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How would I win a potential school appeal?

(10 Posts)
Orlando16 Tue 19-Jan-16 16:56:52

My dd is in year 6 and we find out in six weeks time if she has been successful in gaining a place at our preferred secondary school. The secondary school we would like her to go to is a catholic school and after having the same admissions criteria for the last fifteen or so years the school's governing body decided to change it from 2016 onwards.

This change in admissions now means that my dd has gone from being practically guaranteed a place at the school to it being very very uncertain and I'm extremely worried as this is the only school she wants to go to and the only school me and my dh feel is right for her. The basic change to the criteria has moved the sibling criteria from number 3 to number 2, (with the 1st criteria being for medical/social need) but more importantly for my dd she was previously in criteria number 2 which was baptised catholic children who live within one of the six parishes named and who have received their primary education at a catholic school. The category is now baptised Catholic children who live within the parishes, so as you can see the criteria no longer dictates that a child has to have attended a catholic primary school, so it therefore has now opened it up for children within our area who go to community schools to apply (as long as they're baptised).

Whilst I agree that siblings should most definitely come first (after medical/social need children) the fact that children don't need to have gone to a catholic primary school anymore to be high up the list has scuppered my dd's chances. Previously there were only six primary schools were children would come from and then go on to the secondary school, now there will be around ten. So despite my dd attending the unofficial feeder primary school across the road from the secondary another child who hasn't attended a catholic primary school or doesn't attend church etc etc may get in before her if they live so much as a fraction closer than us.

Anyway it is what it is and I might be worrying about nothing but what I would like to know is if we are refused a place and we appeal, what sort of reasons will the panel be looking for in order to give my dd a place, as I'm aware that me simply saying that all the other schools are sub par (they are) will simply not cut it.

Thally Tue 19-Jan-16 17:29:27

Assuming the change came in after all the appropriate consultation etc. Your case will have to be based on a mistake if one is made or that not going to this school disadvantages your child more than the other children at the school if a place is made available for her. In the later case you need to show all the reasons this school is good for your daughter.

I can see why they have changed the criteria to be honest as not getting the Catholic primary would disadvantage a child twice!

Orlando16 Tue 19-Jan-16 17:53:47

To a certain point I too can understand why they decided to change the criteria, it's just bad timing on are part really, as it could now effectively determine my dd's education, and like I said the other secondary schools in our area aren't good. The problem I think we'll have if we do have to appeal is that they will think that we don't have a strong enough reason for wanting our dd to attend the school.

We live in one of the named parishes and the school is approx 1.7 miles away, and is around 0.2 miles from her current primary so 99% of her school friends should get a place. We do have another catholic primary school around two miles in the opposite direction but it has a bad reputation, bad ofsted reports, and is rife with bullying and children being excluded, so I can't send my dd there, no matter how much we want her to continue her catholic education. But I can't see this washing with an appeals panel to be honest, so what our grounds would be I do not know.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 19-Jan-16 17:58:30

Welcome to the world of many many other children who have fewer choices of school because of religious selection. Sucks, doesn't it?

admission Tue 19-Jan-16 18:03:53

I think that you are over thinking this. Yes you are now further down the admission criteria order but you have a baptised catholic child and so will be in admission criteria 3. You say there are 6 catholic primary schools who all feed pupils to this school, so the probability is that the vast majority of pupils who are baptised catholic are already in the 6 catholic primary schools. You also say that you child goes to the unofficial feeder school that is across the road from the secondary school, so you must live a lot closer to the secondary school than many of the pupils who have applied for the place.
I accept there is a small possibility of your child not getting a place but I think there is a much greater chance that they will. Stop worrying about it until you actually know. There will be plenty of time to construct as good a case as possible when and if your fears are materialised.

tiggytape Tue 19-Jan-16 18:12:42

so as you can see the criteria no longer dictates that a child has to have attended a catholic primary school, so it therefore has now opened it up for children within our area who go to community schools to apply (as long as they're baptised).
It may be that the school were forced to make this change since their old method isn't allowed. They have to have named feeder schools if they wish to give priority to children based on the primary school they attended. They are not supposed to say "any school in Kent will do" or "any Catholic school gets priority." It has to be in the form of naming 3 or 4 schools as their feeder schools.

But anyway - none of that can be helped - the admissions criteria is what they is. Hopefully you will still get in but if not:

1. You can win an appeal even if no error was made. Many people do every single year (not for reception it's true but certainly for secondary school where no class size restriction applies)

2. You win a secondary school appeal by showing the disadvantage (they call it prejudice) to your DD if she cannot attend is greater than the school's disadvantage from having to take her.

3. You don't have to have a killer argument - a series of points is fine as long as it is enough to show the disadvantage to her is worse (even if only slightly worse) than the disadvantage to them

4. At Stage 1 the school will say they are full, the lunch hall is crowded and the classrooms are small. Anything you can do to chip away at their case helps you prove the school's disadvantage isn't so bad eg have they ever gone above official numbers in previous year groups and coped? If so you show the appeal panel it isn't so bad for them to do it again (you are allowed to ask the school these questions when preparing for appeal and they must answer).

5. Stage 2 you state your case. Why does your DD need this school? Never say anything negative about the school you've been offered. It is irrelevant. You are appealing FOR one school not AGAINST another.

6. Things you might include:
- The school has an orchestra and 3 choirs and my DD is gifted at music plays 2 instruments.
- The school offers a language that my DD speaks and will do at GCSE
- The school has a dance studio and my DD is a keen dancer who will want to continue with this
- The school has links with a local industry that my DD is interested in
- The school offers certain GCSEs that others don't
- The school has specialist experience in hearing loss / bereavement / dyspraxia and this applies to my DD
- The faith element of the school is very important to DD

7. Basically how does this school best meet her social, educational, medical, pastoral and other needs and interests?

8. Things that don't carry much or any weight are transport difficulties (unless related to a disability), childcare issues or not liking the offered school.

9. If the school has a killer case at stage 1 for being full beyond all reasonable safety and other expectations then little you can say will win an appeal but usually, there will be room to take more and it is a case of making your case.

HorraceTheOtter Tue 19-Jan-16 18:15:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Orlando16 Tue 19-Jan-16 18:59:57

Thank you SubhurbanRhonda, for your informative and supportive response! My dd is Catholic as are my entire family, I'm sorry if that offends you, and I'm sorry that in most cases (at least in my area anyway) faith schools tend to be better schools and top leader boards with results and ofsted. I want my dd to attend a a good school that offers a wide variety of experiences and opportunities and believe it or not, despite what a lot of people say, faith schools can and do offer that.

A genuine thanks to tiggytape and admission, who actually took the time to respond to my actual question, I really appreciate it and you've given me a lot to think about.

temporarilyjerry Tue 19-Jan-16 19:29:04

I have won 3 appeals, two for DS2 (primary and secondary) and one for DS1, so even if you are not allocated your preferred school, there is still hope. Try not to worry prematurely

SuburbanRhonda Tue 19-Jan-16 20:23:58

You are very welcome, OP. I was not aware everyone was expected to support you on this thread.

People having a religious faith does not offend me in the slightest as it is irrelevant to my life.

Religious privilege, on the other hand, is offensive and divisive, though I don't for one moment expect anyone to agree with that who hopes to benefit from that privilege.

Funny how the faith criterion becomes less important when the school in question (such as the other Catholic school you refer to in your OP) doesn't meet your standards in other respects.

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