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Have I got this right about appeals?

(38 Posts)
Galena Wed 17-Apr-13 08:04:40

A few of my friends have been disappointed with the school they have been allocated and other friends have told them to appeal. I have told them that, unless there has been a mistake in applying the admissions criteria, there is absolutely no point appealing and they just need to put the child's name on the waiting list and hope children turn down their places/move away.

Am I right in this advice? As far as I can see it, appealing is pointless if it's just that they aren't happy with the choice. It's not terribly popular advice though!

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 08:12:27

You are almost certainly right unless the schools they want have less than 30 per class.

30 is the magic number when it comes to how likely they are to win an appeal:

If there are 30 or more children per class, there are only 3 ways to win (LA mistake costing the child a place, illegal admission criteria or a decision so unreasonable as to be unable to stand eg in witness protection cases)

Less than 30 per class and parents can win by giving all the reasons they want the school and explaining why the school will be the best one for meeting their child's needs and interests.

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 08:14:29

That's not to say they shouldn't appeal if they want to though - it just means they alomost certainly won't win.
Going to appeal is every parent's right and many need to do it so they know they tried every option
And just sometimes (very rarely), an appeal panel find that there was a problem with the way places were allocated or something else comes to light and the parents win the appeal.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Wed 17-Apr-13 08:48:00

I've heard this too. People round us saying left right and centre that they are going to turn down the school they have been offered and then the LEA will have to grant their appeal. Which is clearly bollocks.

Tiggy - One thing I don't quite understand. The school we wanted was totally full at reception (60 intake) but there are a couple of places in year one and two at the moment. So strictly there are less than 180 filled places. Is that still the first category of appeal, because reception is full? It seems like it should be, but these rules are so confusing!

RueDeWakening Wed 17-Apr-13 08:53:26

The size limit is per class, so if you want a year 1 or year 2 place then they'd have to give it to you (assuming there are still less than 30 in each class). If you want a reception place and there are already 30 per class, then you wouldn't win unless in exceptional circumstances.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Wed 17-Apr-13 08:55:31

Thanks Rue. Gosh, a bit of the process that is straightforward and logical. Who knew you'd find one of those?

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 08:58:08

Amanda - 30 per class is a shorthand way of saying 'no more than 30 children per qualified teacher'

So a school cannot take 32 children in reception just because there are only 28 children in Year 2 (the reception teacher would have more than 30 children which isn't allowed).

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 09:03:18

Oh and turning down a place (so making yourself deliberately school-less) does not help at appeal.
The appeal panel will either think you are trying to blackmail them for a place or that you were a bit silly and ill-advised to give up your school with no other offer. Either way though, it won't win you an appeal.

In those cases the parent would be forced to home school or go back to the LA and ask beg them to find any other school that still had free places in reception. This is likely to be even worse (in terms of distance at least) than the school they first turned down.

AmandaPayneAteTooMuchChocolate Wed 17-Apr-13 09:48:10

I know Tiggy. I've only heard it second hand or I would have said that to them. certainly round here she could even accept the place and ask to be considered for some of the under subscribed school s locally even though she didnt previously apply.

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 09:53:10

Amanda - they probably wouldn't thank you for telling them anyway. Appeals are one of those areas that everyone thinks, if you make enough fuss, you will win.
People don't always realise that school admissions generally are not at the discretion of the council or how strict and heavily regulated it all is.

Goodwordguide Wed 17-Apr-13 10:03:33

We used to live in SW London and it was not unknown for appeals to be won/waiting lists rejigged on the basis of distance - the council often measured the route to a school wrongly. It happened in our case and affected everyone on our street and in the surrounding streets.

Though you don't need to appeal to correct distance or at least we didn't, it was sorted before the appeal was held.

I think Wandsworth have changed their method for measuring distance now though.

It depends of course in the grounds for the appeal.

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 10:23:54

London boroughs now use super-software for measuring distances. A few years back it could be a bit hit and miss especially if they used vague points of reference but now they do it using datum points and measuring to 3 or 4 decimal places!

The only grey areas sometimes are where LAs use 'shortest safe walking distance' as their criteria.
Many parents dispute the way the LA calculates it and sometimes it turns out the LA was wrong and there is a shorter route afterall.
More often though it is down to parents not understanding that a short cut across allotments or an unlit path doesn't count as an official walking route and the official route is much longer than the unofficial one.

eminemmerdale Wed 17-Apr-13 10:31:11

We appealed for dd2 as she didn't get into the same school as her brother two years back. We used medical grounds ( she is deaf) but still didn't get the place! Luckily two people dropped out so she did go in the end. It's a really diffcult thing to win. Also, at our school, there are always massive waiting lists for early years but years 3 and 4 tend to have places as a fair few children go to the local prep schools at 7/8. It means the school has fewer pupils than it can take but in the 'wrong' years!!

Galena Wed 17-Apr-13 10:34:46

Thanks all - I shall continue to advise that appeals are unlikely to be won in school is full, and that they would do well to put on waiting list and either accept place or home school in the meantime...

It's all so difficult!

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 10:44:39

eminemmerdale - sorry to hear you had such a tough time initially with places. It really is very hard to win if the class has 30 and no mistake has been made.

It isn't because panels are unsympathetic. There have been cases where the allocated school is so far away that the parent has a letter saying they will lose their job if they have to spend hours travelling each day yet the panel still cannot find in their favour.
The same is true of medical reasons if they are not part of the admission criteria and there is no statement (unless they go into the 'so unreasonable' category which only very few would)

The panel's hands are completely tied because of the law about class sizes and even if they desperately want to, they cannot let the child have a place.
One London Borough a while ago (Sutton) wanted the class size law increased to 32 but that isn't popular either. Most people do want limited class sizes for very young children but they also want local schools and the two don't always go together

eminemmerdale Wed 17-Apr-13 10:57:08

Oh absolutley I agree. It was never going to be won really. But they did at least see us and appreciate the problems. What I always say to people though who go for appeals is never say it's about the distance between two schools -if it means two at different schools - it has to be about what is best for the child, not the parents.

Chocovore Wed 17-Apr-13 12:27:12

Our Reception class is taught by 2 qualified teachers as they job share, but presumably they can still have only 30 as only one teacher is with the class at any one time?

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 12:43:23

Yes - they only count as 1 teacher if they are job share as each is only there part of the week.

Chocovore Wed 17-Apr-13 15:50:31

Thans again, Tiggy.

Surrealistrhinoceros Wed 17-Apr-13 16:49:17

Our early years has an admission limit of 45, and two qualified teachers in the unit plus TAs. How does that relate to the 30 class size limit?

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 17:31:34

In all probability it would still be an Infant Class Size appeal on the basis of future prejudice.
That means that at some stage between YR and Y2 they will arrange those children into classes of 30 (one YR class of 30 and one YR/Y1 mixed class with 15 taken from YR for example)
Therefore there will still be 30 children per qualified teacher.
The class size rule applies to all classes of children from reception age through to year 2 so even mixed classes cannot have more than 30
And it applies even if the children start off in a tiny class that later joins together to become a size 30 class.

It is worth checking though. It might be one of the rare schools that has class sizes below 30 throughout YR-Y2 but it is more likely indicative of mixed age group teaching.

TAs do not count for class size rules - only qualified teachers employed in the role of the class teacher counts.

tiggytape Wed 17-Apr-13 17:38:43

Sorry - the other answer to your question (if you meant how can they justify having 45 in the class initially when 30 is the limit) is the limit is per teacher not per class.
So 2 teachers can have 60 children in a joint class (some schools do arrange things this way).

If they only take 45 with 2 teachers it doesn't follow that there are 15 empty places though because, if they plan to split that class of 45 at any point before Year 3 then the rule about future prejudice applies i.e if they split them to become one full class and one mixed-age class then they'd be 30 in each and that's the maximum.

The class size law applies not just for the intake but for how they plan to split that intake right up to the start of Year 3. They can't create future class sizes over 30 by taking too many in Reception.

TheWoollybacksWife Wed 17-Apr-13 17:49:57

There is a school locally that has an intake of 45 in Reception (with 2 teachers) and has a Year 1 class of 30 pupils, a Year 2 class of 30 pupils and a mixed Year 1/Year 2 class of 30 pupils. As tiggytape says the infant school class size rule applies for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Surrealistrhinoceros Wed 17-Apr-13 20:02:27

Ok, so our school does indeed take 45 and then split them into 3 mixed classes of 30 at ks1. However, it is recognised as a 'turbulent' school where the cohort that finishes reception and y1 is never the same as the one that starts.

So could it not be argued that if there were strong reasons to admit one extra in reception, all the school would have to do to ensure correct numbers in Y1/2 is not 'replace' one in year leaver in either reception or y1?

admission Wed 17-Apr-13 22:17:24

Sorry, the system does not work like that. In order that a place can be offered at the school a vacancy has to be created first.
In your specific situation you will have two small classes of 22/23 in reception year and then three classes of 30 across year 1 and year 2. The classes in year 1 and year 2 are at the maximum of 30 per school teacher under the infant class size regulations and therefore to admit any more in reception(even though the classes are not at 30) would create a future problem of breaking the infant class size regulations in year 1, assuming no change in numbers. This is referred to as future prejudice and would stop any addition to reception classes.

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