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Need help appealing reception place!

(20 Posts)
allergymumof2 Sat 13-May-17 15:15:49

Hi there

Sorry for the long post... I would love some help/ advice.

Our eldest son has very severe allergies and has suffered anaphylaxis to the smallest trace of dairy, as well as being severely allergic to egg and some nuts. He is currently at preschool at one of our closest schools. We chose this as he had a good chance of getting in for reception (despite tiny catchment) and it is very small. When we applied for a school place we applied under a special medical need to keep him where he is. Early symptoms of his allergic reactions tend to be behavioural and so it's vital staff know our son well so they can spot the signs of an allergic reaction. At preschool he attended the class for 6 months before eating there, and since last Autumn he's had school meals (with careful planning and co-ordination between the headteacher, his nursery key worker, the catering team and us). As he is in preschool the staff/ pupil ratio during lunch is high and the lunch staff spent time getting to know our son before he ate (and his keyworker attended lunch for several weeks). The school is small (one form entry) and so we requested he stayed there as it would be infinitely safer for him than moving him to an unknown environment. His consultant paediatrician wrote a letter requesting he remain at the school too, saying it could be detrimental to his emotional and physical state to be moved. The application was rejected and he didn't get in under the distance criteria and he has been offered a place at another school.

We have been to see the other school, which by reputation is very good, but is much much bigger (3 form entry) and having met them I fear he will be at very high risk when he first gets to the school (and possibly for a good many months/ years longer). When our son has had an allergic reaction in the past he tends to get very quiet, before becoming floppy. After lunch all the children go out to a large playground and play (90-180 children) and I fear he could get "lost" if he had an allergic reaction and he wouldn't necessarily know he was having one and wouldn't seek help but would be sit down/ curl up. Furthermore as his allergic reactions don't manifest themselves in the traditional swelling a member of staff may not know our son and may not know he urgently needs his epi-pen/ hospital treatment to save his life.

I want to appeal to keep him at the school he's currently at but know this would take them over the 30 places and so the fight will be huge. Does anyone have any advice? Would be so so grateful.

Thank you!

irvineoneohone Sat 13-May-17 15:32:19

Sorry I don't have advice re: appeal, but has ds in 3 form entry primary.

I was worried at first, but they are actually quite good, since more children = more children with allergies. They do regular training, etc.
In reception, my ds was kept at the table with other kids with allergies, so the lunch time supervisor can keep an eye out for him. Also they introduced us to the lunchtime supervisor who was responsible for my ds.

Another good side is that there are others so he doesn't feel left out when doing something like cooking, using different ingredients from others.

Hopefully, appeal goes well, but even if it doesn't, it may not be so bad. Good luck.

Sirzy Sat 13-May-17 15:37:57

I don't know much about appealing but I think you would struggle to show that the school can't deal with his needs realistically because they can, and should, put things in place.

Ds has severe asthma, and much like your son doesn't present himself in a typical way, so all members of staff he comes into contact with are trained to know early signs and there are posters throughout school.

At breaks and dinner time a specific TA takes responsibility for him and she carries his bag of rescue meds with her, they have back up staff for if she is off.

Contact the local school nurse and get a meeting arranged with the school asap so a care plan can be put in place

irvineoneohone Sat 13-May-17 15:43:39

Yes, definitely have a meeting sorted now and have it before school break up for summer.

allergymumof2 Sat 13-May-17 16:13:03

Thanks - we have met the school and the welfare officer and have set up a series of meetings in advance of September. I wanted to have the initial meeting before deciding whether to appeal or not and throughout the meeting I felt my son would be so much safer staying where he is. Sirzy - that's an interesting point about having a specific TA taking responsibility at break time.

irvineoneohone Sat 13-May-17 16:21:35

Same here in KS1 regarding specific TA, only it wasn't a TA in my ds' case, it was a midday/lunch time supervisor, but same principle.

Sirzy Sat 13-May-17 16:30:42

I think from the child's POV it's important for them to know who to go to at the first sign of a problem too. Ds knows whoever has his red bag (so very visible reminder if it changes for whatever reason) is to person he goes to and Me and the school both worked with him to remind him that. Makes him feel safer knowing what to do

Donthate Sat 13-May-17 16:43:07

I would imagine you have good grounds for appeal. Definitely worth a try. There are lots of people on here with good knowledge of the appeals process. I'm sure one will come along with advice soon.

cantkeepawayforever Sat 13-May-17 17:12:46

OK, not one of the experts here, but for what it's worth:

It is an Infant Class Size appeal. Basically, these can only be won if a mistake in applying the admissions criteria has been made which cost your child a place.

Firstly, what are the admissions criteria for the school? Is there an exceptional social / medical needs category? If there is one, why wasn't your child put into it (ie was a mistake made in not placing him there)?

If there isn't such a category, then I think - again the experts will be along to help - you have to prove that the decision was 'unreasonable', which is a very high barrier, in that it requires that no reasonable person could possibly have made it. At the very least, you would have to prove not that the current school would meet his needs 'better', but that it was the ONLY school that could possibly meet his needs (a simple example might be if a single school in the area is fully wheelchair accessible).

IME, all schools of any size have dealt with severe allergy, and will have procedures and training in place to deal with it. However much 'less safe' the new school feels at the moment to the familiar 'old' one, it does not mean that procedures can't and won't be put in place to keep him safe. This will make it hard to win an appeal that relies on the school you want being the only possible school that meets his needs.

However, I may be wrong here in some particulars - hope that someone else will be along shortly.

cantkeepawayforever Sat 13-May-17 17:42:20

Apologies, wrong terminology: the word applied to the decision is actually 'perverse', defined as follows:

"It means ‘beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker’, or ‘a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it’."

So unless you can prove that a genuine mistake was made in not placing your child in an existing exceptional social and medical needs category - rather than your child not meeting the requirements for that category - you need to prove the the decision is perverse.

admission Sat 13-May-17 17:43:47

If the admission authority has rejected your application to be considered under the medical / social needs and you were aware of this prior to the allocation of places I feel that you will not be in a position to really have a strong case for admission. It is perfectly reasonable for the admission authority to come to the conclusion that it did not have to be that specific school that your son had to go to and so any appeal can only be on the concerns that you have medically that only by being at the near by school can you have confidence that your son is safe. Unfortunately as a one form entry school with 30 pupils in each year group, this makes it an infant class size case where the only effective way of getting a place is because of mistake. The admission authority did not appear to make a mistake, they considered the application under medical and rejected it , you were made aware of this and subsequently you the did not get in under distance.
If however the admission authority did not tell you in advance that you application had been rejected under medical, you could argue that the admission authority appear to have under-estimated the life threatening medical condition your son has. Because you were not informed about this rejection you were unable to have further talks and submit further evidence to illustrate the severity of the medical condition. To be honest it is still a weak case and likely not to be successful. The panel would have to agree with you that the decision of the admission authority was not sound to reject the medical submission, so that in effect they then made a mistake in where you were considered. The one area that you might be able to attack them on is the issue of who made the decision, was it actually medical people on the panel or not. It is frequently not and then there is an argument that without the medical knowledge they were not in a position to make a decision based on experience. You need to emphasis the differences between this and other types of allergy which leads to anaphylaxis to the smallest trace of dairy

allergymumof2 Sun 14-May-17 20:20:24

Thank you everyone this is really helpful.

There is a medical need category so I will try and find out why he wasn't put into it. I do understand that schools need to be able to deal with allergies, it's just with his being so so severe to such a common food group with subtle symptoms I am particularly concerned.

Thank you also Admission... there are some really helpful points. The letter notifying us came at the same time as we were notified of the school allocation so there was no time to go back and give further evidence of severity of allergy. I will find out who was on the panel who decided.

irvineoneohone what allergies does your son have?

irvineoneohone Sun 14-May-17 20:36:24

My ds was in the same situation, actually. We have applied in medical category, but rejected since other school was also capable to deal with this. Luckily, he got our first choice due to distance.

He has severe(fatal) allergy to certain fruit( very common lunch box content) and to wheat, and severe/moderate allergy to eggs, cow's milk , nuts and god knows how many more. . .
His food allergies are pretty much under control now, but he is suffering more with environmental allergies(dust, pollen, pets) these days, since it's impossible to avoid it.

But as I said before, big school are quite experienced with these children over the years, so as long as you keep close contact with school, it's not too bad, ime.

Really hope everything goes well for you and your dc. I know it's very worrying.smile

lougle Sun 14-May-17 20:43:26

Realistically, I think you have a poor chance of success here. Allergies are common, and all schools should be able to deal with them, having suitable plans in place. In most schools, that would involve having measures such as pictures of children at risk of allergic reactions in the staff room, along with their allergy and signs/symptoms, so that all staff are aware of children at risk, specific staff trained to monitor said children, risk assessments and plans of action, and appropriate treatment boxes/bags available at all times in close proximity to the child. If necessary, children can eat in separate locations or even food groups can be banned. For example, in one school I know of, kiwi is banned because there are some children who are extremely allergic to it on contact, and the risk is considered too great, given their other needs, to reduce the chance of them coming into contact with it.

The trouble with appealing is that you can 'win' one part of the appeal, say that you weren't informed in time to submit more robust evidence, but if it is found that the more robust evidence wouldn't have made a difference overall, in that the decision would still be that this was not the only school that could meet your child's medical needs, you will still lose the appeal ultimately.

I do appreciate how scary it is to send a vulnerable child to an unfamiliar place. It really is hard to trust them in new hands. I'm having to do it all over again in September and it's really hard! But they will want to keep your DS just as safe as you do - for his sake and theirs! I'm sure if you work with them they will come up with a plan that covers all eventualities.

mummytime Sun 14-May-17 20:46:49

At my DCs school they were well used to dealing with children with a wide range of allergies. The lunch staff kept photos of the children in the kitchen next to the hatch (so all staff could see them when serving food). Even in quite a big school these children become well known quite quickly.
No Primary I know has any nuts on the premises.

And you should see the lengths a Secondary I worked in went to for a pupil with a very severe Latex allergy. (about 1500 pupils).

1nsanityscatching Sun 14-May-17 21:03:48

I think you might struggle tbh. Dd has anaphylaxis as did another pupil in her class in a three form entry primary. There were also others in the school with severe allergies.
I think it would probably be better to be communicating with the school you are allocated so that there are procedures in place to ensure your ds is safe.
In the playground your little one could wear a high vis waistcoat to ensure he is visible as some children did in dd's primary (for epilepsy in their case).
Schools do have experience and will do whatever it takes to keep your child safe. Dd is in secondary now and food tech has a whole new set of recipes to ensure dd isn't in danger. That change was made as soon as they knew she would be attending the school without any need for me to point out the dangers.

cantkeepawayforever Sun 14-May-17 21:09:52

Anaphylaxis to dairy is IME not all that uncommon - seating arrangements, suitable identification, cleaning routines, treatment boxes, mass training for the use of epipens, pictures on lanyards for all playground staff, designated staff etc etc are routine (as are the whole set of other arrangements for taking such children on daily or residential trips etc)

The uncommon presentation would obviously be a specific need, with particular additional training required, but it certainly isn't a need that only a single school can fulfil.

allergymumof2 Sun 14-May-17 21:56:57

Thanks everyone, it's reassuring to hear other school's coping methods. These weren't suggested in the welfare meeting but I will put together a list.

1nsanityscatching Mon 15-May-17 09:16:26

Dd's allergy is to fish, all fish, which considering tuna was a daily sandwich option and school dinners aimed to serve fish twice a week even without considering lunchbox contents from prawns to sushi and crab sticks the dangers were there. But not once in all her time in Primary did dd have her allergy spiked. She went on three residentials as well and they catered for her needs then as well.
The whole school was epi pen trained so I felt dd was as safe there as she was at home and as she got older and further up the school I relaxed tbh.

2014newme Mon 15-May-17 12:15:27

My dd goes right a four form entry school there are children with very serious allergies and they manage.

Thing is, no matter how brilliant the pre school staff are, your son wouldn't be in pre school any more you'd be starting over with reception staff being briefed etc anyway.

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