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Appeals and waiting lists for primary schools

(156 Posts)
drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 11:13:45

We heard we didn't get our first choice, our second choice is OK but not great for DS and we'd put in specific information about why the first choice would be better but we think they just ignored it.

In our area you automatically accept the allocated school and you have to fill in a form for either waiting list or appeal. So we'll fill in the form but we'll see if we're near the top of the waiting list in which case we probably won't bother appealing.

Anyone else?

tethersend Sat 16-Apr-16 11:31:18

Oh no, sorry to hear that drspouse.

Can you get confirmation from the LA that they didn't consider your application in the med/soc category?

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 11:32:55

OK - just investigating - the deadline for appeals is the same as the deadline for the waiting list so we have to put in both if we want to do an appeal, and we won't have a realistic picture of the waiting list before the appeal deadline.

Looks like we'll be doing an appeal. Sigh. Our DS is adopted from abroad (part of the problem as in the LEA don't know how to deal with it) and I'll need to be on to our SW first thing Monday.

I suspect that all we are going to get is "further up the waiting list because they should have taken our child's circumstances into account" rather than "infant class size appeal because we should have got priority".

tethersend Sat 16-Apr-16 11:40:39

Ok, put in for the appeal and the waiting list- belt and braces.

If you wished to be considered under the med/soc category and weren't, then this is important as the LA may have made a mistake in not considering your application under this category. This makes an ICS appeal winnable (assuming the SW did her bit).

If on the other hand they considered the application under the med/soc category but decided that it didn't meet the criteria, it gets a bit more complex. The appeal experts will be here soon with great advice- I suspect that you could appeal the decision as being unreasonable, as you have sound professional backing supporting the need to be placed at school 1, but prh47 et al will give better advice as to whether this is likely to be a successful argument.

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 11:53:20

I think that's what we need to find out tethersend. I am not sure if the letter from the SW never arrived (possible but unlikely), they didn't read it/allocate it to us, or they didn't consider it.

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 11:54:39

Oh that's interesting, so although any "reasonable" person might not consider a child adopted from overseas to be priority (some LEAs do but ours says they are "not allowed" to), a "reasonable" person WOULD read the letter from the SW and consider it.

tethersend Sat 16-Apr-16 12:13:54

IIRC, you weren't asking to be considered in category 1 (LAC & exLAC) but category 2 (med/soc)- is that right?

Assuming so, I'm wondering if a decision not to place your DS in the med/soc category could be seen as unreasonable given the professional evidence supporting it.

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 12:18:37

We initially asked to be considered under category 1 and they said that we didn't qualify, our SW said we did, and the LA couldn't find the record of our DS being fostered (by us, it's very silly) when he first entered the country and wasn't yet adopted.

So we then submitted evidence under category 2 based on our conversations with all the schools we put down (from the SW).

Since then we have ALSO had a diagnosis of hypermobility and this includes some difficulty with stairs. School 2 is a Victorian building with multiple stairs while School 1 has no long flights of stairs. We do not yet have a letter from the physio but we can also submit that (but with the time frame it will be hard to get that in with the appeal form). All the medical stuff came really late but the letter from the SW was submitted between application and publishing the places.

tethersend Sat 16-Apr-16 13:08:28

Sorry to ask so many questions- did the SW confirm in her letter that your DS had been in care (even though he was placed with you)? If so, then he should be in category 1. If not, category 2.

Either of these categories should have produced a place at school 1, so it's a waiting game to find out whether the admissions team considered the application in either of these categories or, as you suspect, ignored them completely. It's a strong case without the hypermobility, IMO. Will wait for expert advice though!

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 13:29:51

Our SW thinks he counts as having been in care but the LA say that NO children adopted from overseas count. However children from some countries including ours are not finally adopted until some time after entering the UK, so they are fostered.
Our SW says it's a grey area for our country. The admissions team apparently told her "no it's black and white" i.e. they've been told not to pay attention to adopted status if from overseas.

MiniMover Sat 16-Apr-16 13:40:05

I'm not an expert but surely the fact he was adopted overseas is in your case overtaken by the fact he was fostered prior to the adoption? Was you registered officially as foster carers? If so, then how can your DS not count as a PLAC? I hope Monday helps clarify things for you. If def argue that you wanted his application to be under cat 1 but the LA told you no.

tethersend Sat 16-Apr-16 13:53:27

I'm not sure the admissions team are at liberty to discount a period of time in a child's life where they were in the care of the local authority. I'd be interested to see this tested- technically, your DS left care under an adoption order, so fits the definition of former LAC set out in the admissions code.

They seem to be saying that, had you changed your mind and not adopted him and he had left your (foster) care and been adopted by a different family, he would be treated as a former LAC. Which would be absurd.

MiniMover Sat 16-Apr-16 14:01:35

Yes, that's was I meant. Your DS was at a point in his life, fostered by yourself. Assuming you had to register as foster carers with the usual input from the LA and SS, then how can that not make your DS both technically and legally a PLAC?

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 14:28:22

We didn't have to register as foster carers but his care was overseen by the LA, though they actually outsourced it to our SW (who works for a VA).

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 14:29:30

And yes, if we'd decided not to go through with adoption, I assume he'd have been placed with another set of adopters.

MiniMover Sat 16-Apr-16 15:16:23

So at some point they must have had your ds's details down as being in foster care? if so then they cannot just erase that period in your ds's life.
Presumably they keep a record of all children currently being fostered within their authority. Was your DS ever on such a list? Could a FOI request with the other names redacted prove this? If so, that would be good evidence for your appeal. The only issue being that you applied under cat 2 rather than cat 1. Can your sw back you up with your claim that the LA told you you could not apply under cat 1? You obviously have valid reasons to be considered under cat 2 also. Although his medical needs and difficulties with stairs would only mean that choice 2 was unsuitable rather than choice 1 being the only suitable option. They may ask you why you bothered putting choice 2 at all if you considered it unsuitable although all that is irrelevant if they agree that you should have been allowed to apply under cat 1. Good luck on Monday.

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 15:37:59

They say they cannot find him on their database of previously fostered children. Yes, they jolly well should have a record of him for safeguarding purposes! I've requested this under Data Protection but have not had the info back, but as I only requested it in late Feb and they can take 40 working days it would have been too short a time anyway.

We originally applied under cat 1 but they rang us up, we directed them to our SW, and the conversation ensued about them saying they'd been told "it is black and white". We are not sure if they actually understand that our country works differently (i.e. adoption not finalised till after children enter the UK) but are saying his fostered status is different to being a LAC OR if they are just saying "la la not listening he's from overseas we don't care if he's been LAC we aren't listening because we've been told not to listen if children are from overseas we don't care if his country works differently".

We then submitted the letter from the SW. We were going through the process of diagnosis/investigations and had hoped to have a letter from a paediatrician too but we only saw her last Monday; she's recommended therapy though without a specific diagnosis, and our 1st choice school buys in therapy for LAC whereas the other schools spend their Pupil Premium on extra-curriculars.

(We can manage extra curriculars - this is a common complaint of adoptive parents - schools treat all adopted, LAC and FSM children the same and use extra funds to pay for enrichment, when adopted and some LAC children don't really need enrichment, they need specific help).

tiggytape Sat 16-Apr-16 17:19:29

I am sorry that you haven't got the school you wanted.
I have been trying to look through the legislation for you because it seems clear that your local authority are not prepared to go 'above and beyond' their exact legal obligations as other councils might in the case of adopted children who don't fit a narrow criteria.
As such, the key thing for you (in terms of category 1) will be to see if your original fostering arrangement and subsequent adoption order does meet the legal criteria for admissions priority. If it does, you should win a place right away. If not, it would be more a case of looking at category 2 and arguing that they have made an error in terms of ignoring professional advice on your child's needs.

In terms of looking at the legislation - it is very long winded. When the original admissions changes were made in 2012 to prioritise adopted children, they defined adopted children only as those that met the criteria of the 2002 Adoption and Children Act. This caused lots of queries from councils so the government issued non-statutory guidelines in 2014
This said that all children adopted from care in this country should be granted the same priority but unlike the 2012 Admissions Code this extra advice was guidelines only - not statutory.

That guidance was then withdrawn because it was added to the Admissions Code which is statutory. It now says that priority applies to children who were adopted under the Adoption Act 1976 (section 12) and children who were adopted under the Adoption and Children's Act 2002 (section 46).
The section 12 and 46 refer to courts in this country making adoption orders. In other words, children are defined as adopted from care if a court in this country directs this to happen under section 12 or section 46 of those Acts.

Back to the Admissions Code: It goes on to define children in care as: "A looked after child is a child who is (a) in the care of a local authority, or (b) being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions (see the definition in Section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989)"

So looking at that relevant Act of Parliament and Section 22(1) says:
In this Act, any reference to a child who is looked after by a local authority is a reference to a child who is— (a)in their care; or
(b)provided with accommodation by the authority in the exercise of any functions (in particular those under this Act) which [F1are social services functions within the meaning of] the M1Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 [F2, apart from functions under sections [F317] 23B and 24B].

It may take some digging to find if your fostering arrangement was one that qualifies as you working for the local authority to provide accommodation in the strict sense of those Acts and definitions. I hope the references to the Acts they use will help you see if you do meet that criteria.

smellyboot Sat 16-Apr-16 19:11:13

OP You stated on the other thread also that school b might do inappropriate activities for an adopted child. Apologies but I'm baffled by that. A huge number of DC have unusual backgrounds and family make up etc

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 19:26:16

That's really helpful, tiggytape. We think that our DS was "under the care of" the LA but as at the moment they won't even admit he was on any list of theirs we're floundering around to find out what information they have on him. Our SW may have copies of letters from them however so we'll get her to look in their agency archives.

As he was finally adopted under the rules of his birth country, the adoption order in this country doesn't apply (he was adopted from a Hague country where his adoption there equals legal adoption here).

smelly yes, a very large number of schools DO plan and carry out activities that are unsuitable or upsetting to children who are adopted. I've mentioned a few examples on the other thread. Some are more proactive than others in telling parents about them before they happen so children can be warned, or worst case scenario, not attend. Some are not and just dismiss parents' concerns about such activities as being "precious". While I can't remember the exact wording that each school gave in response to our precise query, two of them didn't really seem to get what I was driving at and the one we prefer basically said "that is not going to happen because we will be telling you about such things beforehand".

smellyboot Sat 16-Apr-16 19:29:51

I think you underestimate the huge number if children who have sensitive backgrounds, abusive home lives, broken homes, adoption, kids being cared by other parts of the family etc
I suspect a lot of schools just deal with it

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 19:52:02

I don't underestimate that at all. This kind of thing applies to a lot of children. I think you underestimate the number of times teachers and/or schools do insensitive things like ask children to bring in a baby photo when they don't have any, or tell them they've done their family tree or genetics project "wrong", or show images of abused or neglected children as part of a fundraising campaign, or assume all children in the class have just one Mum that they really want to give a card to because their one and only Mum never abused them.

If children are still living with an abusive or neglectful family, then that abusive family is unlikely to be going round the school asking what the school will cover in PSE lessons. Does that mean I'm not allowed to ask on behalf of my child?

tiggytape Sat 16-Apr-16 19:53:03

smellyboot - the admissions laws changed in 2012 and specifically recognise the unique position of adopted children and the lifelong impact their early experiences will have on them.
It allows their parents to choose the most appropriate school to support them regardless of distance and siblings and other criteria.
drspouses child didn't get this special priority, not because he doesn't share the same needs as other adopted children, but because of a narrow way of defining "adopted" for the purposes of school admissions.

Questioning whether or not adopted children are deserving of special consideration above and beyond other children with specific needs is a moot point because it is already been decided that they do (for a whole host of reasons which were comprehensively explained at the time) and as such adopted children are given the very highest priority.

drspouse, I would hope that if you cannot meet the requirements regarding adoption orders and fostering arrangements that you can instead win an appeal which includes you argument that your evidence to have your application processed under the social and medical needs category was not given appropriate consideration and as such was not handled correctly.

drspouse Sat 16-Apr-16 20:08:03

Questioning whether or not adopted children are deserving of special consideration above and beyond other children with specific needs is a moot point

Thank you... it's giving me some good practice though for ranting expressing myself in an appeal.

smellyboot Sat 16-Apr-16 20:35:20

Tiggy. I know all about the LAC status etc I was questioning the fact that OP said school b might do activities inappropriate for adopted children. I know at least 10 who at different schools and it's always dealt with appropriately.

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