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(29 Posts)
muppets Wed 26-Mar-14 13:18:00

Hello, I just wondered if anyone else has been in this situation before. Basically we applied for 6 schools for my son and were given a school that we had not even asked for. I definitely do not want him going there so we turned it down, we are on the waiting lists for all the others but still heard nothing. We probably will have to go to appeal. This is so stressful for myself and my son. I would really love to hear some positive stories of people who have been in the same situation. We cannot afford the private route and just want the best for him . We are even thinking of home schooling until he is offered somewhere we want him to go. Thank you

clary Wed 26-Mar-14 13:37:28

Sorry to say this but it would have been better if you had not turned down the offered school. The LA has now done its duty in finding a school place for your son, and if you don't get a place on appeal you just won't have a place in September. That's my understanding anyway.

What was so bad about the school you turned down? Was your catchment school one of the ones you applied to?

That said, if there are six schools where you are appealing, you may get lucky. My understanding is that you should focus on why they would be suitable for your son, eg any special needs, any special focus of the school (your son is a maths whizz and the shool has a maths specialism with extra maths clubs etc - you get the idea) rather than why you don't want the offered school.

There are lots of other people on MN who know more about this than me and I am sure they will give you some more good advice.

PanelChair Wed 26-Mar-14 19:16:44

Clary is right.

By turning down the place you were offered, you have potentially made a bad situation worse. Appeal panels may take a dim view of your turning down the place, because they may interpret it as an attempt to pressurise or blackmail them.

Do you know why you did not get a place in any of the 6 schools you listed? Was at least one of them a school at which you thought you had a good chance of a place or were they all unrealistic choices (eg far further away than you were likely to qualify for on distance)?

Are there any other schools you would be willing to accept? If so, you should make a fresh application to them so that you can join their waiting lists. Otherwise, as you say, you face the possibility of a long time home-educating until you reach the top of the waiting lists for the schools you applied for. Some LEAs limit the number of waiting lists you can join, so you need to seek their adavice on that.

For any appeal, you need to identify reasons why that school is best placed to meet your child's needs, in terms of curriculum provision, extra-curricular activities, pastoral care etc etc. The fact that he hasn't got a school to go to isn't enough on its own to win an appeal.

angelusavalon Wed 26-Mar-14 20:10:12

Hi, I was in the same situation a couple of years ago; put in 6 schools thinking at least one school will offer my child a place and trusting local council to do the right thing, but no offers in all 6 choices and the council shoved my child into a school that was 8 miles away and notorious for social problems. I turned down the offer from that bad school, I was told that was the worst thing to do and putting my child at risk of having no school places.

The following October, my child was offered places in two of the schools who turned us down.

I can feel your pain at not knowing what to do and getting no help from the council or from the current primary school. I was so angry and sad, my child was OK because his mates were supporting him.

The end of my story was; I looked around the other neighboring boroughs and applied at their schools on waiting list and my child was offered a place in May by a mediocre school which was quite near to were we live. My child is now very happy at this school even though none of his mates from his primary school go there, bonding with the new found friends.

I did do appeals for all 6 schools who turned us down and I went to their panel meeting, all of them, also the council messed up my waiting list applications to the schools in the other boroughs.

In October, two of the schools that was on my CAF list wrote to offer my child a place since they have new vacancies and my child was on their waiting list; I turned them down because my child is happy where he currently at.

I really hope things will turn out better for you and your child, hang on in there and please don't give up, just do it and keep trying.

YuccanLiederHorticulture Wed 26-Mar-14 21:15:51

Hi Muppets

Lots of people have been in this situation before. It is usually because they put down the 6 nearest "outstanding" schools to them, all of which were too far away for the to qualify on distance, and did not put down any school on their list that they had the remotest chance of getting in to. If it's not that, then it's because you are unlucky enough to have a house in a primary school "black spot" - that is, with all nearby schools (whatever the quality) having a catchment distance too short for this house to qualify. In which case your best bet is to move closer to a school while you wait on the waiting list, if you possibly can.

Appealing on the grounds of really wanting school A and really not wanting school B will never succeed. Each school has a set number of places and someone has to go to school B. Appeals Panels will not accept the assertion that your precious child deserves a better lot in life than the other 59 pupils who have been awarded a place at school B.

tiggytape Wed 26-Mar-14 23:10:16

Lots of people have been in this situation before. It is usually because they put down the 6 nearest "outstanding" schools to them, all of which were too far away for the to qualify on distance

That may be true in some case but is certainly not usual.
In London and cities with similar school place shortages, it is perfectly possible not to be offered any of your preferences even if you list the 6 closest to home (faith schools, some with lotteries, some with tiny catchments even though they take nearly 300 in Year 7.....). Many people now fall in blackspots for school places and it is hard to predict or avoid as the last disatnce offered can sometimes halve between one year and the next.

In which case your best bet is to move closer to a school while you wait on the waiting list, if you possibly can.

Unless you rent, by the time you sell and complete on a new house that ship may have sailed. The waiting list offers will be issued through the summer but many / most of them are issued after the first round of acceptances and rejections.

Appealing on the grounds of really wanting school A and really not wanting school B will never succeed.

This is true.
And that is why you wouldn't phrase an appeal in that way. Instead you should concentrate on what it is that the school can offer your child that you think would meet their needs and benefit them. The school will explain that they are full but if your reasons for wanting a place are stronger than their case that they cannot cater for more pupils then you can win. Plenty of people win appeals for year 3 and above every year and by definition, they all do so despite the school being full when they appeal.

crazymum53 Thu 27-Mar-14 10:11:25

It's still a bit early to hear anything OP as LEAs will still be following up people who haven't accepted their school offers before re-allocating places. Some parents do turn down places because they are going to send their child to an independent school or may be moving away from the area so there is still hope. Have they given you any information about your child's position on the waiting lists yet?
Is there any information on your council website about how they allocated places at your preferred schools OP? My Council publishes this for all oversubscribed schools and if you are close to the last distance offered and applied on time, there is a good chance of being offered a place from the waiting list.
What happens if all your preferences are full is that you are allocated a place at your nearest under-subscribed school. Some LEAs may have lists of schools that still have available places, so if there is a school that you would find acceptable with space a bit further away (perhaps in a neighbouring borough), you could try this as well as staying on waiting lists and appealing.
HTH

NotDoris Thu 27-Mar-14 18:57:35

We turned down our offered school too, we're appealing to all 6 of our requested schools. We didn't turn it down simply to annoy the appeals panel, it was because she is not going to attend that school as it doesn't offer the facilities she needs (and it was ranked 5th worst in the country recently) DD is really into music, learning an instrument, and the offered school has an extreme poor music department. The schools we chose were the opposite, up to 6 bands to choose from in one!
I'm not sure what we'll do if she doesn't win a place at one on appeal....

PanelChair Thu 27-Mar-14 19:51:49

I'm sure you didn't turn down the place with the intention of annoying the appeal panel, NotDoris, but that isn't really the issue. If the arguments for and against admitting your child to the school(s) you are appealing for are very evenly balanced, it may help tip the balance in your favour if the panel thinks that you are a sensible and reasonable person. That may be less likely if they think you are trying to hold a metaphorical gun to their head because you have refused the school place you were allocated.

As you say, what will happen if you don't win any of your appeals? Are you in a position to home educate or find a last minute place in an independent school?

Anyway, what's done is done.

Blu Thu 27-Mar-14 21:46:22

You can still stay on waiting lists for other schools though, if you turned down a place, can't you?

OP - make sure you find out about being on waiting lists -and also the late-entry date for applications made after the closing date - you may be able to go on waiting lists for schools you didn't apply for.

NotDoris Thu 27-Mar-14 21:52:13

Panelchair, if I'd have know beforehand then I might not have turned down the place, but as you say, what's done is done.
The school has a very bad reputation though, and I've heard countless tales of bullying and children being pulled out because of it without another school to go to. DD would suffer there, she is quiet and doesn't like to stand up for herself unfortunately.
We did what we thought was right at the time....

tiggytape Thu 27-Mar-14 22:13:14

I'm not sure what we'll do if she doesn't win a place at one on appeal....

Can you talk to the LA and perhaps ask them to reinstate her offer at the school? If they still have spaces spare this may not be impossible.
Or you can ask them to put your name down not just for your original 6 but any extra schools that you might not want but are more acceptable to you than the one you rejected? Perhaps there is another school nearby that is less popular but still better than the one you rejected?

I appreciate neither of these is a particularly satisfactory solution but you really don't want to risk ending up with no school to go to in September. Waiting lists definitely move and appeals can be won but there are no guarantees that either route will turn up a school place by September.
With waiting lists you are totally dependent on other people rejecting places and not having many ahead of you
With appeals, even with a strong case, if the school's case is stronger, you may not win.
If you have a school place in reserve, at least you have a plan C should the lists and appeals not go as well or as quickly as you'd hoped.

PanelChair Thu 27-Mar-14 22:17:37

Blu - Normally, a place on the waiting list for any school parents have placed higher than the one they've been offered is automatic, but practice seems to vary between LEAs so it is always worth checking with them. My LEA also allows parents to join other waiting lists, but I have heard (via these threads) of other LEAs that limit the number of waiting lists that parents may join so, again, it is always worth checking what local practice is and ensuring that they are on all the lists they want to be/can be.

When parents have turned down the place they've been offered, the LEA is under no further obligation to make another offer, so it's up to the parents to set the ball rolling (whether by making a fresh application for other schools, joining waiting lists, finding a place in an independent school, or home-educating).

Clavinova Fri 28-Mar-14 08:56:18

Does the appeal panel actually ask you where you will send your child if you lose the appeal? What if you do intend to send your child to an independent school as a last resort rather than the allocated school you turned down? Can't you just pretend that's the case rather than be seen to "annoy" the panel? Plenty of sensible people send their children to private schools rather than their pretty poor (3% EBacc in our case) local state school - we're very "sensible" in my opinion! You can still refer to why you turned the allocated school down (eg poor music provision) can't you?

prh47bridge Fri 28-Mar-14 09:09:02

Does the appeal panel actually ask you where you will send your child if you lose the appeal?

It is unlikely they would do that. But I definitely wouldn't recommend saying you will use an independent school if the appeal fails. An appeal panel may well conclude that your child will not be disadvantaged by missing out on the appeal school if the alternative is an independent school, which means your appeal automatically fails.

muppets Fri 28-Mar-14 09:09:24

Thank you for all your advice, I am actually a teacher in an independent prep school so as a last resort he will come here for a while. We are going to appeal as I know that it is so important to have the right school for your child. I will fight all the way, I think that's the least we can do for our kids and no one should ever settle. We know our children better than anyone else and we know the right school for them. Be strong ladies if you are in the same situation than me.

tiggytape Fri 28-Mar-14 09:10:46

You can still refer to why you turned the allocated school down (eg poor music provision) can't you?

You can but it would be totally irrelevant at appeal
You are appealing for the school you want not against the school you don't want. No matter how compelling your case for turning down a particular school, it has no bearing at all on whether the panel will grant you a place at the one you want instead.

An appeal isn't about the child’s school situation as a whole. It is about a parent explaining to a panel why one 1 school will suit their child and meet their needs (framed as positive reasons for that school not negative reasons about every other school) better than any other
The school will explain why it is so full that it doesn't want to be forced to take more children

The panel will weigh up whose case is stronger. Some parents think being "school-less" might add to their argued need for that school but it doesn't. It just adds to their need for any school place in general so doesn't add weight at the appeal which is just for 1 school. It also tells the panel that perhaps the parents aren't being reasonable since it has to be assumed most appeals won't succeed and parents should not leave their child deliberately without a place and reliant on appeals to solve this. An appeal is to be viewed as a chance to get a more suitable school for a child not a better school with better results. An appeal would not be won if you were honest and said you just wanted to avoid a 3% ebacc school. Having turned it down at the first opportunity therefore kind of implies what might be behind your appeal.

You could lie and say you have an private back up but, since the panel can question you on any information you choose to disclose, it could all get very awkward answering questions on that.
I do sympathise. Obviously nobody wants a terrible school for their child but appeals do not exist to allow parents to opt out of them (afterall someone has to go to the 3% ebacc school) so you don't want a panel to think that's a main reason for appeal and turning down the offered school can hint at that.

tiggytape Fri 28-Mar-14 09:15:28

X post - I see that the private offer is a genuine one.
I was responding to Clavinove who said about pretending to have other options to appease the panel.

I agree with prh though. If you tell the panel you made yourself school-less as you have a private option, that doesn't really explain how the child will be disadvantaged by not winning a place at the appeal school. In fact it proves that they won't be.

Yes, it explains why the family finanaces and other considerations may suffer but the appeal panel aren't looking at those. They weigh up the disadvantage only to the child in terms of the suitability of education and needs being met. Money, transport and other factors don't come into it.

Bramshott Fri 28-Mar-14 09:16:09

I know that in general it's always best not to turn an offer down, but in the OP's case, if she would generally prefer to home-educate than take up the allocated school and has thought through how that would work, it's probably a reasonable thing to do.

Bramshott Fri 28-Mar-14 09:18:38

Ah - X-post! OP - if you're a teacher, how on earth will you home-educate? Will you give up work? Or will you DH do it?

PanelChair Fri 28-Mar-14 09:21:26

Appeal panels can ask any question they feel is reasonable in the circumstances of that particular appeal. It is (obviously) up to the parents or the school/LEA how they respond.

If the allocated place has been turned down, I see no harm in calmly saying so. But the parents who tend to come unstuck are the ones who argue that they have to have a place on the appeal school, because they haven't got anything else lined up. As explained on this and many other threads, the admissions code and appeal code don't work like that.

tiggytape Fri 28-Mar-14 09:24:09

But possibly turning it down after appeal so as not to muddy the waters would be better for most people in this situation?

If the appeal is won then great - everything is sorted out.

If the appeal is lost, the parents can turn down the place with the full facts known. Having no hope of an appeal place, no other alternative school, no movement (or not enough) on other waiting lists is a very different position to be in than a disappointing email on March 3rd with hope of some change.
If, after appeal, Home Ed is still the preferred option then parents can decline the place. A lot of people however are quite adamant that nothing on earth will persuade them to send their child to X school until they lose at appeal and literally have no other school to go to. At that point, if they work, the reality of Home Ed might hit them as not quite so viable and they may change their mind. Start at School X, remain on waiting lists, appeal again for Year 8 etc.

PanelChair Fri 28-Mar-14 09:31:09

Just seen the most recent posts.

For once, I disagree slightly with prh47bridge and Tiggytape about the possible impact of saying the child would go to an independent school if the appeal fails. I have heard appeals where the child has a place at an independent school but very much as a last resort and the parents are very clear that they really want to stay in the state sector. Again and as always according to the circumstances of the appeal and all the available evidence and arguments, it wouldn't (in my view) mean that the appeal had to fail.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Mar-14 09:50:24

Sorry - I perhaps didn't make myself clear. I was responding to someone suggesting that parents should pretend the alternative is an independent school when that isn't actually the case. That in my view is a very bad idea. However, if that is genuinely the alternative there is nothing wrong with saying so. It won't automatically make the appeal fail. But the question the appeal panel has to consider is the disadvantage to the child of not being admitted to the appeal school. The fact that a state school would be cheaper for the parents is not relevant. So the parents have to show that the child is losing out in some way by not going to a state school.

Clavinova Fri 28-Mar-14 10:06:40

Thank you Tiggytape, but I did know that you have to appeal "for" the school you want and not "against" the school you don't want - I couldn't understand where "annoying" the panel came in if the school you refused wasn't even referred to. In our case, we didn't bother with an appeal as we only wanted one of the super selective grammar schools (1,500 -2,000 applicants and hundreds of level 5/6 dcs don't get in) or an independent; the allocated school for us would have been the 3% EBacc school as we're not Catholics. I suspect that half the appeals heard are carefully constructed layers of lies/exaggerations aren't they? Obviously there are genuine cases of need for a particular school but in many cases it's just about who can win the game; why should one child be any more deserving of a particular school than the other 399 disappointed children? Good luck though OP and others; I do sympathise.

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