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Primary school appeal help, please!

(43 Posts)
JellyBellies Fri 02-Dec-16 17:27:32

Hi, We recently bought a house and have moved with 2 children, DS1 year 3 and DS2, year 1.

We did an in year application for primary school places near the new house. Both children got a mandatory offer to a school 1.5 miles from the house. Both also went on the waiting list at the school 0.2 miles from the house (catchment school for the area).

Before we could move them from their current school (5 miles from the new house) DS2 got a place at the catchment school. Very pleased as this is the school we want. DS1 is number one on the waiting world his year group.

Now the question is can we appeal for DS1 to get a place?

DS1 is quite a sensitive child, and get extremely anxious about things. I was hoping to appeal on the grounds that
1. As DS is so sensitive 2 school moves would not be a good option for him
2. Difficulty in dropping and picking up from both schools
3. Both go to after school club till 6 pm and are very close to each other, play together etc

Also the school currently had 60 children in a year group. But the current year 5 and 6 have 90 each due to a bulge class. Can I use this in my appeal?

Also, what evidence can I provide for my points? The after school club manager has agreed to write me a letter stating that the boys are there till 6 pm daily and depend on each other.

I was hoping to get a letter form the current class teacher stating DS1's anxiety and difficulty in new situations. She verbally agrees with me, in fact has gone so far as to say that she believes DS1's to be slightly on the autistic spectrum. But she has said that she is not allowed to write a letter as she would then be going against the council. Is this correct?

Sorry for the epic post, thank you for reading!

Witchend Fri 02-Dec-16 17:32:40

I suspect the answer you'd get with those are:
1. Fine, keep him at the school he's been offered.
2. That's your problem because you had an offer for them both at the same school.
3. Ditto-you might even find at an afterschool club they're split infant/juniors anyway.

The teacher can't say "I think he might be slightly on the autistic spectrum" that's a meaningless statement. She's not able to produce a diagnosis.

You need to focus on why the school is right for your ds1. Nothing to do with ds2.

Floggingmolly Fri 02-Dec-16 17:37:53

Are you seriously going to take your child's teacher's word for it that your child may be autistic?? How weird is that?
I can't see how them being desperate to stay together can be used to tip the balance when they've already been offered a place together at a different school...

prh47bridge Fri 02-Dec-16 17:49:26

Yes you can appeal.

As you will be appealing for a Y3 place you can win by showing that the disadvantage to your son of not attending this school outweighs the problems the school will face if it has to cope with an additional pupil. The grounds you propose don't meet that requirement at all. Points 2 and 3 are childcare and transport issues which the appeal panel will not take into account at all. Point 1 is an argument for keeping him in the offered school once he starts there. It is not an argument for offering him a place at the local school.

Years 5 and 6 having bulge classes probably won't help you at appeal and may be a point against you as it could mean the school is overcrowded. What might help is if they have previously run classes larger than the current Y3 classes in Y3 or above as it suggests they can cope with an additional pupil.

You need to figure out what this school offers that is not available at the allocated school and which is particularly relevant for your son. For example, do they have any extracurricular activities that would be relevant for him.

There is nothing wrong with a teacher at his current school writing a letter to support your appeal. She could not support you if you were appealing for a place at her school but she can support you for other schools. However, the letter you suggest is unlikely to help and a suggestion from a teacher that your son may be on the autistic spectrum would be ignored by the appeal panel. They would need to see a proper diagnosis if you want to rely on that.

JellyBellies Fri 02-Dec-16 18:11:08

Thanks for all the comments.
1. The place that they were offered was at an ofstead rated 3 school, basically the only school in 2 mile Radius with this rating. The catchment school is an ofstead 2.

2. Of course I am not taking the teachers autistic diagnosis! It's something DH and I have long suspected. But it's not so bad that we have ever had to get a medical opinion. He is, however quite anxious and sensitive to change.

3. Can distance not be a reason to say that a particular school is better for my son? Can the fact that his sibling attends not be a factor?

JellyBellies Fri 02-Dec-16 18:13:09

And yes, extra curricular activies, my son goes to chess club and French club at his current school. I have seen both on the preferred schools website.

JellyBellies Fri 02-Dec-16 18:16:31

Also he took a long time to settle into reception. He f did half days for the first term. He struggled in year one and the school put in extra support for him. It was similar in year 2. Year 3 is the first year he has gone to school, happy. I believe that his teacher (who is autistic herself) is the reason why. She basically told me that she gets him and understands how he thinks.

meditrina Fri 02-Dec-16 19:01:51

Distance isn't a factor, I'm afraid. Everyone wants a good school close to home, and for all their DC to go there.

It's not a reason for appeal - unless you have documents from relevant professionals (which should ideally include HCPs) explaining why this is unusually important for your DS.

Clubs etc are good - but only if the currently offered school does not have them too - as is foreign language provision.

JellyBellies Fri 02-Dec-16 19:14:11

Thanks! You have all made me rethink. I think the right thing to do is to go and see the school so that I can make better points. I can also find out if they have more than PAN in the other classes.

Can I use points from the schools ofstead report to prove why it is better for DS? Like pastoral care and better attainment?

meditrina Fri 02-Dec-16 19:54:38

Pastoral care could be important. What does the desired school offer (that other's don't)? And what evidence do you have that it is particularly important to him? Good pastoral care is on everyone's wish-list, so you need to be considerably more specific about why desired school's structures/procedures/specialisms are so much better for your DS (eg provision of nurture groups).

Academic achievement won't come in to it. But specific provision might (eg continuing French, not having to swop to Spanish)

eddiemairswife Fri 02-Dec-16 20:12:58

You are very fortunate that you were offered places for them both at the same school. Many parents have no choice but to send their children to different schools.

JellyBellies Fri 09-Dec-16 13:15:33

OK, we are going ahead with the appeal today. I understand from what everyone had said that we don't really have much of a chance. But I feel like we have to try.

Here are my points :
1. Difficult to drop and pick up from 2 different schools, one parent works out of the country
2. Ability to continue learning spanish rather than switching to French
3. Given history of having difficulty settling in, feel that same school as sibling gives him more security
4. Ethos of the school will suit child because... (plan to write a letter to support this)

prh47bridge Fri 09-Dec-16 14:14:50

Point 1 isn't going to win your appeal. It is about transport/childcare issues which the panel will only take into account in special circumstances, e.g. where the child has difficulty walking. If you include it don't spend much time on it and move it down the list. You don't want to start with your weakest argument.

Point 3 will work better if you have some expert opinion (e.g. from a teacher or your GP) to support this point.

Points 2 and 4 look like your strongest arguments.

If you have not already done so, see if there is anything else this school offers that is not available at the allocated school. Look at extra-curricular activities, clubs, etc. If there is anything that you can show would be particularly beneficial for your son it is worth mentioning. For example, if this school has a band and other musical activities but the allocated school does not, that would help your appeal if you can show that your son is musically talented.

Good luck.

JellyBellies Fri 09-Dec-16 15:44:53

Thanks prh! Good point about not starting with the weakest point.

For point 3, his current school says they cannot write down anything in support of an appeal. So I am planning to ask our nanny who worked for us for 2 years and knows the boys very well. Also their current after school club is giving us a letter stating how close the boys are and how much they help each other.

I don't know if it will help, but I hope so.

Floggingmolly Fri 09-Dec-16 16:44:15

But why would they put much weight on the fact that they "need" to be together, assuming you can provide evidence of this (current school doesn't seem to see a problem?) when they actually have a placement together at the moment?
That"s not an argument for the school, is it? You'll probably be advised to accept the allocation you've been given.

JellyBellies Fri 09-Dec-16 18:12:05

It's a good point.

I have a request please. Would anyone be willing to read through my appeal on pm and comment? I would be very grateful!

prh47bridge Fri 09-Dec-16 22:20:01

Always happy to help.

meditrina Sat 10-Dec-16 09:50:56

Yes, if you major in the need for a place together and this is presented as being up in any way a requirement beyond the normal 'we'd rather they were in thesame school' the panel may well wonder why - given its importance - you did not take up the two places offered at other school. Indeed it could even backfire, as the main real they would be separated is because you chose to separate them.

Passing mention, if at all.

You really do need to concentrate on what the school offers - like the language. Anything else in terms of clubs/activities?

Ethos is a tricker one, because all schools will say they offer a positive ethics, good pastoral care etc. So it could be important mood music, IYSWIM, but it's only going to be a winning argument if you can show what they actually do - ie how it translates into things actually happening in the school and why these woukd benefit your DC. Not just that they are desirable, because every parent wants desirable features, but why this school is so different from all other schools, and why that difference matters.

Any chance you can get a further reference for point 3. Do you have a SW? Was this behaviour ever mentioned to HV or GP?

Also, have you found out whether the school is currently at or over PAN? How many in the current year group, and how many year groups (3-6) in the previous few years? The bulge classes will of course have put a considerable number of extra pupils into the school (which may not help your case) and sets no precedent for non-bulge years. What you are looking for is whether, for example, the PAN remains 30 per class; and whether they have 30 pupils per class or can typically run with 31/32.

JellyBellies Sun 11-Dec-16 13:31:22

Thanks prh47bridge, I am PMd you.

JellyBellies Sun 11-Dec-16 13:35:43

I am trying to get references for point 3. Unfortunately, the current school is basically telling me that they aren't allowed to write letters in support of an appeal. Even though I have explained that the appeal is for a different school under a different LA.
And I have explained that I don't want a letter supporting the appeal, I just want a letter documenting his difficulties. I plan to go back and see if I can speak to the head teacher next week.

admission Sun 11-Dec-16 15:26:32

Jellybabies, it is pretty much standard that schools are not supposed to give any reference etc for an appeal, so I do wonder whether it is worth the time and effort of trying to get some kind of letter of current head teacher. Accept your circumstances of it being in another LA are slightly different but I would expect the school to refuse your request.
I would concentrate on trying to find other things that differentiate the preferred school so that the panel has more to make decisions on.

JellyBellies Sun 11-Dec-16 15:41:40

Really admission, is that the case? I am pretty sure that the school admissions team has told me that the schools can give a letter. I will call them again to double check.
It seems crazy though, my points are based in the fact that my child struggled to settle at school. And the only people who can corroborate this are refusing to help.

eddiemairswife Sun 11-Dec-16 16:12:52

I think that a letter saying, "I support this appeal for X because.....," is different from a letter saying,"X has been a pupil here for two years.....". In other words just giving general information about the child.

JellyBellies Thu 19-Jan-17 11:04:00

An update. So our appeal paperwork has been sent. On it I can see that one of the other classes is above PAN too. Do I need to find out more about this before the hearing? Will it be able to help my case please?

tiggytape Thu 19-Jan-17 11:35:57

Which year is the extra child in?
It might be of some help in demonstrating that the school is able to cope with classes one above PAN (in terms of resources and space etc).

It isn't an huge part of a case but it may help chip away at the school's argument that admitting one more child will cause disadvantage to the rest of the existing class. This obviously isn't too bad as they show they manage already with it.
Anything that weakens their case by a fraction tips the balance in your favour just a bit more.

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