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LA's statement to refuse admission at appeal

(35 Posts)
izzy1020 Thu 11-Aug-11 11:07:07

I have received the LA's statement for refusal of admission to the school we are appealing to get my son into and was wondering if any knowledgable people could help me.

It is for a year 3 appeal. The school has a PAN of 60 per year, however they are saying that the net capacity is 409 ( range is 367 - 413). Currently have 418 on roll. No classes are currently above 30.

Their statment for refusal starts with the phrase that it 'believes that admitting more pupils would prejudice the efficient provision of education and the efficient use of resources'.

It then states that the maximum figure of the capacity range is lower than the 420 pupils it has when all years have reached AN. The school has great difficulty accomodating class sizes larger than 30 as space is inadequate for pupils and necessary furniture.
They go on to say that although class size limits only apply at ks1 going over this figure in ks2 is highly undesirable. This is due to exceptional demands on staff. It then states that the demand on teachers' planning and prep is very heavy due to increased assessments and marking.

It ends with them saying that the council is concerned by the potential effect of numbers increasing above the AN on the schools ability to maintain the current high standards of acheivement.

the school is rated Outstanding across the board, has been since 2006 and was again in 2009.
The number on roll in 2006 was 429, the 2009 ofsted goes onto say that "exceptionally high standards are sustained demonstrating the school's excellent capacity to improve further and to build on its long history of success." To me surely if numbers going above PAN were as damaging as the LA claim the school would not have acheived the highest rating again.

Sorry it is long but any help would be appreciated greatly.

prh47bridge Thu 11-Aug-11 13:33:07

The opening sentence is pretty standard. Ignore that.

You can point to classes in previous years with over 30 children (there must have been some in 2006 otherwise they couldn't have had 429 children, so it is likely to have happened in other years as well) and ask if these classes have damaged the school's standards. You can also ask how come they haven't got the necessary furniture when they have had classes over 30 before.

You can point to previous years when they have been well over capacity (2006) and ask if standards fell that year.

I would ignore the bit about the demand on teachers. A lot of teachers have to cope with classes over 30 children and the panel will know that.

It may be worth checking how long ago the capacity was set and whether there have been any alterations to the school since then. It is a long shot but it is possible the calculated capacity does not reflect the current buildings.

Overall this seems a reasonably standard case to refuse admission. I would expect the panel to agree that admitting your son will cause some prejudice to the school. The question they will have to decide is whether that outweighs the prejudice to your son through not being admitted.

prh47bridge Thu 11-Aug-11 13:36:39

Actually, thinking about it I might say something about a lot of teachers having to cope with classes of over 30 children, just to make the point. But I wouldn't spend a lot of time on that.

izzy1020 Thu 11-Aug-11 15:33:34

Thank you ever so much for your advice, it is very helpful. The school is very close to our home, however we have been suggested 2 other schools with spaces. One is 1.6 miles away and the other is a slightly closer Catholic school. His older sister attends the school we are appealing for. We have based the appeal mainly on the social needs of my son. Is it ok to say we fundamentally do not want a Catholic education or would this not be taken into account?

prh47bridge Thu 11-Aug-11 20:12:12

Have you been offered a place at the Catholic school? If not it isn't really relevant. The panel should be considering whether your son would suffer prejudice from going to the offered school instead of the appeal school. Other schools in the area shouldn't be part of the panel's considerations even if they do have places.

If you were offered the Catholic school there is nothing wrong with saying it. It is up to the panel how much weight they place on it. I don't think it is terribly convincing personally but I'm not on your panel.

izzy1020 Thu 11-Aug-11 21:40:18

Well i just looked the letter I received from the actual application I submitted and it says:
regrettably we cannot offer you a place at X school. You are entitled to appeal against this decision.The following school(s) are the nearest school(s) to your home address that currently have places available - Y school and Z school. Please complete the form should you wish to be considered for these schools.(Which I did not do.) We cannot guarantee places will still be available when we receive your application as places are being allocated all of the time.
He is currently at a school 4 miles from home.
On the LA appeal statement I received this week Y and Z schools come under the heading suggested/offered school.

Thank you.

changer22 Thu 11-Aug-11 22:03:42

We went through an appeal in different circumstances but the one thing that I would advise is that at ours a map was produced (by the LEA) of the closer schools (which were full) showing how far we lived from the school we were appealing for. You need to be prepared to argue why you can't accept Y and Z schools although it won't be your main argument.

If you know the head of the school do get as much info from him/her as you can re pupil turnover. If they lose 10 pupils a year for example that will add a stronger point to your case. Similarly if they have very good TA support in class that's another one to make sure you document.

I'm sure you will be doing this anyway but obviously your DS has a very close relationship with your DD and to separate them would be distressing for him wink Similarly, are there breakfast clubs at the school you need, specialist instrument tuition, sports, etc.? All worth looking into.

Are you sure there were 418 on the roll when you applied? We had a limit of 150 at our school but it was 148 when we applied and were refused - we asked the head to look at the registers and count! It was 150 when the appeal date was announced and the LEA used this as their 'evidence' so again, it was another point to add to our document.

The LEA also produced a map of the school layout saying that it was so overcrowded there was no space for music lessons or for SEN pupils. Shame he forgot to check out that room next to the staffroom then (the SEN/music room) grin.

We found the panel very good (the LEA bloke was a true weasel) and it was obvious the game was up halfway through. It was very stressful though and you cannot be too over prepared.

To give you an idea our hearing lasted 1.5 hours and the document we submitted for consideration was 7 pages long.

Good luck!

prh47bridge Thu 11-Aug-11 22:52:23

izzy1020 - That is very naughty of them. Under the Admissions Code they are required to offer you a place, not just offer some suggestions. Paragraph 3.15g of the code is clear - if you don't get in to your preferred school you must be offered a place at another school if there are places available. Simply giving you a list of schools that may have places is not good enough. I would mention that to the appeal panel. Point out that the LA has failed to meet its responsibility to offer you a place and that the two schools listed were merely suggested. You do not know if there are still places available at these schools and are therefore without a place.

changer22 - Your experience is interesting but an appeal shouldn't generally take 1.5 hours! And as the OP hasn't been offered a place at schools X and Y she should not have to argue as to why she can't accept them. The panel should be comparing the offered school with the appeal school, not considering other schools in the area that may or may not have places. In this case there is no offered school because the LA has broken the regulations by failing to make an offer.

prh47bridge Thu 11-Aug-11 22:54:28

iszzy1020 - Actually, mention it isn't strong enough. Point out forcefully that the LA is in breach of the Admissions Code paragraph 3.15g because it has failed to offer you a place. Make it clear that you do not know if either of the schools mentioned in the LA's case still has a place.

izzy1020 Fri 12-Aug-11 01:08:36

changer22 thank you for your input,very interesting.
Prh47bridge - thank you again. I'm sure that one of the schools will still have a place, what would my answer to this be? This is the 2nd time I have applied and been refused for X school although the 1st time I was actually offered Y school which was when he was in year 1, which we declined and decided to leave him where he is. I am appealing this year as it is no longer infant class size. Would the fact he does have a school to go to(not in our LA- which was our choice) be of relevance, and what would the appeal Panel actually do if I said to not offer him a place was breach of the admissions code? Sorry for the request for more info i'm feeling very nervous about it all - so much so I can't sleep!

prh47bridge Fri 12-Aug-11 01:51:19

Sorry, I got confused about the situation here. As your son already has a place at a school paragraph 3.15g doesn't apply, so ignore what I said about that. However, it is still the case that the panel should be comparing the appeal school with the current school. Other schools that may have places but haven't been offered should not be part of the appeal and the LA shouldn't really have mentioned them. If the panel or the LA bring up the other schools I would just answer the questions honestly. But you should concentrate on showing why your son needs to go to this school rather than staying at his current school.

changer22 Fri 12-Aug-11 09:15:08

prh the couple that went in after us (for the same school - very similar situation) were also in there for 1.5 hours!

I agree that the other schools shouldn't have been brought into it but it felt a bit like the gloves were off and everything was thrown at us in a sneering way. It was pointed out that our current school had been Ofsted graded 3 while the one we were applying for was a 1, with the insinuation that we were being pushy parents, jumping ship for an outstanding school. The map produced showed a difficult route through town - look how we would be adding to the traffic congestion! (we had one showing how we would take the bypass!) Like you we already had one child in the school we were applying for, therefore we were adding to the traffic by having to get the child we were fighting for from her school in town - adding to the traffic by doing 2 school pick ups.

It doesn't sound like all of this is applicable to you, but it's to give you an illustration of everything and anything being picked on - or maybe we were just unlucky with our appeal.

Or maybe not. I forgot to say... we won!

prh47bridge Fri 12-Aug-11 10:36:28

I am not surprised you won if that is the approach the LA's representative took. Whether or not your route to school adds to traffic congestion is a complete irrelevance, as is dragging in other schools and questioning your motives. A properly trained appeal panel would not be impressed. The LA's argument should be entirely around the problems the school would face as a result of admitting an additional child. Everything else is irrelevant.

I would also imagine the panel weren't happy with the length of the LA's case and/or the time they took questioning you. I would not expect an appeal to last 1.5 hours unless there were some very complex issues being discussed.

If the LA failed to make a case that the school would have problems if your child was admitted the appeal panel would have no choice but to allow your appeal to succeed. Even if there was a genuine case in amongst the irrelevant stuff, I would imagine most appeal panels would be sufficiently fed up that they certainly wouldn't give the LA the benefit of any doubt.

spiderpig8 Fri 12-Aug-11 12:43:28

The teachers' workload is neither here nor there. It is the detriment to other children's education which the appeal panel has to weigh up against the detriment to your DC not being admitted.
I appealed afew years ago and the PAN was the number of children the school could physically accommodate and the MAL was the number per year they have to accept
Things to check are whether there has been further building work since the PAN ie (physical capacity was set.)
In our case we found the PAN of the school was 90 even though the MAL was only 10.This si because the PAN takes account of spaces which could be used as teaching areas such as dining room and library.

prh47bridge Fri 12-Aug-11 14:15:25

Sorry but the teachers' workload can be relevant. If it gets too great it will damage other children's education. And the Appeal Code is clear that the panel has to consider whether there is prejudice to the school, not just the other pupils. However, saying that having 31 in a class increases the teacher's workload, whilst true, is not a strong case.

The rest of your post seems somewhat confused. What do you mean by MAL? The PAN is the number per year the school has to accept. If the PAN is 90 then that is how many pupils they must admit. They cannot arbitrarily stop at some lower number.

The net capacity (not the PAN - at least, not directly) takes account of all the rooms in the school. However, it is not as simple as saying that the capacity "takes account of spaces which could be used as teaching areas such as dining room and library". The capacity is based on the number of workplaces in classbases (classrooms) but may be adjusted downwards if the school doesn't have enough space for support areas (e.g. library, hall, dining room) or upwards if it has a particularly large amount of space in support areas.

The capacity calculation produces a range. The official capacity of the school is set somewhere within that range. The PAN can then be calculated by dividing the capacity by 7 (for a primary school which generally only admits pupils to Reception - it would be a little more complex for a secondary school with a sixth form or for a Primary school that accepted an additional intake in Y3). However, the LA (or the school if it is a faith school, foundation school or free school) can set a PAN which is higher or lower than that indicated by the capacity.

izzy1020 Fri 12-Aug-11 21:38:27

Thank you for all your help and comments - It's given me a lot to think about. Just a few other questions; I have asked for the classroom sizes of year 3 but don't seem willing to give me them. I believe they are bigger than last year due to a relocation in the school. Do the LA hold this information? Also I have asked for the number of pupils on roll in the ks2 classes for the past 3 years but have again skirted round this by only telling me that year 3 classes have been consistently at 30. And finally is edubase website information regarding pupil numbers correct?

izzy1020 Sat 13-Aug-11 11:59:30

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Iamseeingstars Sat 13-Aug-11 23:02:20

I cant really comment on the rules and regulations, but I have worked in classrooms that havent been very large, even for 30 children, so pushing the numbers up makes it an unpleasant environment for both pupils and the teacher.

prh47bridge Sat 13-Aug-11 23:57:58

The LA is required to provide any information you reasonably request to help you prepare for your appeal. As they are suggesting the classrooms aren't big enough classroom sizes are definitely relevant, and the number of pupils on the roll for KS2 for the last 3 years is also clearly relevant. If they fail to come up with the information I would point out to the appeal panel that your preparations have been hampered by the LA failing to provide requested information.

I think Edubase is generally somewhat out of date. I wouldn't rely on anything it says about pupil numbers.

izzy1020 Sun 14-Aug-11 00:41:47

Brilliant - just what i wanted to hear prh47bridge.
To iamseeingstars, if he stays at his current school will be in a class of 32. The pan there is 75 so KS2 classes are known to go as high as 36 in recent years so i don't feel wanting him to go to the local school and be in a class of 31 is going to prick my conscience.

Iamseeingstars Sun 14-Aug-11 09:21:37

Hi Izzy, I appreciate that you dont think the class numbers matter, but may be your current school has larger classrooms than the new one you want to go to?

Or is this just a standard paraphrase all schools use? Sorry I cant be of any help but I hope you get what you want.

Good luck

izzy1020 Sun 14-Aug-11 13:15:15

Hi, I do think class numbers matter and I feel that a class of 36 is too large for any single teacher to have to deal with, regardless of the classroom size. I have no idea if the classes are larger as the LA is not giving me this information although I have asked three times for it. And it's not about getting what I want: it's about what I believe is best for my son.
Thanks for the good luck though, I'm sure I will need it.

prh47bridge Sun 14-Aug-11 20:11:15

Iamseeingstars - I wouldn't go so far as to say the bit about inadequate space is a standard phrase all schools use but it is not uncommon to hear something like this in the case to refuse admission. The standards for primary schools changed around 5 years ago. A classroom for 30 pupils is now supposed to be at least 62sqm whereas 48sqm used to be considered adequate. However, existing schools didn't have their capacity reduced to take account of this. That means there are a lot of schools with classrooms smaller than 62sqm being used to accommodate 30 pupils or more, allowing the schools concerned to talk about inadequate space when facing an admission appeal.

izzy1020 Fri 19-Aug-11 19:33:50

Just want to say a big THANK YOU to prh47bridge. and also to changer22 for your helpful advice too.
Appeal won!
Had my appeal this week and it was upheld at the end of stage one. The lovely appeal panel agreed with me on the things I raised which prh47bridge kindly helped point out to me.
The LA representative was very unprepared and I think he assumed I would just sit there, nod and agree with everything he said like the other couple in there appealing too did. I think he was glad to see the back of me.
I don't know whether the other child won a place, I very much doubt it as it was infant class size for them.

Advice I would give to others in the same situation:

Do your homework, don't trust what the LA tell you is automatically true as i found it was not.
Only ask a question if you are sure of the answer, and prepare yourself for the answer you think they will give, (I had all mine written down in a nice organised folder so i wouldn't forget), and i did refer to it alot,
use your head, not your heart, (hard i know- but crying wasn't going to get me anywhere),
dress smartly -I felt they took me seriously,
and finally, hold your head up high and make sure you take your time to say everything what you want to - even if the LA respresentative is huffing and sighing! (I made mine huff abit more by double checking my notes at the end!

prh47bridge Fri 19-Aug-11 20:28:19

I am really pleased for you. Well done. And I have to say I agree with your advice to others.

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