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Secondary school admissions appeals

(27 Posts)
FelineLou Mon 03-Mar-14 12:57:55

I attend these appeals as a panel member. I want to emphasize the need for unemotional, genuine reasons for the appeal together with paperwork which helps to prove your arguments.
e.g. No good saying "he cant climb stairs" without a doctors note about that.
I feel for all the parents in this situation but we do have criteria to stick to and we cannot make extra places in a very popular school.
Don't assume that just because you appeal you must get a place: more appeals fail than succeed.
We try to be informal and are aware that it is a difficult time for you but there is a structured procedure to go through.
Read all the advice in leaflets and online before presenting your case.

PanelChair Mon 03-Mar-14 13:59:50

Hear, hear to all of that. And I would add

Read all the old MN threads for general tips and pointers - especially one started a couple of years ago by a poster called (iirc) BetsyBoop.

Don't base your appeal on your preferred school outperforming the school you've been allocated. Ofsted ratings, GCSE pass rates and the like form no part if the admissions criteria and won't be the basis of a winnable appeal.

Equally, the fact that you or your child really, really want a place at your preferred school won't help you win the appeal. The panel will take it as read that you want a place at the school you're applying for, but the appeal is about needs, not wants. If it was simple as admitting every child who wanted a place at a given school, some schools would have to be four times their current size.

Do your research. Crucially, has the school exceeded its admission number in the recent past? Dies it have classes now that are bigger than its supposed class size? If so, you can argue that it could admit your child as an additional pupil and live with the consequences.

Martorana Mon 03-Mar-14 14:02:26

And remember you are appealing for school A, not against school B. You need reasons why school A is right for your child, not why school B is wrong.

PanelChair Mon 03-Mar-14 14:06:44

Yes, that's one of the reasons - apart from irrelevance to the admissions criteria - why raising things like the allocated school's GCSE pass rate is not a winning approach.

ForeverProcrastinating Mon 03-Mar-14 19:17:48

Thanking you all for your words of wisdom at this really stressful time. Our catchment school is not fit for purpose and my heart sinks for my son, all we want is a good school with able teachers, seemingly too much to ask. My SIL is a HT, would it be an advantage to have her with us on appeal day?

Harriebabe Mon 03-Mar-14 19:25:02

Thank you all for this advice, I think I might need it!

PanelChair Mon 03-Mar-14 21:15:04

Forever - If you really think you need to have your SiL there for moral support, then there's nothing (as far as I can recall) to say you can't. However, panels know that parents may be anxious and will make allowances for that. As long as you can get all your points across, you shouldn't really need someone to speak for you.

admission Mon 03-Mar-14 21:44:37

Forever, if you want your SIL for moral support and may be to put across the arguments in a less emotive way than possibly you might then that is OK. If your SIL is there because you are going to play the "they are a head teacher and know what they are talking about" card then you will potentially antagonise the panel which will do the appeal no good at all. Use her for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons.

chelc1979 Mon 03-Mar-14 21:48:59

I am absolutely petrified and daunted by going to the appeal process. I have no idea where to start what my actual issue is the fact its 4.1 miles away, our 6th choice, the fact since December we've now got a SEN problem come up I just want to cry!

prh47bridge Mon 03-Mar-14 22:02:23

chelc1979 - You will get lots of help on here from various experts if you post details.

Taking your points in order:

- Distance isn't really relevant in most cases. Your child will be entitled to free transport if the shortest walking route is more than 3 miles.

- The fact this is your sixth choice is definitely not relevant. However, the reasons it was your sixth choice may be. If you can set out why your other choices are better for your child than the allocated school you may have the beginnings of a case.

- If your child gets a statement of SEN you will be asked what school you want named on the statement. The LA only has limited grounds on which it could refuse to name your choice. Once a school is named on a statement your child will be admitted. But for the appeal you could try to show that your preferred school has better facilities for coping with your child's SEN than the allocated school.

Martorana Mon 03-Mar-14 22:23:51

Chelc- do you now have a Statement?

chelc1979 Tue 04-Mar-14 00:25:50

No he dosen't have a statement its a fairly new issue he's been diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder so was picked up way after selection.

Free transport or not there's no school bus and unfortunately I wont be letting him get 2 busses at 7am to get there.

We would like to appeal for our nearest school which is 0.9 miles away and was our 4th choice. I want to be able to take him & collect him from school, were completely new to the area were living in at the moment and he is not the most confident child. He is easily distracted by goings on around him he forgets what he's doing n what he needs to do (I don't feel getting busses & being in bus stations will help) The school has a fantastic write up for those who need extra help developing and the extra help to get them where they need to be academically.

The 6th choice school leaves us unable to take him and collect from school, it has over double the average of statemented children & a large number of high SEN dependant children. I think if my son was to attend it would make him feel like his APD is a massive disability and will either feel like he's been let down academically or labelled. In such a small school I feel that that would be inevitable.

All of this sounds ridiculous to read back and I have no idea of what I'm talking about. I do honestly I just cant formulate the words in the right way,

Martorana Tue 04-Mar-14 08:28:36

It doesn't sound ridiculous at all. But it's really important to concentrate on why you want school X rqther than why you don't want school Y. Be careful about using the travel thing- everybody feels that their children can't possibly manage the travelling- but a couple of weeks in they are jumping on and off busses as if they've been doing it all their lives. Focus on what the school can offer him. Get an Ed Psych report.
And have a go at the journey- it may not be as bad as you think, which will at least ease your mind a bit while you're going through the process.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 08:40:55

We were unable to get a statement due to the complete unhelpfulness of the LA (they told me straight out that they do not issue statements for physical disability).

We got in on appeal by providing exact letters from GP/paediatrician etc, giving evidence of exactly the reasons we had adduced in our appeal letter.

So:

dd needs wheelchair access = mention of this in paed's letter

dd needs a small school so she can be encouraged to walk for short distances = mention in paed's letter that dd should be encouraged to walk for short distances, so needs small school, but also has to have wheelchair available

dd is psychologically affected by her disability and needs to go to same school as friends who can support her = letter from psychologist who had seen dd, explaining how she is affected and what she needs.

dd cannot travel long distances= mention in paed's letter of travelling exacerbating condition + letter from GP confirming frequent medical appointments locally

the preferred school was the only one that could meet above needs= dh had brought plans of all the schools to demonstrate their layout and the presence/absence of lifts

(Obviously I had explained to the paed/GP/psych exactly what I was going to need; in fact, I had put it in writing to them)

I couldn't believe how much spelling out we had to do.

We had originally explained that dd was a wheelchair user and that this school was the only choice with wheelchair access, but it turned out that was not good enough for the LEA, because it was not on their list of schools with disabled access.

On enquiry it turned out the school was not fully equipped with aids for the visually impaired and this was why it hadn't made the list. Their conclusion was that because we had applied for a school not on the disabled list dd couldn't really be disabled, so the disability issue could be discounted.

So I had to sit in front of the panel and explain very patiently, without betraying the slightest sign of irritation, that if you are a wheelchair user with normal eyesight, provision for the visually impaired is not really that relevant but wheelchair access is.

It was stressful but oddly satisfactory.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 08:44:34

Also, don't forget: if you can get medical evidence that he is unable to cope with buses, they may give him a place on disabled transport. Dd travelled to secondary in a taxi though the school wasn't very far away. (You have to make a separate application for this with the LEA). Just make sure you get it on paper.

Theas18 Tue 04-Mar-14 08:44:40

Presumably you didn't get your 4th choice- the nearest school, because though "nearest" you are still outside the distance at which it filled all it's places? The fact that it was 4th isn't relevant if you met the criteria for a place and you didn't get one in a higher preference school you should have had a place there. However if the school filled at 0.5miles and you are 0.9 you don't get a place what ever I'm afraid.

Check what the school/LA says about distance - if they have incorrectly applied a distance rule you have, I understand a strong appeal reason.

The journey thing isn't grounds to appeal. Assuming they pay for transport. 2 buses isn't a big deal at year 7, it really isn't. It's normal for very many kids (mine included if they are not up in time for the slow no change route!)

High levels of SEN is no grounds either (again the appeal is FOR school A not against school B). In fact many would suggest that this allocated school is actually well set up to recognise and work with his APD, allowing him to achieve his full potential, whereas a school with low levels of SEN might go " APD what's that?"!!

What was and why was your 1st school put 1st?

ForeverProcrastinating Tue 04-Mar-14 08:45:46

Thanks PanelChair, I hear you and do see your point. It was just for moral support to ensure I didn't reduce myself to a gibbering wreck and the things that need saying get said -I'm not good in these kind of situations, my mind goes blank.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 08:47:16

Also, I found it very helpful that there were two of us there: dh was able to take notes and keep track of proceedings while I did the talking.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 08:56:25

Remembering that what you do with language is essential.

"I am not letting him catch two buses" will sound emotional and irrelevant; it also sounds a little hectoring and is unlikely to get the panel on your side.

"As letter A, from ds' Ed Psych explains, his condition makes it difficult for him to manage travelling; he would therefore benefit from the local school" is far better. It focuses away from you and your feelings and puts the focus on something objective that can more or less be proved.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 08:58:23

If you can get the medical profession on your side for this, you might also want to argue that he would benefit from the independence of a school journey that he could manage unsupervised, i.e. a more local school. But don't even try without evidence.

PanelChair Tue 03-Mar-15 15:44:23

Bumping this thread because the general information on how to approach appeals is still relevent (although I'd suggest that anyone wanting advice now starts their own thread).

PanelChair Tue 03-Mar-15 15:59:01

I've been trying unsuccessfully to find BetsyBoop's thread, because it had a long discussion of the dos and donts of appealing. Is anyone else better at searching then I am?

ButterflyUpSoHigh Tue 03-Mar-15 17:12:22

I don't know how to do a link but it was posted on 4/10/2011 I searched for admissions tips.

PanelChair Tue 03-Mar-15 17:26:00

Thank you!

Here are some useful tips for appeals. Anything here about infant class size will (obviously) not apply to secondary admissions appeals.

mint123 Fri 24-Apr-15 21:21:39

Hi,

I have a panel hearing next week. We didn't get our first choice because we are way out of the area the school is located. We lived in that area so my other kids are in schools that are near by our first choice.
We've got a letter from her school that states my daughter have had social and confident issues and it would benefit her if she could attend a school where she'd be able to see familiar faces. Most of her friends are going to the school that was our first choice. Also got a letter from our gp doctor stating that,since she knows which school she has to go she shows symptoms of anxiety. There are other issues such as verbal abuse from the local kids where we live and these kids attending the school she got the offer. It's a good school,have the same rating by OFSTED as our firs choice. Would the mentioned issues outweigh the prejudice the school might have if they admit her. They reason of refusal is overcrowding and health and safety issues.
Thank you for any advice.

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