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Appealing a for primary school place..Help please!!

(14 Posts)
PatButchersEarring Thu 02-May-13 21:11:34

Hi,

We heard from the school admission people yesterday that we have been declined our first 2 choices..and been offered the third. We're totally gutted and now have yet another battle ahead of us..(we've had a bad year..).

I have, this afternoon, submitted our appeal form. However, I'm finding the workings of the process really quite difficult to understand and have found the LEA less than helpful.

According to their website, the schools 'PAN' (of 25) has been reached, and (as far as I can tell), they have already allocated up to all 6 of their over subscription criteria.

Would I then be correct in thinking, that in theory (and legally), the school could provide places for up to another 5 children, taking the class size up to 30?

I'm pretty sure that we have good grounds for appeal, but I'm also thinking that if they simply aren't able to offer any more places then I'm pissing in the wind banging my head against a brick wall!

If anyone is more knowledgeable about this then I am not difficult then I'd be most grateful.

Pat x

PanelChair Thu 02-May-13 21:33:58

If the PAN is 25, then the class is full when 25 places have been filled and it isn't as simple as sayng they could take 5 more, to take the class up to 30. But the significant difference, which helps you, is that the infant class size regulations limit a class to 30 pupils with one teacher and to win an ICS appeal you would have to show that an error had been made. You are in the much better position, because this is not an ICS appeal, that you can base your appeal argument on your son needing a place at this school more than the school needs to keep its numbers down. It's called the balance of prejudice (ie disadvantage).

You need to identify reasons why this school is the best one for your son. Also ask for confirmation of how many children are in each class from YR to Y2 and how many there have been in recent years. If at any point there has been a class of 26+ that strengthens your argument that the school could cope with having an additional pupil.

PatButchersEarring Thu 02-May-13 21:54:47

Panel- thank you so much. That actually makes sense now! smile

Could you tell me whereabouts I would get that information from? Would the LA have to provide it, and if so, should I get it in writing?

Also (and this will totally out me if anyone knows me in RL), my reasons are as follows:

1) School is closer.

2) I run a much needed after-school childminding business, picking up from that school.

3) I regularly volunteer there, and have done for several years.

4) They have a pool and my little girl is a keen swimmer.

5) (and this is the one that I'm a bit uncomfortable with)..we lost a baby recently (quite late on), and much as we tried to shield our little girl from it, she has been affected as I was noticeably pregnant etc. I therefore don't want any more upheaval for her (she has always assumed that she would attend the school in question as most of her mates etc are either there already or are going).

I can document all of the above, but do you think they are all relevant?

Thanks again.

PanelChair Thu 02-May-13 22:10:20

The school should be able to give you the class size information. It helps to have it in writing, but even if not, as you will be mentioning it at the appeal (assuming it helps you) then if there's any dispute about it, it can be aired then anyway.

In terms of your arguments, my feeling is

1) This is doubtless true but it isn't really about your child's needs, which is what the appeal panel wants to establish. So explain why a nearer school is what your child needs - better chance of making local friends, maintaining existing friendships, able to walk to school, whatever it may be.

2) This is important to you but, again, not much to do with your child's needs. Parents' jobs don't play any part in the admissions process, even when the parent is the local childminder.

3) Again, parents' voluntary work isn't part of the admissions process and so this would be more relevant if you could tie it to your child's needs. Is there a point here about being part of the school community?

4) This is your strongest argument.

5) I understand your reluctance here, but this could actually be one of your stronger arguments, as it reinforces the point about your child benefitting from joining the community of this school. Friendship issues aren't usually enough to win an appeal on their own, but you could mention them as part of the bigger picture.

As this isn't an ICS appeal, it helps to give the panel as much information as you can about why your child (not you) needs a place at the school. You need to frame your arguments with that in mind.

prh47bridge Thu 02-May-13 22:14:25

I agree with PanelChair that 4 and 5 are your strongest arguments by far. I would keep away from argument 2 altogether and only introduce 1 and 3 if you can make them about your child's needs.

mummytime Thu 02-May-13 22:15:48

The pool might be a factor.
If you could get a Doctor or Nursery note saying she is extra -fragile and needs to be with hear friends, then that might be a factor. But it has to say "littlepat butcher is...." NOT "Mrs Patbutchersearring say that little....is...."
Are there any other special features of this school? More negatively are any of the other local children going to one of the other schools?

clam Thu 02-May-13 22:19:40

But wouldn't most people maintain that their 4 year old liked swimming? Would that really be a strong argument?

PatButchersEarring Thu 02-May-13 22:21:13

Gosh, I'm surprised that number 4 would be strongest.

That is very helpful. Thank you very much.

1 more question: with regards to the amount of children- I'm reluctant to ask the school for any information, as I don't want to put anyone in an awkward situation- would the LA provide me with the information if asked, or is there anywhere else that it is likely to be published?

PanelChair Thu 02-May-13 22:26:11

Clam - As ever, it depends. If (say) LittlePatButcher goes to swim school and is already showing real talent (can swim 25m say) that's a stronger argument than LittlePatButcher enjoys a splash-about. But the point about non-ICS appeals is that they are about satisfying the appeal panel that the preferred school is the best fit for the child's needs and encouraging an early interest in swimming could be part of that. How persuasive the argument is to some degree depends on the relative strength of the school's arguments in favour of not admitting the child - the appeal panel has to weigh them up.

PanelChair Thu 02-May-13 22:29:37

The LEA may well have the information about class numbers if you don't want to approach the school, but don't worry too much about the 'awkward situation'. It's just a request for information, which they are required to provide to you and anyone else who needs such information to prepare their appeal.

tiggytape Thu 02-May-13 22:30:26

Number 4 is stronger than the first 3 because it is about the child not about logistics or childcare.

Travel to school, after school clubs, childcare, parental working hours or even parental interest in the school are not things that hold much or any weight at appeal.
Logistical reasons apply to so many people that school places cannot possibly be offered with those considerations in mind plus they are not about the needs of the child (unless a medical condition dictates they need a closer school).

To win at appeal - if there are less than 30 per class as in OP's case - a parent needs to build their case around showing the panel that the chosen school meets their child's needs, interests and abilities.

PatButchersEarring Thu 02-May-13 22:40:43

OK. In my haste (and lack of time), I actually sent off the appeal form earlier today (unfortunately before I thought to ask good old MN!)

I did end up putting the reasons as stated above- although they were much better written etc, and did focus more on my daughter's needs- with the exception of my business (based it on logistics and also community need), and to a degree, my volunteer work (which again, was mainly based on logistics etc but did also mention the 'community' aspect).

From what you have all told me, I now think I may have approached some of this from the wrong angle.

Any ideas what I should do? Submit another, or make sure that I present my case from a better angle at the hearing?

PanelChair Thu 02-May-13 23:11:26

Yes, just treat the appeal form as the starting point. You can expand on it at the appeal hearing, and accentuate some bits and skim over others according to how closely they relate to your child's needs. (For example, move swiftly on from the bit about your business - or don't mention it at all, as the panel will have read it - because logistics and community need, important as they are to you and the community, aren't considerations at appeal).

admission Fri 03-May-13 14:32:53

I would think about it for a couple of weeks, jot down your thoughts and then write it up as a new amended submission. It is usually the case that a written document is preferable as it is so easy to loose your train of thought at an appeal. If you submit it beforehand then all the panel have it and can have read it. Then at the appeal you can say anything else that you want to but refer to your written documentation as the basis of our submission for a place at the school.

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