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Primary School Appeals

(10 Posts)
Banglesdebelle Sun 07-Oct-12 19:27:10

Hi. Can't believe that I am so last minute but I am submitting an appeal to try and get a Reception place for my youngest. In brief, I have moved older sibling (September this year) but there is no room in the inn in Reception. I need to submit paperwork to support my appeal by Tuesday 9th and the hearing is on the 16th October so I can scramble around for more information between now and the 16th. I have written a letter setting out circumstances etc but wondered if there was anything I could do to challenge the class size limitations. Does it help that a couple of years above 2 children were admitted over the class size? Can I use any information about the size of the building to support my case? At the moment I just seem to have a begging letter. Any comments gratefully received.

admission Sun 07-Oct-12 20:56:33

Whether you can use the number in classes rather depends on the number in the class. If it is reception year and it is at 30, then the infant class size regs would be in force, which limits the class to 30 with one school teacher. It is practically impossible to win such an appeal when it is an in-year application as you have to show a mistake was made in the admission process that stopped your child getting a place. The size of the classroom in such a circumstance also has not bearing as it is all about the 30 class limit.

Banglesdebelle Sun 07-Oct-12 21:17:23

Many thanks admission. I wondered if I could argue that the ratio is more 15 to one rather than 30 to one as there is a teaching assistant in the class. Mny thanks

PatriciaHolm Sun 07-Oct-12 22:21:24

That won't help, I'm afraid. The TA is irrelevant; there is 30 in the class with the Teacher, so it's a infant class size case. You can only win if:
- they made a mistake which resulted in your son not being given a place (given you missed the regular reception admittance round, this is practically impossible, unless someone has left the class since and your son should have been given that place)
- their admission rules don't comply with the national admissions code
- the decision not to admit is so unreasonable no sensible person would have made it

Essentually, it's very hard to win an ICS case, so I would be prepared with a backup plan.

tiggytape Mon 08-Oct-12 08:26:08

The law states that a ratio of 30 children to one qualified teacher is the maximum allowed so the number of TAs in irrelevant.
You cannot successfully challenge this in an appeal because the teacher:child ratio is set by law.
The reason it doesn't apply further up the school is that the law covers children from Reception to Year 2. After Year 2, there is no legal limit on the number of children per class.

As Patricia and admission say, winning an appeal for children in Recption to Year 2 is very difficult because of this law. If the LA made a mistake (eg got your address wrong) or have dodgly admission rules (let people have a place who shouldn't be given priority) then you can argue that. The third category of 'unreasonable' is one that covers very serious cases like child protection / witness protection issues so if you have very serious welfare points, you could raise those. Otherwise though, with 30 in the class already, you are probably not going ot be able to win and would need to rely in the waiting list and have a plan B in the meantime.

kazra1 Mon 08-Oct-12 09:55:05

No further good news here, the appeal process is virtually a cosmetic excercise to make us parents feel better.

We had an appeal and proved there were breaches of the code however because the breaches of the code meant some information did not reach the admissions panel on time the appeals panel could not consider this evidence because it was not available at the time.

So in summary due to an error by the LA our sons medical evidence was not available but because it was not available at the time of application it was not accepted at the appeal.

We have now won a second appeal but have decided not to pursue it because it is a pointless excercise as we need to get the medical evidence introduced.

In discussions with the LGO they also tend to agree that Primary admission appeals are 'cosmetic'. some parents do win of course but the weight of 'evidence' must be really one sided.

I do believe that the primary school admission appeals need to be changed, they are not fair, they give parents false hope and waste a lot of peoples time. If there are grounds for an appeal then the appeal should actually have some meaning.

I wish you all the luck in the appeal and hope fortune shines on you, for the record we provided so much evidence our appeal lasted 1hr 10 mins but it was still to no avail. I think the average is 15-20mins.

Good Luck

prh47bridge Mon 08-Oct-12 10:18:30

It is only possible to change the rules on infant appeals if we abandon the infant class size restriction put in place by the last government. If we want to stick to a maximum of 30 children with one teacher the rules have to stay pretty much as they are. That means that appeals for Reception, Y1 and Y2 are very difficult to win. Appeals for Y3 and later are rather easier to win.

If an error by the LA means that you are deprived of a place that you should have been offered the appeal panel should put that right. However, if the error by the LA is irrelevant it will not result in a successful appeal.

tiggytape Mon 08-Oct-12 13:48:21

kazra1 - I think the thing that needs to change is LAs being more honest with parents about their chances at appeal i.e. if there are 30 children already in the class then they have virtually no hope of winning. This should also be more widely explained in the admission booklets so parents don't pin hopes on winning appeals and put down acceptable local schools rather than refusing to list the catchment school and holding out hope for an appeal later on.

Many parents have no idea that proving they will lose their working hours by having to travel to a school further away, that they cannot drive and have a newborn as well, that they have a child who will be upset at being taken away from all his nursery friends, that they won't be able to get childcare for the allocated school, that the allocated school has a terrible Ofsted report, that the allocated school isn't near enough for the grandparents to do pickup.....
won't help them win at appeal at all. Even medical reasons may not win an appeal if the condition was declared at admission time or if the school choose to give no priority to medical cases (they aren't obliged to).

Basically, if you want to keep class sizes restricted to 30 for Year 2 and below in the face of a rising population and shrinking catchment areas, you have to accept a lot of people are going to be disappointed. If they dropped the class size law, more people could win appeals but more Infant classes would have 32 - 36 children per teacher. As a rough idea 1 in 5 parents appealed their primary school allocation this year. That is a staggering number of unhappy people and if there was a vague chance of success, the numbers would be even higher (the people who do know the rules on class size limits often don't bother to appeal)

tiggytape Mon 08-Oct-12 13:54:06

Sorry 1 in 20 parents (5%) appealed. Here is the article.

And it is badly explained articles like this that can perpetuate the upset for a lot of people. The article implies that London schools are horrible as nobody wins appeals here but, in less populated areas, some people do win.

It implies the reason for this is discretion and local sympathies - a postcode lottery. In fact, it is because every school in London is full to bursting so if you are appealing for a London school, it is almost 100% certain they have 30 to a class already and therefore you won't win.
Whereas in other counties, the school might declare themselves full with only 24 in a class, which means you can win if you have a good case. Nothing to do with discretion or anything else.

Banglesdebelle Mon 08-Oct-12 13:58:03

I am now swinging off statues in a local church and have got everything crossed - think the writing is on the wall but am going to give it my best shot. Thanks for all your replies and time.

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