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Appeals beyond Year 3

(28 Posts)
MurderOfProse Mon 08-Oct-12 14:27:53

This is more of a theoretical question as my oldest is only in year 1, but it might pop up in a few years time if we've not managed to get our children all in the same school by then.

I know all about the infant class size regulations seriously limiting the chances of appeal for Years R, 1 and 2. But that doesn't apply after year 3.

So what sort of thing would be considered at appeal for KS2, besides the usual "LA made a mistake" and special needs issues? Do they even go so far as to seriously consider practical things like DC at different schools, or childminder issues?


mummytime Mon 08-Oct-12 14:42:12

Nope, the things they consider after year 3 are why school A is especially suitable for your child. You have to show that the disadvantage to your child not attending A is greater than the disadvantage to the children at A having one more child in the class. Things like: sports played, music lessons, chess club, drama, a level site have all been used.
Personal convenience of the parents don't count.
SEN doesn't necessarily count at any age, unless a statement is issued.

easton Mon 08-Oct-12 14:51:27

I've just won a year 3 appeal and the main reason given in the decision letter were the inconvienence of travelling 7 miles to my son's school with him and 2 other younger children.

tiggytape Mon 08-Oct-12 14:54:54

School runs and childminder issues aren't generally considered at appeals. So many people have work / school run / childcare problems to juggle that it is impossible to grant appeals on this basis unless there is a medical reason perhaps or a special social reason eg you don't want to change childminders as child has suffered a recent loss and you want other aspects of his life to be stable.

To win at appeal once a child is in Year 3 or above you need to prove 2 things as far as you can: the school would not suffer great harm (prejudice) by being forced to take your child (eg prove that other year groups are bigger yet their exam results are still fine and nobody has been crushed in the corridors yet).

And that your child's needs and interests will be best met by attending that school (this could be anything from choir clubs and a music specialism to the way they organise their curriculum to religious beliefs or a chance to learn a language / do certain sports). Anything that your child needs or is interested in that this school can provide.

tiggytape Mon 08-Oct-12 14:57:33

easton - a 7 mile school journey is probably going to be classed as 'unreasonable' even without other children in tow. It is even possible to win an Infant Class Size appeal when the LA expects you to travel way more than 5 miles in one direction for school.

Most people though are allocated a 'reasonable' distance school (say 2 or 3 miles) and wouldn't be able to win an appeal that this is unreasonable even if it feels unreasonable to them when there is a school they prefer 900m away from their home. That is the more usual scenario.

MurderOfProse Mon 08-Oct-12 21:46:30

That's great, thank you! Hopefully it won't come to that and there's a good few years yet. None of my DC have started at any of the schools concerned yet so I have no idea if any of those things might apply e.g. sports, music etc but I'll certainly be bearing them in mind now!

admission Mon 08-Oct-12 21:54:18

Distance is subjective and it is really up to the panel to decide what is reasonable and what is not.
Obviously to some extent this is age dependent, what a child of 7 or 8 can walk is different from one of say 14 and by the same token the length of time it takes to get to the school can be a pertinent factor. But for me it is about the situation as a whole, so I could see reasons why I would be prepared to admit an 8 year old to a more local school if their current school is three miles away (its a pig of a journey involving two different buses and they have just moved into the area) and why I would not (the LA lay on a bus to the school ).

MurderOfProse Tue 09-Oct-12 00:48:20

Thanks admission, that's great information. Unfortunately I don't think we'd qualify on distance-based stuff at all as there are loads of primary schools in the immediate area. My main concern is basically having children needing to be dropped off and picked up at the same time in two different locations even if they're only 1000m apart, especially as I'd be dragging younger siblings with me on the school run. But if DD1 has reached year 3 and a space still hasn't become available, that means we've been managing somehow for a year already which I am quite sure would count against us as evidence!

I think I may have to look more at the things the school provides. Not wanting to stealth boast, but DD1 is very academic and according to her teachers at the school where we live now, already very much ahead. Could an appeal be accepted based on a new school being able to support her ability in a better way than the original school does? (assuming that is the case - I don't actually know what this original school will be like as we haven't even chosen it or moved yet!) Or is it officially assumed that all schools cater equally for children of all abilities?

Also, what about for bullying reasons? Obviously no way to predict if that would happen, but DD1 is a lot like me in temperament and I was bullied badly at primary school. She's fine right now, but of course we're moving her from that school when we relocate. If there was an issue, I'm assuming they'd want the original school to do their best to sort it out before actually moving her though, and even then I couldn't name the school I wanted?

Sorry if my questions are a bit naive, it's a whole new subject for me!

steppemum Tue 09-Oct-12 01:34:08

not quite sure I understand the issue with 2 schools. If you are saying that you have one child in the school that you are trying to get your dd into? If so then having a sibling is a huge reason to appeal.

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 08:31:52

Having a sibling only helps if you applied at the correct time AND if the school is one that gives priority for siblings (not all do).

If you filled out the application form at the correct time and ticked the sibling box but someone at the council put your application in the non-sibling pile leading to the loss of your sibling place this could mean winning an appeal (any appeal even an Infant Class Size one) because a council mistake cost you your place.

If however you applied at the 'wrong' time i.e. outside the normal admissions time and only managed to get one child into the school of your choice but not the other one, having a sibling doesn't count for anything except being higher up on the waiting list normally. Especially for YR - Y2 places, the fact you have a sibling already at the school will not win an appeal or override the class size laws.

This is also true of schools that give priority to catchment area over siblings. In such cases arguing that you want both children at the same school will not win an appeal for YR - Y2 places if it would take the class over 30.

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 08:40:37

MurderofProse - generally speaking the logistics of having 2 children at 2 different schools does not help at appeals especially if those schools are clsoe together. Any transport / childcare matters do not normally win appeals unless they are extreme or have a medical implication.

You are on the right track with looking at what the school can offer. Whilst you cannot say 'my child is bright so needs to go to a good school' - you can be more specific eg if you find out they have a particular specialism in an area that matches DD's interests or have a special maths programme for children working at your DD's level or something else that shows they meet her needs well.
Whilst you may not use fear of bullying as a reason, you can use social reasons so if the new school has a good pastoral system / buddy system / special programme for dealing with shy children or confidence issues then you can say that your DD would benefit from this and document her shy personality or difficulties (if there are any) at the school she is in.

MurderOfProse Tue 09-Oct-12 09:23:33

steppemum - right now we live elsewhere, but we're moving end of the month. DD1 will need an in-year admission as she is in year 1. We're going to be 150m from a very good school, but unsurprisingly it's full. So DD1 will have to go to another school which does have spaces and is unlikely to be as good.

DD2 will be able to get into reception in the nearest school next September almost certainly because we're so close to it (half the distance of the furthest non-sibling admission for 2012).

Obviously eventually I'd like both my children at the good school which also happens to be right nearby! But that on its own isn't grounds for appeal as I suspected, and certainly not in KS1.

tiggytape - Thank you! Yes, we're hoping the whole waiting list with sibling priority once DD2 starts thing will improve DD1's chances of a transfer before year 3.

If it looks like we are going to have to wait until year 3, I'll do my research and hopefully come up with something that would support her better in the other school. She's good at both maths and English so that does give more possibilities, and maybe some other talents we don't know about yet I guess! Really hoping we don't have to use bullying in any way because I'd hate for her to go through anything like what I did.

That's all really useful information, thank you very much!

MurderOfProse Tue 09-Oct-12 09:24:37

Out of interest, whilst we're on the subject, how do schools deal with siblings at different schools and obviously a parent being late to pick up/drop off? I can't imagine what they'd do at DD's current school as they're always going on about being late etc!

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 09:32:02

MurderofProse - there are some areas where virtually all parents have 2 children at different schools (eg Infant and Juniors on separate sites) and those areas normally deal with it by having staggered finishing times (Infants finish at 3pm, Juniors at 3:15pm).

Where it is less common though, it can be a pain as technically it is up to the parents to make arrangements to ensure both are picked up on time by using a relative, school friend or after school club (which of course is easier said than done if you are new to an area and perhaps don’t have anyone you can call on).
It may be that the schools have different start and finish times anyway but if not, you’d have to talk to both schools and work out what you will do. It is something often used in appeal (cannot be in 2 places at the same time) but somehow parents are expected to make arrangements to get around it. Hopefully it won't be for long if you can get a place from the waiting list. I think that is what most parents bank on and just do their best in the meantime.

thequietone Tue 09-Oct-12 09:33:03

I won an appeal in July for entry into Year 3. School nearest house was full so couldn't take DS1 in KS1 when we moved here. He consequently had to go to a school further away which wasn't as good. He went for almost a year before we appealed again.

The reason for the second appeal was that we took a huge gamble and put DS2's first choice school for Reception intake as the one nearest home ie. different school to DS2. We then reappealed when DS2 got the place. Our grounds for appeal were that I could not physically be at two places at the same time. I took with me both school's rules on lateness and drop-off/collection times. I also had detailed timings of how long it would take, either walking OR by car.

So, we had a sibling link, a distance criteria reached and proof of logistical issues. We simply clarified that if this situation was to continue then one of the schools will have to accept that D1 or DS2 will be late for school every single day.

They also took into consideration the fact that DS1 had only been at the original school for 9 months so wasn't particularly settled enough yet.

It was a huge 18 month battle and I still can't quite believe we won in the end. Good luck.

prh47bridge Tue 09-Oct-12 10:10:24

I have to say you were lucky. Most appeal panels would have taken the view that it was up to you to sort out the logistical problems associated with having your children at separate schools, especially since you effectively chose to put them in different schools by naming your nearest school as first choice for your younger son.

MurderOfProse Tue 09-Oct-12 16:30:37

tiggytape - exactly - we won't know anyone locally at all that could help us, and all our relatives are the other ends of the country so no use there! I'm hoping for after school clubs but I have to say if they charge like our local one does (£6/day) it's going to get really expensive just for fifteen minutes a week or so, and goodness knows what they'll charge in the mornings too. Ugh.

thequietone - thank you, that sounds exactly like us although there's an extra year involved in between I think for us. It does sound like you were lucky from what prh47bridge says, but it gives me hope all the same. The school we're going to be near is so much better than any of the ones with vacancies right now, we'd be doing our children a disservice if we didn't at least try. Putting DD2 in a lesser school simply for the sake of convenience is not worth it, even if we do end up paying a small fortune in after school club fees in the long term.

mel71 Tue 09-Oct-12 17:03:42

Hi, we won an appeal for my son who was in year 3 and going into year 4 in July. Basically I used all the reasons such as school being more suited to him. I had another child going to the infant school that was a three minute walk. He was attending a school just over two miles away and it would of been impossible to get to the two schools. I really played down those reasons but when I got the letter through to say we had won the reason they gave was that it was unfair to make the youngest walk to the elder sons school then onto his school. They said the distance was too far. I suppose it worked out to be just under three miles. Go figure.........

MurderOfProse Wed 10-Oct-12 09:24:06

Thanks mel, that's really interesting! Glad to hear your appeal succeeded!

I think we're going to put DD in a school just under a kilometre away - there is another that is 1.8km away but it's probably not far enough to make that much of a difference at appeal, but it's far enough away to be a pain in the backside!

MurderOfProse Wed 10-Oct-12 16:08:13

Update - I told DD1's Y1 teacher today that we were leaving soon, and that she'd be almost certainly going to another school which had a 3 on its Ofsted as it's the only one nearby with spaces. She was really genuinely worried for DD sad and that she will really suffer. She said she taught Y3 last year and DD1 would have been high for that year and that as her school is already outstanding and high in the league tables, expectations are already high, so she'd be even further along in an average school.

She said she would email the "satisfactory" school to make sure they understood how bright she was, and said she'd also email the decent school with the waiting list in the hope they could bend the rules as she would be a dream pupil for them.

I said what about ICS regulations and she said that you just never know. Is it possible/has it been known that rules can be bent unofficially? Everything I have read on here contradicts what she says, and that it is entirely 100% up to the council, but it would be nice to hope..

I guess at least it does seem like there would be academic grounds to transfer her in Y3 even if the ICS regulations prevent it until then.

What we need right now is a windfall so we can send DD to private school until a space becomes available. But no can do.

tiggytape Wed 10-Oct-12 17:12:02

The 'decent' school has no discretion to bend the rules. Admissions are almost always done through the LA at primary level and even the schools that do their own admissions have to go via the council to send out offer letters so there's no possibility of sneaking a child in.

In ICS cases rules have been bent - but only by appeal panels and only in very rare cases. Sometimes, and rarely, a panel will allow an appeal even though it breaches the ICS rules. It happens a lot less than people believe though and most panels obey the rules 100% even in heartbreaking cases where they wish they could ignore them and genuinely feel terrible for the family who have been turned down.

I have to say - I think your teacher was very unhelpful to scare you silly about a school she knows nothing about and to give you very probably false hope about breaching class size rules. She has no idea how your daughters needs will be catered for. A grade 3 on its own means nothing. It certainly doesn’t mean the cohort will be below the ability range of a grade 2 or grade 1 school. And it doesn’t mean they won’t expect high standards from pupils who are able.

As for a windfall - maybe you could go for a scholarship and / or a bursary instead? As DD is so advanced for her age, her current teacher would do you more good by putting together evidence of this and support you in approaching a prep school with a view to getting her a funded place on the basis of her academic potential and achievement. I’m sorry but I think she was spectacularly out of line and even unkind to say the things she did about the new school but if you are serious about looking at private options, she could potentially help with this instead.

admission Wed 10-Oct-12 17:18:14

No, the teacher simply does not know enough about the admission rules and she should not be getting involved.
I would be completely naive not to say that sometimes things do get bent around admissions but it is highly unlikely in an ICS case.
You also should not win an appeal in year 3 based on the academic ability of your child, appeal panels are specifically told that they cannot differentiate between schools on academic capability or otherwise. You have to base the appeal on what the school can offer, so if the school had extra maths lessons for gifted and talented pupils that would be appropriate if the current does not but you can't say my kid is intelligent, so that is the school I want them to go to.

MurderOfProse Wed 10-Oct-12 17:47:47

Thank you, both of you!

That's what I thought, ah well! I suspect DD1's teacher feels frustrated which is why she said the things she did. Maybe she's taught at a less than great school in the past and it has tarnished things. DD1 tells me her teacher has been great with setting her extra work and really stretching her, I will be sad to take her away from that.

On the plus side, the grade 3 school is having an Ofsted visit this week so it'll be interesting to see if it has improved. The overall results are not great, but it also has not so bad level 5 % at the end of KS2 which is promising and I'm assuming implies that they stretch the more able pupils.

I can't see there are any grounds to get her into a better school with ICS rules right now, there wouldn't even be any point in appealing as I can't imagine what on earth we could appeal on! I guess we just have to hope there is something at the closer, better school along the lines admission describes. Maybe when DD2 is there I should encourage them to set something up, heh.

tiggytape - there is a good private school, £3K a term (is it three terms a year in private school?) about a half hour walk away. Unfortunately it seems scholarships etc are only handed once a year for the new school year.

mel71 Thu 11-Oct-12 13:31:45

hmmmmmm - well I have heard differently. When I appealed for my little boy I spoke to a friend who works at a school and who sits in on these appeals. Obviously an infant sized class appeal is different and the rules are set but she said to me the head teacher does have the discretion to say to the panel that would like an appeal to go in the favor of a child. Rightly or wrongly - this is what I was told.

tiggytape Thu 11-Oct-12 13:55:27

mel71 - You are quite correct. If it is not an ICS appeal where the law dictates class sizes then the Head Teacher can say to an appeal panel that, whilst they have met PAN (published admission number), they do not believe the prejudice (damage) to other children is such that it warrants refusing a place to the person appealing.

A non ICS appeal is won by the parent proving their need for a place is greater than the schools reasons for refusing. If the school effectively doesn't put up much of a case against admitting the extra child because they don't mind taking one extra, the parents case will beat the schools' case and the parents will win.
The Head has no discretion to ignore PAN even for older children which is why it has to go to appeal in the first place even if the school doesn't object. In such cases though, they should revise their PAN for future years as it is silly to have appeals when the school has no objection or no reason for taking taking extra pupils to the figures it publishes it can take.

PAN is set and agreed in advance so in some schools it may be set at 120 pupils but the Head has no real objection to taking 128 and most year groups are over 120. In those cases (as long as it is not ICS) the school may put up virtually no objection to any parent appealing and the parents win. Of course if 40 parents appeal, only the best 8 cases will get a place though.

None of this applies to ICS though. ICS is not about proving whether the school can cope with one more. It doesn't matter if they have enormous classrooms, endless resources and 3 TAs per class - they cannot breach 30 children per teacher because that's what the law says

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