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Question about appeals and primary school criteria for admissions

(29 Posts)
1charlie1 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:19:18

My friend is considering appealing her DS' primary school allocation, and I was having a look at the criteria for admission of the (much closer geographically) schools at which he failed to gain a place. He has a chronic, life-limiting medical condition, but none of the schools which rejected him list the presence of a statement of medical need as a category which warrants priority. (i.e. Looked-after children are prioritised, then church-goers, then siblings etc.)

I was under the impression that children who were mobility impaired/chronically ill would be given some priority of access to their closest school as a general principle, but does this depend upon the individual school?

Thank you in advance for any advice/ information you may have.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 14:25:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

1charlie1 Thu 18-Apr-13 14:36:51

Thank you for that information, tiggytape. When my friend went a while ago to have a look at the school her DS has now been placed in, she was very distressed afterwards, as when she mentioned her son's medical needs (among other things, he can't do any water or sand play, as he has CF), the teacher said that he would be required to spend playtimes inside. Understandably, my friend is completely devastated that her son has been offered a place at this school.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 14:44:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

1charlie1 Thu 18-Apr-13 16:58:34

Thanks tiggytape. One problem is that she is 'against' the school she's been given (due to a number of reasons, but principally the appalling attitude of the staff member showing her around when she visited), rather than being 'for' any of the other choices (other than them being closer - and seemingly kinder). But I guess we'll have to put our heads together and come up with a compellingly positive reason why another of her choices must be 'the one'! Thanks again.

tiggytape Thu 18-Apr-13 17:24:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

1charlie1 Thu 18-Apr-13 18:21:12

That's very helpful, tiggy, thanks so much. thanks

lougle Thu 18-Apr-13 18:58:21

What sort of distances are you talking about here? Is there anything about the layout of the school which will be beneficial? Perhaps the size of the school being slightly smaller....

You really need to find concrete, factual, undisputable things that you can pin over the emotional feelings of your friend.

There are so many ways to say the same thing. "I hate school A, it's so cold and huge" = "School B is a small school where all staff know each child individually. This will benefit X enormously, as all staff will understand how his condition affects him on a day to day basis and will know if he is struggling..."

mintyneb Thu 18-Apr-13 21:00:47

1charlie1 as soon as I read your first post I suspected your friend's DS had cf. I say that as my 6yo DD has cf too.

I successfully applied for her reception place under the grounds of exceptional medical reasons. We are lucky in that we are halfway between two good schools so it wasn't as if we were trying to avoid a bad school in the application. In fact the other school is probably now considered to be 'better' than the one DD goes to!

As others have said your friend will need to come up with reasons why a school is best suited to her needs. I put forward several reasons (plus very importantly a consultants letter outlining dds day to day needs) and was lucky to have the LEA accept them.

Cf is a bad enough condition to have to deal with at the best of times so I really wish your friend all the very best in getting this sorted

1charlie1 Fri 19-Apr-13 08:12:31

Thank you for the helpful posts, lougle and mintyneb. Minty, I hope your DD is doing well.

mintyneb Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:29

Thanks charlie. DD is doing really well at the moment, she had a really good winter thank god. Last year when she was in reception she had a dreadful winter and ended up being admitted for a bronchoscopy and 2 weeks IVs :-(. Must have been all the mixing of germs at a new school!

I don't really know how mn works but I think you can message me if you and your friend need any help in putting a letter together. I am more than happy to help

1charlie1 Sat 20-Apr-13 20:29:19

Thanks so much minty, friend just emailed me the thoughtful, comprehensive letter her consultant supplied with her application, and the LEA's rejection letter, which completely dismisses its contents. I am furious on my friend's - and her DS' - behalf! It's just a bland 'all schools in the borough can meet your child's medical needs', with no reference to the specific factors the specialist refers to, such as some of the schools having sand play areas where others don't so are 'safer', fish tanks in classrooms etc.
It is so disappointing, my friend feels that her child's condition has been completely misunderstood, and dismissed, by the LEA.
Even if the appeal is ultimately futile (because of infant class size issues, I fear), we all feel it must go forward, simply because of the LEA's attitude to CF.

1charlie1 Sat 20-Apr-13 20:30:17

ps, I'm so glad to hear your DD has had a good winter!

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 20:36:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mintyneb Sat 20-Apr-13 22:46:58

Charlie, I'm not surprised your friend is angry with the LEA and how they have treated her application.

There are roughly 66 million people living in the UK. Only 9,000 people have cf of whom just over half are adults. So its a pretty rare condition. Most GPs will never come across a patient with cf in their entire career and the most they will know about the condition will be what they learned in gcse biology. Most schools will never have to deal with a child with cf so how the LEA can say that 'all schools can meet the needs of a child with cf' is beyond me.

It sounds like your friends consultant has written a really detailed letter which is a great start. I would now try and find things specific to the school she feels is best suited to her son.

I won't say everything I put in my application but I talked about things such as my preferred school was within walking distance - perfect for regular exercise; it has huge grounds that children have easy access to - exercise again; the number of toilets and how accessible they are to each classroom; the availa

mintyneb Sat 20-Apr-13 22:57:02

Sorry hit post too soon (clumsy fingers on my phone). The availability of a private room big enough for a bed should physio have to be done at lunchtime. My chosen school actually had a proper physio room due to the needs of an existing pupil.

The attitude of the school to how they handle medication. Some schools will insist on creon being kept in the office so the child would have to go there first every lunchtime before getting their lunch. Hardly inclusive? Other schools take their 'healthy eating' policy to such extremes that the poor child with cf who is desperately trying to put on weight is made to sit on their own away from their classmates as its not fair to the others to watch them eat crisps?! Again, where's the inclusion in that. Obviously 'all schools' do NOT know how to handle the condition!

I could go on as I have heard of so many horror stories. I'm just pleased to say that dds school is everything I thought it would be and they look after her cf needs really well.

lopsided Sun 21-Apr-13 19:47:53

What a cruel decision. The LEA insist on high attendance and yet won't help make life just that bit easier for a child with a serious medical condition. Honestly sometimes I just despair. I hope your friend appeals and wins.

1charlie1 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:30:27

Thank you for your advice, mintyneb, and for your kind post, lopsided. My friend does not have the energy currently to fight the LEA, but has appealed directly to her preferred school. They are very understanding of her situation, and we all hope that a place can be found there for her DS.

tiggytape Mon 22-Apr-13 18:49:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PanelChair Mon 22-Apr-13 20:08:01

Charlie - As tiggytape has said, schools can have medical/social need as an admissions priority, but they do not have to.

Your posts suggest that you are familiar with what an infant class size appeal signifies, in terms of having to demonstrate some sort of error, so I won't rehearse that here (I have just done it on another thread). But, because of the way in which ICS appeals are decided - and assuming she can't unearth any other sort of error in the processing of the application - your friend needs to convince the panel that the decision to refuse her son a place was so unreasonable that no reasonable person would have made the same decision and it can't be allowed to stand.

lopsided Tue 23-Apr-13 20:38:21

I think they are being very unreasonable even if its not their official priority order. Just like I think looked after kids should always get the school they need no matter what their religion. Honestly who begrudges the first crack at school places for kids to whom life has dealt a less than ideal hand?

Even though they could still deny the appeal what sort of heartless bastard would tell the mother of a child with cf that they should just suck it up. I reckon she could make a very good case to get the school she wants.

PanelChair Wed 24-Apr-13 17:27:33

Assuming that the parents can bring substantial evidence of why this particular school is best able to meet the needs of their child, I think many appeal panels would be very open to the argument that the decision to refuse was so unreasonable that it should be struck down.

PanelChair Wed 24-Apr-13 17:31:59

But please don't suggest that appeal panels that turn down appeals are heartless bastards.

Panels of course have some discretion over how they evaluate the evidence placed before them - it is often a matter of interpretation - but, even so, panels have to operate within the law and the terms of the admissions and appeal codes. They don't have a completely free hand and circumstances arise where, however much one might like the parent or sympathise with their plight, there are no grounds for allowing the appeal. Personalising it by calling the panel heartless really doesn't help.

tiggytape Wed 24-Apr-13 18:13:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiggytape Wed 24-Apr-13 18:16:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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