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Secondary School Appeals - Priority Area Not Clearly Defined

(13 Posts)
JohFlow Thu 27-Mar-14 17:03:04

I am thinking that as part of my DS's appeal; contesting whether the school's priority area is clearly enough defined. To clarify; our house is likely to be very close to the catchment area border.

Within the materials from the LEA is a basic black and white 'map' (line drawing) of the catchment area (this does not overlay an actual map, so there is no indication of streets/towns/landmarks on the outskirts or scale). The written description says that 'part' of some towns fall inside of the limits others do not, and only one outer border is defined in the description.

The LEA are keeping things very close to their chest - suggesting that a map will be with us just before the appeal. I have asked for someone to verbally clarify the outer limits of the boundary close to our property but feel that I got an evasive answer.

Do I have a point to make and what what would make it stronger (e.g. legislation etc)


titchy Thu 27-Mar-14 17:09:55

I'm not an appeals expert, but I'd have thought that unless you were led to believe from their original documentation that you were within the priority area and made your decision based on that this wouldn't really work as a reason to admit, unless you are in the priority area after all and a mistake was made.

For future admissions though the School Adjudicator would doubtless rule that the priority area must be clearly defined.

prh47bridge Thu 27-Mar-14 17:27:08

Catchment areas must be clearly defined (Admissions Code paragraph 1.14). If it is not clear to you whether you are in or out of catchment that is a problem. Unfortunately that doesn't necessarily mean you will win your appeal on this basis. To win you would need to show that the error has cost you a place. If the panel take the view that you are outside the catchment area even though the LA has failed to make that clear to you your appeal would fail.

If you would like to tell us which LA/school is involved I will take a look and see if I can find a clear published definition of the catchment area. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post the information publicly.

admission Thu 27-Mar-14 21:28:27

PRH is right in what they say about the appeal.
As an appeal panel member my immediate question to you would be why did you think you were in catchment zone. Answer appears to be you thought you were but did not check. So my next question would be OK why did you not clarify this with the LA between September and November when you had the opportunity to do this within the time period of an on-time application.
Unless you actually queried the issue in this time period and believed you were inside the catchment zone you are on a loser at the appeal. I think you need to rethink your strategy for the appeal

Blu Thu 27-Mar-14 21:40:00

Is this a map of the 'last distance' offers that have been made so far? Or does the admissions criteria name a priority area? Was this area defined in a map available before applications were due?

JohFlow Fri 28-Mar-14 15:49:39

The admissions criteria gives a priority area Blu? No map was available before applications were due - no.

prh47bridge Fri 28-Mar-14 16:44:42

Having looked at the admissions booklet the map to which the OP refers appears to be intended to show the rough locations of the various schools, not the priority areas. The school concerned does have a formal priority area. This is defined by a list of parishes included plus a definition of how one parish is split, some being in the priority area and some being outside it. There is no map. By the way, this is not a church school. The obvious question is whether the parish boundaries are clear and whether the school and the church agree about where those boundaries lie. If everyone agrees that the OP lives outside the priority area any uncertainty about the boundaries is irrelevant. However, if the church (or the LA) think the OP is within the priority area as defined by the school's admission criteria but the school disagrees the OP has a case.

titchy Fri 28-Mar-14 16:45:21

So what made you think you wherein the priority area iftherewas no mapconfused

tiggytape Fri 28-Mar-14 16:52:30

There was a case here a while ago. I don’t remember the exact details but it involved a church school and was along the lines of a vicar who had told the parents that their address was inside the parish (and therefore inside the priority area of the school) but he was wrong. The LA and the diocese correctly pointed out that the house fell outside the parish boundaries.
If something like this has happened, or if the parish boundaries are disputed in some other way, then OP might have taken reasonable steps to check and been falsely led to believe she was inside the area. However if it is just a case of looking at a map in retrospect and not in conjunction with the very detailed description of parishes that accompanies the admission booklet, then there is no real room to claim the criteria are unclear or incorrectly applied.

Blu Fri 28-Mar-14 20:05:33

Goodness ! You'd think that someone should be able to rely on the vicar to be accurate about the parish angry. But I can see that while that disadvantages someone who wasted a preference with no hope, it doesn't actually mean that the school / LA have been anything but correct in implementing the criteria.

Blu Fri 28-Mar-14 20:06:01

Goodness ! You'd think that someone should be able to rely on the vicar to be accurate about the parish angry. But I can see that while that disadvantages someone who wasted a preference with no hope, it doesn't actually mean that the school / LA have been anything but correct in implementing the criteria.

tiggytape Fri 28-Mar-14 22:33:06

I know Blu!

Here is the post - it was was from 2013 primary admissions thread last year:

"Well, got more info. Apparently, I do not live in the parish ( news to me) hence the fact that we were placed in banding 3 ( place 39).
I have moved into the town about 4 years ago now with 2 catholic parishes. The whole town has 2 main areas with different postcodes and 2 names.
Anywho- I move here, go to the church corresponding to town name, meet up with priest who confirms, that indeed- we do live in the parish. This results in my daughter being christened there, us worshipping there and applying for a school place in my local parish school.
You can imagine my surprise when I was told that I do not live in the parish. I rang the Archbishop of Southwark's office to check and yes, in spite of the parish church confirming that my street belongs, it actually doesn't!"

AND the priest had signed the OP's form saying she lived in Parish.
AND the admissions criteria had said that a map was available but, if in doubt, to ask the priest
AND the admissions criteria also didn't specify whether it was live AND worship in parish or whether it was live OR worship in parish because the actual wording was "live/worship" even though apparently they intended it to mean both

The poster in question didn't win at appeal because the week before the appeal date, the school added another class and she got a place.

Blu Sat 29-Mar-14 00:07:11

Hmm, shame they didn't get in via an appeal victory, really, given that consulting the priest was offered as a legit and official means of establishing your inclusion in the parish within the admissions criteria. Oh, what luck that a place materialised!

You wonder how governors manage to launch such crap admissions criteria.

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