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Advice regarding appeal for Yr R admission

(40 Posts)
jheqt Tue 29-May-18 03:54:39

Hi,

We have 3 children; 8, 5 & 4.

When we moved to the area, our eldest was in Yr 2. There was no space at the catchment school, and he was eventually (4 months later) offered a place at an out of catchment school (our second preference).

When it came time for our 2nd child to start school, we therefore put the same (out of catchment) school down as first preference, and thankfully he was given a place.

You can probably tell where this is going.... smile

Our youngest did not get in to the same school, and has been offered the original catchment school which our eldest was displaced from. shock

So we will have one in Year R at one school, and 2 in Year 1 and 5 at another school. The schools are about 10 minutes apart and the school day hours are identical. sad
There are other complications which I won't go into, but safe to say it's going to be a nightmare.

I've spoken to the LA and they are basically saying "all you can really do is appeal", but as this will be an infant class size appeal, I'm wondering if there is any point? She is currently number 3 on the waiting list.

I can find lots of similar cases on the internet, but always where the parents have chosen and out of catchment school for their eldest child. But we tried unsuccessfully to get our eldest into the catchment school, and he was ultimately displaced by the LA.

I just wondered if anyone had any advice, or has been in the same situation and appealed? This is in West Sussex.

Thanks

jheqt Tue 29-May-18 05:09:45

Just to add smile, we did spot a "mistake" with regards to the distance calculation.... they stated our youngest was 3014.20m from the school, whereas the distance of the last place offered the previous year (i.e. our middle child's successful application) was 3010.19m. We were concerned and confused that the distances were different, but I have highlighted this with the LA who have explained that the address matching software was upgraded since last year meaning it is more accurate. Thought this could have been a possible appeal reason but alas not.
Also, AFAIK the school in question ended up taking 31 in Reception last year so there is a precedent for this.

prh47bridge Tue 29-May-18 07:42:12

I'm afraid the fact they ended up with 31 in Reception last year does not help you. The additional pupil will have been what is known as an excepted child who does not count towards the infant class size limit.

As this is an infant class size case you can only win if the admission arrangements did not comply with the Admissions Code and this cost your child a place, or there was a mistake in administering the admission arrangements which cost your child a place, or the decision to refuse admission was unreasonable. Issues related to transport and childcare due to your children being at different schools will not win your appeal.

I think you need to push harder on the discrepancy over distances. Find out what distance they had for your house last year. The explanation you have been offered does not sound good enough to me. It seems the difference between last year's measurement and this year's is at least 4m, more if your child was not the last place offered last year. That may not seem huge but, given the accuracy of the systems used, a software upgrade should not lead to that big a difference. I would certainly raise this in your appeal. It raises a question as to which distance should be trusted.

jheqt Tue 29-May-18 08:18:54

Thank you for the reply and advice given. I have pressed the LA on the distance issue, this was their response.

“I am writing further to your enquiry regarding the slight difference in measurements used in 2017 for DS2’s application for starting school and DD1’s application for 2018 admission.

I can confirm that ahead of the 2018 process the Authority upgraded its address matching software. The timing for this upgrade was linked to a change in policy at central government level to focus on more accurate digital mapping technology. This technology can map postcodes and fixtures more tightly than previous systems.

Further information regarding ordnance survey data can be found below:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-statement-ordnance-survey-and-land-registry/joint-statement-ordnance-survey-and-land-registry how ordnance survey and land registry connect to create one reference.

Having reviewed the allocation at X Primary School I would confirm that while there is a small difference between the measurements used for your preferences in the 2018 round and the 2017 round, the distance adjustments would apply across the board to all preferences within each round and as such have not impacted on the priority applied to your application for DD1.

I hope this information is helpful to you and clarifies the matter.”

My take on that is by them saying that “adjustments apply across the board” does not really cut it, as surely not everyone will be shown to be further away than last year - some addresses would now be regarded as closer, and some the same? Not sure how they are saying it was inaccurate before when it is quoted to the nearest cm, it casts doubt on the whole process.

prh47bridge Tue 29-May-18 09:11:45

I don't think that really explains it. For your distance to move 4m or more sounds like they are measuring from a different point on your property or to a different point on the school. It may be that the software upgrade has changed one of these points, of course. But it does raise questions as to how accurate these distances are.

RedSkyAtNight Tue 29-May-18 13:35:00

Not the question you are asking I know but would it be easier to get your Y1 DC into the catchment school (or at least to try this as well)? You can then drop your Y5 child off at school early and they can either wait 10 minutes for you after school or start walking towards catchment school (or home, whichever makes more sense).

(or of course you could move Y5 DC as well if this did happen!)

fuzzyfozzy Tue 29-May-18 14:43:16

What were the criteria for gaining a place. When mine went the sibling rule was up there.

Imchlibob Tue 29-May-18 15:02:32

Have they applied their sibling rules correctly?

If no mistake has been made then you are more likely to get your elder kids into the catchment school.

admission Tue 29-May-18 15:44:53

I would agree with PRH, that I would question the distance. The reply is typical civil service waffle. If the software is capable of quoting to 2 decimal point, in other words 1 cm difference then a difference of 4 metres plus from one year to the next, no matter what the software upgrade, is a very significant difference.
You should be able to find out the distance of the last admitted pupil on the papers from the admitting authority and that will tell you whether that the difference in distance is worth pursuing or not appeal.

jheqt Wed 30-May-18 00:55:14

Hi, a bit more info...

Places are allocated as follows:

1. Looked after children
2. SEN
3. Children who live in the catchment area with brothers or sisters already at the school
4. Other children who live in the catchment area;
5. Children who live outside the catchment area with brothers or sisters already at the school
6. Other children who live outside the catchment area.

I should also add that as far as we know, the 2 children on the waiting list ahead of us are within catchment, so not sure if the above would make any difference.

The distance thing is annoying, and doesn't quite add up, but they have said it did not have a bearing on our priority and if there are catchment children who didn't get in, then I doubt there is any point appealing on those grounds?

Although I have just seen the following from last years admission guide...

 Children previously denied places requested by their parents at their catchment school are treated as living in their current school’s catchment area (if it is a community or controlled school) for sibling purposes. Please note that it is the parent’s responsibility to indicate these circumstances in their application.

I did make it clear that our daughter had siblings already at the school, although I can't remember if I made a specific point of putting that the eldest was not offered catchment school originally blush

But I guess in terms of priority it means, if I'm reading it correctly, that we would be ahead of other sibling children from out of catchment, where the parents had chosen to send their older child to that school?

Or.... is it suggesting that if your elder child could not be accommodated in your catchment school, future siblings would be regarded as "in catchment, with a sibling" ??? I don't think it's very clear! And if this is the case, shouldn't the authority have made this clear to us when originally offering us the out of catchment place? i.e. that we need to make a fuss about the fact that we were not originally offered the catchment school?

I should also add that as far as we know, the 2 children on the waiting list ahead of us are within catchment, so not sure if the above would make any difference.

The distance thing is annoying, and doesn't quite add up, but they have said it did not have a bearing on our priority and if there are catchment children who didn't get in, then I doubt there is any point appealing on those grounds?

Imchlibob Wed 30-May-18 05:28:08

The "treated as if in catchment" is indeed very important and you need to immediately find out by phoning up whether or not you did actually mention this in your application.

Is the catchment area pretty circular with the school dead centre or is it more uneven? Are there any areas of catchment area that are further from the school than you?

If you did mention that your eldest child was assigned this school having applied for your catchment school then yes you should have been treated as in-catchment with-siblings and this almost certainly means your child was incorrectly denied a place unless they admitted zero catchmeny children without siblings (unlikely). If that is the case you would win an appeal and they would have to take 31 kids.

If you forgot to mention this vital fact you won't win an appeal on this grounds as it was your mistake but you can add this info to your application and you will immediately become first on the waiting list - and could consider delaying starting reception until a waiting list place comes up?

prh47bridge Wed 30-May-18 07:37:54

If you didn't miss out on distance the discrepancy won't win your appeal, although it is still worth mentioning.

The wording you've given does mean that your child should have been treated as in catchment with a sibling since you did not choose to send your oldest child to this school. It is potentially very significant. Clearly, if you mentioned that your oldest child was allocated this school as the catchment school was full, your child should have been given priority and you have a clear case.

Even if you didn't mention it, I would suggest that you could argue that it is unreasonable for the LA to require you to raise this unless there is a specific box on the form to tick. Many parents won't read the admission criteria so won't be aware of what they need to do to alert the LA to this situation, so I wouldn't be surprised to find a number of people missing out on places they should have been offered every year. The LA presumably has sufficient records to check if claims for this priority are valid, so they could do it automatically. I'm not saying this argument would definitely win over the appeal panel but it is worth trying.

prh47bridge Wed 30-May-18 07:39:22

By the way, if it turns out that they do try to sort this out automatically but they only checked your second child and forgot about your eldest, that would also give you a clear case to win your appeal.

jheqt Wed 30-May-18 16:04:46

Well I have emailed them to highlight this information.

I now realise that it is buried in the admission documentation, but it’s not mentioned in the admission criteria list, the LEA never mentioned it, and the school have never mentioned it. It’s like it is a secret loophole which many families in this situation do not even realise exists! There is nothing on the admission form to prompt you to provide this very specific, but very important piece of information either!

Let’s see what they come back with. Surely at the very least she should move to the top of the waiting list.

prh47bridge Wed 30-May-18 16:42:32

If you would like to PM me the name of the school and LA, and tell me where to find this statement, I will be happy to take a look. The more it is buried, the stronger your argument that the LA is unreasonable to only give priority to parents who specifically raise the situation.

jheqt Wed 30-May-18 17:53:35

Thanks you - I have sent a PM

prh47bridge Wed 30-May-18 21:11:07

Thanks for the PM.

The bit about sibling priority where a child has been given an out of catchment school appears in both their admission arrangements and their information booklet for parents. In both cases it is immediately above the allocation criteria. This could be clearer, e.g. they could put this in a note and refer to it in the relevant category.

Unfortunately I can't find a copy of their paper application form and I don't have access to their online form. I would expect the form to have a space for claiming sibling priority. I don't know if it also has a space for claiming priority in the non-catchment school on the grounds that the older child was allocated that school. If there is no space (or if the associated text is unclear as to when it should be ticked) I would argue that it was unreasonable for the LA to expect parents to be aware that they had to notify them of the circumstances. The panel may accept that argument. However, your case would clearly be stronger if it turns out that you did notify them that your eldest had been allocated this school.

Carycach100 Wed 30-May-18 21:30:50

Have you spoken the the HT of the school concerned.In our case they were very keen not to 1)not split up a family and 2) not exclude a village child from her village school of only 60 children (in this case a true village 10 miles from nearest town)
The HT did some jiggery pokery to make extra room by putting some Y2s in a Y3/4 class for registration purposes and creating more space in infants class. So I think there are solutions if you have the school onside.
In your case with only 2 kids ahead of you, I expect you will wind up with a place anyway.Some will change their minds, move,go to private school etc

jheqt Wed 30-May-18 22:26:05

Thanks for looking into it prh.

I’m fairly sure that there was an option on the online application to notify that there were siblings at the school, although maybe not. There was definitely a “comments box” where you could add general comments to the application (I used this to explain the 2 elder siblings, but I’m doubting that I mentioned the displacement scenario). I can confirm with 100% confidence that there was no mention or option to notify of elder siblings being displaced from catchment school.
The only admission guidelines I saw were the ones I mentioned from the LEA website. I still can’t believe we both missed this special condition, we thought we understood where out of catchment siblings came on the list, without realising we could have effectively guaranteed our daughter a place! We were just trying to be positive, not make too much fuss (what a mistake to make) and just hope it would work out as it had the year before. I normally have such a good eye for detail too sad.

As it happened I emailed the Admissions team the same day we found out that she hadn’t got a place, and I explained the situation with regards to the elder sibling (still not realising how crucial this piece of information was), and they still didn’t mention this exception.

In a cruel plot twist, we are actually good friends with the head teacher (from back before we had any kids), which makes it even more strange. confused
Apparently the exact action you describe took place last year as there was a single dad of 4 girls (out of catchment) and the 4th did not get offered a place, but there was an intervention of some sort and a place was found. Which makes it all doubly frustrating that we are expected to just manage.

I hate when people put things like this but... we both work, my wife had been accepted to start a degree in September, and I am just waiting to hear if I have been accepted to undertake a work based degree also starting in September!

At the end of the day, we did not supply the information required, I accept that. But I do think the system is flawed and we should have been, at some stage, advised directly of this essential action we needed to take.

jheqt Wed 30-May-18 22:54:55

I am now wondering... assuming we were to (hopefully) jump to the top of the waiting list, there might be more wriggle room for the school to accommodate one extra?

As it stands I imagine that the 2 non sibling catchment families currently placed 1 and 2 on the waiting list would be somewhat aggrieved if they were to discover that we had been accommodated over them from 3rd place on the list.

prh47bridge Wed 30-May-18 23:32:33

Under infant class size regulations there isn't any wriggle room. That is one of the things appeal panels hate. Sometimes they are faced with a child who really needs a school but can't be admitted under the regulations. But you certainly should be top of the waiting list and there is an outside chance you will be able to persuade the appeal panel to admit.

Imchlibob Thu 31-May-18 01:57:07

I imagine that the 2 non sibling catchment families currently placed 1 and 2 on the waiting list would be somewhat aggrieved if they were to discover that we had been accommodated over them from 3rd place on the list.

No, if you are accommodated it will be from 1st place on the list, with them having been mistakenly told they were 1st/2nd when they were actually 2nd/3rd. The person in 1st place can always be knocked off that spot by someone with a closer claim. Even you could be knocked off the top spot if a family with a looked-after child moves into the area before September (unlikely).

jheqt Thu 31-May-18 11:43:22

Hi. Yes, got that.

Thinking back to when I applied in 2017 for our 2nd child, I’m much more certain that I explained the situation clearly in the additional comments box on the application form ie first child displaced.

This had no effect with regard to his category, but he luckily scraped in as category 5 anyway.

Probably has no real bearing on this year’s situation, but just strengthens my argument, as when we mentioned it before it made no difference (although of course we would have had a cast iron appeal if required on that occasion).

jheqt Thu 31-May-18 18:09:21

Right, I’ve had a response from the senior admissions officer. I will just copy it all here:
__________

Thank you for your e-mail, which has been passed to me for a response.

I have reviewed your application and we agree that DC3 should be given priority as an in-area sibling on the waiting list for [the] Primary School, based on the circumstances surrounding DC1’s application. I will ask my colleague to update her records.

I must point out that the Information for Parents booklet for 2018 and 2017 states:

“Children previously denied places requested by their parents at their catchment school are treated as living in the allocated school’s catchment area (if it is a community or controlled school) for sibling purposes. Please note that it is the parent’s responsibility to indicate these circumstances in their application.”

The booklet is available on the Council’s website and all parents are advised to read it prior to submitting their application. When submitting the applications you ticked a box in a declaration to say that you had read the booklet

I note that you did not previously mention these circumstances in DC3’s application, or in DC2’s application to join the same school in 2017, when he was offered a place as an out-of-area sibling.

Please contact me if you have any further queries.
__________

I’m surprised to read that I didn’t mention it the previous year, but then I didn’t realise i needed to. So I’ll take their word for that as I’m sure he will have checked.

It’s a very in demand school not aware of many people leaving, but hopefully as we are now number 1 on the list (will confirm this tomorrow) then we will have a fairly good chance of getting in some time soon.

I’m so glad I posted on here as it has led to this improvement in the situation, and if anything I hope this thread will assist other parent who might end up in a similar situation.

On reflection, having read the wording again (which I still think could be much clearer), if I had started reading “Children previously denied places requested by their parents.....” I probably would have skipped that as thought it didn’t apply - DC3 has never previous been denied a place for anything grin

I think it should at least say:

Siblings of children previously denied a place requested by their parents....” and the test adjusted accordingly.... I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have missed that.

It’s a bit like when you start reading a paragraph concerning special needs etc - you’d think “that doesn’t apply to me” and skip to the next time bit (unless it did apply of course).

I’ll update this with how we get on, fingers crossed, and thanks for the help everyone. halo

purpleshimmer Thu 31-May-18 18:20:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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