Please help: Junior school Appeal

(39 Posts)
MamaNaz20 Sat 17-Apr-21 18:01:20

We didn’t get our first choice for the junior school for my son. Should we appeals and what are our chances?

My son is currently in an infant school and normally all the kids in his school will get accepted in the next door junior school. This year a quarter of the kids didn’t get through and almost all are appealing, so reduced chance for everyone.

We have moved to this village 3-4 years ago, it has a very close knit community and it took us ages to be able to find our feet and make local friends through school and for our son to settle in school. We are a family of three with no relatives in the entire UK and all we have is our school community.
He is offered a place in a school in the next village , so all our efforts to settle in is lost.

My son, is suspected to be somewhere in autism range but not diagnosed so we have no medical evidence . However, he is not as emotionally mature as other kids his age, even though academically he is great- we have had such a difficult time in the past year that we debated getting him to a psychologist a few times and just because of Covid we thought we should wait. I am worried what will happen if we change his community, given how difficult it was to settle first time. Specially as the school he got a place in is a primary school, all kids are coming to junior together.

Yes He has no siblings in the preferred school as he is the only child, but All he ever has is his friends from the school .

Do you think we have any chance of success if we appeal and would you appeal if you were me?

I am sorry for long message and Thanks so much in advance for your help

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Sat 17-Apr-21 19:19:23

You have nothing to lose by appealing, except your time.

You need to persuade the panel that the prejudice (ie disadvantage) to your son if not admitted to the school will outweigh the prejudice to the school in having to accommodate another pupil. As you say, there are going to be several appeals and you need to pinpoint why your child in particular needs a place - wanting to stay with friends from infant school isn’t likely to be enough.

You need to identify exactly why your son will be disadvantaged if he doesn’t get a place: you could mention (for example) that you’re relatively new to the village and have no family here so need to keep that village link going. You can mention too that your son might have autism, lacks maturity and might struggle in an unfamiliar environment, but this is likely to be more persuasive if you can provide evidence from a health care professional saying that, in their professional opinion, your son needs to attend the village school. Could you approach such a professional now?

HolmeH Sat 17-Apr-21 21:24:17

Quite unusual that so many didn’t get into the juniors from the infants - is it a smaller school?! Where have the kids come from that displaced all the attached infant school kids?! There are a couple separate infant/juniors in my area & it’s almost unheard of for the infant kids not to get into the junior school.. usually as the kids in catchment & nearby are already in the infant school!

Good luck OP - did any of your kids friends not get in either?

Useruseruserusee Sat 17-Apr-21 21:26:50

What does the admissions policy of the junior school, what is the order of admission?

It seems very strange. Even in my child’s CoE school where faith comes before siblings, current attendance at the infant school comes before everything else.

MamaNaz20 Sat 17-Apr-21 23:24:46

HolmeH

Quite unusual that so many didn’t get into the juniors from the infants - is it a smaller school?! Where have the kids come from that displaced all the attached infant school kids?! There are a couple separate infant/juniors in my area & it’s almost unheard of for the infant kids not to get into the junior school.. usually as the kids in catchment & nearby are already in the infant school!

Good luck OP - did any of your kids friends not get in either?

No Both schools are the same size, seperate but next to each other. The infant, however, is not a feeder to the junior school. I understand that in previous years there have been occasions where one or two may not have been accepted, but never so many.

Yes a few of my Son's friends didn't get in either and they are spread out in other schools, but all are trying to appeal.

OP’s posts: |
MamaNaz20 Sat 17-Apr-21 23:37:46

Useruseruserusee

What does the admissions policy of the junior school, what is the order of admission?

It seems very strange. Even in my child’s CoE school where faith comes before siblings, current attendance at the infant school comes before everything else.

Policy is this: LAC&PLAC,Exceptional, Children of staff, Sibilings, Nearest School, Then Others by Distance.
I imagine Nearest school means the places will be offered to people to whom the school is closer than any other school, right?

Last year 45 kids (out of 60) were under Nearest school or Others by distance. This is the nearest school to us, so does this mean this year the school has 45 less space?!

I am not sure if I read it correctly. We are still waiting to hear from the school on their selection criteria this year.

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Sat 17-Apr-21 23:48:38

It is certainly worth double-checking what the oversubscription criteria were and that they were correctly applied. If there’s been an error which has deprived your son of a place, the school/LEA should put it right now, although schools/LEAs often insist that such errors are taken to appeal (especially if there have been a lot of errors, which the panel then has to untangle).

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MamaNaz20 Sat 17-Apr-21 23:49:43

PanelChair

You have nothing to lose by appealing, except your time.

You need to persuade the panel that the prejudice (ie disadvantage) to your son if not admitted to the school will outweigh the prejudice to the school in having to accommodate another pupil. As you say, there are going to be several appeals and you need to pinpoint why your child in particular needs a place - wanting to stay with friends from infant school isn’t likely to be enough.

You need to identify exactly why your son will be disadvantaged if he doesn’t get a place: you could mention (for example) that you’re relatively new to the village and have no family here so need to keep that village link going. You can mention too that your son might have autism, lacks maturity and might struggle in an unfamiliar environment, but this is likely to be more persuasive if you can provide evidence from a health care professional saying that, in their professional opinion, your son needs to attend the village school. Could you approach such a professional now?

Thank you @panelchair - this is very helpful- I have been actually looking to see if I can talk to a proffessional in short notice.

You know for me the process of whether my son needs help or not and whether we need to approach professional has been intense , not very straight forward. I am not sure if the outside world would appreciate where I come from.

Just one question I would like to ask which maybe I Should have put in my original text. do I accept the offer in this other school or reject? they say accept but I heard from somebody they have rejected an offer and that made the school offering a place to their child sooner? is that likely?!

OP’s posts: |
PatriciaHolm Sat 17-Apr-21 23:57:57

No - accept! If you reject it, the LA has no obligation to find you anything else, and you could find yourself with no place in September. Accepting it makes no difference to your chances on the waiting list or at appeal.

PanelChair Sun 18-Apr-21 00:07:54

It would be very unwise to reject the school you’ve been offered. The LEA is under no obligation to make you a second offer, so if you don't win your appeal or get a place via the waiting list, your son may have no school to go to in September.

There are a lot of urban myths about “I refused a place at a school I didn’t want and two weeks later I was offered a place at my preferred school”. I’m sure it happened, but it didn’t happen because the first place was refused. It happened because the child got to the top of the waiting list. Likewise, appeal panels don’t like to have a metaphorical gun held to their head. If the parent refuses the school place it certainly doesn’t mean that the panel will allow the appeal for the preferred school - if they win, it will be for other reasons.

prh47bridge Sun 18-Apr-21 11:15:53

Agree with other posters - DO NOT reject the place you have been offered. It won't help you win an appeal and may hinder your chances. It won't make any difference to your waiting list position.

You've had good advice from PatriciaHolm and PanelChair.

admission Sun 18-Apr-21 16:51:35

The admission criteria is slightly confusing as to what nearest school means, followed by distance, especially if there is no priority for having been in the infant school.
If you wish to PM me with the name of the junior school and LA I will look at their admission criteria and see whether there is anything that seems to cast any doubt on why you did not get a place at the school.

MamaNaz20 Mon 19-Apr-21 00:18:15

PanelChair

It would be very unwise to reject the school you’ve been offered. The LEA is under no obligation to make you a second offer, so if you don't win your appeal or get a place via the waiting list, your son may have no school to go to in September.

There are a lot of urban myths about “I refused a place at a school I didn’t want and two weeks later I was offered a place at my preferred school”. I’m sure it happened, but it didn’t happen because the first place was refused. It happened because the child got to the top of the waiting list. Likewise, appeal panels don’t like to have a metaphorical gun held to their head. If the parent refuses the school place it certainly doesn’t mean that the panel will allow the appeal for the preferred school - if they win, it will be for other reasons.

Thanks very much @PatriciaHolm and @PanelChair.

That makes a lot more sense than what I've heard from one of the mums. I am going to accept.

OP’s posts: |
MamaNaz20 Mon 19-Apr-21 00:19:41

admission

The admission criteria is slightly confusing as to what nearest school means, followed by distance, especially if there is no priority for having been in the infant school.
If you wish to PM me with the name of the junior school and LA I will look at their admission criteria and see whether there is anything that seems to cast any doubt on why you did not get a place at the school.

Thanks very much @admission for your offer, I've sent you the info and would be very grateful for any feedback.

I am very unfamiliar with how the admission criteria generally works.

OP’s posts: |
SirVixofVixHall Mon 19-Apr-21 00:27:11

My dds went to school in a different village, it isn’t a disaster if this ends up being the situation, perhaps a friend or two may end up going there as well ? How far is it ?

MamaNaz20 Mon 19-Apr-21 00:55:46

SirVixofVixHall

My dds went to school in a different village, it isn’t a disaster if this ends up being the situation, perhaps a friend or two may end up going there as well ? How far is it ?

Its not that far, it less about the location and more about losing his community and our community- also he is really not great with social skills , have taken ages to make friends , and is generally not good with changes. We have sent him to the afterschool club located in the Junior school for the past three years so going to the Junior school isn't such a shock to him- I never thought we won't even get in.

OP’s posts: |
MamaNaz20 Sat 24-Apr-21 17:55:56

Dear experts, I have been reading your texts accross mumsnet, and have had quite a bit help from admission.

I learnt a lot in a short period of time about what makes a good argument and what not, in many occasions this I felt was counterintuitive. I believe mumsnet forums are invaluable with your input. I am sure there was no otherway I could get the same level of info even if I paid a solicitor; as solicitors probably would not know as much as you and would not even get the basis of the decision very well.

I think I have now exhausted all our reasons why our son needs to be in this school and how not having a place in this school will disadvantage him. And depending on what others have to say, my case may not be the strongest.

Now I would like to know what are the schools arguments for not offering him a place so I can do my homework. However, they won't send their case to us for ages, after our appeal is submitted and perhaps just before hearing. This doesn't help me as I know very little about the situation and need to prepare.

It would be really helpful if you could help me with what normal arguments are?
is it space? is it quality of education? when we say prejudice to school, what else could it mean? and what info do I need to prepare a counter argument for each item? I am thinking of asking for info under freedom of information act now which gives me enough time to comprehend the info and prepare for hearing.

I would be really very grateful for your help. @admission
@PanelChair @prh47bridge @PatriciaHolm

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Sat 24-Apr-21 19:29:19

Thank you for your kind comments.

Usually, the school's case will be along the lines that (a) they are full and (b) they can't take an extra pupil because that would prejudice the education, and not be in the interests of, the pupils they already have.

Against that, you can say that, whatever the prejudice to the other pupils, that is outweighed by the prejudice to your son if he doesn't get a place. That is at the heart of the panel's decision - they have to weigh up who faces more prejudice (disadvantage), your son or the school and the pupils already in it.

You can also chip away at the school's case by examining the numbers in each year group. You don't need FOI for this. The school has to provide any information which you reasonably need for your appeal. Ask for numbers in each class this year and for the last (say) 2 years. I'm assuming the class size is 30, so what you're looking for is any class with more than 30. You can then argue that, as they have previously managed with a class of (say) 31 or 32, they could do so again if your son was given a place. Here too, you're trying to persuade the appeal panel that, even if admitting your son would cause some problems, your son's need for a place outweighs those problems.

PanelChair Sat 24-Apr-21 19:33:49

I should add that, in my experience, when schools talk about being full, they most often talk in terms of pupil numbers. Less often, they talk about space and the size of each classroom and occasionally say (for example) that the classroom isn't big enough to put another table in it. Again, it helps you if the school has had additional pupils in the past, because they obviously have found solutions to this.

BluebellsGreenbells Sat 24-Apr-21 19:39:01

This happened at DD school.

It seems those applying to private school or a religious school aren’t counted the same as normal admissions - so they apply for both private/religious and local state school.

As they take up the offers of private/religious the children move up the list.

You can’t move up the list until the others have accepted then rejected the state school.

Do you have any of those types local to you where other children will probably go?

prh47bridge Sat 24-Apr-21 21:51:45

You will receive the school's case a few days before the appeal. They are likely to talk about overcrowding, small classrooms and the like. You don't have to counter every point, although clearly it helps if you can convince the appeal panel that the problems for the school from having to cope with an additional pupil are not too great.

You don't need to use FoI to get information. The school is obliged to answer any questions you reasonably ask to help prepare your appeal.

At this stage, it is worth checking whether they have been over PAN in any year in the recent past. If they have, that suggests they can cope with going over PAN again.

MamaNaz20 Sun 25-Apr-21 01:38:37

Thanks very much for your comments @PanelChair and @prh47bridge. That's understood. I heard from a mum that in the past they went up to 34 but that if you discount SEN then 28. I have no idea what it means. I went on the government website tonight and downloaded KS2 results for the last 20 years and tracked the school numbers and performance, so I know they went up to 64 or 65 a few years ago, but no more.

As this issue has become a big issue locally (first time in more than 20 years, or ever in fact, that so many residents of the village did not get a place in junior school after attending village infant school), our councillor got involved at parents requests and has found additional information about admission. He thinks a few things changed this year, siblings, people from next village applying more, etc. He also mentions 4 places are released now the SEN unit children have been recognised as additional to the 60 PAN.

My question is this: it appears in all past years that the numbers went right up to 64-65, this covered PAN + SEN. Has something changed very recently in defenitions?
If not, all the time I spent tonight on checking info online was pointless because this year they may have offered 64 already.

a couple of more hopefully brief questions if I may:
- Do panels listen to all appeals and then decide at the end, given there are 15 appeals or more?

- Does it help me to know how many appeals were successful in the recent years and would the school need to send me this information if I ask?

- Does it matter when I submit the Appeal if we do before deadline, if most others have already submitted?

Thanks again for your valuable help

OP’s posts: |
MamaNaz20 Sun 25-Apr-21 02:09:06

I just learnt that the school has to give parents a hearing 30 days after the lodgement of appeal. If the panel decides immediately after each appeal then this is a first come first serve system and I guess if this is the case I’d better resign as I believe all other parents have already lodged their appeals knowing the system better than us...

I am collecting evidences but should I just lodge and take any additional evidenced to the hearing ?
Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Sun 25-Apr-21 08:30:00

Definitions have not changed recently.

The appeal panel is not allowed to make a decision on any appeal until all appeals have been heard.

I would expect the school to be able to tell you about the number of successful appeals, but it doesn't help you. Previous successful appeals do not set a precedent.

As long as you submit your appeal before the deadline it doesn't matter when you submit.

You are wrong about the timescale. Thirty school days from the appeal being lodged applies to in-year admissions and people who miss the deadline for appealing. For people who meet the deadline, the appeal must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline. The date on which the appeal is lodged is irrelevant. It is absolutely not a first come, first served system. All appellants are treated equally.

DO NOT take additional evidence to the hearing. You can submit additional evidence after lodging your appeal, but you should not leave it until the hearing. If you turn up to the hearing with additional evidence the appeal panel may either refuse to consider it or adjourn your hearing until a later date to allow everyone the chance to digest the new evidence.

MamaNaz20 Sun 25-Apr-21 08:36:17

prh47bridge

Definitions have not changed recently.

The appeal panel is not allowed to make a decision on any appeal until all appeals have been heard.

I would expect the school to be able to tell you about the number of successful appeals, but it doesn't help you. Previous successful appeals do not set a precedent.

As long as you submit your appeal before the deadline it doesn't matter when you submit.

You are wrong about the timescale. Thirty school days from the appeal being lodged applies to in-year admissions and people who miss the deadline for appealing. For people who meet the deadline, the appeal must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline. The date on which the appeal is lodged is irrelevant. It is absolutely not a first come, first served system. All appellants are treated equally.

DO NOT take additional evidence to the hearing. You can submit additional evidence after lodging your appeal, but you should not leave it until the hearing. If you turn up to the hearing with additional evidence the appeal panel may either refuse to consider it or adjourn your hearing until a later date to allow everyone the chance to digest the new evidence.

phew! thanks so much, you are a life saver! I was rushing away to lodge it today. So I can submit by the deadline and it will be fine.
I read this 30 days in a guide from one of these "websites", "claiming" to have "helpful" info for appeals yesterday! The information we recieved from LA is consistent with your text, however it is just not as clearly written as you put it in your message so I thought I missed the plot.

OP’s posts: |

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