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Independant Advisory Panel - can we win??

(23 Posts)
Bagpuss12 Mon 10-Jun-13 13:23:23

I appreciate this subject has probably been discussed a million times before but I was wondering (hoping) if anyone has a winning experience of this situation. I'll begin at the beginning........

In 2010 we moved house midway through my son's reception year. We applied to the local school and told they were full so applied to the next and were told the same then began to panic!! I contacted the LEA who advised us to apply at the local Catholic school (we're not Catholic) which was the nearest school to our house. We applied and he was accepted and all was well.

My daughter is due to start in Sept 2013 and we have been informed that she cannot go to the same school as my son. We initially assumed this was based on her not being Catholic however we've now been informed its to do with the dreaded infact class size prejudice and we have an appeal in July.

I've read all of the information about there only being certain ways you can get through an appeal but we believe we have strong grounds in certain areas including :

1) Why allow one child to attend and not the other?
2) Knowing that there is already as KS1 class at the school that contains 34 children, 4 of which were accepted on appeal??

Anyone else experienced any similar issues??

titchy Mon 10-Jun-13 13:32:39

What are the admissions criteria? Presumably Catholic non-siblings get priority over non-Catholic siblings? You need to check and check that she was placed in the correct criteria group. So it could well be that it actually is because she isn't Catholic, and has therefore been placed in a lower category so hasn't got a place.

If she is in the correct category, and they simply ran out of space before they got to her category, then you probably haven't a cat's chance in hell...... Another KS1 class that has over 30 makes no difference. Precedents are not set when it comes to ICS.

PatriciaHolm Mon 10-Jun-13 14:00:16

Neither of those points will be relevant in an ICS appeal I'm afraid.

In order to win an ICS appeal, you need to show that either the admissions authority made a mistake (was your DD considered within the correct category for admission?), or that this decision was so unreasonable no sensible person would have made it. Appeals in previous years don't set a precedent, so the 34 children in another year are irrelevant.

Unless it turns out your DD was considered under the wrong category, I would have to suggest it sounds very unlikely you will win.

prh47bridge Mon 10-Jun-13 15:18:13

Infant class size is not a reason for refusing admission for your daughter. The fact you are not Catholic may well have been the reason as that would almost certainly have put you in a lower admission category.

As PatriciaHolm says, neither of the reasons you suggest will help at appeal. Unless they put your daughter in the wrong admissions category it is unlikely you will be able to win your appeal. Sorry.

admission Mon 10-Jun-13 20:35:04

Just to follow up on what PRH said, there is no automatic right for a younger sibling to go to the same school as the elder sibling. It is quite possible that the admission criteria for the school is siblings that are baptised catholic, baptised catholic resident in some area, then siblings who are not baptised. So it is quite possible that you simply did not have sufficient priority to get a place being offered.
The fact that another KS 1 group has 34 in it has no bearing on your year group and your appeal. There could be all sorts of reasons why there are legitimately 34 in the class, including having two teachers in the class.
Sorry but unless you can show that a mistake was made you are very unlikely to win at appeal. Check the admission criteria and see where you come on it, to make sure you have been correctly identiifed in the right admission criteria.

Bagpuss12 Tue 11-Jun-13 10:58:22

The school has a 7-point admissions criteria of which my son who attends the school (non-Catholic with no sibling) is point 7 and my daughter (non-Catholic with a sibling) is point 6. From the literature we received she was set in the correct category and that placed her 2nd on the waiting list.

It seems everywhere I look its doom and gloom concerning cases where class size is an issue so how come people manage to get decisions overturned?

In the KS1 class I referred to children 33 & 34 hadn't had their appeal when children 31 & 32 were accepted and yet they were still happy to have an increased class size?

PatriciaHolm Tue 11-Jun-13 11:16:49

There are a number of reasons there could be 34 in the class; the Admissions authority might have made errors that cost the child a place, they could be children with a statement that names the school, there could be 2 teachers in the class or the classes could be taught across years. In some cases, appeals panels also get it wrong and admit when they shouldn't!

Unfortunately these things don't help you, as your daughter was in the correct category; no error was made. You don't have grounds for a successful appeal. That doesn't stop you trying of course, but your expectation should be that she won't get in other than from the waiting list.

TeenAndTween Tue 11-Jun-13 11:47:27

Presumably your DD has been offered a place elsewhere which you have of course accepted?

In which case, you could also apply for a place for DS at DDs school. Your DS would count as a sibling there which might put him up the waiting lists.

Also in Sept would your Ds be in Y3? If so then ICS restrictions will no longer apply, so it might be easier to appeal a place to DDs allocated school for DS, than try to get DD into DS's current school.

prh47bridge Tue 11-Jun-13 13:44:39

how come people manage to get decisions overturned

In the vast majority of successful ICS appeals it is because a mistake has been made which has deprived the child of a place.

In the KS1 class I referred to children 33 & 34 hadn't had their appeal when children 31 & 32 were accepted and yet they were still happy to have an increased class size

"Happy" is not necessarily the right word. The school may have been extremely unhappy about it.

As PatriciaHolm says, there are a number of situations where the school must admit an additional child even though they are already full and even though admitting the child means they have more than 30 in a class. Technically the extra children are "excepted" children which means they don't count towards the class size limit. So, even if there are 34 pupils in the class, as far as the law is concerned there are only actually 30.

I agree with TeenAndTween that you have a better chance of getting your daughter into whatever school your son was offered than you have of winning an appeal to get your son into this school.

Having said all of that, I would still carry on with the appeal. Sometimes unexpected information crops up during the hearing that shows a mistake has been made. But being realistic it is very much a long shot. The chances are your appeal will fail, I'm afraid.

Bagpuss12 Wed 12-Jun-13 19:27:54

In response to Teen and Tween, the school my daughter is being directed to is the same school that couldn't accept my son 4 years ago as they were our first choice school!! Funny how when I wanted that school I couldn't have it and now I don't its all they've got???

Coconutty Wed 12-Jun-13 19:31:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shattereddreams Thu 13-Jun-13 07:03:53

Apply for a place for your son at the school your DD has been allocated. I expect he would be top of waiting list and if in y3 from Sept, appealing for a place there would be more likely to succeed.

I am researching whether to choose a different primary choice for DC2 than DC1.

Bagpuss12 Thu 13-Jun-13 20:39:33

I couldn't care less if my daughter was in a class of 44 so long as both my children were at the same school!! We've already moved my son out of one school and into another when we moved house so I'm loathe to do it again, he wouldn't want to move and quite frankly why should he?
Ultimately if they attend up attending different schools then we'll accept that and deal with the logistics but I simply wanted to see if anyone out there had any knowledge/success of winning cases such as these?

ecmatthews2726 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:26:50

I feel for you. I have my appeal next week and also feel like I have no chance :-(. So sad but atleast I will have tried. Good luck x

Bagpuss12 Mon 15-Jul-13 11:54:13

Well for all you naysayers and doom and gloom merchants we only went and won!!! We had our appeal on 10/7/13 and received a letter on the 13/7/13 confirming out appeal had been successful. They didn't state specific grounds but confirmed that it was on the grounds that the admissions authority had made a mistake. There was only 2 things mentioned that could constitute this which were :

1) The admissions authority were stating that the school only had 7 FTE staff for the 7 classes. They did not include the teaching deputy head in this figure (we only knew this as the dep head teaches our son for 2 days a week). When questioned during the appeal, the LA representative could not confirm or deny if the dep head was included in the figures?

2) The current year 2 class contains 34 children. This is clearly oversubscribed by 4 children but the school have accommodated this for the past 3 years. The school are making no staff changes for the next school year compared to the staffing for this year so clearly they have the capacity to have extra children in KS1.

If you are appealing, other things to consider are the difference in holidays between the schools that your children may be separately attending. In our case we worked out that my 2 children would spend 23 days during the school year where one would be in and one wouldn't be??

Finally, don't lose your cool and don't start arguing as the panel are INDEPENDANT from the authority so it is not their fault that your child has not been allowed the preferred school place.

Good luck

prh47bridge Mon 15-Jul-13 12:59:56

Well done.

I have to say that I don't think either of the issues you highlighted would have resulted in a successful appeal. It is a shame the panel hasn't stated exactly what the error was - they should have included that information in the decision letter.

The appeal panel cannot dictate how the school organises its classes. Whether or not the deputy head was included in the figures for the number of teachers was entirely irrelevant. The appeal panel cannot effectively dictate that the deputy head must spend all of his/her time sitting in on one of the infant classes in order to comply with the law on ICS.

The fact they have 34 in Y2 is also irrelevant in an ICS case. There is absolutely no way the appeal panel should take this into account.

Similarly the difference in holidays is a childcare issue which appeal panels are specifically instructed to ignore.

It could be that the panel found that your daughter was placed in the wrong category. It could also be that the panel decided to admit even though the rules say they shouldn't. It does happen sometimes.

Whatever the reasons I'm glad you have won your appeal.

tiggytape Mon 15-Jul-13 13:32:29

Well done on winning - that's great news.
As prh says, parents should only win an ICS appeal if the council have made a mistake with admissions.
Sometimes however the mistake doesn't come to light until the appeal panel see the evidence that the school submits and realises something has gone wrong. So a parent who thinks their case is weak (or parents who have strong reasons but not related to an admin mistake) suddenly find they win at appeal really down to something that was beyond their control i.e. an admissions error discovered.

That is why is is always worth trying for an appeal if you really feel strongly but it is also why people should be realistic about ICS ones and not pin all their hopes on a good outcome - mistakes do happen but you have to be quite lucky to get one in your favour discovered at the appeal stage.

I am glad it worked out well for you though - you must be very pleased.

tiggytape Mon 15-Jul-13 13:33:54

I should add - it doesn't actually have to be a council mistake. It can be any mistake that wasn't the parent's fault eg the school lose the form that the parents prove they handed in or admissions authority measure distances incorrectly.

Bagpuss12 Mon 15-Jul-13 22:28:21

It is slightly frustrating that we will never know the reasoning behind the panel's decision however the points I stated were the only points raised so 1 or both must have been taken into consideration? Surely if there was another reason this would've been discovered prior to the appeal? My daughter was definitely in the correct category so it wasn't that? Either way, we're mega happy!

Bagpuss12 Mon 15-Jul-13 22:30:00

Also, distance isn't used when it comes to Catholic schools (well not ours anyway)!!

prh47bridge Mon 15-Jul-13 22:36:04

It is possible the panel found something when it was looking at the evidence in private. It is also possible that this panel is one that bends the rules if they think a case is deserving. We'll never know.

You say distance isn't used. What do they use as a tie breaker? Random selection?

tiggytape Mon 15-Jul-13 22:44:05

Bagpuss - the other points that can be taken into consideration at appeal are in the pack that the school submits to the panel - it isn't just parental evidence that is considered.
This pack usually contains lots of facts and figures and crucially details of how the application was processed.
So if for example it turns out there was any error there, it may be the appeal was won on that issue rather than the points you made.

In fact they said you won "on the grounds that the admissions authority had made a mistake."
The things you mentioned about a class of 34 in Year 2 and your children having different holidays aren't admissions mistakes (although very annoying of course).

It is possible they bent the rules to admit you but since they specifically mention a mistake, I'd assume something the school submitted proved an error somewhere along the line. It would have been good to know what this mistake was but either way you have won so can move on with planning (a hopefully much less stressful) time next term.

tiggytape Mon 15-Jul-13 22:44:33

x post with prh smile

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