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Appeal advice KS2(14 Posts)
Sorry me again.
We finally have an appeal date for our son who can't get a space at any local school. In brief, our local independent school closed. We got our DD into our local village school but were refused a space for DS (Year 3) due to their being full. Nothing local has space. The school offered by LEA is miles away. We, in agreement with LEA, have him at home whilst we await the outcome of the appeal for our village school.
Question relates to the hearing/documents. So far we have received nothing from the School (an academy) - no documents/statement etc. I have sent to the appeals service a few emails and letters I have collated in support of our case. But now I'm not sure what to do? Do I kick up a stink and say we haven't had anything from the school and the hearing is in a few days and risk there being a postponement (don't really want to do that as DS is out of school) or get to the hearing, presumably get handed some documents and ask for a brief adjournment? any ideas...I just expected the school to have provided us with something or am I getting this all wrong? Surely we can expect a statement from them about why they can't/won't go to 31 in the the class otherwise we don't know what questions to prepare! obviously I have had conversations with the LEA who tried to negotiate him a place (reasons cited were space and difficult class) but we haven't had anything formally in writing about it!
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
A document is written, not necessarily by the school but by the LEA. This is their case explaining why they cannot accommodate your son. Unfortunately I've only seen from the school side and don't know if you get to see this prior to appeal.
AS the school is an academy, they are their own admission authority and therefore need to explain in writing why they cannot admit your son. Who has confirmed the date of the appeal ? The school or the LA because that will tell you who is providing the clerk for the appeal and doing all the organisation. It is for the school to organise this but they may well be contracting out the work to the LA.
In terms of getting the information for the appeal, the admission appeal code is not very helpful. It says that the admission authority (the school) must supply the clerk with all relevant documents in a fair and transparent manner and in accordance with the specified timetable. The specified timetable does not however say when you should receive the documents, only in paragraph 2.10 does it say "a reasonable time before the date of the hearing." What is reasonable is open to different interpretations and I can only say in my LA that is taken as being 7 days before the hearing.
There is no way that the school should just be turning up at the appeal and handing you some papers. In that case you very definitely need to consider a postponement of the case (accepting it causes all sorts of other issues) as you need to understand correctly their case for non admission. Only if it very simple says we have 30 in the class and the classroom is too small would I suggest continuing after you have had a short adjournment to read the case.
Thanks Admission, that is really helpful. The hearing is next Monday (its now tuesday night), The LEA appeals service is handling this. We only got an appeal date on Friday after I pushed for it with them as we were v close to 30 school days since the submission. After a big rant I got an email on friday afternoon with the date and received by letter on the saturday morning - so 5 working days notice. I just thought with such short notice we would receive the documents from the school immediately! The hearing is still outside the 30 school days but I don't see that there is any penalty on the academy (who wouldn't give the LEA a confirmed date)! all feels v unfair so far but yes I take your point re a postponement. What are the issues you refer to re the postponement /accepting it? thanks
I'm afraid there is no penalty if the appeal is not arranged within the required timeframe. If the appellant is disadvantaged by the delay and loses as a result they may get a further hearing, but that's about as far as it goes.
Given that the school was dragging its heels it would not surprise me if they haven't got their case together yet. They will need to do so very quickly or you will need to think about a postponement.
Having done 100s of school appeals sitting on panels, I am very used to the tone and words used in appeal documents. You however will not be and it is sensible to very carefully read the document looking at each sentence and checking exactly what it means. It is certainly best to do this a number of times preferably leaving time in between each read through.
What is critical is that you tease out from what is said, exactly why the school is saying they cannot admit and that you think carefully how you can ask questions so that you try to knock down their reasoning. So for instance if they say that the room is small, that you are asking how small, whether they have had more than 30 in the class in the past, are their other rooms with more than 30 in and how do they compare in size. In part 1 of the appeal the school has to prove over and above the fact that they are at PAN for the year cohort that there are good reasons for not admitting. Anything that diminishes the school's case makes it easier for the panel when they have to balance the schools case against you case to admit to believe that you arguments have more weight than the schools.
Not having the papers for an appeal next Monday, when the LA are running this sounds like poor planning by the LA but fairly obviously a school that is not used to having to go to admission appeals.
Thanks Prh and Admission, that advice is so so helpful. We finally have their statement. They have failed to mention the fact that they are expanding their classrooms (academy funded not LEA) not to increase PAN but to improve facilities/environment. I'm cross that they didn't even bother to refer to it as i think it is really important and quite obvious considering I live 0.1 miles from the school that I can see what is going on! I will go through everything else very carefully as advised. Many points I can respond to already (lunchtime being too busy/playground being overcrowded etc) but I think I will struggle as regards the extra needs in the classroom - what can I say? Yes it appears there are children with additional needs, there is an extra TA already not sure how I approach it....any ideas (am totally clueless on this area sorry). Thanks
The number of pupils and adults in the room is not easy to counter effectively, unless the rooms are big. There are some calculations for sizes of classrooms but it depends on how old the classrooms are. The original size for 30 pupils was considered to be 48sq metres (and is probably the size of many classrooms in England), then under Building Bulletin 99, two different parameters were set. The first was that for KS1 classes especially, the area should be 63 to 70 sq metres but that the standard classroom for most activities would be 56 to 63sq metres. This is the dimension that is usually quoted for 30 pupils in ks2 in most appeals. However the DfE in their priority school building program from 2012 onwards has been quoting 55 to 62 sq metres as the standard classroom size. Certainly most new classrooms are build to this dimension.
Do you have any classroom size for the class your son would be potentially joining? The other obvious question is how is the classroom set up, do they have desks in rows or are they set together so there are say 6 around one table? Having 5 or 6 around a table is not to your advantage because that implies a set number of tables for the 30 in the class already that will be full, whereas any other number is not divisible directly into 30 and so it can be argued that there is room on one of the tables.
The other issue is that you have a TA in the classroom which is obviously another person who is taking up space.
If you are sure of your facts over the size of the classroom and number of desks etc then you can counter the argument potentially. If you cannot then it may be best to just ignore that comment and focus more on things like overcrowded playgrounds. The obvious question to ask is whether there have been any accidents that needed to be reported to RIDDOR, that is a serious accident. You will be very unlucky if the reply is that there have been. So if the answer is none, then you ask the school's representative to explain if there have been no serious accidents how they can say that the playground is overcrowded, especially when you note that there are extensions going on to the school.
WE WON! The school did not make its case and we didn't even have our part of the hearing. Thank you so much for your advice and support on here, it really helped me to structure my arguments (even though I didn't need them) but more importantly the questions that I asked the academy head. I really went for the overcrowding point and as regards the 'high needs' in the class simply said, you discussed this with the LEA, they knew your position on it yet they still maintain the academy should have admitted DS....it worked. Phew x
brilliant news. Have they given a start date for him?
Yes, the head asked at the hearing whether she was precluded from starting him before the clerk had written to her..the answer was 'no', so he is starting tomorrow!!
Excellent news. And good that the head is so keen to get your son started. Well done.
And a point to note, in most appeals in reality the head teacher /principal is not in the least bit worried about "losing" a case. They put their points across and if the panel decide to admit they just get on with it and deal with the extra pupil in the class.
Yes you are right admission, the head was the height of professionalism and conceded points which we made on their statement which she couldn't back up. It felt like a really robust and fair process and I am saddened it took so long to sort out but ultimately feel that we are lucky to have a fair and transparent process.
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