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Can Heads have any say over who gets in the School?

(21 Posts)
AmyL88 Tue 18-Apr-17 13:23:14

Basically that?! Do headteachers of Academies have a say in who gets into the school? I am talking Primary? Or is it all down to the LA?

CassandraAusten Tue 18-Apr-17 13:24:50

They can set the admissions criteria as they wish, but they must then follow their published criteria.

JessKM Tue 18-Apr-17 13:26:09

I don't think they can as far as I know, my DD was in a class of 36 as council kept letting people in on appeal etc and the head couldn't do anything about it! That was a church academy.

AmyL88 Tue 18-Apr-17 13:27:15

hmm ok, I was hoping it would sway in my favour but guess not. This school admissions process is so stressful!

OdinsLoveChild Tue 18-Apr-17 13:27:32

Academies set their own admissions criteria but have specific rules they must adhere to about being fair, non discriminatory etc.

With LA run schools during the usual admissions process they don't.
Outside the admissions time such as midterm transfers etc they can offer a place of they think they can fit the child in. Also some schools allow teachers children a guaranteed place.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 18-Apr-17 13:27:53

No, the published admissions criteria have to be followed to the letter.

I guess if someone went to appeal they could choose to not put any arguments forward as to why it would be detrimental to the school to admit the child.

AmyL88 Tue 18-Apr-17 13:30:01

So the school sees the appeals?

JessKM Tue 18-Apr-17 13:33:00

My dd3s admission to a school
Went to an appeal panel as they were oversubscribed school. We were invited, along with the head of the school and a member of the council and her doctor for a short meeting which was awkward but fair. The head said she sympathised but the classes were full.
this was a mid-term entry into year 2 though, not a reception one. And we were appealing on medical grounds. We won our appeal so it was worth doing

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 13:39:57

They can only select in a legal and very general sense andonly if they control their own admissions:
So if they are an academy (so control their own admissions) they can decide to give siblings top priority or no priority at all. Or they can decide to take people who live closer as the crow flies or they can draw up a catchment area and give those people priority.

However the Head cannot say "I like Fred Jones, he is a maths genius, and would be a credit to the school so he can have a place." or "I know the Jones family live 3 miles away but 3 generations of his family have attended the school since 1951 so we'll make an exception for their son"
That doesn't happen. No cherry picking of any kind is allowed.

At appeal the school sees everyone who appeals and makes the case against taking extra children (not specific children but extra children in general). The school cannot support one appeal and reject the rest.
Also, it is an independent panel chooses who (if anyone) wins an appeal not the school. The legal ways to win an appeal for children of this age in classes of 30 are limited and very specific hence such appeals are rarely won.

Basically the law forbids Heads cherry-picking students and, in reality, a Head wouldn't because as well as breaching the law, it would open the flood gate to other parents taking action against them.

OdinsLoveChild Tue 18-Apr-17 13:41:31

AmyL88 The appeals processes are all slightly different in each LA area.
In my area the LEA hold appeals days for each individual school.

A panel of 3 independent people listen to each appeal.

If a school has 20 appeals the head from that school will stand in front of the panel and all 20 parents appealing a place and will say why they cannot take any more students.

Each individual parent will then be asked to state why their child should have been offered a place at that school and to produce any accompanying documents.

The head will listen and can comment on each case should they wish to. The panel will then consider each case individually and the Head and parents are written to with the outcome.

I assume you are considering an appeal. On what grounds will you be appealing? Theres very specific rules for primary schools and its difficult to win an appeal in my LEA area for primary places.

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 13:49:32

The appeal process is set by law so what you describe is what happens in all LAs Odins.

The only difference is that sometimes Stage 1 (where the school says why they are too full to take more) is separate for each person and sometimes stage 1 is a group hearing like you had. Stage 2 is the bit where each parent states their reasons for wanting g/ needing a place or explains the error that deprived them of a place.

Either way, the panel are bound by the same considerations and laws for every school appeal at every school and for reception, the crunch is ICS. Really long explanation of appeals to follow:

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 13:49:38

When you plan to appeal for a reception place, you need to know whether the appeal will be infant class size i.e. will admitting your child cause the school to have a class with over 30 children in Reception, Y1 or Y2 at some point while your child is in infants.

If the admission number is a multiple of 30 it will be infant class size. It is likely to be infant class size if the admission number is 15 or 45. If the appeal is infant class size your chances of a successful appeal are exceptionally slim unless you can show:

1. that there has been an admissions mistake that directly deprived your child of a place that should have been theirs.

2. The admissions criteria are illegal eg they prioritise people that they shouldn't (very rare - most are distance, siblings and faith which are allowed)

3. The decision to refuse a place is so unreasonable that no person viewing the case could agree it was fair (this isn't transport or childcare difficulties - this is things like a child's life in danger form attending the same school as people who pose a danger to them or their family for example)

You can appeal even if you can't show that but unless a mistake has been made, an infant class size appeal is a very long shot.

If the appeal is not infant class size it will be a standard appeal where the panel consider whether prejudice (meaning harm or disadvantage) to your child through not being admitted to the school outweighs the prejudice the school will face through being forced to admit another pupil. You should concentrate on anything about the preferred school which shows it best meets your child’s needs or interests.
Do not be negative about the allocated school though - you are appealing for one school not against the allocated one. Childcare and transport logistics are rarely helpful at appeal unless they relate to a child’s medical needs eg mobility difficulties for example

Whether it would be an ICS (Infant Class Size) appeal or not depends if they mix the classes now or in the future to form classes with 30 pupils. This is called "future prejudice"
It means that each reception class only has 25 children but the law on class sizes could still apply because (as an example) Year 1 has 50 children and so does Year 2. This totals 150 children who are divided (at some stage) into 5 classes with exactly 30 in each.
Of course they may never mix them and may have 6 classes of 25 for the whole of KS1 in which case you'd be able to appeal without it being an ICS (infant class size) and as such would have more chance of winning.

A one form entry of 15 is normally covered by the class size laws too.
This is because most schools with a reception of 15 children will eventually join that class with the year above to form a mixed class of 30 children perhaps in Year 2.
If that is the plan, they cannot accept more than 15 into either Year 1 or reception else, when they are mixed, the class size will exceed the legal maximum. It is called "future prejudice"

AmyL88 Tue 18-Apr-17 14:34:15

Wow thanks for all the info. I am in 2 minds whether to appeal or not, part of me thinks there isn't much point. I am currently 8th on the waiting list (hmm)

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 16:22:04

Appealing costs nothing apart from time and (to some degree for most people) a bit of stress.
Every parent has the right to do it and although the chances are very slim where there's no error and also 30 per class, you never know what an appeal will throw up. If you lose an appeal you are no worse off than you are now because appeals and waiting lists are entirely separate things.
You can always put in your appeal before the deadline, wait to see how the waiting lists move and, if things go well, withdraw your appeal before it is heard (they're not normally heard for ages yet - they are normally in the summer)

JessKM Tue 18-Apr-17 16:40:59

I believe it costs the school to fight an appeal maybe for the legality side but not the parents

JessKM Tue 18-Apr-17 16:43:00

Also there are a lot of classes which have more that 30 regardless of the rule (there was talk of over turning it but think it got scrapped) as some children are considered 'exempt' from the class size - maybe due to medical need, being in LA care, traveller children

Ollycat Tue 18-Apr-17 16:49:46

In an over subscription appeal the school will put forward the case against the appeals - showing how they will be prejudiced by going over PAN. The appellant will their case as to why their child must go to that school. Tge independent panel will decide on the outcome.

It's nothing to do with the head - they can't decide to admit Flossie because Mrs Smith has offered to run the after school art club for instance.

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 16:58:10

In an over subscription appeal the school will put forward the case against the appeals - showing how they will be prejudiced by going over PAN. The appellant will their case as to why their child must go to that school. Tge independent panel will decide on the outcome.

That only applies to a regular appeal (normally the ones for Year 3 places and older children). For many / most reception appeals prejudice and PAN isn't an issue because the law forbids class sizes above 30 except in very specific cases (where technically the class sizes remain at 30 because the children who have special exemption are excepted and don't count in the numbers)

MrsJamin Tue 18-Apr-17 20:24:26

Why do you think you have a case, OP?Normally you won't win a reception place unless a mistake has been made by the school or admissions authority, regardless of who you know at the school.

Campfiresmoke Tue 18-Apr-17 22:43:39

An appeal does cost money. The parent appealing does not pay personally to appeal but they do cost money.

tiggytape Tue 18-Apr-17 22:54:13

Yes - sorry. Appeals cost the family nothing but they do cost money in admin / printing / school staff time and assembling a panel (although the panel aren't paid).
However the cost should not factor in any decision whether to appeal or not. Every family has the right to appeal if they want to - that is a fairly fundamental part of the system.

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