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Urgent: need help with primary appeal in Kent

(14 Posts)
Snowybird Mon 15-Jun-09 20:37:47

I am going before an appeal panel in Kent tomorrow for my twins (6).
The school's admission criteria are very clear: siblings, then distance.
However, the LEA just told me that these criteria only count during the initial allocation. Once it gets to appeal, the panel can decide to award the places however it wishes, depending on the "merits of the case".
This seems to be like a recipe for abuse and cronyism. I haven't toadied up to anyone for this.
What should I do? Should I ask the panel members immediately for clarification what the criteria are? Or should I try all and every decent argument (about five or six in total?) and let them decide which arguments they like?
THis is really important to me...any advice?
Thanks

ellingwoman Mon 15-Jun-09 20:59:32

I'm not an expert but there are no 'places' available at appeal time. Any places that are awarded are done so on individual cases so push the classes to 31, 32 etc depending on how many appeals are successful.

Does that make sense?

TripleTroubleMuffin Mon 15-Jun-09 21:00:53

Are you able to say which school it is?

Snowybird Mon 15-Jun-09 21:09:07

It's Amherst...

though I would say for benefit of anyone reading this that I have no reason to believe there's any cronyism, it's just the uncertainty that's making me nervous.

Ellingwoman, you are right, this is about increasing class size to 32, but then they do that every year.

TripleTroubleMuffin Mon 15-Jun-09 21:10:25

Oh, not my school then.

Sorry, can't help.

Good luck with the appeal.

Dalex Mon 15-Jun-09 21:11:54

The above comments are not true. A great number of children sit the 11+ and sit the entrance papers for independent schools and sit back waiting to see what happens. The parents then make a decision at the last minute. The council would not entertain appeals if they had no places to offer as this would be a waste of time and resources for all concerned. Give it your all and plead your case. You have as good a chance as any others. Good Luck!

ellingwoman Mon 15-Jun-09 21:24:34

I didn't read this as a selective school appeal because that wouldn't depend on siblings then distance.

Snowybird Mon 15-Jun-09 21:31:00

I'd still be grateful for any comments on whether these appeals really do rely on the published criteria, or on whatever arguments the parents choose to bring.
Many thanks

cory Mon 15-Jun-09 22:00:11

"merits of the case" ime are really serious things, like (from my own experience):

*child whose mother was dying needing to go to the school that offered appropriate counselling

*child with specific medical problems that were not covered by the criteria description but still meant they couldn't have accessed the curriculum at any of the other possible schools

we're not talking about just being chums with the governors or "whatever arguments the parents may choose to bring"- the arguments would have to be pretty strong and supported by written evidence

besides, the appeals panel was independent of both the LEA and the school and its members had no connection to either, so had no axe of their own to grind

our appeal was for secondary which is probably easier than primary, as class numbers can be stretched; even so, I think we were possibly the only ones out of the 45 appealing whose appeal was successful

cory Mon 15-Jun-09 22:02:00

so you'd be talking about things that didn't fit into the headings of the original criteria, or where the LEA did not think there was sufficient evidence that criteria were met, but it was still obvious to the panel that the detriment to that child, if they had to go to another school, would be greater than the detriment to the other children if the school took him or her.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 15-Jun-09 22:27:49

I chair appeal panels for school admissions. I had promised myself an early night but wanted to reply, so please excuse the following brief bullet points:

* as Cory says, the panel is independent of the school and LEA. The panel is there to ensure fair play - both for the appellant and for all the other children at the school - and has no axe to grind.

* Ellingwoman is right and dalex is wrong; all school places are filled on first allocation, so a successful appeal means requiring a school to take an 'extra' pupil (although last minute drop-outs may offset that).

* The appeal panel's task (according to the training in our LEA, at least) is to satisfy itself (1) that the school's admissions criteria are fair and lawful (2) that they were correctly applied and (3) whether there are any other compelling circumstances which mean that the school should be required to admit the child.

* So it's maybe a little misleading to suggest that the panel can direct the school to admit any child, however it wishes, but (equally) there has to be some possibility of the panel deciding in favour of admission, otherwise the appeal would be pointless.

* Cory gives some useful examples of the sorts of exceptional circumstances which the panel might take into account.

* OP - what are your grounds for appeal? You need to marshall all the arguments why your twins should be admitted. (I'm assuming this isn't for reception, if they are 6). You need to present those arguments in a way which connects with the admissions criteria: saying that you don't like the look of another school at which you've been awarded places, for example, won't cut much ice because it doesn't address the question of why (in your view) you should have been allocated places at your preferred school.

* There's a lot on the DCSF website about school admissions. Have you read it?

Pogleswood Mon 15-Jun-09 22:54:40

The ACE(Advisory Centre for Education)has useful info about appeals on its website,and information you can download too.
We did a secondary school appeal,and relied on reasons as to why the school we wanted would be best for our child,and why they would be disadvantaged by going elsewhere,with detailed reasoning!(we did have some almost SEN type issues.The original admissions criteria aren't relevant unless you are appealing because they've been wrongly applied.
(I went to Amherst...many years ago...smile)
Good Luck!

Snowybird Tue 16-Jun-09 12:08:10

Thanks everyone, especially MADBAD (despite your name I hope that the panel I meet today is as sane and measured as you!).
Much appreciated
Snowybird

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 16-Jun-09 13:23:17

You're welcome!

I couldn't remember the name of ACE last night, as otherwise I would have mentioned them too. My friend found them very helpful when her son was at risk of exclusion.

Please let us know how you fared.

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