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Primary School offered, not possible, how likely would an appeal be successful.

(238 Posts)
LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 21:52:16

Hello all,

We have read this forum many times but our situation has led to us feeling the need to create an account for advice.

This isn't the typical "We didn't get our preferred school, but it is a good school so can I appeal" post, so please bear with me whilst we explain.

My family has lived in the area of our preferred primary school now for 10 years, with us being located here for 5. The reason we moved to the area was solely for this primary school. We have had our Son's name on the school list since 2013 when he was approximately 10 months old, he is now 3 years and 8 months old and will be starting school this September 2016.

My wife and I work full time jobs and these jobs are unfortunately located out of the area, my wife working 1 hour from home and myself working 30 minutes away.
We also have a 9 month old baby who will be starting daycare in September of this year. This leads us to a bit of an issue, in regards to dropping off children.

It would not be possible for my wife to drop off our baby at daycare, our son at school and then travel to work. she has tried to go part time and drop morning hours but to drop off both and get to work is just too much, leaving her approx an hour late each day.
It is not possible for myself to drop hours as I am a manager at work and have several employees under my sole responsibility. I have to be at work when they are so to say.

This means we need assistance, which comes from my Mother. She is retired but does not drive, she lives on the same road as us meaning both the preferred school and our house are walking distance (she actually has to pass our house to get to the school).

Now we haven't been offered a place at either of our 2 local and preferred schools, which in normal circumstances I would just put it down to over-subscription and learn to live with it. But since January 2016 when the application process was closed my Father has taken ill in health meaning he requires full care which is provided by my Mother.

My wife's employer has agreed to shorten her hours on 2 days meaning she can drop off and collect (based on the thought we would have gotten our preferred school) leaving my Mother to drop off and collect the remaining 3 days of the school week. Now my mother doesn't drive as mentioned earlier so needs a school in walking distance (she cannot leave my Father for a length of time) this leaves two schools, both which were on our application. The 1st choice is 0.3 miles and takes 6 minutes to walk, the 2nd choice we had is 0.6 miles and takes 15 minutes to walk, now the offered choice which we didn't even know existed is 1.8 miles away and takes 45 minutes to walk (these times are one-way not round trips). The choice given would take 4 hours walking time per day to drop off and collect for my Mother, this is not even a possibility due to my Father's health.

We know the preferred school has 30 placements up for grabs and half of these have been filled with siblings, this leaves around 15 places to fill with other criteria. We live 0.3 miles away and can walk to the school within 6 minutes, not many people at all live closer than us, the reason we chose this address. Where do you lot think we would stand with an appeal taking all of the above into consideration?

We would be taking all my Father's medical history to any appeal, along with work contracts to show hours etc as we really feel we should have been offered a place at one of the 2 schools. We also have to take into account though, that the local council do not know of my Father's ill health as it has all happened 'after' the application process. We honestly thought luck would be well within our side as we live so close to the school (we can just about see it from our house) but this isn't the case obviously.

Any help or advice is appreciated.

SweepTheHalls Sun 17-Apr-16 21:55:53

I'm afraid your childcare arrangements and who is dropping off is completely irrelevant to school applications. All that matters is the admissions criteria and how you meet it. You need to find out under what criteria the children that did get places got them, ie the furthest distance for the last place allocated, and see if you are closer as you could then appeal. Sorry sad

Sirzy Sun 17-Apr-16 21:56:41

What is the schools admissions policy? Is it a faith school?

I am no expert on appeals but unless you can show that admissions policy hasn't been followed I doubt you will have much chance at appeal.

Can you look for a childminder to help with the school runs?

3boys3dogshelp Sun 17-Apr-16 21:58:54

Sorry to hear you don't get you preferred school.
I'm really sorry but I don't think any of your reasons will be taken into account at all. Thousands of us work full time and have no family help, our children still have to go to school where there is a space for them. If you thought you would definitely have got one of your preferred schools as you would have got them last year you should check that a mistake hasn't been made with your application, otherwise I think you need to make sure you are on the waiting lists for schools which are manageable for you/your mil.
Is there are before school club at your given school? If not it is worth checking with the school whether any childminders do drop offs and collections at the allocated school.

Hoppinggreen Sun 17-Apr-16 21:59:48

There are some very helpful and knowledgeable people on here who may be able to advise you. However, from my ( limited) experience nothing you have said here is grounds for appeal.
Appeals are based on whether the decision was unfair, or a mistake, or your child's needs can best be met by a certain school. Logistics don't come into it.

BananaPie Sun 17-Apr-16 22:03:20

sounds like you need to rethink your childcare arrangements. There are lots of us who manage with no family support. It's difficult, but not impossible.

An appeal won't do any good unless you can show a mistake was made when allocating the school place.

You can remain on the waiting list for your preferred school - quite possible that a place will come up and you should be near the top of the list given how close you are to the school. Good luck.

tiggytape Sun 17-Apr-16 22:04:14

We know the preferred school has 30 placements up for grabs and half of these have been filled with siblings, this leaves around 15 places to fill with other criteria. We live 0.3 miles away and can walk to the school within 6 minutes, not many people at all live closer than us, the reason we chose this address. Where do you lot think we would stand with an appeal taking all of the above into consideration?

You would only win on those grounds if you could show that you are right and in fact 15 people do not live closer to the school or qualify for it more than you in some other way (eg children adopted from care or children with a statement naming the school). If the council admit they got your address wrong and put you at an address 3 miles away and, had they not made that error, you would have got in, then you should win at appeal.

I am afraid all of the other considerations would have very little weight at appeal. That's not to say the panel wouldn't sympathise with the position you are in and the issues around family ill health but, when the class sizes are 30, the law is clear that this is the maximum.

Only highly unusual circumstances can change that such as an error that caused you to lose your place, illegal admissions criteria (such as the school adopting bizarre and illegal ways of choosing students - which is obviously almost unheard of) or a decision so perverse that it cannot be allowed to stand (where the bar is set very high eg a family who would be in danger over school admission decisions such as witness protection situations).

Hopefully you will be very high on the waiting list living so close to the school so will not be reliant on an appeal anyway. Make sure the council know you want to be added to the lists (it isn't always automatic). The lists are held in admission criteria order and with all the siblings now admitted, you could well be top or nearly top and receive an offer in the coming weeks.

veryproudvolleyballmum Sun 17-Apr-16 22:05:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wolfiefan Sun 17-Apr-16 22:07:57

I'm afraid I agree with the poster who said your childcare arrangements aren't relevant. What happens on inset days or when your child is ill? Perhaps you need to employ a childminder or something along those lines.

Lancelottie Sun 17-Apr-16 22:09:27

You are going to have to throw some hard-earned cash at it and either get a child minder, or hire a daily taxi for your mum plus child. See if they'll do you a cheaper rate for regular booking.

tiggytape Sun 17-Apr-16 22:11:31

veryproud - some schools take an "interested parents" list.

It's a bit old-fashioned is fine as long as they make it clear to parents that the list has no bearing on admissions at all.
Some schools use it to remind parents when the time comes to apply for schools for example (unfortunately not all parents of 3 year olds know that it needs to be done so far in advance so every year people miss the deadline).

Where it is not useful however is where it creates the expectation of a place - places only ever go to the people most qualifying for one (eg siblings or those who live very close) not those who show keenest interest. And if people think signing up for the lists replaces the need to apply via the council, this can also be bad news as they won't then get a chance to apply officially and on time.

TheSuspiciousMsWhicher Sun 17-Apr-16 22:12:04

Some schools have a 'register of interest' proud. As far as I am aware, they are used to plan PAN and to keep interested parents abreast of dates to apply, open evenings and the like. What they are not is any sort of early guarantee of a place (as would be the case in the private sector).

veryproudvolleyballmum Sun 17-Apr-16 22:18:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

admission Sun 17-Apr-16 22:33:29

I am afraid I have to agree with tiggytape, unless you can prove that a mistake has been made and you should have been give a place at your preferred school then, as any appeal would be an infant class size appeal, there is very little chance of succeeding. I appreciate that your reasons for wanting the school are all good reasons for wanting a place but they unfortunately carry no wait in the admission criteria and therefore in allocation of places.
I think you should ensure you are on the waiting list for the school to start with, whilst accepting the school offered. If you do not accept the offered school you could easily end up with a school which more distant and far more unattractive to you. The next thing to do is find out from the LA what the last person to get a place was in terms of category on the admission criteria and how far away they live. Is there anything strange about the admission criteria ?

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 17-Apr-16 22:40:05

can anyone clear up the sibling link thing?

I thought admission policies had been updated so that siblings came after catchment now in.order to prevent siblings outside the area getting in iver those who lived right by the school?

you need to check the school admission policy/criteria. and ring up and find out what the distinct they cane out to this year was.

afraid it's true that work and childcare arrangements make no difference

LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 22:41:04

Hi all, thank you for all the advice.

So if I call the LEA tomorrow, they should be able to tell me what the last person offered a place was granted said place under?

I know of one person who has been offered a place who has no siblings in the school and lives alot further away. This has boiled my blood, how could I obtain proof of this to use in an appeal?

lougle Sun 17-Apr-16 22:46:02

Hi LeeandEmma88. I used to sit on appeals panels. If your case as you present it here came before a panel for an Infant Class Size appeal (I.e. key stage one and PAN of 30 or a multiple of 30, or some figure that allow a class size of 30 where a school uses mixed year classes), we'd feel terribly sorry for you and would want to help, but your appeal would fail.

Panels can only admit in ICS appeals where a mistake had been made that deprived your child of their rightful place, or to deny the place was so unreasonable that 'no rational decision maker' would make that decision. An example might be that a social worker has been involved in child protection cases against parents at a school and their child would be at risk if they were placed there. Or a child who is a wheelchair user is denied a place at the only school which is accessible.

What is the order of priority for admissions in the school you wanted? Is it Looked after children/SEN, siblings, distance? If 15 places went to siblings, are you saying the other 15 went on distance but you think you live closer? Don't forget that the distance will be a radius, rather than a simple line. If you think that even one child whose application only met the distance criteria was admitted from further away than you, then you would win the appeal as long as the mistake cost you the place. If, however, the mistake was unearthed and found to affect several families, they would have to work out how many places were given in error, how many places were denied in error, how many extra children the school could reasonably take and then award places to the children who would have been highest up the list if it had been ordered properly.

lougle Sun 17-Apr-16 22:48:01

Just seen your last post.

At appeal the LA must provide detail of the last distance offered. Depending on the criteria, a child could be offered a place from further away if they hold an EHCP naming the school, or was a looked after child, etc.

LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 23:00:47

OK So I have the Admission Policy here now in front of me, we received this in September 2015

The following is outlined :

1. Looked after children and previously looked after children but ceased to be so because they were adopted (this we do not qualify for)

2. Children with medical and social needs which can be proved with professional evidence. (This we do not qualify for).

3. Children who have an older brother or sister attending the school at the time the infant is to start, they must be living at the same address. (This we do not qualify for)

4. Children who are baptised and live within the parish of ???????????, evidence must be given (This we have as our son was baptised at the church linked with the school)

5. Baptised children whose parents worship at either ????? or ????? (We did for a couple of months and stopped, around 4 months ago)

7. All other children


Our home in a straight line is 0.223 miles

Do the LEA have to give me the offered criteria for the last person offered placement?

Also how many people do they offer to? Could it be that some people choose a different option they were offered and a space free's up?

LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 23:04:04

Here is a picture to show just how close we live, as you can see from the little grey blocks, there are not too many houses closer than us and I have seen most of the children around here, most being older than 3-4

veryproudvolleyballmum Sun 17-Apr-16 23:06:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sun 17-Apr-16 23:09:13

For point 5 - church attendance how was this assessed? Did you fill in a supplementary form/ sign a register? This could be how someone further away secured a place. Do you have proof of attendance?

LittleBearPad Sun 17-Apr-16 23:13:48

But there will be lots of children in all other directions from the school. Couldn't a childminder take your children to school/nursery.

LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 23:14:22

Hi, no I don;t have any proof but I am pretty sure the vicar there would be able to point us out in a parade if you get me. I did not know there was such register. We simply turned up at 9am and sat through the service whilst our son made crafts with the other children with some of the elderly people and left after the service had finished.

The distance is measured by a simple line, it clearly says so in the admission criteria.

LeeandEmma88 Sun 17-Apr-16 23:15:18

Yes they could, but surely everybodies child could. This is an additional cost we cannot fund unfortunately.

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