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Please can you lovely people help word my appeal to get maximum impact.

(23 Posts)
IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 17:12:11

We have moved back to the UK from abroad and have moved to Cornwall. We applied to our local catchment school for my year 5 and year 6 and my year 6 has a place but my year 5 doesn't. They have given my year 5 a school that is 1.8 miles away. Both schools start at 8.50am and finish at 3.15. Also I don't drive so walk everywhere.

My year 6 is autistic and cannot be trusted to walk to school on his own. It's a 20 minute walk with 2/3rds along a 2 lane road that is the main artery road into town with a busy roaundabout where we have to cross the road that joins it twice and there are a couple other roads joining it that can be tricky. The final 1/3rd is through the housing estate with 4 roads to cross with school traffic as well. He goes into his own little world and forgets where he is and just walks where he wants, which can be across roads with out looking and could go wandering off as he sees something that interests him and he forgets what he should be doing. The majority except the last 5 minutes of the walk is uphill.

The other school we have been offered is in completely the opposite direction. So after dropping my year 6 off we would have to walk 20 minutes back and then set off in the other direction which takes about 50 minutes to an hour to walk from the start point so up to an hour and 20 minutes to get to school. We start with the rest of the 2 lane carriageway going in the other direction. Cross a road and along the 2 lane, through a subway to take us to the other side of the 2 lane and walk along, then have to cross a 4 lane road with an island (no lights) that serves a roundabout. Then up the hill with a narrow pathway next to the 2 lanes. At hte top of the hill is a crossroads where there is a double mini roundabout. The 2 lane carriageway carries straight on and the other 2 roads joining the double mini are single. We have to get over to the single road on the other side of the double mini roundabout not the one that joins the side we are on. This is the first 1/3 of our walk. The second part of the journey is where it gets very interesting as it is all single lane highway with no footpaths and starts by going down into the valley and then goes up and up and up. This is what I would call a proper cornish country road if anyone knows what I mean. There is enough room for the cars and that is it.

There are no local buses out to this school and we have been refused school bus as it is under 2 miles to the school and DC is year 5 going into year 6 next year. A taxi would cost around £7-10 one way, so a minimum of £28 a day, which we can't afford. We know of no other children going to the school from our area.

In September my DC1 starts secondary school which is a half hour walk up a steep hill and in the opposite direction from the school they want to start DC2 at as well (it's slightly at a tangent to our prefered school and starts earlier/ finishes earlier so you can drop at on and then walk through the housing estate to the other school). The secondary school is on a main single road that is a main road into town going down to the 2 lane highway and has lots of roads coming off it so DC1 could not be trusted on it.

DC1 started school 2 weeks ago and I have finally got he appeals form. DC2 has been out of school since the end of February. I am desperate to get DC2 into the catchment school as he is really missing school and socialising.

Any help composing the appeal with the right key words that will get people listening would be great as I obviously can't be in 2 places at the same time. I have taken pictures of the walk to go with the appeal if anyone would think it would help.

PatriciaHolm Wed 24-May-17 17:43:27

For Yr5, you need to prove that the detriment to your child of not attending this school is greater than the detriment to the school of admitting.

Normally transport issues are not really a basis for appeal. However, in this case, if your eldest's issues are provable and documented, it's worth a try (it's always worth a try!).

You would need to provide documentation from medical professionals that states your eldest child's diagnosis, and their problems with unaccompanied travel. The letters would need to state that the professional's opinion is "X needs to be accompanied on this journey because..." not "mum tells me" or "it seems that". It would need to state unequivocally that in their opinion your DS needs to be accompanied by an adult to and from school. It won't be enough just for you to go along and tell the panel what the issue is.

You would then need to show clearly the route you need to take, and that there are no simple alternatives such as a bus.

It would also help if you showed some evidence about how the school suits your youngest child's needs -clubs that meet their interests, do they study a specific language he has already started?

Also look at the current class sizes in the school - do they have any other classes which are one over PAN? This could help you demonstrate that they can cope with one more (their case is likely to revolve around how they are set up to have PAN, probably 30, in each class and going over would be to the detriment of the rest of the children)

If the year 5 classes are already over PAN you will have a harder job., and of course, the panel could always take the view that you could get a childminder to drop one of them off, or your partner could drop one of them, for example.

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 17:56:08

My DH works odd shifts and is often leaving for work at 7 am in the morning. I work 2 nights a week and come home at 8am on a Monday and 7am on a Tuesday.

What is PAN please?

He was diagnosed when he was in year 1 and I have the letter confirming that. We've been out of the country sinse he was in year 2. How can I prove it?

It's a bloody nightmare. How can I get my children to 2 schools in 2 different directions safetly.

PatriciaHolm Wed 24-May-17 18:03:28

PAN = published admissions number - the maximum they will fill a class to. It's often 30, but doesn't have to be. If other classes have gone over this (usually due to won appeals) it helps to show the school can cope, but if the year 5 classes are already over a panel will be loathe to expand them further.

Do you have any documentation from overseas about his condition that you could get translated?

Realistically you need a letter from a professional stating his needs. You stating them isn't going to be enough. Panels see parents all the time saying "little freddie can't walk to school on his own, i need to take him" - you need proof of his needs.

Are there any other schools locally that could take both of them?

prh47bridge Wed 24-May-17 18:14:20

PAN = Published Admission Number, i.e. the number of pupils the school admits as part of the normal admissions round.

As PatriciaHolm says, some evidence of your eldest's issues will help. See if you can find a medical professional who will agree that he cannot travel unaccompanied.

You need to make the best case you can based on things the school offers that are not available from the allocated school. Any appeal panel should be interested in that.

Whilst transport issues may sway the panel in this case that will depend very much on the appeal panel you get. Some will be willing to award a place on this basis, some won't be interested at all. I'm afraid many parents have the problem of getting children to two different schools. Appeal panels generally don't see that as reason to admit a child. It may be different in your case due to your eldest's difficulties but don't rely on this as your only argument.

InflagranteDelicto Wed 24-May-17 18:23:04

Going into a tangent, have you looked at the councils policy more closely? Could you use it to get transport provided for dc1 because of their SEN?

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:25:58

No I have nothing from abroad. We took the children to school by car each day as we both worked in the school that they were in. He had IEPs but that was it. How do I get evidence now?

Where do I find out this PAN information?

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:27:58

That is an idea. I've seen the school bus go past our house but that would have the problem of having to leave DC1 in the house on his own until the bus came.

GlitterGlue Wed 24-May-17 18:38:40

www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/20990712/home-to-school-transport-policy-2016-17.pdf transport policy here, if it helps?

GlitterGlue Wed 24-May-17 18:39:36

Pedestrian route assessment info here. www.cornwall.gov.uk/education-and-learning/schools-and-colleges/school-transport/unsuitable-walking-routes-to-school/

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:40:20

The other school that was offered was 2.5 miles away in a completely different direction again so we would have the same problem with getting DC1 to secondary in September.

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:44:18

This is the road we would be walking along.

PatriciaHolm Wed 24-May-17 18:48:57

That definitely looks like an unsuitable walking route! Follow the link above very helpfully provided by GlitterGlue - that looks like a hopeful route...

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:53:37

Thanks Glue, I'll sit down tonight and read through those.

I think I need to get an appointment with the CAB and see about filling in benefits forms; DLA etc. Also need to find a surgery I think. Would a GP be able to write the letter or would they be able to refer us to a specialist to help us quickly or can we self refer and how do I find out where we need to self refer to?

I am going to need to take a 2 pronged approach I think on this.
1. Appeal the transport too the school they have allocaed DC2.

2. Appeal a place for the catchment school.

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 18:55:02

Those pictures were taken when it was not rush hour which would be when we would be going back and forth to school.

GlitterGlue Wed 24-May-17 18:59:05

I've just read through the policy very quickly and I think there needs to be a place to step away from the road, even just a verge. There clearly isn't that on some of those roads.

What's the traffic like? Might be worth doing a rough count in the morning.

GlitterGlue Wed 24-May-17 19:02:59

Sorry, actually, it looks as though it would fail on step offs if more than 120 cars per hour.

strawberrypenguin Wed 24-May-17 19:11:50

Can you get your oldest into the same school as your youngest?

Learn to drive fast? There are intensive courses.

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 19:35:04

There is definitely more than a 120 vehicles per hour.

The school where they can both go to is 2.5 miles away in another opposite direction. No buses ( sorry buses every hour. So get to school and then I wait an hour for the bus home and then equally tricky on pick up.) Taxis £10 each way. Both these schools are in a small village and not the city I live in. Then I would have the same problem in September with schools in completely opposite directions and even further distance between them.

IAmALeafOnTheWindWatchHowISoar Wed 24-May-17 19:38:28

I can't learn to drive until I have been declared fit by the doctor. When I am we can't afford the lessons. DH is doing agency work atm and is employed till July. He is also doing a couple of nights and most weekends at McDonalds so we are dancing around both his jobs and shifts.

strawberrypenguin Wed 24-May-17 22:28:41

How about you switch roles then? You work and DH does school run as he can drive?

Or DH drops your younger at breakfast club on the way to work?

Just trying to think of other ways you can make it work!

BarbarianMum Thu 25-May-17 13:46:07

Child minder? Breakfast club? Move both to school further away and take bus? Home ed one child?

corythatwas Fri 26-May-17 08:31:26

If the child has SN and the mother is unable to drive, I would have thought the most likely outcome would be the LA offering a taxi rather than a place at the preferred school.

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