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Infant class size appeal help

(28 Posts)
Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 17:28:06

Hi I've got a infant class size appeal on Thursday. The school seem to think I've got a good possibility of winning. My son should be in year 1 but he's currently at home being home educated. We walked the three hours a day to school for a year but it just became too much. We were told by admissions that year to put My daughter in the school we wanted Nathan to go to which we did. Then at the end of the year we asked admissions what we were to do as they both had different school and they had no answer which was another reason we removed him. How do I need to prepare? I'm absolutely nervous. I don't know what I should be doing. How I should be preparing? Can anyone help? Thank you

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 10-Jan-17 17:32:18

If it's an infant class size appeal then you are only likely to win if you can show the Local Authority has made an error and that error cost him a place.

Did the LA offer you a nearer school place or transport to the school that you were walking to previously?

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 17:42:03

You say it is an Infant Class Size appeal.
I presume therefore that you know for certain that the current Year 1 has 30 children per teacher already?

It's important to check as this is the key to the appeal really. If the class sizes are small, winning an appeal is about demonstrating that your child's need for a place outweighs any problems the school might have accommodating one more pupil.

But if Year 1 has the maximum ratio of 30 children per qualified teacher, you should only win an appeal on the basis that:
1. An error was made that deprived you of a place that would rightfully have been yours eg they forgot the sibling link when a Year 1 place came up on the waiting list or
2. The admissions criteria are unlawful and you have lost a place as a result (unlikely) or
3. The decision to refuse you is so unreasonable that no other person presented with the same facts could agree that you should be denied a place (this is often used in cases where families need to certain schools for their families safety eg avoiding birth parents in adoption cases or down to police related matters).

Transport matters alone are not enough to win any type of appeal (unless they are disability related perhaps) but an Infant Class Size appeal is hard to win on any basis apart from the 3 listed because the law restricts what the appeal body can grant.

If however there are fewer than 30:1 in Year 1, you could make the case about what the school offers your child (beyond transport and childcare issues) that would benefit him.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 17:49:35

Infant class size appeals can only be won under the following grounds -
- the admissions authority made a mistake (such as not measuring your distance to school correctly)
- the admissions criteria were unlawful
- the decision not to admit was perverse (in a legal sense - this is very hard to show)

What grounds are you appealing under? The school shouldn't be saying anything about your success/failure of appeal - they can't support the appeal. They could come to the appeal and essentially say "yes another student is fine" but in the case of ICS appeal that's basically irrelevant, the only applicable grounds are those above.

You say a 3 hour walk - 2 round trips presumably so 45 minutes each way? How far was it in distance? If over 2 miles then at his age he would have qualified for free transport. Was this offered?

If the journey on transport was more than 45 minutes and there were no nearer schools with space, you could make the argument that he should have been placed under the Fair Access Protocol which gives the LEA power to force a more local school to offer a place even if they are technically full.

However, by removing him and home educating you have essentially put the ball in your court in terms of finding a new school for him, though most authorities will be pragmatic about it and help you find another school with space.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 17:55:23

We moved in the August before he started school. Which in affect made it the furthest school. He would of got a place at this school as its 0.3 miles away from our house and he has a supplement form. The appeal also falls under the fair access protocol as he has no school.

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 18:38:18

He may have been offered a place if you had applied from your current address before the application deadline.
But people who move in August and need a school place the following month have to accept whatever schools have leftover spaces because allocations have been made months and months before that point.
They do not save spaces for people who move later very close to a school.

SO in that respect, you have not been denied a place that is rightly yours because you were a late applicant from that address and therefore, all of the on-time applicants were rightly given priority in the initial allocations.

FAP covers situations where no school in a local area has any space at all and the council is therefore forced to create a place. Crucially though, this does not have to be at the school of a parent's choosing - schools take turns and it is the school best able to cope with an additional pupil. Therefore there is no guarantee that 2 new children to an area end up at the same school. In areas of school place shortages, they frequently do not.

It is also unclear how far the council were expecting you to travel. If it was a walking distance of 45 minutes to school, then it is possible that this would not be viewed as so unreasonable that FAP needs to be triggered. Plenty of people are sent to schools more than 2 or 3 miles from home hence the requirement that councils fund the transport for these pupils.

I think the best you can do is explain the situation and why this school best meets your DS's interests and needs and see what comes up at the appeal.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 18:41:08

We moved in the August before he started school. Which in affect made it the furthest school.

Well, that's not the fault of the LEA and not grounds for appeal. You presumably then put in a late application for schools nearer the new address, but your son was placed in a school near your old address. Did you then get on waiting lists for nearer schools?

He would of got a place at this school as its 0.3 miles away from our house and he has a supplement form.

If he had been living at that address at the time of applications/place allocation, yes possibly, but he wasn't - again, not the LEAs issue nor grounds for appeal. What do you mean by a supplement form? That he was a sibling? This pushes him up the waiting list, but won't get him a place if there isn't one free.

The fact he would have got a place had you had the address at the right time is irrelevant. The appeal has to look at the decision that was made at the time it was made, with the information the LEA had at that time, and it doesn't appear from what you have said that they have made any sort of error.

The appeal also falls under the fair access protocol as he has no school.

That's not what makes it FAP. He had a school place and you withdrew him from it; at that point the LEA's responsibility to you ended, and it became your responsibility to find him a school.

If that school place was more than 2 miles/45 mins by transport away, then you have a stronger argument that they made an error in not finding something closer once you had moved, or considering him under FAP once you had made them officially aware of your new address if no nearer school had a place. Was the distance in excess of this? Were any other schools offered once you made the LEA aware of your move?

You also need to bear in mind that consideration under FAP doesn't necessarily mean a place at the school of your choice. The LEA will place a child under FAP at the school they consider best placed to take an extra, which won't necessarily be the one you want.

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 18:42:55

And, again he only has no school at present because you voluntarily withdrew him from one I think?
If that is correct - if the council found you a school and you did not accept that offer or later withdrew him then he is not without a school place in the sense of a child who could never be found one.

FAP is about finding a child a school place - somewhere, anywhere within a reasonable distance (so 45 mins - 1 hour each way). It isn't about making a child school-less in order to obtain an emergency place at a better school or a more convenient one.

I do appreciate the journey thing with 2 children must be hideous but, from an appeal perspective, it counts for much less because So many people are in that position. So many people end up with 2 primary school children in separate schools or being allocated a school 2.5 miles from home. In some areas, there simply aren't the right number of places in the right areas and people have to slot in where they are sent.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 18:46:37

PS -reading my response back it sounds a little harsh and I don't mean to be.

However, I sit on appeals panels, and as such am well aware how hard ICS appeals are to win - I think the national average is less than 5% of ICS appeals are won. In many cases parents simply don't seem to understand the rules under which ICS appeals are heard, so I've tried to be as clear as I can. On the face of it, you don't seem to have grounds under ICS to win. However, you never know what will come up at appeal, and it's always worth a try.

Just also make sure he is on the waiting list for all schools you would accept too - as a sibling he is likely to be high on the list for the school anyway.

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 18:58:52

Yes mine too - didn't mean to sound harsh, just trying to get down all the factual stuff and give some idea of the process.

Absolutely explain your case and the reasons you want the school (especially related to benefits to your DS) and see what happens. The panel will treat you fairly and make sure you get a chance to say everything that might help. Good Luck for Thursday

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 18:59:05

We always knew it was a long shot. But I'm not willing to travel to two school in opposite directions and pay out in excess of £300 in childcare fees. It's not a major issue him being at home. I would prefer that than him being sent to the wrong school like he was in reception who will do little to help him with his behavioural issues. Yes it did sound harsh. I believe I asked how to prepare not if my case was right.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 19:01:41

Also I'm willing to wait. If it take 2-3 years for him to get a spot in this school then so be it.

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 19:05:10

In fairness HOW you prepare is directly related to what type of case you have when it comes to appeals. And peopel don't always know if they have a strong case or not.

Logically a 3 hour journey and 2 children at separate schools seems so impossible that it is a sure-fire winner. But in fact it is not and therefore, you'd be ill advised to prepare for the appeal by basing it solely on this.

Whereas if you'd said "he's on the list, a place came free but they didn't give it to him. They gave it to someone with no sibling, and no special priority"
Or if you'd said "The classes are all full. The school impose a limit of 24 because the classrooms are Victorian"

Then this would have an enormous bearing on your chances of success and is far more crucial to focus on in your preparations than childcare bills and journey times.

Now it is established that your case is a pure ICS case, the advice on preparing is be realistic about the chances, present the best case you can and hope something comes up that helps.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 19:07:48

If your appeal is on Thursday, then presumably you have admitted your documentation and appeal detail already? Technically the panel don't have to consider anything you submit on the day.

In terms of preparation, the best thing you can do is make sure you have a clear timeline of exactly what has happened, dates, distances involved, and clear reasons under the grounds above specifically as to why your son should have been given a place.

As Tiggy said, the panel will treat you fairly, but are bound by law and as such will need to see that the grounds you offer meet the ICS regulations.

tiggytape Tue 10-Jan-17 19:08:49

Also I'm willing to wait. If it take 2-3 years for him to get a spot in this school then so be it.

You can also appeal once every academic year too. It isn't limited to just this Thursday.
And after Year 2, your chances of success increase dramatically because the legal limit of 30 children per qualified teacher ceases to apply and you can win just on proving the disadvantage yo your DS outweighs the disadvantage to the school of taking one more pupil. The panel is much less restricted because no law on class sizes covers Year 3 and above.

You can also ask to be added to the lists of any other local schools that might be more suitable than the one you were offered. And you can appeal for all of those too.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 19:42:34

We're not interested in any school but this one. We've been around all the school in our local area and this is the best one suited to his needs. As I said befor I'm not having two children in different schools as in two years my third child will be going to school. I will keep him at home and home school him. I will make that very much evident on Thursday. As we said we are not willing to our sons life more difficult.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 19:48:43

* I will make that very much evident on Thursday.*

I would be wary of coming across too militant about that. Some panels can interpret that as bearing on blackmail - "if you don't give me a place then I won't send him to school". I would just be matter of fact about it if anyone asks what the fallback position is if he doesn't get the place. It's entirely your right to home ed of course, but as I say, panels have seen too many parents try to use it as extra leverage unfortunately.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 10-Jan-17 19:49:39

I wouldn't bother making that evident. It will play no part in your appeal and may make it look like you are trying to force the panel's hand.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 19:57:33

I didn't with draw him for leveridge I with drew him because of the strain the walking was doing to my mental health. I with drew him because he was at a school who thought that parents verbally abusing me in front of my children weren't their responsibility. I with drew him because I was constantly having to chase the learning mentor to follow through with things that had been discussed and agreed soon in meetings. To be frank I was that frightened to go in the playground I put him in breakfast club just to avoid parents. This is what I will be telling them. It more than likely won't work but I have to try.

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 20:22:10

Does your son have an EHCP? If you can get it to name the school you want, then that will get him a place - but it may be a long process.

Witchend Tue 10-Jan-17 20:28:03

Luczlukz I think you're taking the advice here not how it's intended.

What they're saying is that if you go the way of "If you don't give me the school I want I will home school" it often is used (so tends to come across) along the lines of your child saying "if you don't give me some sweets then I'll throw my sandwich on the floor."

As an adult your reaction to that child is not going to be "oh in that case you can have sweets" in fact my dc have learnt that that means that they won't get sweets even if I intended to give them afterwards.

And the panel can have that reaction, if you try that too.

If they ask what you're planning on doing, then saying "actually I'm homeschooling until he gets a place" is fine.
But telling them how dreadful the other place is (you're appealing for a school not against that one) and sounding like you're using homeschooling as a threat may turn a panel that otherwise is well-disposed to sympathise, against you.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 20:36:19

I'm just confused by it all if I'm honest. I have no idea what to say but the school aren't helping either. Apparently the year one teacher told the kids last week that my son is starting in a weeks time! I had three lots of parents come up to me saying how pleased they are and I was like "ermm he hasn't even had his appeal yet?!"
I've had two meetings with the school to discuss my son and the supports they will need for when he starts at that school. Yet all the advice on here is no your gonna lose. So I'm totally confused.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 10-Jan-17 22:01:39

How many children are in the Year 1 class at the moment? is anyone leaving / has left?

PatriciaHolm Tue 10-Jan-17 22:02:21

The school seem to be under the impression that this is a normal prejudice case where you have to prove the prejudice of admitting to the school is less than to your son not being admitted. In that situation, then the school turning up and saying it's fine, no problem, would almost certainly result in a win.

However, if it is definitely ICS, then that is irrelevant. The law on class size cannot be overruled just because the school is happy to squeeze another one in. Are there definitely 30 children in each yr1 class?

Of course, an inexperienced panel may go down the sympathy route anyway, but strictly speaking if it is ICS there don't appear to be any grounds for appeal.

Luczlukz Tue 10-Jan-17 22:15:27

They had 31 last year. 1 has left so there at 30 as it stands. But I wasn't told that when I visited the school over a year ago to put his name down for it. I had no idea it was over subscribed till my daughter started. So someone left in the summer taking it down to 30. It's all confusing. I think I'm just gonna have to turn up and see what happens.

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