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Primary school admissions and appeals 2013

(9 Posts)
elbie80 Tue 22-Jan-13 13:53:36

I'm new to mumsnet. I'm hoping someone can give some advice.
We have just submitted our primary school application for our youngest son.
We have 2 sons. One will be entering secondary school when our second son starts primary school so sibling rule will not apply.
My eldest goes to a local catholic one form entry primary school. Unfortunately we live about 1km outside the parish boundary. We do practice in the church there though.
The catholic school whose parish we live in is not an option for us as the name has associations with a school from my childhood and one where my brother suffered sexual abuse as a child. This abuse was only disclosed in recent years and the perpetrator was charged and imprisoned.
Obviously this has had a profound affect on my whole family. My brother suffers from Post traumatic stress disorder. I have found it hard also to deal with. We both live near each other with children of similar ages. So having a child attend a school with the same name as the school my brother attended would be disastrous.
As preferences on the application we put my eldest sons school no 1 another catholic school no 2 and a local non faith school no 3. We submitted a detailed report with our no 1 choicep based on social need and individual & serious family circumstances. We provided evidence in the form of letters from my brother, both families GPs, my psychologist who has helped me deal with my brothers abuse, the parish priest and local & national newspaper articles about the court case. We included a 3 page letter from us explaining the circumstances.
We had discussions prior to submission with the head teacher and priest who were sympathetic. We were advised to submit the above evidence. However even with this it seems unlikely that our son will get a place and I'm not very hopeful of winning an appeal because of infant class size. The admissions criteria changed this year without our knowledge and the previous no.2 for Medical & Social needs was relegated from no 2 to a sub- section that could be applied in a cascading effect to any of the criteria. As we had our child registered with an interest I would have thought we would have received a letter notifying us of the consultation period for the criteria change. They should consult with parents of kids between age 2 & 18. Also in July last year we were issued a letter informing us that in Sept 2013 the school would be a 2 form entry ..60 kids. Then in late Sept. this was revoked. Can anyone give me some advice that may help in an appeal. I know its early days but I want to be prepared.

prh47bridge Tue 22-Jan-13 15:26:55

There would have been a consultation. They are not required to write individually to all parents who may be affected. They don't in any case, know who all these parents are. I'm afraid you are unlikely to win an appeal based on any perceived lack of consultation, nor will the aborted change in admission number help.

As an appeal would be heard under infant class size rules you will only win if you can show that a mistake was made and your child should have been given a place. It is not clear that any mistake has been made as yet. You can only sensibly prepare for an appeal once you know that a mistake has been made. You can, of course, appeal without any evidence of a mistake. It is a long shot but it sometimes pays off.

elbie80 Tue 22-Jan-13 16:04:53

Thank you. It's as I thought really. This is a voluntary aided school that is its own admissions authority. Headmaster has advised that neither the governing body or he himself has ever come across a case like this before. My only hope is that they are compassionate and perhaps have some discretion in this case but that's a long shot I know. The wording of the sibling rule also changed from "sibling must attend the school in the September of admission" to "at time of admission. I know this basically means the same thing.
To be honest I'm not sure what grounds for appeal I would have even if they made a mistake applying the admissions criteria as I am sure there will be others further up the criteria who may not get a place.
I don't think my son would be an excepted case. And I don't think the Wednesbury unreasonableness test would apply.

admission Tue 22-Jan-13 23:48:28

If the school carry out the admission process correctly then they should not be compassionate about this. However it would not be the first time that a faith school has bent the rules to admit certain pupils. I would not build your hopes up to high with this possibility but you never know.

elbie80 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:19:56

So if the school apply the admissions criteria correctly and we don't get a place I would like to appeal. My basis for appeal would be our desire to give our son a catholic education as his brother has had. If my brothers experience as a child had not occurred I would have had the option of getting my child a place in our parish school and most likely he would have got a place. Because of our family history and the effect this would have on all my family this option was not open to me. As 1st & 2nd preference I put the nearest church schools that could provide a catholic education the first being the school my first son attends. The 3rd preference is not a faith school and would not provide the catholic education. In addition there is a need to ensure my son is in known and trusted hands. This need for me to know my son is safe is backed up by a report by a psychologist. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. This process has been very difficult for me. As a secondary victim of abuse it has had a huge impact on me and I am still with the rest of my family trying to deal with what happened. I feel helpless in this one of the most important decisions I have had to make. I know that some people will attempt anything to get their kids into their desired school. That does not apply to me and it has proved very difficult to disclose this information. I have a genuine reason for not sending my child to the nearest faith school. In addition the impact of my son not attending a catholic primary school will affect his secondary school choice as he will be further down the criteria for entry. Thank you for your input.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 23-Jan-13 20:03:32

Elbie, I sympathise with your situation but in order to be fair to all applicants, the schools must abide by their published criteria, or else there would be many appeals.

When you are allotted a school, as it will be one without the distressing name, any social/medical need issues that the name might trigger would be resolved, IYSWIM. To my mind, though not an expert like Tiggy and admission, your case for appeal would be more based on family links with the school and desire for a catholic education and neither of those would win an infant class size appeal, although the panel may be sympathetic and stretch a point.

Can you accept a non-faith school and develop his faith based education yourself/through the church?

elbie80 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:39:40

Yes I can accept the non faith school and that is why I have put it as a preference. It is a good school and I'm sure that is the school where he will get a place. It is a much bigger school at 3 form entry but is an infant school only so another application for junior school in a few years. Perhaps at that stage a place will be available at choice no 1. I put it as a preference to ensure there is at least one school that we will be offered. I can and will continue his religious education through the church and myself.

prh47bridge Wed 23-Jan-13 23:01:06

From what you have posted any appeal would be an infant class size case. That means you should only win if you can show:

- the admission arrangements do not comply with the Admission Code and as a result your son has been deprived of a place, or

- the admission arrangements have not been correctly and impartially applied and as a result your son has been deprived of a place, or

- the decision to refuse admission was unreasonable. Note that the test used means very few decisions can be classed as unreasonable

The school following its published admission criteria is not the basis for a successful appeal. Having said that, occasionally you will get a sympathetic appeal panel who will admit a child even though the rules say they shouldn't. So if you appeal you should make the best case you can but be realistic about your chances of winning.

PanelChair Fri 22-Mar-13 22:50:52

I can add very little to what admission and prh have said. I am very sorry indeed to hear of the abuse your brother suffered and its effects on both him and you, but much of what you have identified is reason for avoiding one school, rather than needing your preferred school. All appeals need to be presented as for the preferred school, not against the one allocated (which anyway you don't know yet).

As you know, you face a very high hurdle because you need to convince the panel either that a significant error has been made (and who knows whether there will be any evidence of that yet) or that the decision not to give a place is so utterly unreasonable that no competent authority would have made the same decision.

Your odds of winning an appeal are not strong - they seldom are with infant class size appeals - but give it your best.

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