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Admission question...prh47bridge, Admission, tiggytape and all other admission experts

(14 Posts)
slp123 Wed 07-Nov-12 21:01:55

I have seen that prh47bridge, Admission, tiggytape and others have been able to offer advise regarding admission so I am hoping you might be able to help me.
My child is due to start school in Sept 2013 and we have seen 2 amazing schools that we would be equally happy with. They are both in a neighbouring local authority and but we plan to put them as our first and second preference. Is it sensible then to put our local catchment school as our third preference (where we would most definitely get a place as their PAN is 90 from September)? My reasoning for this is that at least we would have a school place and not be given a school miles away as it is the only school with a place etc.
My other question is then if we do not get our first or second choice but are given our local catchment school can we accept the third choice but still make an appeal for our first or second choice?
many thanks for any advice / comments

admission Wed 07-Nov-12 22:17:07

Your reasoning is completely sound, by putting your catchment school as third preference you are giving yourself maximum chance of getting the local school, if neither of your preferred schools come off.
You should always accept the offered school, in my opinion, as it is the fall back position. If you do not then you may be left with no school for a long period of time and then get the offer of a worst school, further away than the rejected school. Accepting a school has no effect on the ability to appeal.
You can appeal for any school you want to. Some authorities seem to be of the opinion you can only appeal for schools that you expressed a preference for, but my belief is you can apply to appeal for any school.
The difference is that you will make the application for the three preferred schools on the Common Application Form for the LA in which you live. When it comes to appeals you should be applying directly to the LA in which the school is situated, as it is them who rejected your application.

tiggytape Wed 07-Nov-12 22:54:18

Totally the right thing to do. Put your ideal schools as 1st and 2nd choice and your realistic but less favoured school as your back-up option.
As you rightly say, if you just listed 3 dream options and didn't qualify for any of them (by distance for example) you'd be left with whatever school still had an empty space and that could be miles away or not very good (or both!)

And yes, as admission says, if you only get offered your 3rd choice school, accept the offer. It won't harm your chances at appeal (some parents worry the appeal panel will think they have a weaker case if they've accepted an offer on another school but that's not true - panels know you have to hedge your bets).
Remember though that Infant School appeals are very, very hard to win. By law, reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes are only allowed a maximum of 30 children per qualified teacher. So if school number 1 and 2 have an intake of 30 per class, you can only win by proving one of three things:
i) The council made a mistake in processing your form and this mistake directly cost you a place (eg they got your address wrong so the measurement is wrong)
ii) The admission criteria are illegal (eg they give priority to people who shouldn't have it. This would be very unlikely)
iii) The decision not to admit your child is so unreasonable that no other person would agree with the decision (eg very serious Witness Protection or child protection issues that make going to that school absolutely essential).

Things like childcare, Ofsted reports, transport do not carry any weight at appeals generally and especially not at Infant Class Size appeals where the only way to really win is to prove a council mistake.

PanelChair Wed 07-Nov-12 23:38:14

Yes, a very sensible and well-informed plan.

Just be aware that if you don't get a place in your first or second choice school, there's unlikely to be much prospect of then getting a place via the appeal route. Infant Class Size appeals are hard to win and a general feeling of preferring that school or wanting one with a better Ofsted rating (or whatever) is never enough.

prh47bridge Thu 08-Nov-12 00:41:09

I agree completely with the advice you've already been given. You are approaching this in exactly the right way.

slp123 Thu 08-Nov-12 07:12:30

Many thanks for all your comments.
Our first and second choice schools have PAN of 15 but 3 teachers in KS1. I guess all heads encourage as many applications as possible (she is head of both schools) but she was quite positive about our chances of getting in one or the other and she was the one who said we could always appeal. I'm not really sure on what grounds that would be.
I was wondering if we put about our child's ongoing hearing/glue ear/grommets issues on our application as obviously a class of 15 would make things a lot easier in terms of her hearing/learning etc.
Thanks again.

slp123 Thu 08-Nov-12 07:35:35

I meant 3 teachers for FS2 and KS1.

tiggytape Thu 08-Nov-12 08:36:47

slp123 - a PAN of 15 is still likely to fall under the Infant Class Size rules. Normally an initial intake of 15 will, at some point, join up with 15 other children from another class to form a class of 30. This may not happen until Year 1 or Year 2 but it still counts under the Infant Class Size appeal rules if it happens before Year 3.
If they remain just 15 children per teacher until Year 3, it would be much easier to win an appeal but it is quite rare to have such small class sizes because of funding.
The number of adults in the classroom doesn't matter - for appeal purposes only the number of qualified teachers is taken into account where the ratio muct not exceed 1:30

Most Heads know only a little about the appeal route because it doesn't really involve them. They have no discretion in the process at all. She is right that you have a legal right to appeal but with an initial or eventual class size of 30, the chances of winning are very slim.

As to medical conditions - yes this can help. If the school has 'medical and social' reasons as one of its higher admission categories (most but not all do) then you can apply for a place based on medical need. You would need to get a letter from her Dr or Consultant saying that in their medical opinion, an initial class size of 15 is necessary because your DD's glue ear would make learning in a larger class more difficult / more distressing.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 08-Nov-12 09:11:29

Hmm. A medical-social appeal on the basis of hearing/grommets in an ICS case is unlikely to succeed unless the school offers specialist provision for hearing impairment. Also, I would be very surprised if the school actually had classes of 15 or 1 teacher to 15 pupils in KS1, simply because it is so expensive - most schools with a PAN of 15 combine year groups to make classes of 30. If that is the case here, the class size of 15 becomes a red herring.

crazymum53 Fri 09-Nov-12 11:02:03

Am not an expert but with a PAN of 15 I would check very carefully how the smaller schools arrange their classes. You state that there are 3 teachers for Foundation stage (reception) and KS1 but I would check that this is 3 full-time teachers or whether one or more is part-time.
The medical condition may help but not always, as for some conditions the people deciding on whether your child is in this admissions category may have the view that this need may be met in any school. It is not always true that a child would be better supported in a small school. If the class size is small the only adult in the classroom would be the teacher. However in larger schools, there may be teaching assistants present to provide extra support for children who need it or this could enable the teacher to provide additional support for some children.
Have you mentioned your child's condition when visiting your preferred schools? when we tried this on looking round primary schools the result was very revealing!

admission Fri 09-Nov-12 11:59:33

Given the funding to schools, if the PAN is 15 I would be amazed if there is not mixed year teaching in the school. A reception class of 15 plus a year1 / year2 class of 30 is normal.

PanelChair Fri 09-Nov-12 14:39:19

Yes, I'd be amazed if in the current financial climate any school could afford to run classes of 15 all the way through infants.

Betty5313 Fri 09-Nov-12 15:41:59

Sorry to thread hijack but I was interested because of the glue ear/grommets issue. Our dd has glue ear and the number of children in the classroom is more important to her than the staff ratio - out catchment area school has infant classes of 30 in really quite small rooms. When we looke around you couldn't hear yourself think in the reception classes - no way she will cope with that much background noise. 15 children make much less noise than 30. So we are looking at village schools nearby which have class sizes of less than 20, and have a private school as our fallback.

Betty5313 Fri 09-Nov-12 15:42:43

Sorry dreadful iPhone typing!

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