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urgent help needed for primary school appeal(8 Posts)
I'm helping my sister to write her appeals letter, and as neither of us have done this before, I was wondering if anyone could help.
1. My sister has recently moved to live near me in West Yorkshire. She originally lived near Manchester. She's a single parent with 2 young sons. The eldest was in primary school and in April he did an in-year transfer to a new school. The youngest is due to start reception in Sept, but has been offered a place at a different school.
2. My sister only re-located in April, which means that when she originally did the primary application form for her youngest son, the preferences were based on where she was living at the time. When she moved in April, she contacted the LEA and did everything they told her to - she explained her eldest had transferred schools and asked for her first choice to be changed. When everyone got their offers confirmed on April 16th, my sister didn't receive an email - she had to ring them up and was advised she was now classed as a late application, and would receive the offer mid May.
3. Having now received the offer letter, her youngest has been given a place at a different school to his brother. It is not a school which my sister specified as a preference.
4. I believe there has been a mistake made in the admissions process. I think even though it has been classed as a late application, surely the siblings should still be given the same school? Sibling link is the 2nd ranked criteria on the website. The boys do have different surnames however, so I wonder whether the admissions authority has not correctly linked the boys as actually being siblings.
5. My sister is a single parent - she has no other support when it comes to childcare. Both myself and our mum work full time. My sister has arranged wrap around childcare for both of her sons. The youngest currently attends nursery full time, and her eldest goes to the same nursery for breakfast and after school club. Come September, both children will be attending the breakfast and after school club. The nursery was specifically chosen because of the wrap around care they provide to the preferred school.
If the youngest has to go to a different school, it is logistically impossible for my sister to drop the boys off at 2 different provisions for breakfast club on a morning and then get to work on time. The same for after school club, my sister finishes work at 5pm and is only just getting to the nursery to pick the boys up at 6pm. If she has to collect from 2 different provisions on an evening, it will be impossible within the time constraints. If she is late and picks up after 6pm, she is charged an additional cost. It's just not logistically or financially workable. Her boss has offered to write a letter in support, and basically if my sister is not punctual she would inevitably lose her job.
My sister is studying a government funded apprenticeship with the local hospital. She is on a very low salary. She can claim childcare costs through universal credits, but can only claim for one provision, but if she has to have 2 provisions for childcare, again the financial implications would be unworkable. She would have to give up her job as she would not be able to afford the extra childcare costs.
My sister and the boys have suffered a lot of trauma, stress and anxiety since Jan. They were originally living with my parents, but their relationship broke down and it was an unhealthy environment for them to be living in. My mum left my dad, they sold their house and my sister and the boys had to find somewhere else to live. We had a bereavement in the family at the same, and to be honest the whole situation was just horrible and we've all been suffering from mental health issues because of it. The boys have had a really difficult time of it, and they are only just starting to feel settled and my sister feels its important for them to have some consistency and to feel secure.
As her eldest is now settled at his new school, she feels strongly that her youngest should attend the same school as it will give him the comfort and support knowing that his brother is there too. It would be unfair to uproot the eldest and try to transfer him to the other school.
My sister is so stressed out and we need help to try and write an appeal letter to explain all the reasons why she really needs both boys to attend the same school.
If anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated!
Unfortunately the LEA is correct, because she moved after the application closing date (and quite a lot after) her application is then treated as a late application. It doesn’t matter the reasons.
Late applications are only considered after all the on time applications have been allocated a place regardless of any sibling link.
An appeal panel will not care about (they be be sympathetic) childcare/commute/job etc and can’t give a place based on those reasons.
An infant appeal can only be overturned if it can be proved that the LEA have made a mistake with the application which based on the info you have given they have not.
You can go on the waiting list and as have a sibling link you should be quite near the top of not no1 and if there is any movement which is possible you should secure a place.
If the school the 1st child is at is her catchment school then the LEA should provide transport for the younger one to get to school.
Unfortunately your ds son could only be offered a place as a late applicant if there was one available I.e. someone in the first round did not accept a place.
Presumably her younger ds is now at the top of the waiting list - is it a 30 intake school? They may still be movement before or during the year.
Alternatively is there space in the older ds year in the school she has been offered. I realise it's not ideal to move him again and she doesn't want this but it might be the only practical solution.
She should of course check the boys are correctly listed as siblings at the time of late allocations and now.
They have correctly applied the rules I’m afraid: as a late application he wouldn’t get offered a place until the on time applications were dealt with. And if your first choice filled up with on-time applications; that’ll be why he’s been offered somewhere different.
Work logistics don’t make any difference to this I’m afraid, I’m sorry.
Occasionally you could plead a case under “social” need; if that is listed as a criteria for this school? It would need to be a pretty strong one though.
However: your sister should check urgently that the sibling mark is on there now. That will bump him right up the waiting list, depending on admission criteria order. The LA will be running subsequent iterations right up until September starts. A lot of movement happens between now and then so don’t lose heart.
The key thing here is whether the appeal is ICS - infant class size, if the classes are taught in groups of 30 to one qualified teacher. Is that the case?
Is so, then the appeal can only be won if the admissions criteria were unlawful, applied incorrectly, or if the decision not to admit was so perverse no reasonable person would have made it. Nothing you have written suggests that - as others have said, treating the application as late was the correct thing to do, so your sister only got allocated a place after everyone who applied on time, so the school she wanted was full by then.
She does need to make sure the sibling link has been made to ensure he is on the right place on the waiting list - as a sibling he will be high up, so there is a chance he will get a place that way.
I know she would rather not move her eldest, but that might be worth looking at if there is no movement on the waiting list before September.
The sibling link would only be established once her older child had started, not on offer of a place. That was too late for the allocation process but should mean her dc2 is now higher up the waiting list. Presumably the Reception intake is full so it would be ics appeal. An appeal will only succeed if the published process was not followed, and a place was incorrectly not offered, which appears unlikely. Logistics etc do not come into it.
On the face of what is being said the LA have done this correctly but you do need to check one thing. When your sister was allocated a place for the elder sibling this would be what is deemed an "in-year" application whereas the younger sibling, not starting till September would be considered based on the last date for on-time applications, which was 16th January. When your sister applied in April and asked for the preferred schools to be altered the LA were correct in saying it would be counted as a late application and therefore treated after all other applications. However I wonder whether you have any written correspondence from the LA which says younger sibling's preference will be allowed to be changed. That would then put it into the category of your sister being disadvantaged by virtue of being given wrong information. If you have no written information then I am afraid the LA have not done anything wrong.
By now the LA should have you on the waiting list for the preferred school using the sibling priority, so you should be well up the waiting list. Your sister needs to check with the LA that this is the case and that they are treating younger sibling as a sibling priority and are using the right address.
In terms of writing the appeal letter you need to lay it out much as you already have but accepting that the LA have been correct in what they are doing. If it is an infant class size case then your chance of success is minimal without a mistake having been made but you never know and I would always advice appealing, you have nothing to loose.
If you want to post your suggested appeal letter to me on the PM, I am quite happy to look at it and advice on how to maximise your chance of success (which may be very low).