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admission and appeal help desperately needed

(51 Posts)
DesperateMumofPDAchild Tue 25-Jun-13 18:49:41


We have an appeal on 17th July, infant class size and I am bricking it. My son has SEN and its so important for him to get place at village school, main points for appeal are friendships/peers and we have a multitude of solid reasons backed up by independent private ed psyc, and transport (unchaperoned minibus) health and safety issues with meltdowns and rididity of mind and impulsivity solid evidence again. I have friendships letters, GP letter, 2 private reports, notes from meetings with both heads who are supportive, behaviour diary etc etc - Do we have a chance??? I obv feel like how can we not win when I read our report but need to manage expectations???

Secondly to complicate things...he is number 2 on waiting list and I am privy to information that the council cocked up which will mean my son would be number 1 on list and current number 1 would get place. Basically a family broke up and mum moved away with child given place in first round and sibling who application was based on. They moved before application deadline but were considered in first round and got place. The council were informed by head of school that family had moved away day before places allocated. I am sure they were informed way before this by the mother too.This place was only made available in second round, and ironically a new family moved into village in rental who applied late and got this place. The council made an administration error but are trying to fob me off. The family in rental who got place were surprised to get a place and were planning to move wherever they got a place. Councils info says a place can be removed for admin error which would mean them taking place from rental family and giving to child top of waiting list. Do I force this issue or give the family number 1 on list the info for their appeal? If they win appeal does it mean we are more likely to win ours as the council will have to employ another teacher for the other child? Its so confusing???

I appreciate any help.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 09:16:25

I am dropping the error issue then as now understand it will not help us in anyway.

So are you saying that our specific case does not matter whatsoever? It seems so horrifically wrong that you need a statement which is so children with SEN can get the support they need at the right school BUT the LA make it near enough the biggest fight in the world to get one.

It means families like ours are put through ridiculous amounts of stress having to fight the system (admissions appeals, sen tribunals and on).

His disability wasn't obvious from birth and he is only 4 in August so we are not far enough along the process for his education not to be affected, coupled with the fact we waited 8 months to be seen by a paediatrician which didn't happen by the time of the application.

It f***ing sucks, I am so angry at the system, they are failing my son and failing us a family. Me and my husband are both skinny as rakes and ill due to the stress of his behaviour let alone trying to get his needs met in education.

prh47bridge Wed 26-Jun-13 11:49:19

Your case does matter. The problem the appeal panel face is that the law limits the grounds on which an ICS appeal can succeed.

If I understand you correctly your son's disability was not diagnosed when you applied. That means the LA has not acted unreasonably in refusing to give him a place at this school. However, as Admission says, appeal panels hate cases like this where it is quite clear that the child needs a place at the appeal school but the law says they can't award one. Some appeal panels will stretch the rules in this situation and admit your son even though the law says they shouldn't. I hope you get a panel willing to do that.

To be honest, this is one of the things I would change about the current situation. Appeal panels should have more freedom to award places in ICS cases.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 12:55:51

Thanks prh, I appreciate your honest advice. What happens when he won't be able to access an education (which is his legal right), as the transport issue is a very serious one. We can't afford an extra car and I only have access to it sporadically. It would be a health and safety issue among many other things for him to go on an unchaperoned (or even chaperoned) minibus, and having multiple transitions will affect his anxiety and ability to learn when he gets to school. I understand the legal issue with ics but where do we stand from a legal point generally as surely he will be discriminated against by not going to school. We will keep him at Pre School come September and home school if a place hasn't come up by the end of the year???

AuntieStella Wed 26-Jun-13 13:02:43

If you decide not to take up a state school place, for whatever reason, then the legal responsibility for him to be receiving an education falls to you to provide one other than in a state school. This usually means private school or home educating. From the term after he turns 5, you could be prosecuted if you have not made arrangements for a suitable education.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 13:11:56

Thanks for that

lougle Wed 26-Jun-13 13:14:26

As a parent of a child with complex SN, I sympathise.

On the matter of a minibus, my DD has been going to school on a (chaperoned) minibus since the age of 4. She goes to special school and of the 113 children there, probably 95% get to school on minibuses with chaperone.

ICS appeals are incredibly difficult and as Admissions and prh have said, there are only 2 grounds for success. Unfortunately, you don't have any evidence (from your postings) of either grounds.

1. There were no mistakes which cost your DS a place.
2. The evidence was not provided at the time of application so you can't say that their decision not to admit was perverse.

On the mistake, they can't remove the place from the child who got the place in error.

The child who missed out on a place could and should appeal, then they will win. However, that won't help you in any case.

As it stands, you need two people to leave in order for you to get a place. Have you investigated what sort of turnover the school has?

titchy Wed 26-Jun-13 13:26:55

On the assumption that you will not win I think you ought to look into appealing for a specific type of transport - i.e. try and get the LA to provide a chaperone.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 13:42:05

I know most of the families in the village and no one is leaving, there are 2 transient families, one of which got the place in 2nd round.

I am thinking of keeping him in pre school, pushing for statement then keeping him down a year so he starts reception Sept 2104 and doesn't miss anything, he is end Aug birthday anyway.

Feel like the system is wrong, it should positively discriminate for vulnerable children but we are left in a no mans land struggling

Not sure the mistake can be proven anyway in terms of the maladministration

tethersend Wed 26-Jun-13 13:48:02

Prh et al- as the admissions authority have no criterion for children with medical/social need, could it be argued that appealing is the only way to present the case?

Obviously, it doesn't change the strict terms of the ICS regulations, but am just interested as to how an admissions authority with no soc/med criterion assesses these types of cases where there is clearly a soc/med reason to attend a particular school?

AuntieStella Wed 26-Jun-13 13:53:55

I think all schools should have an exceptional medical/social need category, and really feel for you that this one doesn't.

I do not think you can count on being able to place him out of his normal age year-group though. Although not illegal for this to happen, it's seriously rare, and even those with statements struggle to make it happen.

Sorry, that's twice I've posted things you probably didn't want to hear.

Keeping him at a pre-school is probably your best short term option. But you need to expect that he would have to go in to year 1 if you wait until September 14, and you would need to reapply for a year 1 place then (places offered for reception cannot be held over into year 1, so you could even lose the unsatisfactory place you've been offered now and find the only spaces for year 1 are even further flung).

Investigating transport options may pay off. The size of minibus, who else is on it, and how the children are dropped off and picked up at the school may all be relevant to whether he can cope - and even if it's too much for him right now, by January (or later, for you can defer his start within reception year to give more time for a place to come up via waiting list) perhaps it will be something you can work towards.

kla73 Wed 26-Jun-13 14:06:36

I haven't read the whole thread so sorry if this has been mentioned. Is there a category for medical/social/exceptional need? If there is and now you have the evidence you need to place him in that category I presume he would be number one on the waiting list (assuming that the others on the waiting list are in a lower admissions category). As getting a place from the waiting list is your best bet I would check this out and make sure he is in the correct position on the waiting list. Good luck.

mam29 Wed 26-Jun-13 14:12:17

Im trying to think of postives.

from what you say op he could benefit from more time as

he will get smaller groups/ratio
more focussed attention in nursery in already familier environement.

gives you longer go get him assesed statement and any other specialist support needed as sending him to school now be like setting him upto fail as travel, starting hi somewhere then maybe moving him.

I would accept place

defer until term after 5

gives you time
can always turn it down later

keep him at nursery

ensure you have learning plan maybe do some simple stuff at home with him.

investigate home education option.

maybe try and get him in local club football, cubs or something help his socialise.

A lot can change in a year he could improve and as hes youngest theres really know hurry.

i guess if statemneted he could hold back a year and repeat reception.

Reception just efys learning through play same as preschool anyway with bit of letters and sounds, pe and few other topics thrown in.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 18:17:08

Thanks everyone.

Plan is - appeal - if lose keep at pre school, try for statement, and wait for waiting list place. If neither are looking imminent by Easter re-evaluate and either home school year 1 or place at school given. If place at school taken, then transport would have to be safe and stress free.

Is it worth mentioning in our appeal that lots of councils have s&m category and our council doesn't PLUS they have separated statements and funding and give markedly less statements % wise than the average in the UK.

tiggytape Wed 26-Jun-13 19:21:05

It is good that you have back-up plans in place. I know they are not ideal but the realistic situation with ICS appeals is that they are incredibly hard to win regardless of how compelling a child's case may be.

As you know, if he gets his statement, the school will be allowed to go over 30 and if the statement names that school they will have to give him a place.

The Admissions Code allows admissions authorities to choose whether to have an social/medical category so unfortunately they aren't breaking any rules by not giving this any priority. There is nothing that says priority must be given for social/medical considerations, just they if they choose to award priority for it, they must have a way of judging it fairly. You can still mention it though to illustrate the predicament you are in and the unreasonable apects of your case that you are fighting against

lougle Wed 26-Jun-13 19:30:46

"Is it worth mentioning in our appeal that lots of councils have s&m category and our council doesn't..."

No, because the new admissions code specifically allows Admissions Authorities the choice of having a s/m criteria or not. This isn't terrible in non ICS cases, because actually all a parent has to do is show that admitting the child will cause less problems for the school than denying the place will cause for the child. However, this isn't so in an ICS case.

"PLUS they have separated statements and funding and give markedly less statements % wise than the average in the UK."

SEN funding has been reformed nationally since April 2013. Now, all schools must contribute the first £6000 towards the needs of any child with SEN, from their delegated SEN budget. A 'high needs child' is defined as one who needs over £10000 of funding (£4000 main block funding and £6000 from delegated SEN budget) and then the LA will contribute whatever funds are needed beyond that £10000.

Giving less statements than average is not necessarily a bad thing. If the children who may have needed statements previously have had their needs met through School Action Plus instead, despite having extensive needs, then they don't need a Statement to provide for those needs.

The downside is that only a Statement guarantees provision and the Admissions Code also gives an automatic right to a child with a Statement to be allocated a place. Having said that, even without that clause, they would have an automatic right via the SEN Code of Practice.

tiggytape Wed 26-Jun-13 19:30:48

I should add that I also agree with those who say it is wrong that well evidenced social and medical conditions which directly affect schooling are not considered at the allocations stage. Unfortunately however the law does not agree and at the moment it is perfectly allowed for admissions authorities to choose to ignore medical evidence even if in cases diagnosed prior to application deadlines.

tiggytape Wed 26-Jun-13 19:36:52

lougle - see I think even for non ICS appeals, parents have enough on their plate with hospitals and treatment and just getting through each day sometimes without having to appeal even if it is an appeal they feel they can win (i.e. a non ICS appeal on basis of exceptional needs).

I think they should be able to submit their paperwork at application stage, get a decision and hopefully the right school for their child. In the current situation they get an allocation in March or April that is totally unsuitable, a lot of worry, a 2 month wait and nerve wracking appeal to put right what could easily have been corrected much earlier on.

And there is always the vague possibility that the appeals panel will decide they can only admit say 3 more children without exceeding acceptable levels of prejudice to the school but if they're hearing 4 cases involving medical needs, one child could still lose.

lougle Wed 26-Jun-13 19:42:18

I agree with you totally, tiggytape, but as we both know, the current state of affairs is that this is not the case.

I think that any child on Early Years Action + should be treated as Statemented for the purposes of admissions, tbh. But they're not. sad

tiggytape Wed 26-Jun-13 19:44:47

I agree lougle.
And I agree that situations like OP's are worse still because of the lack of consideration at application followed by the slim chances at ICS appeal.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Wed 26-Jun-13 20:30:04

Thanks for your thoughts regarding our situation. The system sucks is my main thought. They have the 'statement' clause to protect children like my son but then you have to fight to get one. It all makes for a very anxious stressed family, at exactly the time when we need, more than most, to feel supported with our sons difficult transition.

Lougle-" The downside is that only a Statement guarantees provision and the Admissions Code also gives an automatic right to a child with a Statement to be allocated a place. Having said that, even without that clause, they would have an automatic right via the SEN Code of Practice" What do you mean they would have automatic right via SEN CoP?

lougle Wed 26-Jun-13 20:53:34

The SEN Code of Practice gives parents whose child is awarded a Statement of Educational Need the right to name a school of their choice. Except for very limited circumstances (school can't meet the needs of the child despite adjustments or school is unsuitable -ie. a learning disability school for a child without learning disability, or educating a child at that school would prevent the efficient education of other children at the school) the LA must name the school the parents choose.

Therefore, they don't usually apply for a school place in the same way as other children. They name the school of choice in response to the proposed statement, then the LA approaches the school to check it can meet needs of the child. If they say 'yes' then the final statement is sent with the school named.

prh47bridge Wed 26-Jun-13 22:17:00

tethersend - That argument isn't really valid but presenting it might help a sympathetic appeal panel to find a way to admit. The weakness here is that the problem wasn't diagnosed when applications had to be submitted so even if such a category had existed the OP's son wouldn't have qualified. Cases like this really show what is wrong with the ICS laws. It sounded good when Tony Blair promised that all infant classes would be limited to 30 but the practise is somewhat different.

tethersend Fri 28-Jun-13 14:20:18

Thanks prh.

I broadly support the ICS regulations, but they really rely on there being enough school places and each school being as 'good' as the next.

I do think a soc/med category ought to be mandatory.

DesperateMumofPDAchild Sun 21-Jul-13 21:11:22

We lost sad

NynaevesSister Mon 22-Jul-13 05:50:32

Oh no so sorry to hear that xx

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