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Appeal Secondary School

(68 Posts)
techcorp Wed 01-Mar-17 16:44:13

Hi All

Just want some advice on how to go about appealing against a decision for Secondary school. My daughter has been offered her 2nd choice. We really wanted the 1st choice. Here is a little about the school, circumstances and what I've found out so far. I have a concern how the school allocated places so want people's opinion. I can discuss other ways after discussing how It was allocated

Our first school is a relatively small school therefore limited numbers so little room from flexibility. It is a faith based school so had to complete a supplementary form which I did.

1-3 criteria's were the the common ones eg siblings, special needs and social circumstances which we didn't fit into.

4 (edited) - girls living in the city of who themselves or their parents from one of the areas named below (places to be allocated proportionally)

Number 4 as per above went down to each area. Don't want to to go into specifics what I mean by area. We had to get our supplementary form signed by our area faith leader. There are 14 areas with each area having a specific number of places. Our area had 14 spaces.

In the notes section it said - Random selection will apply as stated above to the % of places allocated for each area. Where there are more applicants for the available places within categories 5, 6 and 7 (this was other faiths and other girls), then the distance between the Ordnance Survey address points for the school
and the home.

I enquired with the school why my Daughter was declined a space. I was advised we were the furthest from the school.

My initial query is distance should not have been used. As I completed the supplementary form a random draw should have taken place. I believe instead of a random draw for the 14 applicants they used distances as a deciding factor. They should not used this method. I was given this information over the phone. I intend to send them an email to get this is writing. Can simply say please confirm what you said. Do not want to mention method as of now as they might change their story.

Please advise from the reading the above what people think and whether anyone thinks incorrect method of allocation has been used. If it has obviously will mention this on my appeal. Also what does this mean in regards to my daughters application. Does this increase her chances? Do I have grounds of appeal. Please advise. Am I correct in my understanding or have I understood it incorrectly

TeenAndTween Wed 01-Mar-17 16:53:30

Does the school actually do the allocations? Is it not the LA?

If it is the LA then maybe the person at the school didn't realise the fine details and said distance because that is the usual decider within a category?

LarkDescending Wed 01-Mar-17 16:55:36

Have they confirmed that your DD was treated as being in Category 4?

techcorp Wed 01-Mar-17 17:16:01

TeenAndTween - Unsure who does the allocations. I presume the school does the allocations as the form asked which area I am from. LA would not which faith based area I am from.

LarkDescending - As I filled the form and handed into school reception I would think I should be from category 4 as I am from one of those areas.

tiggytape Wed 01-Mar-17 17:17:25

It looks possible from what you say that the wrong tie breaker was used if more then 14 people applied under category 4 from within your specific area.

If the admissions policy says random allocation is used for each of the specific areas in Category 4 and they're quoting distance as a factor, then yes, you have potentially been disadvantaged by this (coming last due to distance is equal or worse than the outcome of your chances if using random allocation).

That's quite a few "if" so yes, ask in writing for them to conform why you weren't offered a place and ask which category you were considered under. That helps you to find out if they lost your form and wrongly placed you in category 5,6, or 7 where distance is a factor.
If not, it helps you see if they administered places in category 4 correctly to work out if you've been disadvantaged.

The other thing to check is whether you are definitely inside the boundaries of this specified area as you believe. Sometimes things like parish boundaries can be assumed but are different to what you think when you look on an official map of them.

techcorp Wed 01-Mar-17 17:27:44

tiggytape - Yes will emailing them now to confirm. I did ask if they received my form and they said they would have contacted me if they didn't so as I wasn't contacted I presume they didn't lose it but will confirm

In regards to boundaries they would definitely not rule me out due to this as that is the closest to me. As I had it signed as well there would be no issues around that.

prh47bridge Wed 01-Mar-17 17:34:36

From your description it sounds like either you were placed in the wrong category or they used the wrong tie breaker. Either is grounds for appeal. The problem is that there is no proof that putting you in the right category or using the right tie breaker would have resulted in your daughter being offered a place. As Tiggytape says, finding out why you didn't get a place is the first step. The letter from the LA telling you which school you have been offered is supposed to include this information but I know some LAs are better than others.

techcorp Wed 01-Mar-17 17:59:40

Email sent in regards to why I was refused a place, asked them to confirm they received my form and which category I was placed under.

prh47bridg - Yes you're right that there is no proof using the correct tie breaker would have resulted my daughter being offered a place but just need something to go by. As they might turn round and say so wot if we used the distance - wots done is done (not in those words).

Just one of the points I can mention in my appeal. As the stronger your case the stronger the chances are. I obviously cant rely on this point alone therefore will need to think of other reasons why my daughter needs to attend that school.

prh47bridge Wed 01-Mar-17 19:25:33

As they might turn round and say so wot if we used the distance - wots done is done (not in those words)

If they were that stupid I would hope the appeal panel would admit as many appeals as they could to make it clear to the school that they must follow their published admission arrangements.

techcorp Wed 01-Mar-17 20:21:42

Highly doubt anyone else would have gone as deep as me so likely I may be the only one who will bring this issue up.

My concern is they may email me back with confirmation that distance was used. Then If I appeal on these grounds they may backtrack on their response as they will look into it before my appeall hearing and say they actually did choose randomly and the information provided to me in the email is incorrect. Il have no where to go from there

prh47bridge Wed 01-Mar-17 20:47:19

Highly doubt anyone else would have gone as deep as me so likely I may be the only one who will bring this issue up.

If it turns out that they have got this wrong the appeal panel will take this into account for all appeals, not just yours, even if you are the only person to raise the issue.

Then If I appeal on these grounds they may backtrack on their response

They will be in a very weak position if they do so as you will already have an email you can use as evidence. Indeed, if the email shows they got it wrong it is probably better for them to admit it to the panel rather than try to pretend it didn't happen.

Meeep Wed 01-Mar-17 20:51:00

Maybe they meant you weren't picked out of the hat for random selection in 4, so then you were dropped down to be considered in 5, but were too far away.

techcorp Thu 02-Mar-17 00:07:10

Sorry another long message.
I will obviously need to look at other avenues and not rely solely on this.
Please let me know your thoughts on the following.

My daughter is a very shy girl. She doesn't like crowds and having too many people around. Moving from a primary school to a secondary school will be a big change. I guess that is the case for most children. Going to a bigger school will be a very big change for her and will struggle to manage. As there are different classes for each subject and then trying to remember where each class is, remembering which subject it is and then finding her way round will not be easy for her. I feel she will struggle to adapt. Navigating her way round everywhere will be most difficult part for her. She gets easily upset and finds it difficult to make new friends. The 1st choice school is very small so much easier to manage all this. The school which she been given is big guess like any other secondary school. I understand this is part of growing up and overtime she will adapt but I simply need some good arguments and reasons for my appeal to be successful or have a better chance than others therefore unsure if I can use this as an argument. I sent a classdojo message to his teacher briefly mentioning these things and he has advised we can sit down and discuss about writing a supporting letter. I aim to see him in the afternoon to discuss this.

Again appreciate people's thoughts. My daughter is very upset as almost all of her friends who applied got into the school. She was one of the few that didn't. One of the main reasons of wanting this school so badly is down to our faith. Faith is very important to us. The morals, values and etiquette's of life taught in a faith school is I feel extremely important for the future therefore we both really want this school as our preferred choice. There will be a large number of appeals therefore need as much evidence as possible why I feel this school would be a better choice. Any help appreciated. Will above be taken into account and how do I go about presenting this if I can use.

PanelChair Thu 02-Mar-17 00:34:20

As others have said, you need more information to confirm whether your daughter was placed in the correct category and whether the school followed its published admissions procedures in applying the tie breaker. Hopefully the emails will clarify that.

To be frank, saying that your daughter is shy and will struggle to adapt to a larger secondary school is not very persuasive. First, very many children find the move to secondary school a huge change and secondary schools will try to support them and help them settle. Nor is wanting to stay with friends from primary school strong grounds for appeal. Again, very many children go to secondary schools knowing few children there and it's the school's task to help them find friends and settle. Only if your child has a diagnosed anxiety disorder - and you have a letter from a health care professional saying that in their opinion she needs a place at the preferred school - is the panel likely to give much weight to that.

techcorp Thu 02-Mar-17 14:35:37

Email response received. They confirmed they received my supplementary form which then automatically places her into category 4.

They have confirmed my daughter was refused the place due to distance. They copy and pasted the admissions criteria as per below into the email. They highlighted and said see admissions criteria the part beginning "Where there are more applicants for available places within categories 5,6 and 7" until the end.

What I don't get is even after reading the admissions criteria the person who responded (Student Support Manager) did not realise a random draw should have taken place or they should have advised a random draw took place. I'm getting confused now as am I reading it correctly?Can the school make such a big error? Am I correct in my understanding?

Obviously this will be my basis of appeal. It is a Voluntary Aided School therefore the governors of the school will listen to my appeal. As this not a panel from LA they may not take this point into account for all appeals. They may just choose to listen to my argument and not apply the error to other appeals as surely they would not want to create a big fuss.

Tie Break
Random selection will apply as stated above to the % of places allocated for each area. Where there are more applicants for
the available places within categories 5, 6 and 7, then the distance between the Ordnance Survey address points for the school
and the home measured in a straight line will be used as the final determining factor, nearer addresses having priority over more
distant ones. This address point is within the body of the property and usually located at its centre. Where the cut-off point is
for addresses within the same building, then the single measure between address points will apply and the Local Authority's
system of a random draw will determine which address(es) receive the offer(s).

TeenAndTween Thu 02-Mar-17 14:39:23

What happens to category 4 pupils who don't get in under random allocation? Are they not admitted, or moved down to category 5?

meditrina Thu 02-Mar-17 14:45:16

What do they say about unsuccessful cat 4 applicants?

I know of at least one school where those who do not get a faith place are then bundled into the 'other applicants, by distance' which follows. It's an OK way to do it, but it should say so

tiggytape Thu 02-Mar-17 14:54:22

Agree with Teen and meditrina - have they considered your DD in category 4 and when unsuccessful placed her in a lower category where distance is a factor. You need to clarify that now I think.

Obviously this will be my basis of appeal. It is a Voluntary Aided School therefore the governors of the school will listen to my appeal. As this not a panel from LA they may not take this point into account for all appeals. They may just choose to listen to my argument and not apply the error to other appeals as surely they would not want to create a big fuss.

Just on this point - the appeal panel will be independent of the school.
And in addition they are obliged by law to follow the exact process laid out by the Appeals Code. They therefore have to treat all appellants the same and anything material that arises in stage 1 (the school's case to refuse any other pupils) has to be applied to every other appellant. If a mistake in applying the admissions criteria emerges, they are obliged to consider how that impacts on every person who applied and then appealed.

techcorp Thu 02-Mar-17 14:54:40

What happens to category 4 pupils who don't get in under random allocation? Are they not admitted, or moved down to category 5?

From my understanding correct me if i'm wrong that as there were more applicants than the number of places for that area 5,6 and 7 does not apply. Also found out there were 25 applicants for that area therefore what should have happened is that 14 (minus 1,2,3) should have been randomly drawn from the 25 therefore category 5 never comes into account. Am I right? I am getting a second opinion by speaking to my daughters current school head teacher in 15 min and explain all this and see what he thinks.

lougle Thu 02-Mar-17 15:00:19

Techcorp that sounds very messy.

It seems like one of two scenarios has taken place.

1. Your daughter has been placed in category 4, but wrongly denied a place purely on distance. Why??

Or

2. Your DD was allocated to category 4, correctly. A random allocation draw was held and 14 applicants were drawn for places, correctly, and your DD was unsuccessful. Your DD was then reassigned to category 6 or 7 - distance - and not allocated a place on that basis?

Either way, the letter should have told you exactly what happened, and the admissions process should tell you what happens to unsuccessful draw candidates - where do they stream to in the allocation process for fairness? They can't just disappear!

tiggytape Thu 02-Mar-17 15:00:42

You're right - if you were definitely placed correctly in category 4 then nobody in category 5 should have got a place at all because you always have priority over them.

The bit I was concerned about (and what might explain you being judged on distance) was you say they confirm they received her form but does that mean she was definitely category 4. Have they definitely said that? Because an error placing her in a lower category might explain all of this - the judgement on distance, the failure to secure a place etc.
You say that having received her form, she'd definitely be in category 4 but mistakes can happen and it's worth checking someone didn't wrongly decide upon looking at the form that she only qualified for a lower category.

That of course would also be strong grounds for appeal.

tiggytape Thu 02-Mar-17 15:03:52

And the errors lougle suggests are also possible. Therefore questions you probably need answers to are:

1. Which category was my DD's application considered under?

and

2. Why did my DD not receive a place if others in that category did?
(to winkle out if they used the wrong tie breaker)

techcorp Thu 02-Mar-17 15:04:10

Ok il elaborate further what I mean by area. Didn't want to go into specifics what area was but I will now. Area in my scenario is place of worship. Criteria 4 is

4. ** girls living in the city of * who themselves or their parents attend one of the places of worship
named below (places to be allocated proportionally, as indicated, to attendees of each place of worship *).

Therefore I attend this place of worship and my daughter also attends this place of worship. The requirement was I completed the form and got it signed by our faith leader for him to confirm I attend this place of worship which he did. Sorry should have mentioned this and been more specific

TeenAndTween Thu 02-Mar-17 15:06:28

Oh I get it.
You mean e.g.
After 1,2,& 3 are allocated there are 100 places left.
There are 110 applicants for category 4, so each area is allocated a certain number, maybe 7 places for 8 applicants in area 17
They then <should do> do a random draw within area 17 and you didn't get the place.

So all category 4 get a place ahead of any category 5s.

First and foremost then as a category 4 you should be near the top of the waiting list. how are category 4s ordered on the waiting list? Random, or by distance? Or if someone from area 3 declines, does someone else from area 3 get priority over other category 4s (as that was how initial allocation was done).

Sounds very complicated.

Your area had 14 spaces.
How many applicants in your area?
Where are you on waiting list?
Will they confirm in writing explicitly that it was done on distance not random allocation? Can they give you the figure for distance last admitted in your area?

lougle Thu 02-Mar-17 15:15:41

Ok, that makes more sense now.

So simple things you can do:

1. Clarify that all places went to either:

A) Children with a Statement/EHCP
B) Looked after children/Previously Looked after Children
C) Children with Medical/Social Need (if that was a category)
D) Siblings
E) Children of Faith

If they didn't, that should ring an alarm bell, because your DD fitted a higher category than the nearest child that should have been admitted on distance grounds.

What are the rules about what happens if one faith area is under subscribed? Do those places go to children from an oversubscribed faith area, or do they go to distance? E.g. if St Anne's church has 14 places but 18 children, and St Paul's Church has 14 places but 10 children, do they share them out, or do the 4 extra children from St Anne's just have to hope they live close enough that they get in on distance?

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