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Secondary school appeal advice

(49 Posts)
Putneyparent Wed 23-Mar-16 00:20:17

I'm appealing after son was not offered a place at a particular secondary school- we didn't get any of our choices- but that's another story.
Wanted to ask the very knowledgeable people on MN;

If I quote from various Ofsted reports in my appeal doc, do I have to include a copy of the entire report as part of my evidence or is it enough to just quote the report?

Do I need to include copies of prospectus if I'm pointing out preferred school offers certain subjects and offered one doesn't?

If I have a killer fact, ie I know a child offered a place lives further away, and distsnce/catchment is a factor, do I use as part of written appeal or save and ask at the hearing to weaken their case?

Who should support lettered be address to?

Should I ask school about net capacity as part of showing school can take more children even if it says it's full? Or wait till hearing.

Many thanks

prh47bridge Wed 23-Mar-16 00:53:47

I would recommend against quoting from Ofsted reports. It may come across as you saying that the appeal school is better than the offered school and therefore your child needs a place. At best that won't help you. At worst it will put the panel's backs up. If you must quote from an Ofsted report do not include a copy of the entire report.

You do not need to include copies of the prospectus.

If you believe a mistake has been made you should bring that up with the LA as soon as possible. If a mistake has been made it is possible your child will be offered a place without an appeal. However, it will only help you if they have got it wrong and it has cost your child a place. If the child living further away was in a higher admission category that won't help you at all. And even if they were admitted in error that only helps you if your child would have been admitted if they had got it right. If your child would still have missed out the mistake is not relevant, although still worth bringing up as it may lead the panel to wonder if other mistakes have been made.

It doesn't really matter who support letters are addressed to.

The school's official net capacity (assuming it has one) will be in the case to refuse admission. You will receive a copy before the hearing. You could ask about the calculated net capacity figures. If they exist there will be two figures - a maximum and a minimum. If they have set the official net capacity near the minimum that will help to suggest that the school can take more pupils.

Putneyparent Wed 23-Mar-16 06:41:00

Many thanks for your response prh.

I totally get point about not bashing preferred school. I was basing structure of my appeal on the ben Rooney book.
My son is a high achiever and I wanted to point out that in the last Ofsted of offered school it says bright pupils don't achieve full potential. So including it was more about strengthening my case about why he should go to preferred school.
Does quoting from Ofsted get panel's back up regardless?

wannabestressfree Wed 23-Mar-16 06:48:47

Do not run other school down at appeal it's not the done thing...
Any concerns over allocation need to go to LA not appeal.
Trust me we did 84 last year and the human approach works much much better. Chunks of text etc does not.

PatriciaHolm Wed 23-Mar-16 09:08:27

You are appealing for a school, not against one, so no, the Ousted report really isn't relevant. It doesn't address the issue as to why the appeal school is the best school for your child for child-specific reasons - you need to focus on, firstly, the net capacity (to prove the school can take more) and also what the school offers that is specific to his needs (subjects, specialisms etc).

Putneyparent Wed 23-Mar-16 09:16:41

Thanks Wannabee.
It's not my intention to run down the school that we've been offered. The point I'm trying to make is that my son is very gifted at English and the preferred school has higher results when it comes to English while the offered school has only about a 50% pass rate in English while also in its own OFSTED report inspector said that high achievers are not pushed.
Should I just point out that my son is good at English and I think the preferred school would be better for his educational well-being and leave out any mention of the potential harm if he goes to the offered school. I'm not wedded to the idea of quoting from OFSTED was just an idea from the ben Rooney book just seeking advice on how best to proceed .

Kind regards,

meditrina Wed 23-Mar-16 09:26:25

As all schools offer English as a subject, your case does not sound strong. Because it's not a compelling reason why the school you are appealing for is uniquely the right place for him.

Are there any other subjects, in which your DS has demonstrable interest/talent, which your preferred school offers that no others nearby do?

I would agree that no negative points should be made about the currently allocated school, other than to state 'it does not offer this subject/an orchestra/this sport/step free access" etc, or

tiggytape Wed 23-Mar-16 09:28:00

You have to be careful sometimes in presenting arguments that could be turned around to show the opposite. The argument that a high achiever needs a higher achieving schools doesn't always come across well because a high achiever will definitely pass English in a school where 50% manage to. So if anything, it shows he will still be fine at the school you've been offered.

So it is more a case of suitability than achievement.
If the school you would like has creative writing clubs and book clubs and a special programme for those who are good at English then all of that makes the school more suited to him (as opposed to you saying that the other school is comparatively rubbish at English so not high achieving enough for him).

If you are going to quite Ofsted, try to do so where it shows suitability for the school you want eg "the creative writing clubs are very well attended and offer a good opportunity to stretch higher attaining pupils." You can then mention briefly that the other school doesn't offer these things and is also considered not to push brighter pupils - but don't make that the focus.

t4gnut Wed 23-Mar-16 10:58:39

If an academy the school does not have a net max/min capacity calculation. It's exempt.

meditrina Wed 23-Mar-16 11:02:52

I don't think that's right. All maintained schools whether academy, VA of community are bound by the Admissions Code and the same rules for appeals apply.

What exemption were you thinking of? Is it something to do with what paperwork is required?

Putneyparent Wed 23-Mar-16 11:13:35

Thanks so much for the feedback, I'll amend accordingly, leave out the Ofsted comparisons, and mention high achievers not pushed in passing.

How many pages of typed A4 is suitable?
Also how many letters of support from parents should I get. I have one at the moment, is that enough. Am using this as all the boys from the class are going to preferred school, only two weren't offered. I know arguments about staying with peers isn't massively compelling but I want to out in as part of th overall picture...

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 23-Mar-16 11:18:48

I'm amazed that it is possible to appeal for a school place along the lines you have described, OP. Have you done any research on school appeals other than this post on Mumsnet? I am just curious.

meditrina Wed 23-Mar-16 11:24:07

It is very unlikely that separation from peers will carry any weight at all, unless backed by HCP or other relevant professional to show why it is additionally important to that particular child.

It is worth mentioning as background that this is a factor, but letters from other parents aren't going to be important.

t4gnut Wed 23-Mar-16 11:37:30

All schools are bound by the admissions code, however PAN and net capacity are two different things (the latter is not part of the code). All school have to publish a PAN, but academies do not have to publish, or even calculate, a net capacity figure.

PatriciaHolm Wed 23-Mar-16 11:58:22

As Meditrina says, letters from other parents aren't relevant. Every child in the land could make a case for wanting to go to secondary with friends, and in reality most will be in a form group with only 1 or 2 of them anyway. Unless your child has some documented medical reason to need more peer support than normal (extreme anxiety, for example) then really I wouldn't bother, the letters won't help (and may give the impression that you are really scraping the barrel for appeal reasons).

tiggytape Wed 23-Mar-16 12:25:06

How many pages of typed A4 is suitable?
I think the answer to that is probably "as few as possible and in bullet points or an easy to read format"
If you have lengthy documents that act as evidence, put them in an appendix at the back with a numbered reference to them in the main body of the appeal.

Also how many letters of support from parents should I get. I have one at the moment, is that enough.
Unless your child has a special need for peer support, this isn't really going to be relevant so keep references to it brief. If your child however has suffered illness or bereavement or something else that means he needs to stay with friends more than any other 11 year old then make sure that the reason for that need is clearly evidenced.

I'm amazed that it is possible to appeal for a school place along the lines you have described, OP. Have you done any research on school appeals other than this post on Mumsnet? I am just curious.
Aside from admissions errors (where the council incorrectly calculate a home-school distance for example), appeals mostly look at a child's disadvantage at not being offered a place weighed directly against the problems a school will face having to accept more pupils.
The strongest case wins.
So if a parent shows that their child's educational or other needs are best served by attending one particular school, they can win at appeal just on those grounds as long as the school doesn't have a very strong counter argument (eg absolutely full to the rafters already, tiny classrooms and no resources).

curren Wed 23-Mar-16 12:26:19

If I have a killer fact, ie I know a child offered a place lives further away, and distsnce/catchment is a factor, do I use as part of written appeal or save and ask at the hearing to weaken their case?

this could really damage your case. You have no idea why that child was admitted. They could be further up the criteria. And so distance didn't really matter.

Also when we got the appeal paper work it said that you could add to your appeal up to five working days before but they didn't have to take into account something that your brought up after those five days or only mentioned on the day.

I won an appeal last year. The person representing the school (it is an academy but the council runs admissions). Knew every piece of information inside out. If you are wrong about the child living further away, it's going to be rebuffed.

I still have no idea exactly why I won the appeal, there was lots to it. None of it due to the school dd was allocated. Letters from other parents will not make a difference at all.

Many children are allocated schools their friends aren't. They can't accommodate all of them.

Floggingmolly Wed 23-Mar-16 12:33:43

Letters of support from his friends' parents? You can't be serious??

Putneyparent Wed 23-Mar-16 13:31:41

Thanks for all the feedback. The advice re letters from other parents was from a person was specialises in appeals, but I wasn't sure about parents to do this.
I haven't gone into all the details of my case, just had some questions on specific points and grateful for all feedback. It doesn't all hinge on him being good at English thankfully.
Thanks bibbit, I've done lots of research, probably too much, hence my confusion. I've thought about very little else since my son failed to get a place at any preferred school.


titchy Wed 23-Mar-16 13:38:35

Beware those who say they specialise in appeals...... The experts here actually serve on appeals panels and have far more experience the most.

Letters from other parents will hold no sway at all. If he has a specific reason to continue with his peers you need a professional to state that, not johnny's best mate's mum. Counsellor, Consultant etc.

PanelChair Wed 23-Mar-16 13:57:57

I would be very sceptical indeed about any so-called expert adviser who tells you to include letters of support from other parents. This is an appeal, not a petition, and such letters will carry no weight at all.

If your child has social anxiety or another compelling reason for staying with friends from primary school, you should provide confirmation of that from a health care professional, clearly setting out their professional opinion (not yours). Otherwise, the panel is likely to take the view that very many children make new friends at secondary school - and see their old friends outside school - and there's no reason why yours couldn't too.

You'd do well to heed the advice from prh47bridge and tiggytape.

curren Wed 23-Mar-16 14:04:09

As I said I went through appeal last year.

If you are taking advice from an expert who says a letter from another parent will help, please check them out.

I did hundreds of hours of research last year and the only time a letter from another parent was mentioned was to say it holds no sway.

Lucsy Wed 23-Mar-16 14:19:05

I won an appeal last year too. Again literally hundreds of hours of research and countless FOI requests.

Listen to tiggy, admission and prh. They know their stuff and as others have said have sat on appeals panels themselves

I would also take a step back and realistically evaluate your position. It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the moment without really thinking about what you are committing too

It was months of additional stress. Not just for me but my son. He was the only one at primary who didn't know where he would end up, the rest of the children started playing more with the kids in class going to the same high school, and this has already happened with my daughter this year.

We didn't find out we had been successful until the end of June. Lots on here found out weeks after us. Then it's a last minute panic getting everything sorted. My son sobbed in relief when we won

I wouldn't have entertained it unless we had a really good chance and the above mentioned posters were the ones that have me a sensible view of whether that was likely. We actually won on a technicality - and we had a metric tonne of other evidence from doctors and other professionals.

I didn't realise how much it had affected my son until it was all over. Please have a think to see if the potential to win is worth the huge emotional toil an appeal will take

Lucsy Wed 23-Mar-16 14:22:11

And panel chair. Sorry to forget you you helps us too last year.

OP. Please listen to the experts

curren Wed 23-Mar-16 14:47:38

lucsy what a great post. I struggle to verbalise how stressful the whole experience was.

I was out the morning the letter was due to arrive (late June). When I came home I dare not go. Dh was with me. I opened and couldn't read it. It was dh who spotted we had won. When I double and triple checked it, I just sat on the floor and didn't move. It was only then it became clear what a toll it had taken.

After the actual appeal I felt like I had gone through something pretty awful.

I can't imagine how hard it was on dd.

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