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primary school appeal admissions

(80 Posts)
FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:15:17

Hi we just found out today that DS has got the 4th choice school. Reasons for not wanting this place are that DDs middle school is in the opposite direction so they will be at schools 2 miles apart.
Also all of his friends from preschool will be going to a mix of the other 3 schools.
We are under a mile away from all three but just out judging by the data from last years admissions. The school we have been offered is not good.
I want to appeal but I'm not sure on what grounds sad

Also does this relaxation of the law have any bearing on admissions?

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:16:23

I feel its not fair as we live quite far away from any schools...

SquirrelNuts Mon 15-Apr-13 19:23:14

Sorry ive got no advice for you, just sympathy as im in the same position as you sad
The article you found is very interesting, thank you for that!!

LIZS Mon 15-Apr-13 19:25:08

Don't think your logistics would be enough grounds, nor is the allocated school being "not good".

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 19:25:16

It is not a relaxation of the admission law as such - just a change that means if you won an appeal, the school wouldn't have to employ an extra teacher as a result. It doesn't make actually winning appeals (or letting the school otherwise go above numbers) any easier.
It has always been possible to have classes of 31 or more in exceptional circumstances. The only difference now is that it won't trigger an extra teacher being employed if numbers remain too high after a year.

In terms of appeal, the key to reception appeals is whether the school you want has 30 per class and whether any mistake was made in allocating you a place.

If you suspect a mistake (eg if they've got your address wrong and therefore measured wrong) or if the class sizes are smaller than 30, you can win by explaining why your child needs a place at the school. Panels do not give weight to logistic / transport or friendship issues unless the child has a medical need that affects these (mobility problems, anxiety problems etc that were added to the application form).
The Ofsted rating / reputation of any school also does not really enter considerations for appeal since panels must assume all schools are equal.
You can win (with less than 30 per class) if you show your child would benefit from things the school offers, the ethos, pastoral support, having educational or other needs met (so curriculum, clubs and that kind of thing).

Assuming no mistake in the allocations and 30 children per class, unfortunately your chances at appeal would be very slim. There are only 3 ways to win an appeal where the class sizes are 30:
1. A mistake by the LA that directly cost you a place
2. Illegal admission criteria
3. A decision so unreasonable that it cannot be allowed to stand (eg serious concerns about child protection / witness protection issues and other exceptional and serious situations).

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:26:21

Yes, I hope it might mean they can't just turn people away on class size.

I'm going to try to appeal, but so far I can't evren get to speak to anyone on the phone from my LEA and I've been trying all day.

Are you going to try and appeal Squirrel?

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:28:08

Oh ok, cross post there.

I see tiggy, thanks for your post

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 19:28:19

Sorry - that was really long.

The key points you need to know before considering appeal is:
Do you suspect a mistake (eg that the council has not taken into account your correct address or faith or sibling criteria and therefore refused you a place that should rightfully be yours)?

Does the school/s you want have 30 children per class or less (or multiples of 30 eg a 45 intake still indicated class sizes of 30 overall)

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:30:49

Just out of interest, how would I know if they had made a mistake on our application?
Can I ask for the data?

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 19:32:02

Framey - the law on class sizes still stands
An appeal panel has its hands totally tied in that respect and no matter how compelling your reasons, they cannot allow an appeal if it will take the numbers over 30.

The reasosn class sizes over 30 exists (as discussed in the article) is:
- people winning at appeal because the council messed up the allocations and directly cost them a place that was rightfully theirs
- children with statements being admitted outside the usual admission round
- Fair Access Protocol (where children move to an area and every school is full so emergency measures exist to force a local school to take a child who would otherwise have no place at all)

The change about employing teachers will not make it any easier for extra children to be added to a class of 30. It just means the school won't have to pay for an extra teacher when / if any of the above things happen.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 19:32:47

Our LEA website also states that we can't even ask what place our child is on a waiting list because they won't tell us...

tiggytape Mon 15-Apr-13 19:35:56

Re mistakes:
Ask 'which admission category was my application considered under?'
(then look at the published criteria in the LA booklet and see if you agree they put you in the right one eg number 4. distance only or number 3. sibling at the school already)

Then ask 'what was the last distance offered to a person in that category if any from that category got in?'
(then ask if you you live further away than that using the criteria the LA use for distance calculations. Check if that sound right. If not ask for way the distance was calculated and for it to be checked).

SquirrelNuts Mon 15-Apr-13 19:44:52

yes i will try and appeal but wont be getting my hopes up.
I asked for the admission distance and how many people also didnt get in and i was given this information.
Good luck!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 15-Apr-13 20:45:59

Good luck Squirrel.

LivingThings Tue 16-Apr-13 14:28:11

Same here. I live on the county line and didnt get in to the two closest schools which i was out of catchment for
. Now faced with a five mile drive to another town. Luckily the school is actually fine - just too far away.

jellysmum77 Tue 16-Apr-13 17:46:08

I was very interested reading this thread as we have today been offered our second choice school and have been advised by pupil services to appeal and join the waiting list.
Our circumstances are that we lived in the catchment for this school, my daughter attended and we still own our house there. We moved to another authority last year but it hasn't worked out so we will be moving back to the same house in August and the head has already told us that our daughter will have her place back. We were told when we applied that we should apply through the authority we live in now and explain the circumstances i.e. by Sept we will be in zone and my son will have a sibling at the school. Today we have been told that that as we lived in this area when we applied then the other circumstances were not taken into account. The school we want already has 30 in reception.
Do you think we have any basis for appeal?

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 18:00:27

jellysmum - When you apply for a school place it always has to be via your local council. Even if you are applying for a school place miles away.

You have been refused a place because you do not live close enough to the school and because your son doesn't have a sibling at the school.
The fact that both of these things will have changed in September doesn't count.
It is where you are living and where siblings attend school on the closing date for admissions that matters. Future plans cannot be taken into account and an address you aren't living at cannot be used for admission purposes.

The fact you own a house near the school does not count towards admissions now but when you move back into it then it does count. On the date you move back, inform the council and DS's place on the waiting list will be adjusted (i.e. he will move up the waiting list due to being closer to the school).
Then when your daughter starts at this school, tell them again and your son will move up the list again as he will have a sibling and therefore be top priority for any vacancy that comes up.

I don't see that you can win an appeal.
It is an ICS (Infant Class Size) one and your application has not been treated unfairly
You didn't live near enough to the school when applying and your son doesn't have a sibling there (yet) therefore the council has rightly said you do not qualify for a place.

jellysmum77 Tue 16-Apr-13 19:16:01

Thanks for your advice.
We have just read through admissions arrangements again and the school policy for the school we are applying for is that they have a sibling in attendance at the start date. We have also read through appeals document again and basically it also says that we have grounds if the school's policy has not been followed (which clearly states - sibling attending at start date).
Well looks like we will be asking tenants to leave and moving back in the next couple of weeks then to get this process started quicker!

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 19:34:34

If you had it in writing when you applied for your son's place that your daughter will definitely be in attendance from September (and if you told the council this and it was all 100% certain at that time and not just a verbal promise from the Head Teacher), then I agree you'd have a case to say sibling priority was not followed.

However admissions procedures only deal in facts not future intentions that aren't yet definite. If all you had when you applied for your son was a verbal promise from the Head but no confirmed offer for her in writing, then the council was right not to treat her as a sibling who'd be in attendance in September.

The reason the policy is worded the way it is, is to prevent people with children in the current Year 6 getting a sibling place.
Their children won't be in attendance in September and therefore they don't get sibling priority for younger children this year. You can definitely use this to your advantage to argue a mistake but only if, at the time of applying for your son, there was no doubt that your daughter would be attending the school and it was all officially confirmed.

jellysmum77 Tue 16-Apr-13 19:58:14

Well we have emails between us and the head teacher? (dated 22 and 26th November, stating that she would be allocated her place back)
I understand that they can not just act on us saying we will live there etc or everyone would do it, what has made me more annoyed it that we did tell the council this and they told us that we should put it into the additional information and that was all we needed to do. If we had known this was not the case we would have moved back sooner!
Thank you that has been helpful.

jellysmum77 Tue 16-Apr-13 20:00:38

We also spoke to the council about the place for our Daughter but it is not able to officially go through them until May.

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 20:10:33

jellysmum77 - I think in this case you should appeal but I wouldn't be able to guess which way it would go.
Strictly speaking the bad advice you have been given is from the Head Teacher who promised you a place - this is not the council's fault.

No Head has it in their power to promise or to hand out places like that. Even in-year admissions go via the council.
She can say a place exists. But she cannot say you'd definitely get that place - how does she know that another child won't move to the area before you get there in August and ask for a place in your DD's year? The council would give it to them. She couldn't 'reserve' it for you until you arrive back.

Technically speaking, the council have acted 100% correctly with the information they had but the complication is that the Head has gone out on a limb and made a promise for your daughter which in turn has knock on implications for your expectation of your DS getting a place.

jellysmum77 Tue 16-Apr-13 20:14:27

Thank you. In the mean time we will be moving back asap in order to remain high on the waiting list!

Chocovore Tue 16-Apr-13 20:31:25

Slighty different Tiggy, but I wonder if you can advise please? My son is in Y2 and they have just allowed another child to join, bringing the class size to 31. I am told it is because the family has a military connection. Does that allow an exception to the class size rules then? There is another school just down the road which is undersubscribed in that year so I am unsure why we are having to take another child and go up to 31. Thanks.

tiggytape Tue 16-Apr-13 21:31:41

The answer is yes - children who move frequently because their parents serve in the military are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to school places. As most of us know - the good schools get filled up quickly and generally the schools with leftover places aren't always the best schools in an area and therefore, potential exists for a situation whereby a child would not only move often but also always gets the least popular schools as well.

As such there is special provision for them to have a place allocated in advance of them moving to an area (in a way that other children cannot) and for councils to have to work so that any natural disadvantage to them to be countered.

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