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A few questions about secondary appeals

(26 Posts)
ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sun 09-Mar-14 18:07:26

I know the PAN for my preferred school but how can I find out how many pupils they actually have in each year group? Ring the school or LEA?

Our preferred school has a maths specialism and their recent Ofsted report says that the school is great at helping pupils who lack confidence in maths. DD is one of these pupils and it says so on her primary reports - is there any point in mentioning this at appeal?

You can appeal on several grounds, can't you? We have one main reason for wanting this school but a few other reasons too (eg. the maths thing mentioned above) - I can mention all our reasons at appeal, however minor, yes?

TIA!

PanelChair Sun 09-Mar-14 18:37:25

Yes, ring the school. They are supposed to give you all reasonable help in preparing your appeal.

What you are trying to do is paint a picture of why the preferred school is uniquely placed to meet your child's educational needs. In appeals code-speak, you need to demonstrate that the 'prejudice' (ie disadvantage) to your child in not attending the school outweighs the prejudice to the school and the pupils already in it of having to admit another pupil.

Parents often present general arguments about wanting a place in a particular school because it has a better Ofsted rating or better GCSE results than the one they have been allocated. Those arguments are irrelevant and get nowhere. The argument here, though, is different, as it is specific to your child. It is certainly worth pointing out to the panel that there is something specific about the maths provision at the preferred school (assuming that it is specific and that other local schools don't have similar programmes/praise from Ofsted for helping nervous mathematicians) that meets your child's needs. So, yes, mention it.

You can appeal on as many grounds as you can identify (and back up with evidence). In some cases, parents present one mega-argument as to why their child should be admitted. In others, parents mention several arguments as part of the picture of why the child needs a place at that school. Either way, the panel has to evaluate the 'prejudice' to the child against the 'prejudice' to the school.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sun 09-Mar-14 20:49:45

Thank you, PanelChair. I think I may have spoken to you about this before and I'm sorry if I'm going over old ground but I'm confused about how I can demonstrate that prejudice to my child is greater than prejudice to the school. Is that actually up to me to do? Because surely all I can do is talk about the prejudice to my DD and then it's up to the panel to decide which prejudice is greater? I understand that I can talk about PAN versus actual number of children and so on, but (a) that still won't show that one prejudice is greater than the other and (b) what if they have never gone above their PAN anyway? In that case I can't give any evidence about prejudice to the school.

tiggytape Sun 09-Mar-14 21:16:26

You are right - your main focus is explaining why this school best meets your child's needs and interests. You can bring up all your reasons for this as long as they are ones that show why you are appealing for this school not against the allocated one.

You can also chip away a little bit at the school's case that admitting more children causes prejudice to them if you can point out that they already have extra children in some year groups and cope just fine. You aren't expected to blow their case out of the water - just show that your case for wanting a place is strong and their case for refusing isn't perhaps quite as strong as it appears.

Of course there are some appeals where parents blow the case for refusal out of the water eg where the admission authority used the wrong home address for the child and wrongly denied them a place. Generally these are pretty rare though. Most appeals are like yours - a balance of reasons why you want a place alongside some chipping away at the school's case.

PanelChair Sun 09-Mar-14 21:19:15

Yes, as I said, it is for the panel to evaluate the prejudice and weigh up which is greater. But you can seek to portray how great the prejudice to your child would be (by identifying various needs which this school is best placed to meet) and you can also try to suggest that the prejudice to the school would not be so great (by pointing out that it has previously exceeded its admission number or already has extra pupils in other year groups, if it has). But the decision is ultimately one for the panel.

PanelChair Sun 09-Mar-14 21:22:06

As Tiggytape says, it is ( or can be) a matter of chipping away at the case against admission.

HN2014 Mon 10-Mar-14 12:01:24

Hi Everyone,

I need some urgent advice.

I wish to decline the offer of the school place we have been offered for my daughter. However as well as declining I have to tick 1 out of 3 boxes showing my reasons, please see below:

1) I have alternative arrangements in place for my child (e.g. independent schooling), and have stated in the box below where my child will be receiving his or her education.

2)
I will be moving out of the area before my child is due to start school. I have stated in the box below what area/country I am moving to.

3)I am happy with the place I have been offered and do NOT want to keep my child on the waiting list(s) for any higher preference schools.

Once I have done this there is a box for further comments.

Can someone advise me as to which box I should tick considering I wish to decline the offer and put my daughter down on the waiting list for out other preferred choices and will request an appeal for the next step.

I am thinking option 1 with comments like putting my daughter on waiting lists for our preferred choice. I do not think option 2 & 3 are relevant.

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME SOME ADVISE AS MY HEAD TO JUST GOING ROUND N ROUND WITH CONFUSION.

H

Pooka Mon 10-Mar-14 12:07:53

Accepting the place would not prejudice your appeal or being put on waiting lists and generally it is a very good idea to accept a place as an absolute back up.

Those boxes are stupid though! Unless the paperwork gives some guidance re: waiting lists.

I'd really strongly suggest that you accept the place you have, to be there in the background while you go on waiting lists and/or appeal. It doesn't indicate that you're happy with the option, no one is going to be looking at acceptance and refusing an appeal or taking you off waiting lists on that basis and it means that you have an option in September if nothing comes of waiting lists and appeals (even though it's not a preferred school of yours, it's a place that you are entitled to and can hang onto until you've exhausted all other options).

PanelChair Mon 10-Mar-14 12:17:23

Pooka is absolutely right. Unless you can find a place for your child in an independent school or are willing to home-educate, you should keep the place you've been offered. The chances of winning an appeal are always slim and you may be too far down waiting lists to get a place that way, so turning down the offered ace may leave you with no options at all in September.

HN2014 Mon 10-Mar-14 12:48:53

But the box states by accepting I do not wish to be put on any other waiting list including higher preference choices. This means to me and others round me that they will not bother about my appeal and put it right down the list of importance as I already have a school that I have accepted.

The school given is a Catholic School, my daughter is Sikh. We applied to non faith schools for this reason.

If the school used the admission policy why did another child who lives further away from us get a place and we didn't?

We received one letter saying we got our first choice, next day we got another letter saying we didn't !!

I am totally lost now and do not know what to do. My daughter is getting more anxious by the day. Its already having an impact on her school work.

H

prh47bridge Mon 10-Mar-14 12:50:55

Agree with the previous posters. Rejecting the place offered won't move you up the waiting lists or improve your chances at appeal. The LA is under no obligation to come up with another offer if you reject this one. If they do it is likely to be at an unpopular school further from home than the current offer. If they don't come up with another offer, you lose your appeals and nothing comes up via the waiting lists your daughter will be left without a school in September.

tiggytape Mon 10-Mar-14 12:58:47

There are quite a few issues to unpick here:

By accepting the place (ar at least by not declining it) you are on the waiting list for all higher ranked schools. That isn't always automatic. Some LAs make you ask to go on the lists so make sure you do that this week. They cannot prevent you from being on the lists just because you accept a place elsewhere.

Your religion or the school's religion is not a consideration in admissions. Some Catholic schools are hard to get into if you aren't Catholic because hundreds of Catholics apply leaving no room for others but, if they have a space, it can go to anyone of any faith. There is no way for parents to specify non faith schools just as atheists cannot insist they aren't given a CofE school for example.

A child further away from you can get a place if they are in a higher admissions category than you are. They might have a statement. They might be adopted from care. They may have special medical needs. They may have a sibling. They may be the child of a teacher. They may be Catholic. The school is free to give priority for these reasons (some of them are compulsory in fact) so therefore lots of people further away than you will be getting sibling places etc at the schools you want.

The last point about an offer being withdrawn is less usual. You should ask the LA how the initial offer came to be made and then withdrawn. If it was an error seek reassurance that the subsequent allocation is correct and ask how the initial error came about i.e. do they have your address correctly listed.

prh47bridge Mon 10-Mar-14 12:59:39

The form is ridiculous. Is it from the school or the LA? They cannot take you off the waiting list for your higher choices just because you accept the offered school. Talk to the LA. Make it clear you want to accept the offered place but also want to remain on the waiting lists for your higher choices. Ask them what you should do.

They cannot ignore your appeal or treat it less favourably just because you have accepted the place offered.

If the school used the admission policy why did another child who lives further away from us get a place and we didn't

Because distance is not the only factor. If the other child was in a higher admission category than you the fact they would be admitted ahead of you regardless of distance. If they have made a mistake and you should have been offered a place that is a very strong case for appeal.

We received one letter saying we got our first choice, next day we got another letter saying we didn't

This sounds chaotic. I think you need to start by contacting the LA and finding out exactly what has happened.

HN2014 Mon 10-Mar-14 13:00:04

I have been given info for waiting list. These are for all the schools we are not interested in and does not show any schools were put down as our preferences.

I have contacted one school and asked to be put on the waiting list.

H

tiggytape Mon 10-Mar-14 13:06:43

There are quite a few issues to unpick here:

By accepting the place (ar at least by not declining it) you are on the waiting list for all higher ranked schools. That isn't always automatic. Some LAs make you ask to go on the lists so make sure you do that this week. They cannot prevent you from being on the lists just because you accept a place elsewhere.

Your religion or the school's religion is not a consideration in admissions. Some Catholic schools are hard to get into if you aren't Catholic because hundreds of Catholics apply leaving no room for others but, if they have a space, it can go to anyone of any faith. There is no way for parents to specify non faith schools just as atheists cannot insist they aren't given a CofE school for example.

A child further away from you can get a place if they are in a higher admissions category than you are. They might have a statement. They might be adopted from care. They may have special medical needs. They may have a sibling. They may be the child of a teacher. They may be Catholic. The school is free to give priority for these reasons (some of them are compulsory in fact) so therefore lots of people further away than you will be getting sibling places etc at the schools you want.

The last point about an offer being withdrawn is less usual. You should ask the LA how the initial offer came to be made and then withdrawn. If it was an error seek reassurance that the subsequent allocation is correct and ask how the initial error came about i.e. do they have your address correctly listed.

HN2014 Mon 10-Mar-14 13:07:49

The form is from the LA e-admissions.

H

prh47bridge Mon 10-Mar-14 13:48:48

Which LA is this? PM me if you don't want to post that information publicly. I'd like to see the form (or at least a screenshot of it). On the basis of the wording you've posted it sounds like they may be in breach of the Admissions Code.

HN2014 Mon 10-Mar-14 13:58:51

I have just spoken with the LA who have said we will be put on waiting list for all the schools we didn't get.

Also I should ask for an appeal from the school we didn't get. I have done this now.

I have emailed to officer in LA admissions to clarify the last box 3. The comments will go to the first preference school we didn't get. Once I get further clarification from the LA, I will put together all my comments.

H

HN2014 Tue 11-Mar-14 20:45:41

I found out two children who lives further from us got a place on distance. I spoke with our first choice school admissions officer who informed me that there's a serious problem and its not right. She also said " I suppose you will appeal" which I answered of course!

We are on the waiting list for this school and are on the mailing list to receive the appeals form, if it gets to that stage.

I'm still confused about which box to tick. I do wish to decline. But which box do I tick. Allot of people have advised me not to accept.

Does anyone one have any further advice?

H

admission Tue 11-Mar-14 21:22:11

My inclination is to say that you should not decline the place offered. I fully accept that you do not want child to go there but if you decline the LA have completed their legal requirements and do not have to find you a school place.
You are betting everything on getting a place via appeal, which you may do or may not. If you do not then you will have to go back to the LA and then you could end up getting a place where the LA can find a place, which could be a long way from home and could be a worse school than the school offered. Hence accept the place as the fall back position if all other options fail.

HN2014 Tue 11-Mar-14 21:46:48

If I accept would they bother about putting me on waiting lists and appeals if it gets to that as I already have a school. Remember: the last box states if we accept we wish our child not be placed on waiting list for all our higher preferences!!!!! SHOULD I TICK THIS BOX? THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENCE.

Alternatively I have been told that as I did not get any of our preferences they will put us on the waiting list for our highest preference without prejudice anyway and we can also appeal without prejudice.

H

titchy Tue 11-Mar-14 22:39:36

Forget the form - just write confirming you wish to accept the offered place, but want to remain on waiting lists for all higher ranked schools (name them) and you would like an appeal pack sent.

tiggytape Tue 11-Mar-14 22:56:09

Agree with titchy - forget the form. Just email admissions and say you're accepting the place but still wish to remain on all waiting lists and still wish to receive appeal forms. Your obligation is just to reply to them. They can't make you fill in a form signing away the rights you have to appeal and go on lists. Reply by email because then it is in writing.

The form is a nonsense as prh said earlier. Thousands of parents are in your position. They have been forced to accept a school they do not want. Perhaps one they didn't even list. If they decline it, the council is entitled to wash their hands of them. If they accept it, their place on every waiting list and their chances at appeal are absolutely not affected in the slightest. Virtually every appeal that will be heard in the next 3 months will involve parents who have reluctantly accepted an offer and who are appealing for one that is a better fit for their child or (as is potentially the case for you) one that they should have been allocated at first but which a mistake prevented them from getting.

If you decline, you have no place and the council has no duty to you. That is the bottom line.
Yes you may very well win at appeal if a mistake has been made but (playing devil's advocate here) if this turns out to be a massive error affecting 90 people, you won’t all win at appeal. There is no way for the council to remove places from any people wrongly allocated them buy that stage. And there is no way to admit dozens of extra people to a school even if a mistake cost them the legitimate right to be there. Hopefully yours is just a small error affecting you and / or not too many others but appeals are never guaranteed so really think hard about what your Plan C would be if you decline the place and then don’t win at appeal.

tiggytape Tue 11-Mar-14 22:57:24

by not buy

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 12-Mar-14 14:37:36

Another appeal question - do academies have their own appeals panels? (I'm guessing some do, and some use the LA's.) If they have their own, are they governed by the same rules as the usual LA Independent Appeals Panels (e.g. no one connected with the school, one experienced member, one lay member, etc) ?

Thanks.

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