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Can you appeal to a school which you didn't apply for?

(14 Posts)
Zingy123 Tue 18-Mar-14 17:18:34

My friend lives in the next county to me. Her children got into our school as she is catholic. They were outside the catchment area but got lucky and got a place for both her girls.

She applied to her county for 3 schools for secondary school. These were all miles away from where she lives. Her county allocated her a school over 8 miles away as it was the only one with places left. She is distraught that she didn't get her choices as she wants her daughter to be with her friends.

Her county has now said she can appeal to any school she wants to. I thought you could go on any waiting list but only appeal to ones you didn't get.

She has been preparing 6 appeals but I think she is wasting her time.

She is in such a state I don't want to upset her but feel I should tell her she has been given the wrong information.

She has turned down this offer 8 miles away and now has no place. There are schools here with places but she won't consider them.

titchy Tue 18-Mar-14 18:11:02

You are correct she has to apply for places first - she may not even need to appeal!

titchy Tue 18-Mar-14 18:11:32

And yes she should make sure she is on as many waiting lists as possible.

prh47bridge Tue 18-Mar-14 18:16:07

Technically what will happen is that she applies to a school that is full, fails to get a place and therefore gets the right to appeal. She can therefore appeal for as many schools as she wants. But she may well be wasting her time.

She needs to start being realistic. She cannot force the LA or an appeal panel to give her a school she wants. From what you say it wouldn't surprise me if she leaves any appeal panel feeling she is trying to blackmail them which means she is less likely to get the benefit of any doubt.

Zingy123 Tue 18-Mar-14 18:22:49

Thanks. Her appeals seem to be that she can't get her child to a school far away and be collecting her younger child. I can't see that being very successful. Our head has written her a letter stating this.

titchy Tue 18-Mar-14 19:13:54

Why can't her older child travel by herself? Her lea has to provide transport.

prh47bridge Tue 18-Mar-14 19:46:37

That will not work. As she didn't apply to her nearest schools the LA may be able to avoid having to provide free transport. But transport arrangements only win appeals in special circumstances, e.g. where a child is unable to travel alone (most Y7 children would be expected to handle this) or has medical issues limiting the distance they can travel. In the absence of any medical evidence to the contrary I would expect an appeal panel to conclude that the mother should concentrate on collecting her younger child and leave her older child to look after herself.

Basically it sounds like she shot herself in the foot with her initial application. Unfortunately her actions since have just made things worse.

prh47bridge Tue 18-Mar-14 19:47:52

That will not work. As she didn't apply to her nearest schools the LA may be able to avoid having to provide free transport. But transport arrangements only win appeals in special circumstances, e.g. where a child is unable to travel alone (most Y7 children would be expected to handle this) or has medical issues limiting the distance they can travel. In the absence of any medical evidence to the contrary I would expect an appeal panel to conclude that the mother should concentrate on collecting her younger child and leave her older child to look after herself.

Basically it sounds like she shot herself in the foot with her initial application. Unfortunately her actions since have just made things worse.

tiggytape Tue 18-Mar-14 22:10:30

As prh says, she can quickly apply to other schools and then be eligible to appeal as soon as they turn her down (assuming the ones she applies to have no spaces which most don't) however her basis for an appeal is not strong at all.

Even at primary school, transport difficulties do not make strong reasons to appeal and that's for people who apply to a local school but don't get one let alone for people who apply further afield and then claim transport difficulties later having not got their choice.
Even with children much younger, the inability to be in 2 places at the same time won't win an appeal. The council will just tell the parents they'll have to share school runs or pay childcare to cover it. Even if complex school runs mess up parental working hours, it wouldn't win an appeal so, for a secondary school aged child expected to travel alone, this is pretty much a non-starter . This is assuming there aren't any medical / mobility concerns regarding the child which means she must be accompanied to school.

tiggytape Tue 18-Mar-14 22:14:36

And on a more positive note - the best thing she can do is to apply to every local school she originally rejected and go on waiting lists (multiple) and hope something comes up.
She should especially focus on schools close to home that have a distance criteria where she will be higher up the waiting list than many others and also less oversubscribed schools where the lists aren't so packed and where people may well give up their offered places.

She has made life difficult with her original application but she shouldn't rely on appeals to put this right. Even if she had a strong case, the school's case may be stronger and she still wouldn't win. Being realistic and proactive before the lists start to move (which will be soon) is important.

Zingy123 Tue 18-Mar-14 22:50:15

Thanks for all the advice. I will see if I can get through to her. Surely a less popular school is better than no school.

tiggytape Tue 18-Mar-14 23:02:40

I hope she sorts it out Zingy.
The whole notion of choice and preference can muddy the waters sometimes. Parents might set their heart on the 'best's schools without really having a back up plan if they don't happen to live close enough or if hundreds of siblings get places instead. A particular local school may not be what they want but, for many people, it will be the only one they can get in to.

Parents have a choice out of all the schools that they qualify for not out of all the schools that they like. For many people this is in fact no choice at all.

She should realise that the council has now met its obligation to her so she cannot force them to find another school for her child. She has an offer and that's all the council are required to provide for her.
It will now be down to her to be very proactive if she isn't keen to take that offer. If she wants to join waiting lists, apply to more schools, submit appeals etc, this will all need to come from her and the sooner she starts the better. If she joins waiting lists late, she may miss the first wave of new offers. If she misses appeal deadlines, hers will be held later than others which is a disadvantage. The first thing to do would be to identify the local school/s that made offers as far as her house this year and get on their lists.

Zingy123 Tue 18-Mar-14 23:08:00

Part of the problem is all the schools she wants are in my county so she has to go through her own county first to apply. I did predict this happening as the schools she wanted were nowhere near where she lived. She hasn't really thought it through I think.

tiggytape Wed 19-Mar-14 08:15:43

Applying to schools in another country isn't a problem at all. Lots of people live closer to a neighbouring county's schools than their own so this is very common indeed and not an issue. A council is not allowed to treat applications from neighbouring counties less favourably than their own. If she lives close enough to qualify for an offer then she can get one in any county.

However, if she is only applying to schools which are so far away that her house doesn't qualify on distance criteria then she won't get in. Again, that is true whether the schools she wants are in her own county or any other.

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