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School place refused - can I appeal?

(31 Posts)
Huff Thu 08-Sep-11 14:00:47

Hi,

I have received a letter today from Schools Planning and Admissions to say that my request for a place for my daughter (year 5) has been refused. It says that the place has been refused because it 'would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources, which means the disruption and difficulty caused to the school and the quality of education it delivers as a result of admitting the additional pupil'.

Can anyone tell me what that means in plain English, please?

The PAN is 45 and I believe that there are 34 children in the class at the moment. I know that last years, Year 6 had 45 children and I think that this years reception has 34 - two classes of 17.

Can I ask for the other class sizes and pupil numbers and could this be the basis
of my appeal?

As far as I am await the schools new intake is always set at 45 so surely they should have the facility to take this number even if most years are not up to 45??

Many thanks for any advice

Huff

prh47bridge Thu 08-Sep-11 16:12:21

In plain English it means they are saying the school cannot cope with an additional child in Y5.

Yes, you can appeal. They should have told you of your right to appeal and how to go about it at the same time as they told you that they wouldn't admit your daughter. If they have not done so you should ring them and complain.

You will almost certainly get the class sizes and pupil numbers as part of the LA's case for the appeal. They are in any case required to answer any questions you reasonably ask to help you prepare your appeal.

With a PAN of 45 I would typically expect to find three classes covering Y5 and Y6 - for example, one with 30 Y5 children, one with 30 Y6 children and one with 15 children from each year. If there are actually 45 Y5 children but some of them are being taught in mixed classes with other years that would explain the refusal to admit. However, if there are genuinely only 34 children against a PAN of 45 I think the LA will find it difficult to win any appeal.

Your case should also include the reasons why your daughter's education will suffer if she is not admitted to this school. You haven't said why you want to change schools but that should be part of your case.

Good luck.

IndigoBell Thu 08-Sep-11 16:31:24

prh - but if they're undersubscribed, so actually only have 1 Y5 class of 34, rather than 1 1/2 they would have if they were full, then wouldn't the school have a stronger case?

Wouldn't that mean they'd have to admit 35 to one class, and they'd be able to argue the classroom wasn't big enough etc?

prh47bridge Thu 08-Sep-11 17:10:01

They could try but the panel should focus on the fact that the PAN is 45. The school should therefore be able to cope with 45 in Y5 (or, indeed, any other year) without causing prejudice. The fact that they've got all 34 Y5 children in a single class right now does not mean it has to stay that way. A PAN of 45 suggests that they envisage mixed year teaching so there is no obvious reason why they can't split the Y5 class and put some of them in with Y6, say.

Basically in this situation the onus will be on the school to justify why it cannot admit up to PAN. The fact that the number in the year is currently low enough to put them all in one class is unlikely to be regarded by the appeal panel as being adequate justification.

Huff Thu 08-Sep-11 17:19:36

Thanks for your advice.

The school office told me in June/July that the then Year 4 was being taught in 2 classes mixed with Year 3. But from September the Headteacher wanted them all in one class 5 and there would be 34 in the class. I know that some of the other year groups have had 45 in the past.

How can I find out this information - can I contact the school or Essex school admissions

Huff

IndigoBell Thu 08-Sep-11 17:21:22

Just remember if you do get in you might well end up quite unpopular. Both with staff and with parents.

And your child will probably be in a very large class of 35. Which is not ideal.....

prh47bridge Thu 08-Sep-11 17:53:44

When the appeal has been won I wouldn't be too surprised if they split Y5 and mix it with Y6. That would be what parents were expecting as this year came through the school so I don't really see too much for anyone to get upset about. That won't necessarily stop them, of course.

Huff- If that is what the school office told you then it sounds like there really is one class in Y5 with just 34 children. You can check by asking Essex. They are required to answer any questions you ask within reason to help you prepare for your appeal. I would in any case expect this information to be part of their case to refuse admission.

Huff Thu 08-Sep-11 18:35:29

Thanks, I don't think the parents will be too upset (not sure about the teachers). I know some of the parents - the class sizes are usually over 30 in KS2 but the school has a 'good' ofsted report and 'above average sats results' so the class sizes are obviously not a factor.

Do you think Admissions will give me info on the schools class sizes, how they are spilt, the total number in the school, what has happened in previous years etc? Can I base my appeal on this information?

Thanks

Huff

admission Thu 08-Sep-11 18:50:22

You will see 'would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources, which means the disruption and difficulty caused to the school and the quality of education it delivers as a result of admitting the additional pupil' or similar words in every school admission document. As PRH says it just means they don't want to admit any more pupils. The problem in this case is that the school has a PAN of 45 and only 34 pupils, so they are caught between 1 very large class which is financially viable and 2 small classes which would not be, because they are no where near full in this year group and presumably others.
The wording of the admissions code is such that the LA can say the school is full and not want to admit any more pupils but to then be not telling parents they can appeal is very naughty as this is a case where clearly the school is not full, it is about the school's convenience and financial situation.
I would definitely say you wish to go to appeal and then see what happens. it is easy for the admission office to say no its full but when the presenting officer gets hold of the information and knows that they are on somewhat dicey ground there may be a different perspective put on the decision by the school and admission office.

Huff Thu 08-Sep-11 18:53:35

Sorry, forgot to add - the reason I would like to move her is because the new school is a 'feeder' for a great secondary and this is where I would like her to go at 11. The reason I know some of the other parents is because their children used to go to my daughters school but they moved them a couple of years ago for the same reason. I'm trying to help her education for the long-term. If the headteacher has seen my application they will know from my address why I want to change.

Huff

Huff Fri 09-Sep-11 09:32:20

Hello again!

I looked at the appeals process on the Essex website last night and all the info on mumsnet. Sooo can I just clarify that I can't submit an appeal until I have all the info - in my case class sizes, PAN etc? I have to complete the appeal and attach all my evidence including why I think we should be able to change schools? Then submit within 21 days of the date of the refusal letter?

Huff

prh47bridge Fri 09-Sep-11 11:03:46

You don't need all the information before you submit your appeal. Submit your appeal with what you have now. You can add to it in the hearing. If you have any additional documentary evidence, however, you should send that in before the hearing otherwise the case may be adjourned.

The deadline they have set is purely for administrative convenience. They cannot refuse your appeal just because you miss the deadline.

The reason you have stated for moving your child is highly unlikely to fly at appeal. You need to think of some other positive reasons such as facilities the new school has which the current school does not have and which would be particularly beneficial to your child.

Huff Fri 09-Sep-11 13:44:01

Hi thanks, yes I realise now that would not be an acceptable reason - would I need to think of some positive aspects of the new school (I don't think I can be negative about the current school - can I?).
I hoping to focus on the PAN and showing they have had large/spilt classes in previous years will give me a pretty good start with the appeal panel and then I won't have to give too many detailed reasons for moving her?
Do you thinks that's reasonable??

Huff

prh47bridge Fri 09-Sep-11 14:41:19

Being negative about the current school is not a good idea unless you can prove they have failed your daughter in some way. For example, a lot of people in your situation make allegations about bullying but, in the absence of proof, an appeal panel is likely to disregard such allegations. In your situation where it doesn't seem like you have any real complaints about the current school as such I would agree that you need to think of positive aspects of the new school that will be of particular benefit to your daughter.

The appeal will be about balancing prejudice. The panel will have to decide whether the prejudice to the school from admitting your daughter outweighs the prejudice to your daughter from not being admitted. If you can convince the panel that there will be no prejudice to the school they will have to admit your daughter. Equally, if you can convince them that any prejudice to the school will be minimal you won't need much of a case to win your appeal.

Huff Fri 09-Sep-11 16:52:35

prh47 - thanks so much, you've been a great help xx

Huff Thu 15-Sep-11 14:08:13

Hi, I think my appeal is totally scuppered. I've had the info emailed to me today regarding the other classes in the school - they are really varied, this years Reception is 46, made up of 2 lots of 23. Year 3 has one class of 27, Year 6 is 31. Last year's Year 6 was 47, made up of 23 and 24 and Year 2 was one class of 19.

The Year 5 has one class of 36 (which is up 1 from last year) I asked if the new person had appealed and this was the reply 'The 36th child was a local child at the time of their application. At the time of the application the class structure had not been decided for the academic year ahead. This has lead to an agreement with the Admission Authority, that to admit any further children would incur prejudice for the children currently in these classes. I will be representing the school at the appeal, and will be happy to expand on this at the time.'

My main basis for the appeal was going to be that the PAN is 45 (which they have confirmed) and that the school have had bigger year groups in the past and will do in the future. Therefore the prejudice to the school and children will be minimal in admitting a further pupil.

But if they decided to limit that particular year group I have nothing to appeal with.

As ever, any advice, gratefully received - Appeal is on 29th September.

Huff

prh47bridge Thu 15-Sep-11 16:16:00

This does not alter the basis for your appeal. The PAN is still 45. They are 9 short of PAN and, from the sounds of it, well below their official net capacity given that so many years are below PAN. They need to persuade the appeal panel that refusing to admit when they are so far under capacity is justified. The Admission Code says that the assumption is that the school will continue to admit up to PAN but says that they can stop short if circumstances have changed. It will be up to the panel to decide if circumstances have changed enough to justify what they are doing.

It is difficult to predict appeals but I would be a little surprised if a panel thought a school was really full up when, on the figures you have given, it sounds like it is at least 10% below capacity.

I think the biggest problem you have is that Y5 is one class of 36. Most appeal panels will think that is already too big. Appeal panels cannot tell schools how to organise their classes. However, I think you should point out that the PAN clearly envisages mixed year teaching for all age groups. If the school was full you would expect 3 classes covering Y5/6. On the numbers in Y5/6 it is open to the school to decide whether to move to mixed classes or have two small Y5 classes and one Y6 class.

Huff Thu 15-Sep-11 16:44:46

It just seems a bit ominous the way the email was worded and how she said 'she will expand more at the appeal' why can't she just tell me now??

Do you think it's worth me asking if its only for the current year 5 group that this decision has been reached about numbers - or is all classes in the school?

The overall roll is only up from last year by 2 pupils and in KS2 there are 135 this year as opposed to 140 last year. As you say they are well within their net capacity (by more than 50).

There are 5 classes for KS2 - 2 for year 3 with 22 and 19, then 27 in yr4, 36 in yr5 and 31 in yr6. Last year they were arranged in a totally different way because there were 47 in yr 6.

I appreciate that it would probably mean reorganising the classes if the appeal was won - but there does seem to be the capacity to do that? and as the year groups have such varying numbers they must have a different structure each year?

Do you think I can ask for 2008 and 2009 numbers to see?

Huff

prh47bridge Thu 15-Sep-11 17:51:32

If she springs evidence on you at the hearing which isn't included in their written case you should complain to the chair of the panel. They aren't supposed to do that.

You can ask if this applies to other year groups as well. I'm not sure how relevant it is but the response may throw up something interesting.

If this is a Primary school covering Reception to Y6 a PAN of 45 would suggest a net capacity of around 315. If they are more than 50 under capacity that is a lot - over 15%.

If they were full up to capacity they would need 6 classes in KS2. Presumably they have the classrooms for this. Do they have enough teachers if there was another class? I would agree that it sounds like they have a different structure every year. I would certainly point that out to the panel.

It would be interesting to know the size of the classroom used for Y5. Is it big enough for the number of pupils it currently contains? If it isn't, that is a factor which could go either way. The panel may take the view that the school should have split the class already or they may feel that they can't put another child into a room that is already overcrowded. But worth knowing anyway.

You can certainly ask for numbers for previous years. They must answer any question you ask within reason.

Huff Thu 15-Sep-11 18:03:09

Thanks, I will email and ask those extra questions tomorrow? I guess it would also be interesting to know whether they have had a class as big as 36 before - its the biggest class by at least 5 pupils this year, last year it was spilt with yr3 and those 2 classes were not as big as this one.

From the info I have, they have 10 classes and 10 teachers (will ask about the number of rooms and sizes tomorrow). 5 for KS1 (124 pupils) and 5 for KS2 (135) pupils. 259 pupils altogether.

Huff

admission Thu 15-Sep-11 18:44:08

It is clear from your posts that the LA and school intend to argue that they have set the classes for this year and therefore they will not change them. The phrasing "to admit any further children would incur prejudice for the children currently in these classes" is actually meaningless because it is obvious that every addition to any class will incur some small amount of prejudice for the children already in the class.
The classic organisation for a school with a PAN of 45 is 2 reception classes, 3 classes across year1 and 2 and then 6 classes across years 3/4/5/6 normally split 3 classes for years3/4 and 3 classes for 5/6.
You have been told that the school is running only 10 classes, so one question that needs to be asked is exactly how many classrooms are there which have been used to derive the net capacity and the PAN of the school. I suspect the answer is 11 and they therefore have a classroom that is not being used for the purpose it was intended. Even with 10 classrooms 259 pupils could in no way be considered to be overcrowded, with 11 classrooms it is silly to suggest that.
From your figures I believe that year4 has 41 in it, two very small classes. So a reasonable question to ask is what is the LA intending to do if a year 4 pupil asks for a place. Will they again argue no room or will they admit until they reach 45. Obviously you can then argue that they cannot have two different policies for different year groups potentially.
They are obviously saving money by only having 10 teachers and i would suggest that they will argue in their case that the school is unable to fund another teacher.
The bottom line is what PRH has said. Does the appeal panel accept some very special circumstances which involve a class of 36 which they will not want to increase or do they say that the PAN is appropriate for all year groups and in reception they have even gone over PAN, so that they must admit to PAN.
Whilst I have sympathy for the school because financially this is potentially going to be crippling for them, i do feel that the school and LA are not correct in this but that is only my view. It is for the school to determine the class organisation not the appeal panel but it has options, they can have 37 in the class, they can reorganise at Christmas so that combine years 4/5 into 3 mixed age classes of 78 in total without changing the staffing or they can employ another teacher and have two year5 classes. I would weave these alternatives into your case by asking the LA representative why they will not consider these options. It also alerts the panel to the potential and diminishes the LA case not to admit.

Huff Thu 15-Sep-11 21:47:44

Again, thanks so much for your advice.

I'm just concerned that I am potentially asking the school to reorganise all of their KS2 classes to admit 1 extra pupil - surely the appeal panel would not go much on that?

Also, are you saying that the school cannot restrict one particular year group if its not reached PAN, but then admit pupils to another, for example the Yr 4 group?

Huff

prh47bridge Thu 15-Sep-11 23:44:53

Potentially you are, but the current situation is a little artificial because of the low number of pupils. The PAN clearly envisages mixed year teaching. The only reason they haven't done it in Y5 is because of the low number of pupils. And to be honest I think that a class of 36 is so big the school should have moved to mixed year teaching already.

As Admission points out there are several options if your child is admitted, some of which don't involve employing any extra teachers. Whilst the panel cannot determine the way the school organises its classes, they can decide that it really isn't sensible to say a school can't cope with an additional pupil when it has (presumably) an empty classroom and is a long way below its net capacity.

And no, that isn't quite what Admission is saying. There is nothing that says the school can't restrict one year to below PAN but admit pupils to another. The point Admission is making is that a lot of panels will find it difficult to accept that they can go up to 45 in most years but not Y5. And if they say that they wouldn't admit any more pupils to Y3 that would leave them exposed another way as there is no good reason why Y3 shouldn't go to 45. They have two classes of around 20 pupils occupying classrooms presumably capable of catering for 30 so there would be no obvious prejudice from admitting another child. And what about Y4 which has 27 pupils in a single class? Where would they draw the line for that year? I think many panels would find it hard to accept that a school can effectively have a different PAN for each year group.

Huff Fri 16-Sep-11 07:10:41

Ok, yes I understand (I think!) - so asking about the other year groups at the appeal would be 'reasonable' line of questioning?

Thanks for your valued advice x

prh47bridge Fri 16-Sep-11 09:50:30

I would certainly regard that as a reasonable line of questioning. It is clearly relevant.

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