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school appeal based on distance

(39 Posts)
AgaBe Sat 15-Jun-13 20:06:42

The admissions authority made an error calculating our distance from school and admitted it. Should they have it calculated correctly we would be admitted from the waiting list by now.

Do we have any chances?
Will the appeal panel take account of the position on the waiting list?

RandomMess Sat 15-Jun-13 20:07:54

no idea but a shameless bump for you

tiggytape Sat 15-Jun-13 20:10:40

Yes they will.
You should win at appeal unless (as prh has said) there are dozens of people all affected by the same mistake.
If not, if it is just you, it should be a straightforward case and you should get your place.

flakjacket Sat 15-Jun-13 20:11:23

If the admissions policy has not been applied correctly then you have a case

AgaBe Sat 15-Jun-13 20:14:32

Thanks for bumping.

Also, in our appeal we raised 2 issues, but in their statement they addressed only one and admitted their error. However, we believe that there was one more error made and they did not make any comments on that one. Can they just ignore it?

AgaBe Sat 15-Jun-13 21:32:28

Thanks tiggytape, flakjacket.

School Admission Appeals Code point 3.22 says that 'appeal panels must not take account of where the admission authority has place a child on the waiting list' and 'appeal panels must not make any decision relating to the placement of a child on a waiting list'.

That is why I find it a bit confusing.

They admitted they made mistake, said we would be higher on the waiting list than the last child offered a place but did not mention how many other kids would be higher too.

They also said that their case can only be defended on the point that the mentions school's accommodation, the level of resourcing and the deployment of teaching staff reflect the annual intake they already reached.

So I understood that we had a strong case but then read this point 3.22.

If there is more kids affected how they reach their decision who to admit if any?

tiggytape Sat 15-Jun-13 22:25:30

That part of the code means that the appeal panel cannot dictate the operation of the list.
For example they cannot say 'oh you're 1st on the waiting list and bound to get a place sooner or later so we are rejecting your appeal' and they cannot say 'well you've got quite a good case so instead of being number 300 on the list, we think you should move upto number 10'
An appeal is either won or lost - they can't mess around with the list positions.

You're not appealing about list positions, you're appealing because of admissions from the list which is different - offers have been made from the list and, due to an error, you missed out on getting one of these offers that you should have been yours. That is an admissions error and is for the appeal panel to judge.

AgaBe Sun 16-Jun-13 11:56:11

Thank you tiggytape. The only thing I wonder now is if it makes any difference if we would got a place on 17 Apr or from the waiting list later? Would the case be stronger?

BetsyBoop Sun 16-Jun-13 14:38:42

Agabe - the appeals panel should consider how many children have been affected by the mistake.

If it is only your child affected (eg they measured from the wrong house) then they should work out what should have happened if they had got that measurement right from day one. If you made the original "cut" then you will get a place. If say, you should have been at position 1 on the waiting list after the places were allocated (and would have remained there as obviously waiting list positions can change) and the school has since admitted from the waiting list then you should get a place. If you should have been at say position 10 instead of position 25 and the school have admitted two children from the waiting list then you wouldn't win the appeal - but the school/LA should move you to the correct place on the waiting list. (They should do this as soon as the mistake is identified) Just proving the mistake isn't enough, it must be a mistake that directly resulted in your DC not getting a place they should have got.

It gets a bit more complicated if a number of children are potentially affected (eg they said in their admissions criteria they measure to the main gate, but have measured to the centre of the school instead). The panel should ask the school/LA to recalcuated all distances based on the correct criteria and work out what should have happened if things had been done correctly first time round. What happens then depends on how many children (whether or not they have appealed) have wrongly missed out on a place - they can't take away the places given to any children who shouldn't have got them. If it is only one or two children the panel may decide to admit them. If it is lots of children obviously they cannot just admit them all, so the panel need to decide how many (if any) children to admit. It may also be that the school come under pressure to have a bulge class (assuming that is feasible) if there are lots of children affected.

tungthai Sun 16-Jun-13 15:09:31

This happened to us and they resolved it before it even got to appeal. They came out and remeasured our route and offered us a place as they were legally obliged to. It meant that they were over the 30 maximum allowed in a reception class.

admission Sun 16-Jun-13 20:59:39

This is not something that should be going to an appeal panel. The admission authority have admitted they made a mistake and that if they had put you on the waiting list in the correct place then you were above the point where they admitted to. They should therefore have admitted you.
However admission authorities like admission appeal panels to actually do the admitting because they somehow think it is more official and possibly means that the LA can ignore the fact that they made a mistake.
Their reasons for not admitting are spurious, unless there are a lot of you appealing with the same issue, at which the panel has to decide how many can be admitted.
Do you know whether this was an individual appeal or whether there were lots of other appellants? Either way the place should be offered to you under most circumstances and if you are not offered a place then you need to establish exactly why they rejected the appeal and then I would have a conversation with the Local Government Ombudsman.

AgaBe Mon 17-Jun-13 12:33:58

They measured to the centre of the school instead of the main gate so all distances were affected.

I do not know how many now are higher on the waiting list than the last child offered. (I guess, and ONLY guess, that there should not be more than 4 kids including my twins). At the moment we are 1st and 2nd on the waiting list so it is us who should have received a letter/phone call about a vacant place due to one withdrawal.

I also know that all together 5 families are appealing (so 6 children), no idea on what grounds.

The most frustrating is that the only thing they managed to do until today is to produce a map with my route. As soon as I raised my concerns they stopped replying to my emails and until today didn't give me any information over the phone.

Thank you for your replies, I will let you know the outcome.

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 14:56:55

If they got all the distances wrong it could affect a large number of children. The appeal panel may ask the LA to remeasure all the distances. However, I agree with Admission that if your appeal is rejected you should talk to the LGO.

AgaBe Wed 03-Jul-13 13:33:18

We won!
Thank you so much for your time and help!

prh47bridge Wed 03-Jul-13 14:25:35

Well done!

tiggytape Wed 03-Jul-13 17:20:35

That's great news - well done

BetsyBoop Wed 03-Jul-13 17:31:14

Well done smile

asperanza Sun 15-Sep-13 15:01:57

Hi everyone.
You all seem to have a great experience and I'm a major school mess in Haringey London.

I movend in the country from Italy just over one and half month ago more or less. I have two children. One is supposed to start year 2 this year and the other one is due to start reception next year and was just offered a place in a local nursery school.

The council processed the application for in year admission of my older child with huge delay (I applied as soon as I had a signed lease in July, before the term ended) and in spite of several phone calls to the council and several emails to understand the situation, they just refused to give any advice. Moreover, they tried several times to hijack the application to another council, since the closest school is actually located in another Borough (Barnet). I have several schools within 0.5 miles in Haringey and three schools within 1 mile in barnet and applied to them all. The closest school in Haringey is 0.3 miles way and the closest in Barnet is 0.1 miles away. Ovrall, between Haringey and Barnet, there are 12 primary schools within 1 mile. I applied to 8 of them.

After major argument on Friday (two weeks after beginning of school) over the phone, at the end of which, council offer said we had to wait for two more weeks, since they didn't know whether there were any places at all, same day a letter was sent with an offer for a school which is 3.4 miles in straight line.

Now I am supposed to take my older child along 6 miles route and three buses, all the way down to the extreme south of the Borough (I live at the far north end) and get my younger one, who is just three years old and cannot possibly travel that long, in a local nursery to which she was accepted and where they have primary school as well (it's the closest school located at 0.1 mile in Barnet)

As far as I understand it, the fair access protocol binds the council to find quickly a solution for overseas students who just moved to the country and they didn't do that. This would allow to think that a sort non-codified priority has to be given to pupils who are not yet registered in any UK school against the pupils who would just like to change school within the Borough.

Furthermore, the school admissions code mentions the fact that if the council doesn't have a school place at a reasonable distance, in case of an overseas student who just moved in the country applying for it, schools are allowed to go over the maximum class size of 30 pupils.

However the Councils are refusing a place in all the schools I applied for, based on oversubscription. They mentioned my child was put in waiting list with all the others, and refused to give the position.

If that's not enough, as my child doesn't speak english, she will need special education and care, possibly after school and we cannot support that, if she's at a school so far from where we live and so far from where her sister goes. Morevoer, the two closest schools are well equipped for that as one is specialized in language problems, and the other one has an Italian speaking teacher on the role.

Just to point things up, I have to say that all our neighbours, with whom my children are getting along and are the only friends they have in the country, go to the local schools to which I applied for.

Please. Do you think I have a case for appeal?

I'm going to contact legal advisors on that, but I have the impression that
-negligence over application
-evident lying by council officers about process state, situation and incoherent information given in writing that were denied by the schools directly (last friday they even denied the email I received with non-sens information over waiting list was sent by a member of admission staff and it was signed!!!!)
-overlook of basic rules (distance, overseas, language problems etc.)
-huge delays in arranging school place
-inclusion of my child in standard round applications, as if she just wanted to transfer school because, for some reasons, we are not happy with the one we have
-lack of a reasonable distance criterion on the offer made

could make a case.
Any advice is very welcome, as I'm in major distress

keepsmiling12345 Sun 15-Sep-13 15:29:34

Sorry, afraid I don't think you have any grounds for appeal. Although I can understand your frustration, I'm sure you can appreciate that schools can't reserve places in case someone comes from overseas and needs a place. In year 2, infant class size rules are applicable which mean they can't take more than 30children unless in exceptional cases (others will hopefully be along soon to define for you what exceptional is....but from what I have seen the issues you mention would not be enough).
I think the fair access protocol does require the lea to find you a place but it does not have to be in any of your preferred 8 schools.
Sorry not to have better news, there are many wonderful things about living in England but automatic entry to the state schools you like the most isn't one of them.

MaireadnotMermaid Sun 15-Sep-13 17:36:49

If that's not enough, as my child doesn't speak english, she will need special education and care, possibly after school and we cannot support that, if she's at a school so far from where we live and so far from where her sister goes. Morevoer, the two closest schools are well equipped for that as one is specialized in language problems, and the other one has an Italian speaking teacher on the role

Not speaking English as a home language is not considered to be a special educational need (SEN) per se. Believe it or not lots of children are admitted to London schools and learn English from scratch as an additional language. Children learning English are not considered to need special education and care. After-school language lessons are not usually provided in state schools. The need to learn English is not considered to be an exceptional circumstance. Sorry not to have better news.

titchy Sun 15-Sep-13 18:31:49

Nothing in school appeals code or fair access protocol has specific requirements for children from overseas with the exception of forces or diplomats returning.

asperanza Sun 15-Sep-13 18:33:22

Hi there.
Thanks for your advice.
Yes I'm aware that the language matter is not considered per se a special education need and I'm sure that she'll pick up the language very quickly. What I'm concerned about is actually the distance that will not allow me or my wife to take her into and go and pick her up, since we have the younger one as well. The fact that I might not have gotten a place in my favourite schools was a risk I was running. THe thing I am underlining here is the huge distance and the huge delay. The school admission code, at pararaph 2.15 states as follows

2.15 Infant class size – Infant classes (those where the majority of children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 during the school year) must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single school teacher. Additional children may be admitted under limited exceptional circumstances. These children will remain an ‘excepted pupil’ for the time they are in an infant class or until the class numbers fall back to the current infant class size limit. The excepted children are:
e) children who move into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there is no other available school within reasonable distance;

Now, "reasonable" is clearly a matter of reference system. However, if the reference system is the Borough, a distance between the north west end and the south east end (opposite ends of the Borough) cannot be considered "reasonable" in my opinion.

Furthermore, for such a long distance they will have to provide school transport and I'm sure, looking at the data published by the Council on catchment areas, that I'll be the only on in the Borough to travel so far. That means that they will have to arrange a transport just for my child as stated by the school admission cod. Are we sure that the Council will be willing to pay a "personal" service, rather than try to compromise and find a place which is closer to where we live?

titchy Sun 15-Sep-13 18:43:38

Unfortunately your opinion on what is reasonable is irrelevant - it is the LEA or appeal panel's opinions that count. 6.5 miles would not normally be considered unreasonable. Yes they do have to provide transport for your child, and many LEAs do in fact provide a taxi for just one child. However the bad news for you is that many London boroughs discharge that responsibility by telling you to use a child Oyster card which gives all children free bus travel in London.

Having another child to take to a different school or nursery is not a reason to give you a particular school, nor are logistical problems such as childcare or work. You are expected to find solutions to such problems yourself.

asperanza Sun 15-Sep-13 19:11:40

Hi titchy thanks a lot for your advice.
I was just checking the london transport planner, and with the different routes proposed by london transports, which include several changes and walking, in the morning, we are around 1 hour commuting in the morning. That probably means more than that with average traffic and changes. My child is 7 so can surely travel on her own and she goes free on the bus anyway.
Would that be considered "reasonable" in your opinion?

asperanza Sun 15-Sep-13 19:12:39

sorry, I wanted to say "can't surely" !

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