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Appeal experts - can you help?

(8 Posts)
meagle Sun 17-Jul-11 22:34:24

Hi there, can anyone help with a query about secondary school places. We have moved into a new area with DS aged 14. She was offered a place at a school we didn't like (and she didn't either), and we have turned it down. Now we are on the waiting list for the school we really like, but has no spaces. As DS is on the autistic spectrum, and we are going through the process of statementing, can we use this is any way to help her get to the school we want? If she was a robust child I wouldn't make a fuss but her anxiety levels and educational needs are such that I think she will only make good progress at this particular school. As she will start GCSEs in Sept, I'm so worried that if she gets off on the wrong foot her chances will be scuppered.
My question is: can we appeal against not being offered a place at our preferred school, and what might make the appeal sucessful?
Thanks smile

Ingles2 Sun 17-Jul-11 22:44:52

hi meagle..
I'm no expert, but I went through a secondary appeal this year and won, so I can offer a little help.
Your reasons for wanting this school are exactly right,... you need to prove in an appeal that it would cause prejudice to your child to not have a place, as opposed to prejudice to all the other children by oversubscription.
The strongest reasons are SN's, you should use whatever you can to prove that this particular school is the only one suitable, be that Ed Psych reports, statement etc. Evidence is the key to winning.... collect as much as you can. Letter from previous teacher/head , reports etc. Do your research on the school, read the website / ofsted... if the school is very strong on pastoral support for SEN, and its prospectus says so, quote it..
Don't criticise the school, you have been given but turn the negatives around to a positive... ie.. school you've been allocated , too big... school you want is smaller, make a point of this. you can state facts, just don't be negative.

meagle Sun 17-Jul-11 23:13:06

Hi Ingles, thanks for your tips - and well done for winning your appeal! The problem I have is that our grounds are quite subjective - the school we didn't like sounded great on paper - small numbers, a lot of SEN pupils. BUT when we visited we found it lacklustre, the pupils looked bored, the small numbers meant lots of empty corridors (DD said it would be heaven for bullies), and the head we met didn't seem interested in DD at all, just going through the motions. DD left saying she would never want to go there. It's hard to explain that kind of reaction to a tribunal! The other school was livelier, pupils seemed more engaged, head was impressive, and they also had a good number of ASD students. To sum up, it's hard to emphasise one and not be negative about the other.
On a practical note, how would I go about instigating an appeal?

Ingles2 Sun 17-Jul-11 23:31:13

no you don't mention your reaction to that school, at all... you do the opposite. make a case out of how suitable the other school is because it's lively and has a lot of students with ASD. You need to find definite reasons, that you can prove, why only this school will do...
That said... I don't know if and how you can make an appeal.. Phone your cc admissions office tomorrow and see what they suggest.
Also there are 2 posters on here, who know loads about appeals and sit on appeal boards... admission and phr... something..(sorry your name has always lost me) they have fantastic advice so keep an eye out for them

meagle Sun 17-Jul-11 23:35:28

Thanks Ingles, I'm hoping for some insider tips...! Off to bed now, will ring LEA in the morning to set the ball rolling. There's nothing like a night spent on mumsnet to focus my mind smile

prh47bridge Sun 17-Jul-11 23:48:05

Agree broadly with the advice Ingles has given. (And I know my username isn't very memorable. It isn't very imaginative either - my initials plus the first line of an old address!)

The LA should have told you about your right to appeal and how to go about it when you were refused entry to the school. If they haven't done so chase them.

If your daughter gets a statement you will be in a very strong position. You will be sent the draft statement and asked what school you want to name. There are only very limited grounds under which the LA can refuse to name the school you want. Once the school is named on the statement they have to admit your daughter even if they are already full.

admission Mon 18-Jul-11 11:26:49

I would agree with ORH that getting a statement of SEN is the best way of getting the school you want, but having only just moved into the area this may well take some time as it would be perfectly reasonable for the LA to want to assess your child for a term or two.

As you are on the waiting list for the preferred school the LA should have given you information on how to appeal for a place at the school. Contact them again and say you wish to appeal for a place at the school. You will be asked to fill in a form with your reasons for wanting a place. You can simply say that you believe that this is the most appropriate school for your child and will confirm in detail later. This will give you time to get as much information together about the school and why it is the best place for your child. Concentrate on the atmospere, the way they operate to benefit of ASD pupils, the pastoral care, the extra-mural opportunities at the school. Also your child's problems need to be properly documented with reasons why the preferred school meets those needs.

meagle Mon 18-Jul-11 21:54:52

Prh47 and Admission: thanks both for your help. I don't think we'll get a statement in time for September. The LEA is already dragging its feet - first they said they would honour the previous LEA's agreement to assess, now they seem to be backtracking. As you say, they would probably want to see DS in school to give a proper assessment ... I will try the appeal process anyway, as we have nothing to lose. Thanks again!

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