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Junior school (prejudice) appeal help please(2 Posts)
Hi, we are moving back to our home in the UK after a year overseas and needing to go to appeal to try to get our year 4 daughter back into the school she previously attended (place refused as at PAN for her year group).
I have read many of the previous discussions here and have found some great tips - thank you. I would appreciate any advice on how to address the points raised in the school's case in an attempt to lessen their prejudice argument.
Currently the school has a usual PAN of 90 per year, with a temporary PAN of 93 for my daughter's year which was a high birth rate year. They are at PAN for year 4, and 1 under PAN for the school as a whole. They have previously had 363 pupils on roll = PAN, currently at 362. There are 4 classes in the school with 31 pupils.
Their case talks a lot about classroom size and current guidelines suggesting classrooms should be no less than 62m2, or 55m2 if there is space in shared areas - to my knowledge the school buildings predate this guidance (2014?). The school classrooms are 49-59m2 with 3 of those being 54m2, and 3 being 55-59m2. I don't have a plan of the school and shared areas - is this something I should ask for specifically?
COVID restrictions are mentioned frequently in terms of classroom space such that 'the maximum space in each classroom is now being used'. I have an email from the school which essentially states if successful at appeal my daughter could be physically accommodated in a classroom if COVID restrictions were relaxed. I have read the government guidance (now probably obsolete due to homeschool….) which stated classroom arrangements to be made 'where possible' ie not legally obligated - could I use this to argue that the school could therefore in fact accommodate her in terms of physical space? They must currently have at least one class of 31 pupils in a 54m2 room, so surely could fit 32 pupils in a 59m2 room?
They also mentioned shared facilities eg toilets, playground space, lunchtimes - should I ask what difference one more pupil would make to this given they have previously had one extra pupil in the school?
Regarding EHCP/SEN - in the year of 93 there are 2 on full EHCP and 11 requiring SEN support - anyone know where this sits in terms of national averages?
Many thanks in advance for anyone who can advise.
In terms of classroom sizes, the quoted figures are from the latest guidance and probably 90% of classrooms were built before 2014 and most classrooms will have built to previous guidelines which were about the size being around 50 Sq metres. As such the classrooms are about typical average size and are meant for 30 pupils. The other point that needs to be made here is that overall size does not translate directly into how many pupils are reasonably fitted into the room. In your example the classroom which is 59 sq metre could easily have a small area off at one side of the classroom which is not possible to site pupils in as they would possibly not be able to see the teacher. It is unfortunate that whilst there are classes with 31 in, there are none with 32, which is what the situation has to be with your daughter.
I would not bother to ask about shared areas, because they are not really that relevant at an appeal. Experienced panel members are going to look at the classroom sizes and accept they are typical for about 30 junior pupils.
I would therefore simply argue that the school does have the space to take one more pupil but it is a weak argument.
In terms of SEND, 13 pupils out of 93 is 14%. The national average is much closer to 20% but it obviously does vary from school to school. You could argue that these figures are low and therefore again one extra pupil can be admitted.
Any appeal should be taking place without reference to COVID as it is deemed to be a temporary issue (though many may well want to argue about that). The appeal should be being bought under what the normal conditions are, so the addition of one extra pupil into year 4, where there are 3 classes of 31 is actually all about at part 1 of the hearing, can the school make out a case that the addition of a further pupil will cause prejudice to the quality of education offered to all pupils.
Looking at what you have said the school's case is totally typical. The reality is that I believe unless the school says something very silly, the panel will usually find prejudice at part 1, no matter what arguments you can put forward from the data.
The issue is what are your personal case for admission and does your daughter's personal circumstances outweigh the disadvantage to the school of admitting a further pupil, increasing the size of the class from 31 to 32. You need to argue strongly the need for your daughter to have a peer group of friends. Those friends are in the school and arguing the COVID link are even more important at this time when she will not be in school only being involved virtually.
You should also have some knowledge of the school so can argue what is special about the school which is not in other schools - normally this will be clubs, sports etc but is there something else like forest school.
Best of luck at the appeal