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Secondary School Appeals - False Hope Given?

(10 Posts)
JohFlow Thu 27-Mar-14 17:19:37

Hi There,

At a recent Open Evening the headteacher told parents that 'Last year everyone who put the school down as a first choice got in'.

We put it as first choice and did not get in - along with approx. another 400 children (high birth rate year). Yes, unsurprisingly the school is popular!

Can we claim that we were given false hope and are there any legislations against school staff making statements like this?

Over to you...

cory Thu 27-Mar-14 17:24:31

He wasn't making a false statement though, was he: he was telling you the literal truth.

Slightly misleading, perhaps, as it might seem to suggest that admissions take into account whether you put a school down as first choice or not- which they are not allowed to do.

But then again, seeing that putting a school first makes no difference to the admissions process it won't have affected your chances of getting into your second or third choice. So I honestly can't see what difference it makes.

The LEA run their admissions process completely independently of the schools, so are not in any way responsible for anything the head may or may not have said.

Elsie20 Thu 27-Mar-14 19:02:10

I think a lot of schools were saying that at open evenings but I know last year was a very low birth rate and most people got their first choice. I also know some people didn't put their preferred school first last year believing the school was very popular and they didn't stand a chance.

I do believe this year is also a relatively low birth year compared to the upcoming years however I think we were all encouraged by last years offers that many have tried to get the schools they really want rather than realistic choices (I'm not suggesting you did this, I just know most of my daughters year did)

It's heartbreaking not get your first choice, I would definitely try to appeal though as you've nothing to lose but everything to gain

Where are you on the waiting list? You could still get in by this

Good luck

JohFlow Thu 27-Mar-14 19:18:51

Thanks for your responses so far. Yes may be it was misleading rather than directly wrong Cory. I thought that I had read somewhere on this site that there was legislation against making such comments - just can't remember where I saw it.

Its only a tiny part of my appeal ; but with so many appeals for the same school - I am looking for every bit I can.

Thanks for your encouragement Elsie. We didn't get any of our choices! This is one of two appeals. We are 11 out of 17 at one school and 13 out of 54 at the other.

AuntieStella Thu 27-Mar-14 19:23:13

I don't see how he could know how everyone who put the school first got a place, as schools are not told whether applicants rated them 1st or 6th or anything in between. (Unless of course the school is undersubscribed, and all applicants received a place unless they rated another school more highly).

RandomMess Thu 27-Mar-14 19:26:28

I thought the law had changed and schools/LEAs had to pratice an equal preference system whereby you putting the school as first choice cannot influence them giving you a place over someone who hasn't. Each school has to publish the critieria for the order in which they offer places and they have to follow or you have grounds for appeail.

PanelChair Thu 27-Mar-14 20:03:41

The HT was telling you what had happened in the previous year (assuming that he knew how parents had placed their preferences, which, as others have said, seems unlikely). He was wrong to say or imply that putting a school as first choice gives additional priority for a place, but the fact remains (apparently) that all those who put the school as first choice got a place - not because they put it first but because they fulfilled the school's oversubscription criteria.

If you assumed that what happened in one year was a guarantee of what might happen in another, then that (as far as I can see) is your error. It certainly doesn't give you any basis for an appeal. You need to identify other arguments why this school is the one best placed to meet your child's needs.

Blu Thu 27-Mar-14 21:35:38

Since what happened one year is no basis for guaranteeing what will happen next I don't really see how it helps you, and I would focus your appeal on something that sounds credible rather than desperate.

11th on a waiting list at this time of year sounds hopeful to me - Good luck!

Elsie "I also know some people didn't put their preferred school first last year believing the school was very popular and they didn't stand a chance." Those people have completely misunderstood the application process, then, if they put their dream preference lower down the list! Unless you are saying they didn't use any places on 'long shot' preferences?

tiggytape Thu 27-Mar-14 22:30:24

I thought the law had changed and schools/LEAs had to practice an equal preference system whereby you putting the school as first choice cannot influence them giving you a place over someone who hasn't

This is true. Schools don't know where you list them. Not even academies get told (your form goes to your council, they just share names and addresses when required).
Even if the school did know or found out, they are not allowed to give priority to people who list them first (that's why some parents every year get each other's first choices)

As others have said, regardless of him using the phrase 'first choice' when this is irrelevant, if he was saying that everyone who wanted the school last year got a place, that may be factually accurate. However parents know that last year's admission stats cannot be applied to subsequent years. Last year was a very low birth rate year. This year is more like 2012's numbers. Next year it gets slightly crazier still. Catchment distances can and do halve in some areas and people who would have got their desired school in any other year legitimately miss out when their turn comes.

The rule you are thinking of relates to a Head of a school making a personal offer of a place to a parent despite having no authority to do so. There was a case a few years ago where the Head did just this. The council tried to correct it by exlaining to the parents involved that the offers weren't valid as the Head has no right to issue them but the parents argued that a direct offer straight from the school was enough grounds to have reasonable expectation of a place and they won.

Your case applies to at least 400 people and was not an offer but a stats fact presented in a positive way to encourage you to list the school. It should also be noted that even if you feel tricked into listing that school first, you lost nothing by doing this as all the other schools you listed will have treated you with equal priority even though you weren't their first choice (again they don't know this)

Elsie20 Fri 28-Mar-14 07:48:01

Blu- they did understand the process and how it worked but compared their chances on previous years. It even happened again this year, some were "wow I can't believe you got school A, I would love school A but I put school B, "why did you do that?" I didn't think anyone got school A from our school. It's silly but it is still happening.
For us, it's the catholic secondary schools in London so some can be quite long distances or very popular oversubscribed schools, so they believe they don't stand a chance and also comparing intakes from previous years.

Just saying the above, shows how much influence previous years have on others that are applying and I can understand the influence and confidence from open evenings recently that this year was also looking good to get your 1st choice school. We were also told at open evening that this was also a low birth year but not as low as last year. This again rises hope. For me, I was applying for DC4, so I've been through this process a lot and understand it well but could be misleading for a first time parent.

We got our second choice and I'm happy as it's an outstanding school so I wouldn't appeal for my first (I don't have actually anything to appeal against either lol) but I hold some hope with the waiting lists as you never know smile what will be will be.

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