tenuous, but is there any weight to be given to the first point? I am sure my case will rest on part 2 of the appeal, but I am trying to find all I can to refute the case made by the LEA in part 1 in the wild hope I will not have to go through the emotionally traumatic second half of the appeal. A longshot I know, but I am desperate and anything that helps me is worth considering.

prh47bridge Wed 07-Sep-11 19:50:33

Definitely raise the first point as it shows the official capacity is an artificial figure which does not reflect current reality. I don't see any harm in raising the second point but you may need to explain it carefully to make sure the panel understand. It will then be up to them to decide how much weight to give this.

admission Wed 07-Sep-11 23:17:21

Both of these arguements should be raised in the appeal for this school, as it does make a large dent in the LAs case about overcrowding etc. But they will not make a big song and dance about the numbers in year 4 and 5. The panel may ask about them but the explanation that this is temporary accomodation because of the extra numbers is in the LAs papers.

However the most salient fact is that the PAN is 30 and there are 30 in the year group in a classroom designed for 30, so I would expect the panel to accept the LA's case that there is some prejudice to the school in admitting a further pupil. By putting a large dent in the LAs case you are minimising this prejudice, so that when you have talked about the specific and compelling reasons for wanting the school place, the panel will accept that the level of prejudice to the pupil outweighs the prejudice to the school.

I appreciate that it will be traumatic in the second part of the appeal, but it is vital that you explain all the reasons, as you do have a good case in my opinion. Go to the appeal with notes on the points that you need to make and use those to ensure that you do mention in all the issues. I don't know who is on the panel, I assume it is at HQ, but I am sure that they will give you every opportunity to say what you want to say. They will respect your confidentiality of the issues that you are raising.

oliandjoesmum Thu 08-Sep-11 10:15:05

Thank you so much for all your help yet again, there are certainly many many facts and tips I would be unaware of without both of your help. I am spending the next 2 days preparing, splitting my case in to 2 parts, firstly points pertinent to questioning the LEA case, and secondly the reasons why DS2 needs to go to the school. I will report back on how I get on....

prh47bridge Thu 08-Sep-11 12:30:46

Remember that you will get the chance to question the LA's representative once they have presented their case. You think about raising your points questioning their case at that point. Both of the issues you mention above could be raised as questions, for example.

admission Thu 08-Sep-11 19:07:47

In part 1 you do need to be asking questions rather than making statement. The Chair will give you some leeway but there does need to be a question in there somewhere.
Regarding the big year 4/5 it is easy. The questions could be. I understand from what you have said that there are 48 and 36 in year 4 and 5, but under the PAN of 30 there would only be 60 is that right? Answer yes. So there are 24 more pupils in those two year groups than there normally would be? answer yes. So if you ignore the extra pupils, as there is extra temporary classrooms, you actually only have 210 (234-24) in the school not 234. That does not sound that full as a school, especially as you have two mobile classrooms designed for 60 pupils and you only have 48 in them.

jeee Thu 08-Sep-11 19:14:35

I don't know anything about school appeals, but it seems to me the real issue for you are the needs of your DS1. Is there any way that you could raise this under the DDA? Best wishes, anyway.

oliandjoesmum Fri 09-Sep-11 18:59:56

OK, the way I was going to structure the first part was by asking questions about some of the points made, e.g. 4.1 is about the net capacity, and states that the temporary classrooms are there because of damp problems in the school, and subsequent building work. This is not wholly true, there has been a lot of building work at the school to prepare for it being a primary, but the portakabins are there to house the 2 big year groups, and will remain until 2014, they are not there because classrooms in the normal school are out of bounds, in fact the main school building was officially complete today, with a grand opening. It does not mean the portakabins are being removed, far from it. So I need to phrase my questions about the statement in 4.1 along these lines, rather than coming out and saying 'I know the portakabins are there to house year 4, not because of damp problems'.?? I don't want to get the panels backs up by sounding like a know it all

prh47bridge Fri 09-Sep-11 19:44:28

The panel should give you a lot of leeway in questioning the LA and make sure you have the opportunity to ask all the questions you want. Having said that, I have come across panels that have refused to allow perfectly legitimate questions purely because they appeared to attack the LA directly. So yes, I would take it slowly and lead them into an admission that the portakabins are there until 2014. I would submit any documentary evidence you can find to support your case, e.g. press cuttings about the opening plus anything you've got that shows the portakabins will be there until 2014 and are needed to cope with Y4. You should send this stuff to the clerk before the appeal - you don't want the panel to decide to adjourn the appeal while they take it all in.

admission Fri 09-Sep-11 20:43:38

PRH, The only problem with sending it to the clerk is that the appeal is Tuesday and I know that there is not a chance in hell that if OP sends it in now that the panel will get it. Lousy Post deliveries and internal Local Authority chaos will see to that.
Where they are holding the appeal does not have easy photocopy access, so i would suggest that you get two copies done of anything else you are going to submit before hand, so that you can give it to the clerk before the start of the appeal, one copy for the panel and one for the LA rep. The clerk will come out to talk you through the appeal process prior to the start and this is the right time to do this. It is not a problem, happens often.
You need to handle part 1 the way you want to handle it, we are not there, you are.
However do not loose sight of the fact that they have 7 classrooms in the main school, each for 30 pupils and that is what the PAN has been based on. The mobiles are on top of that and are there to cope with the extra numbers in years4/5. If the LA representative insists on wanting to talk about the mobiles as being more permanent than they are in theory meant to be, then you should be asking why they are not then included in the net capacity as they are clearly being used as classrooms and why the PAN is therefore unacceptably low.
I would contend that if you have the physical evidence to back your comments up, then the panel will not see you as a know all but just rather better prepared than the LA rep!

prh47bridge Fri 09-Sep-11 22:57:11

Oops! Forget the appeal was that close. Sorry.

oliandjoesmum Sat 10-Sep-11 07:54:54

Oh dear, I had not thought of sending stuff in prior to the appeal, feel like I have splipped up a bit there. I will look for evidence re the portakabins, think there is something in the most recent newsletter. I need also to submit details about my sons statement, his transport arrangements, letter from the taxi driver, evidence my children have been subject of a domestic abuse review (one of the reasons I want him in the same school as his brother - safety) and ds2 current school report to show he would not be a great drain on the current year 3 teachers resources.
Phew - they aren't going to want to read all that on the day, I should have sent it in earlier

oliandjoesmum Tue 13-Sep-11 16:39:22

Had my appeal hearing today, very very happy girl to be able to say that I won!! Did not even have to go in to all my reasons in Part 2, I was given a place for DS2 after Part 1. For me the crux was research and planning - the Chair said my questioning was 'forensic' and my preparation meticulous. So so happy, cannot wait for them to send the letter to the Head so I can move him, and finally have 2 of my son's in one school.

prh47bridge Tue 13-Sep-11 17:21:54

Well done! I am really pleased for you and your son.

admission Tue 13-Sep-11 22:49:12

Well done, I knew they would be a "nice" panel.
As you quite rightly say research and planning are critical to putting forward your best possible case.
Hope they enjoy their time at V

oliandjoesmum Wed 14-Sep-11 17:47:34

They were a lovely panel, really supportive and kind, I thought they would be very scary and intimidating. Plus the lovely man from the LEA quite clearly was being supportive by agreeing with some of the points I made, and not really providing return arguments to my questions. Not as horrible an experience as I was expecting, and only tears once when I was told he had a place without even having to go in to any of my reasons in Part 2.

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