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Disabled mum - appealing our primary school place

(19 Posts)
cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 10:00:53

So is it worth us appealing. I'm registered disabled - I have a serious problem with my spine and have difficulty walking. My eldest daughter is at a school which is just out of catchment (ie next door is in catchment) and we have just received the news that our youngest, who is due to start in September has not been allocated a place at the same school.
To say I am devastated is an understatement. I have no problems with the school my youngest has been allocated - it's just the logistics and emotional side for myself and our two girls.
When we applied, we applied on medical grounds with a letter from my GP stating that it would be impossible for me to have the girls in different schools. My medical application was rejected and we received a letter saying this. I still didn't panic too much as last year 5 children out of catchment with no criteria got in.
We also applied on social grounds - we feel very strongly that the girls need to go to school together - due to my disability, my eldest does a lit of caring for me and her sister when my husband is at work - she regularly gets her sister up, dressed and her breakfast - some mornings I feel like I'm just the driver, not a mum! The girls are very close - it's incredibly hard for them having a disabled mum, knowing there's things we can't do that their friends do (we can't even do the park!) But they look after each other, and do a lot of confiding in each other.
I regularly have to rely on other people to drop my eldest at school / pick her up if I'm physically unable to drive - the thought of having to do this to two different schools is awful.
Moving our oldest is not an option. After many years of problems at school, she was diagnosed as Dyslexic last year - she is at last settled and very happy.
However, the school is a one form entry, with a class size of 30. As far as the LEA are concerned, they've made no mistake. We have to appeal, as I need to know that we did everything possible to get the girls together, but what honestly are our chances of a positive outcome? One or the other of the girls will constantly be late dropped and picked up, but later than normal as I am no speedy at walking!! Help!!

meditrina Wed 20-Apr-16 10:22:47

Firstly, some questions: does the school definitely have an exceptional social need category? (I think all schools should have, but it's not actually compulsory). If they have one, is there any cap on the number of pupils they admit in that category?

A medical category would refer to medical needs of the prospective pupil, but social needs can include things like mobility issues in the primary care-giver. Is there any published guidance on what might count for this specific school?

If you applied to be considered under exceptional social need, have they stated why they refused to put you in this category?

AndNowItsSeven Wed 20-Apr-16 10:27:01

They won't take your disability into account I appealed under similar grounds last year- wheelchair user can't drive in mornings due to meds , school younger DC placed in was 2.5 miles away older dd school round the corner but no sibling policy. Medical grounds only apply to the child not yourself. Now my dh changed his work hours to facilitate drop of and my older child who has autism has to leave school early every day which is very unsettling so I am not late picking up younger dd.

Lucsy Wed 20-Apr-16 10:27:43

What does the admission criteria actually say?
Does it say medical need? Or does it says medical need of child. If they haven't specified exactly. Isn't it possible to appeal on grounds that they didn't consider your medical evidence about you?

Caveat. I'm not an expert. Just I would have used this exact situation to appeal for my daughter if she hadn't got a place - as her school only said medical. Not who that medical need related to.

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 10:28:33

I'm not aware that the school has a Social need category. I spoke to our LEA before applying, and was told to apply on medical and social grounds which I did. The letter I received back said I hadn't given enough of a reason to be considered on medical or social grounds. There is no published guidance for social categories that I am aware of.

AndNowItsSeven Wed 20-Apr-16 10:33:13

Your lea have the wrong info it happens a lot, or you weren't clear the medical need was yours not your child. Two child " supporting" each other isn't social need.

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 10:34:50

It states quite clearly "if a child or parent / carer of that child has a medical condition."

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 10:36:45

f a child or the parent/ carer of that child has a medical condition, that is a serious chronic health condition, or a social need that would cause significant hardship or risk if the child could not attend the preferred school it must be indicated on the Common Application Form as their highest preferred school.

kilmuir Wed 20-Apr-16 10:57:08

Don't think wanting to keep them together would be relevant.
good luck

AndNowItsSeven Wed 20-Apr-16 11:25:09

Is that the lea standard wording or the specific school? My lea had similar wording but that means nothing unless it is an lea school.

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 11:33:21

It is the LEA wording, and the school is an LEA school.

titchy Wed 20-Apr-16 11:37:55

But OP's medical needs WERE considered, but found not to be severe enough for her to qualify under that category. On that basis no mistake has been made. It's always worth an appeal though - you might get a sympathetic panel.

AndNowItsSeven Wed 20-Apr-16 12:18:38

Just noticed you are married that's the problem they will say your dh needs to do drop off pick ups. His work is irrelevant.

admission Wed 20-Apr-16 19:11:34

There are a number of things here. Firstly the LA did need to consider the application under medical and from the wording I would definitely say that included you. However what did the GPs letter say. If it said Mrs X tells me that daughter really needs to go this school, then the LA will have quite rightly rejected it because it was not specific enough. What it needed to say was that you were the patient, that the GP knew that elder daughter went to the school and whilst you had a disability you could most days manage to get child to this school. However in their opinion it would be impossible for you to go further to get to any other school.

My problem is that in some of your posts you have referred to driving to school. As soon as that is said then your arguement for having both at the same school disappears as distance should then not be an issue.

As such whilst I think you need to appeal for your own sanity if nothing else, I think that you have to realise that your chances of success at an infant class size regs case are very low. THere is far more chance of getting in off the waiting list and you need to make sure that you are on the waiting list

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 20:13:58

Thanks all for all your replies. The GP letter was written saying that it was a physical impossibility for me to have children at 2 different schools - in his words, not mine. I do drive, but several times a week (at least) I am physically unable to drive and rely on our neighbour to take or collect our eldest. This obviously wouldn't be possible with the youngest as it's a different school.

DaphneWhitethigh Wed 20-Apr-16 20:20:12

I think the problem may be your husband. I assume his job may make it impossible to do both drop offs, but if he were a single father with no additional parent at all then his job requirements wouldn't be grounds for appeal.

cate2310 Wed 20-Apr-16 20:31:47

My husband works 12 hour days, so is out of the house for 15 hours a day when he's working - to change hours is impossible - as the single breadwinner due to my disability, we rely on him and his job. His employers are excellent and sadly he regularly needs to come home early if I have a problem - however, putting in a drop off or pick up 3 hours after he starts / finishes work is not a reality.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Wed 20-Apr-16 20:33:20

Can your DH do one drop off and you another? If not, can you make a formal arrangement with your neighbour (ie lay them) or get a child minder?

I think you need to look closely at these options as I don't think an appeal on the grounds you have stated will succeed flowers

AndNowItsSeven Wed 20-Apr-16 23:34:03

I am disabled my dh the only wage earner it makes no difference to an appeal. Like I said earlier I have to pick up my disabled dd early every afternoon to get to the other school. Dh changed his hours to do the morning drop offs.
Your dh will be expected to either change his hours or get another job or make other arrangements. Your disability becomes irrelevant if you are not a single parent.

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