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Primary School Appeal - Re: Nursery Priority

(26 Posts)
Ing777 Thu 21-Apr-16 09:24:28

Hi all,

My son has not got into any of his 6 primary schools I had put down on the form. I am now planning to appeal to his 2nd choice school, as I think there are discrepancies in it's admission policy.

This school is a Catholic school (Academy), has a nursery (part time)intake of 52. In reception it offers 60 places. But in the over-subscription criteria, priority is given to children in nursery. Therefore all the children in Nursery have got into Reception.

1) We were offered a place in part time morning Nursery which we initially accepted, but my circumstances then changed (work) and I then had to decline the place. at the timeas they could not offer be an afternoon session., I thought there was a law that children in Nursery could not get priority into reception. ( as stated in the OLD School admission code)

However, I have had a look at the NEW School admissions code December 2014 - Just wanted to clarify I have understood it correctly - has THIS CHANGED? - is it that only children who are eligible for Early pupil premium, pupil or service premium and attend the nursery run by the school can be given priority for admission to Reception. Other children cannot get priority?

As in this particular school the whole nursery intake has got a place into reception ( i donot believe the whole class could qualify for pupil premium!!) and therefore people like myself who meet the criteria - have lost out. it also advantages parents who are willing to travel a distance to get into Nursery over those who are applying directly to reception.

2) During the application process, the school also invited parents along with the child on a one to one basis for a discussion - the letter at the time mentioned ' the purpose of this was to discuss the admission process and our options in regard to primary education'. Was it legitimate for the school to request this? I did attend it,

They checked a few details on the application for,. Then they asked in which nursery the child was - and it happened to be at another Catholic school - but i explained to them that as the other nursery was able to offer be an afternnon session, i accepted it.But now thinking back wonder if this SO CALLED DISCUSSION IS LEGITIMATE? and the fact that me being at another nursery jeopardised my application

Please let me know your thoughts. Any help would be appreciated.

meditrina Thu 21-Apr-16 09:36:58

1) Yes, it has changed. The Code specifies groups of children which can be given priority. Schools do not have to use all of them, but as long as the ones they do use comply with the Code they are acting correctly. Our primary for example does siblings (attending nursery ranked by distance, other siblings by distance) then other children (attending nursery ranked by distance, others by distance).

2) This sounds dodgy, as it is perilously close to an interview. But as you say you attended it and all they did was go through the what you put on the form, they might be presenting it as a means of validating information. LEAs for example can validate information and may want to talk to families in certain circumstances. If there is an issue here it is with the blanket approach, and whether they are also asking about things that are not directly relevant to the entrance criteria (on main application form or SIF).

eddiemairswife Thu 21-Apr-16 09:37:45

The code does not say that only Pupil Premium children attending nursery can be allocated. It also says that schools must not interview before offering a place. I do wonder why it was a one-to-one discussion though, rather than a general meeting.

tiggytape Thu 21-Apr-16 09:39:02

It isn't absolutely black and white in the sense that it is banned but it is highly unusual because usually it would be deemed unfair if there was basically zero chance of anyone else getting a place.
To illustrate I have copied the advice schools are given when deciding what to do about nursery children so you can see if any of it applies to your case (about the size of the nursery, reception class and whether it is fee paying)

It is possible to give priority in reception to children attending a nursery but you
need to be aware that where the nursery and the reception class have the same,or
a similar, number of places, and the majority of children tend to transfer from the nursery to the school, this could breach the Admissions Code, as attendance of the nursery would be a pre-condition of admission to the school. This is set out in paragraph 1.9 a) of the Code.

You should also ensure that giving such a priority is fair to local parents who choose not to send their children to nursery. As a rule of thumb, such arrangements are likely to be unfair – and be vulnerable to an objection to the Schools Adjudicator - if very few or no places are available to other parents once those attending the nursery have been admitted to reception. If a majority of places are available to parents who have not sent their children to the nursery, the arrangements are likely to be less vulnerable to objection.

Fee-paying nurseries cannot be named as a feeder institution, as this would contravene paragraph 1.9 e) of the Code which prohibits giving priority for admission on the basis of any financial support that parents give the school or an associated organisation.It is possible to give priority to those paying fees for their child’s nursery provision only where any fee is for additional provision above the ‘free’ 15-hour funded early education offer

Within any priority given to nursery children schools may prioritise those children
attending the nursery who are eligible for the early years
pupil premium, the pupil premium or the service premium above other children attending the nursery (paragraph 1.39B of the Code)

t4gnut Thu 21-Apr-16 10:06:28

Its a really tricky one as DFE advice and guidance (and code) allows nursery attendance as a criteria for admission, but that it shouldn't limit places to local parents in doing so. However as a faith based school its unlikely to have a catchment area. However the OSA tend to take a contradictory line with nursery criteria. frankly its a bit of an unclear mess at the moment.

smellyboot Thu 21-Apr-16 17:06:38

Our school thought about doing nursery priority but there was up roar from potential and existing parents. In effect as the 90 place nursery is the same size as reception, it would have forced people to use the school nursery whether they like it or not, to get into the school later. This would have excluded people using local popular private nurseries or workplace nurseries and some people don't want to use nursery or follow the school nursery hours as they have a am or GP or don't work.
They were advised it would be legally challenged. It would have forced Lica. children to start school at 3 in effect. (Over subscribed community school with alternatives being a trek away)
Having said that another friend has his children in a school that does exactly that and it's been like that for a while.....

smellyboot Thu 21-Apr-16 17:09:53

Sorry typo - some people use GP and it would have forced local children to start school there at 3 to get into reception,

CheeseAndOnionWalkers Thu 21-Apr-16 17:14:07

My youngest is in y5 so past the primary admissions stage but I am gobsmacked at the change.

My understanding was that nursery attendance wasn't used as a condition of entry to reception because it effectively discriminated kids of working parents. If you work 9-5 then a nursery that is open 8-6 52 weeks a year is more appealing than a nursery offering half a school day 39 weeks a year.
Is the primary an academy?

admission Thu 21-Apr-16 18:02:15

Nursery as an admission criteria is open to all sorts of problems, quite a few of which have already been mentioned.
It is questionable whether with a nursery of 52 and a school PAN of 60, that the school could prove that they are not disadvantaging pupils who did not attend the nursery.
There are also I presume catholic faith criteria, so it gets more complicated. To me the first question is whether the nursery is school run (that is the school is in charge and the school is deemed to be a 3-11 aged school as opposed to a 4 to 11 aged school. ) If it is not school run, then the school cannot apply a nursery criteria.
It might be useful if you were to PM me with the school name and LA because I could then look up exactly what the admission criteria says and maybe able to offer some further advice.

Ing777 Thu 21-Apr-16 18:06:29

Thanks everyone for all your prompt reply's. Yes, it is an Academy. Has a catchment, which we are within but on the outer border.

His brother was at the school but in September 2015 was moved to another state music specialist school, as he was offered a place due to his musical ability. I feel this may have gone against us.

This school has been conducting these so called 'one to one discussions' for years with the parents. Parents who they invite for a discussion with, when they apply for Nursery are not invited again if they apply for reception. Unless the info on the form changes. The invitation letter sent out also says 'we are happy for your child to be in attendance at this meeting'. At the discussion, they (kind of ask everyone the following).
1. Check if the info on the supplementary form has not changed.
2. Ask why I wanted to apply to the school. Which nursery the child is currently in.
3. If I knew any other parents in the school ( not sure why this is needed)
4. I was additionally asked if my little one is musical also - the cheek!!! - it appears the Head felt if the elder brother left the younger one will do the same.

I feel if this so called discussion did not take place they would not have a name to the face . Irrespective of anything, I also feel my application for my younger son should have been considered on it's own merit. So i am thinking of appealing.

The school admissions secretary does not seem to be helpful to disclose even if all in Nursery got into Reception. But I have spoken to a number of parents and they say there don't believe anybody has not got in.

I am aware in previous years eg my older sons's batch the Headteacher has bent the rules and even taken people who neither are in the catchment, nor belong to the parish not live any where close. But who he knows personally!!! If anyone's close relative is in the school - again he has bent the rules to accommodate them.

The Head seems to get away with it as if one joins in Nursery - there is no appeals as to why someone else didn't get in and they always send out a generic letter saying you did not get into Nursery as we were oversubscribed and you lost out due to the distance criteria. These Nursery people then easily slip into reception due to the over subscription criteria and nothing gets questioned. The only reason I am aware of this iis because i had my elder child there, and have seen how the system has been played.

My am in two minds whether to appeal. My grounds for appeal would be the interview and I was thinking about Nursery priority (but that's a bit tricky with the new rules)

Any thoughts?

smellyboot Thu 21-Apr-16 20:27:32

I'd appeal for the hell if it on the groups that the admissions criteria are unfair and against the code in reality. It's an easy way to totally corrupt the admissions system. Let who you fancy in at age 3 then bump them straight into reception excluding everyone else !?!?

t4gnut Fri 22-Apr-16 09:40:06

Is the interview before or after a place had been offered? If after then its acceptable as a 'get to know you' as it has no bearing on admissions.

Are its admission administered by the local authority? Because some of the things you're saying about 'gaming' the system can't happen if the LA manage the process on their behalf.

The OSA - Office of the Schools Adjudicator - may be your port of call if you think the admission criteria do not comply with the admissions code.

tiggytape Fri 22-Apr-16 09:54:48

Interviews are another grey area in terms of admissions.
It comes up a lot at 6th form age. Students are often invited to have a chat about the subjects they've chosen and how they've got on at GCSE. Naturally students want to impress and are keen to impress but actually, the interviews are not supposed to form any part of the admissions process. If a candidate meets the criteria (at A Level stage that would normally be based on GCSE grades) then they get an offer and if they don't, they don't. The interviews are for information purposes not selection purposes but you can see why people think otherwise.

Ing777 Fri 22-Apr-16 10:13:36

Hi t4gnut,

This takes place before the places have been allocated with the intention to 'discuss the admission process and one's options in regard to primary education' (this is what they claim in their letter). The term the school uses is 'discussion' not interview.

Sorry to sound a bit silly - but how would I know if the admission is administered by the local authority. The Primary School is a Catholic school. it is an Academy. So I guess they have to manage the faith aspect of the admission, We apply to the school through the CAF of the council andbut also fill in the supplementary form provided directly by the school .

prh47bridge Fri 22-Apr-16 12:26:05

If it is an academy the school is its own admission authority. The LA administers the co-ordinated admissions scheme but the school sets its own oversubscription criteria and puts the applicants in order based on the criteria.

If they are using these "discussions" to determine priority they are breaking the law. However, if they are just using them as a way of figuring out if any parents have missed important information off their application that would be acceptable.

Witchend Fri 22-Apr-16 13:14:20

On asking whether your younger one was musical too, I don't think that's anything other than polite conversation. I've got 3 dc and if someone knows one (both in and out of school) it's natural for them to ask if the other ones are musical/sporty/interested in the same things. It's never been a loaded question

admission Fri 22-Apr-16 17:21:30

The school is its own admission authority and they have a very complicated admission criteria based on faith and other issues.
So all applications will be put together by the LA and sent to the school. A committee of the governing body is then delegated the task of reassigning the order of admission based on the admission criteria. That should be in the admission criteria order which is set out, however this is where if there is anything dodgy going on, it will happen. Presumably if all 52 from the nursery are automatically given a place then everybody else is put in the admission criteria order. That ordered list is then sent back to the LA, who do their computer thing and work out which 60 are allocated the places at the school.
The LA will no check the order as it is the school's responsibility to do this.

Ing777 Fri 22-Apr-16 22:18:17


As it is an academy school and if we appeal, does the school have an obligation to respond to parent's request for information - eg information about sibling places, nursery places offered, distance from school to my house, distance of last person who got into school etc in defence of their intended appeal.

admission Sat 23-Apr-16 00:04:17

Yes they do, they might be more tardy about giving it, but they certainly must in the papers for the appeal hearing.

Ing777 Sun 24-Apr-16 00:54:06


At this Catholic school, one has to initially fill a form in, to register for a place and then the school will send the person a supplementary form that needs to be completed.. I understand this process is questionable against the admission code.

Where in the admission code can i find something to support this please?

prh47bridge Sun 24-Apr-16 08:46:26

There is nothing wrong with having an SIF provided it doesn't ask any prohibited questions.

I would normally expect the SIF to be available to all parents so that they can complete and submit it at the same time as the LA application form. Of course, this often leaves schools with SIFs from parents who haven't named the school as one of their preferences and with no SIFs from parents who have named the school without realising there was an additional form to complete. There is nothing wrong with contacting those parents who have failed to complete an SIF and asking them to do so. Indeed, previous decisions by the LGO suggest that schools ought to contact parents who have not completed the SIF.

I am unclear if the initial form to which you refer is the LA's application form or something else. If the SIF is not available to all parents applying that would be an issue. The Admissions Code requires the SIF to be available to parents through the LA's website and in the printed composite prospectus. If this school's SIF is not available that is a breach of the Admissions Code.

Even if the school has got it wrong it will only help you at appeal if you can show that their failure has cost your child a place. That would only apply if the school's breach of the Admissions Code meant that you failed to submit an SIF or the school failed to consider it.

Ing777 Sun 24-Apr-16 11:25:22


One fills the LAF online, it then says on the LAF ""This school requires completion of supplementary application form. Contact the school direct"". There is a link for the SIF on the LAF but when one clicks on it :

it takes one directly to the school website admission page which says:
""Registration for admission form to be completed online then printed and returned to the school along with the appropriate supporting documentation.
You can view a copy of our our admissions supplementary form which will be issued by the School if required"

One cannot print the SIF at all as it is password protected and has a disclaimer saying 'Example only will be supplied directly by the school'

What I am trying to ascertain is:
1) is completion of this' Registration For Admission' form justified ? As without completing it one will not be able to obtain the SIF?


tiggytape Sun 24-Apr-16 13:46:44

If you have to jump through hoops even obtain the SIF to fill out then yes, you have cause to raise that as a concern and a complaint.

However, as prh says, even if this complain was fully upheld, it would not automatically result in a successful appeal unless you were in a position to prove that had you been given the chance to complete a SIF you would have been able to demonstrate that you qualify for a place.

A mistake or maladministration only helps if you can show that you were directly deprived of a place as a result.

Ing777 Tue 26-Apr-16 08:40:59


Does anyone know. in an academy school, in my case Catholic Academy school - can the headteacher be the representative representing the school at the appeal ? Is that allowed?

t4gnut Tue 26-Apr-16 08:45:37

Yes of course they can.

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