appeal against secondary school place refusal - any recommended lawyers?(16 Posts)
Hi all, DS has been refused his preferred choice of secondary school. We are shattered and very worried as school assigned (4th choice) is not the right one for him at all. We want to try everything and are seeking legal help. Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!! by desperate Mum
The recommendation would be not to use a lawyer. Wiser people than me will come along but as I understand it the use of a legal professional can be a hindrance rather than help. If you explain your case here then many people will be able to advise you on how to proceed.
I'm not sure you need a solicitor to appeal.
You can appeal on a few grounds and these include meeting his needs (especially if he has specific needs) and I'd investigate the appeals process yourself before going down the legal route.
You are more likely to win an appeal at secondary level than primary level due to class size restrictions based on ages at younger levels.
Can you explain why the preferred school is better for him and things like distance etc?
Have you looked at the elevenplus website. If you go on "forum" and then "region" you will find useful information about your LEA and also probably about the school. If you go on "forum" and then "appeals" there are some very knowledgeable people on there who will be able to give you advice.
As Grelton says, a lawyer is not needed and not always helpful. People who have served on appeal panels here have in the past told stories of legal representatives who almost viewed the appeal process as a courtroom and undermined cases with irrelevant points or (if I remember correctly) even trying to get costs awarded.
Appeals are informal. They are designed to be attended by parents with no legal knowledge. You need to explain to the panel why your child would be disadvantaged by not being able to attend the appeal school. There is no need to mention the allocated school really because you are appealing for one school not against another.
If you have compelling reasons and medical / professional evidence to back up your reasons for wanting a place, it would help you much more than legal representation.
But even if you don't have such compelling evidence, stating what the school can offer your child, why it is in the best interests of your child to attend and doing research to chip away at the school's case for refusal (they mainly say they are too full so you can see if they have ever gone above numbers in the past) is all you need to do. You may not win with those points but if there's no extra case a lawyer could make to help you win.
First mistake you've made - don't appeal against the allocated school. You need to explain why you want the school you're appealing for.
Agree with the advice about not using a legal representative.
Also I would appeal to choices 2,3 (5 and 6 if they are better than choice 4) as well as any other school that's acceptable.
As others have said you are appealing for the school you want, not against the school you have been offered. And I would also advise against using a lawyer. There are no complex legal points in school admissions appeals. I have yet to come across a case where a lawyer has genuinely helped. Sadly I have come across a number where a lawyer has undermined the chances of success, either by giving poor advice or through their approach to the hearing.
Hi all, thanks for your reply. I was thinking of an educational lawyer, who had experience on the field to try and bring up the right arguments or points and can challenge questions from school or panel that I would not be able to answer. DS has been allocated a school miles away which requires him travelling 1 hour and changing transport more than once. Our preferred choice is walking distance, he doesn't have any disabilities or medical status but he is very immature as an 11 years old, short attention span and he needs a local school, in his own community, where he can walk to and flourish and feel secure. We have no families around and it is often only me parenting due to my husband job. Also, our preferred school has a specialism on a subject he loves and he is very passionate about. We are desperate and want to try everything we can...
Why did he not get a place at the local school? Does it have a really tiny catchment? What reason have you been given? Is it Religious? Did you have a realistic chance of getting in? How many children from your road have gone there before in the same circumstances as you? How many children do they have in other year groups in the school? How often do they go over their PAN? Have they stuck rigidly to the admissions criteria? How did you come to not meet the criteria do you think?
I think a lawyer will not understand the circumstances any better than you and you will get very good advice here from people who are very knowledgable. I actually agree with you that your allocated school seems unfairly distant but you need to delve into firstly, why he was not given a place locally and then make a case as to why the local school(s) will meet his needs. You are doing that already but I can assure you that Appeal Panels try and be as friendly as possible. They know they are dealing with the public with no experience of this sort of thing. They will not allow the school to ask you difficult questions. In fact, if you are well prepared, and your arguemnts are robust, you may be in the strongest position.
They are both religious schools and we were refused a place because places were allocated randomly among those who met the criteria, we did meet the criteria.
Does the preferred school select on distance only, or any other criteria such as faith or 11+?
Can you show that your DS is passionate about about the specialism i.e. can you demonstrate his interest and show why your preferred school would support him better
e.g. if it was music and the preferred school has bands / orchestras and the allocated one doesn't and your DS is a keen musician then you have an argument why the preferred school meets your DS's needs better.
i.e. its not that the allocated school is a problem but that the preferred school is a better fit.
There a number of education lawyer companies who know education law around admission appeals well. Lots of lawyers say they have experience of admission appeals but do not really have sufficient experience. I would ask some searching questions about just how many cases they have undertaken and won.
There are also quite a few people who you will find on the internet, who claim lots of things. One of several who claim never to have lost a case I know is not correct, because I chaired a case they lost.
If you are in a position where you believe that you will not do yourself justice, then it might be worth the expense of hiring a lawyer or using someone else who can be dispassionate about what needs and does not need to be said. Other than that I would not bother, go into the case having put forward the most compelling reasons you can to get a place at the preferred school.
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