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Appeal advice

(82 Posts)
Theworldisfullofidiots Fri 03-Mar-17 09:19:50

Our Ds didn't get into tge school we wanted and got the second choice. We are going to appeal on a number of grounds and then keep applying.
It is a faith school and his sister already goes. We are going to appeal on a number fo issues and was hoping for some advice from people who have appealed (particularly if you were successful) and anyone who has any knowledge. Thank you!

TeenAndTween Fri 03-Mar-17 11:19:00

From what I have read here:
- you are appealing FOR the school you want, not against the school you don't want
- OFSTED ratings don't count and shouldn't be raised
- childcare & travel logistics doesn't generally count
- wanting to be with friends doesn't generally count

What does count is why the school is a better fit for your child and that the prejudice to your child by not attending is bigger than the prejudice to the school having to take an extra pupil.

tiggytape Fri 03-Mar-17 11:27:17

Teen has given good advice. Focus your appeal on why you want the appeal school and not why you don't want the allocated one. Appeals are only ever for one school not against another.
Your reasons should also focus on your son's needs so things like GCSE options available that suit him, clubs, pastoral care, facilities that suit his interests or needs and other things that show why it is such a good match for him.
Less weight is given to reasons like easier journey to school unless disability is a factor.

An appeal is never guaranteed no matter how strong your case because the school also has an obligation to explain why it cannot or will not take more pupils. If the school's case is weak (if it says it can't fit more than 150 in a year group but there are 157 in Year 8 and 164 in Year 9) then you can raise that and your case may be deemed stronger in comparison so you would win. If however the school has a strong case (eg it is genuinely bursting at the seams) then it can be harder to win at appeal even with good points to raise.

Remember also to go on the waiting lists. They move long before appeals start to be heard.

meditrina Fri 03-Mar-17 11:28:32

The first thing to do is check if they have made a mistake.

- which entrance category did they put your DS in? Is it the right one?
- did they reach that category, and if so what was the greatest distance offered?
- what is your distance from the school? Did they get it right?

(this assumes distance is the tie breaker, not lottery)

ShiningWhit Fri 03-Mar-17 14:00:06

Check with care that the entrance rules have been applied correctly - this is the easiest way in - you have of course gone onto the waiting list - what number are you - how is this administered?
The sibling is the biggest advantage - you are active in the faith? get letters from them to support you - appeals are hard work - better to spot a mistake that they can correct!

Theworldisfullofidiots Fri 03-Mar-17 16:06:14

Thanks everyone. I've been careful about what I've put on here as it might out us. The main issue is the ongoing issues with a number of people in current school that will be transferring to allocated school. Picking on him, been going on since year 3. Current school are aware and the impact on him.
We are active in the church. Vicar is also aware of the challenges Ds faces with these children, as I've talked to them about it.
Ds and dd also provide each other with emotional support in relation to this and also my dh's ongoing health condition. (He has a rare neurological condition which is symptomless for the most part but when he has an attack it can be life altering - last time led to loss of job. He is back in work now 😀). We have no local family to provide support and all grandparents have died.
Ds is very good at a particular sport that the school we wanted is very good at. This has helped his confidence.
The school has gone over pan before.

Are we allowed to ask the school for information? Factual stuff, like current school numbers?

tiggytape Fri 03-Mar-17 17:01:25

Yes - every parent appealing has the right to ask the school for any information to aid their appeal. You might want to ask:

- The admission number and the actual number of children in each current year group at the school

- Details of class sizes: how many classes each year group is divided into for English, Maths, Science and Technology and how many pupils there are per class for these subjects

- Pupil / Teacher ratio

- The number of pupils leaving the school each year outside of the normal Year 11 and Year 13 transfers (pupil turnover)

Any of those things might turn up some figures that show the school's case for being so completely full that it would harm the education of current pupils to take more children (that's a usual school argument at appeals) is not quite as strong as perhaps the headline figures show when they say they have admitted their full PAN (Published Admissions Number).

It might show they have 6 extra pupils in every year group with no obvious problems.
Or that lots of children leave each year so being over-full is usually only temporary.
Or that the form groups of 30 work in much smaller groups for many subjects so could allow room for more pupils in that way.

unfortunateevents Fri 03-Mar-17 17:09:39

It must be a very popular school if you meet both the faith criteria and the sibling one (assuming there is sibling priority?) and still didn't get a space. On what basis did you lost out on a place - distance? Do you know the distance from school of the last place offered? Is there likely to be movement on the waiting list?

Theworldisfullofidiots Fri 03-Mar-17 18:01:40

Unlikely to be movement on waiting list. Once you dont get in they seem to do a lottery on church places. Sibling is on distance. It is oversubscribed. There is a paucity of school choice here which disadvantages rural areas. (One of the key criteria specifically disadvantages rural areas)

Thank you for your help it is massively appreciated. We've been upbeat with Ds. He is OK but found out he'd been keeping himself going by saying to himself that he won't be at school with these people much longer. If he can't get him in by end of year 7 I think we'll have to move somehow.

prh47bridge Fri 03-Mar-17 23:47:29

Once you dont get in they seem to do a lottery on church places

They should use exactly the same method they use for normal admissions. If they used a lottery to decide who got offers this week they should continue to use a lottery for the waiting list. If they used distance they should continue to use distance. They can't switch methods.

Theworldisfullofidiots Sun 05-Mar-17 11:47:52

Ok. So I've found out that a. Waiting list is lottery and b. They did a consultantion to change admission criteria in 2018 and it looks like they applied this to 2017 admissions.

PanelChair Sun 05-Mar-17 13:00:19

Can you say anything more about why, as a sibling, your child did not get a place? Are you saying that even the sibling category (which is usually near the top of the oversubscription criteria) was oversubscribed? Or is this a school that distinguishes between in catchment and out of catchment siblings and you're out of catchment?

What do you mean about specific disadvantage to rural areas? Is there compelling evidence here that the oversubscription are unreasonable in the legal sense that no rational person would think them acceptable?

Acornantics Sun 05-Mar-17 13:09:55

As part of the appeal, I'd recommend paying attention to the reasons the school says it's full and can't go over PAN.

For example, if they say they have to take pupils off site for PE lessons, question why this may be the case; I discovered that the school was referring to swimming lessons in our case...therefore not a legitimate issue caused by overcrowding, simply the fact that the school doesn't have an on-site pool.

If they say that admitting more children would result in crowed corridors, ask them how many reports they have of incidents in the corridors caused by overcrowding in the past 12 months.

Acornantics Sun 05-Mar-17 13:14:00

b. They did a consultantion to change admission criteria in 2018 and it looks like they applied this to 2017 admissions

I think if this is the case, it sounds like they haven't followed the published admissions policy for 2017, and if your DC missed out on a place because if an error, an appeal on these grounds has a good chance of being upheld.

Families with both faith criteria and siblings usually have pretty high priority, is it distance that's the issue here?

prh47bridge Sun 05-Mar-17 14:47:28

They did a consultantion to change admission criteria in 2018 and it looks like they applied this to 2017 admissions

Are you sure? Consultations for the admission arrangements for 2018 happened between 1st October 2016 and 31st January 2017. If they have applied those criteria to admissions for 2017 that is a clear error. It will, however, be a nightmare for an appeal panel to sort out as there may be a large number of pupils disadvantaged by this.

admission Sun 05-Mar-17 17:57:58

You do need to look carefully at whether there is a sibling link or not in the 2017 admission criteria. If there is then you would be expected to have a level of priority from that and in a secondary school it is unlikely that there were more sibling applications than places.
If there is no sibling criteria then presumably from your posts it is a straight forward lottery and so you have the same chance of being offered a place as anybody else. When it comes to filling places again via a lottery then they should be carrying out a new draw for each time places become available.
Does the letter saying that you were not offered a place not say which admission criteria you were in and why you did not get an offer of a place? It should do.
If you want to PM me with a school name and LA I will check what exactly the admission criteria is for this year to at least give you piece of mind that no mistake has been made.

Theworldisfullofidiots Sun 05-Mar-17 19:38:20

There is a sibling criteria. It is an oversubscribed school with no catchment. Applications come from both urban and rural areas. I don't know how they assessed church places in terms of strength, they may be in weekly attendance which is impossible in rural areas. (there aren't services every week). I attend regularly, help with a youth group, attend Bible studies group, started church associated choir that sings at large services, participate in church events, for a lot longer than the school minimum period. They apparently had a large number of sibling applications as well, due to a decision they made a couple of years ago to add a bulge year (the majority of whom weren't church places). I applied under both church and sibling. Sibling when oversubscribed is distance. There is nothing I can do about this and Im annoyed that a decision they made a couple of years ago has disadvantaged 'church' siblings. If I give any more info it will out me! Thank you for your help. Lots of good questions to ask. They can't argue it is detrimental to the school to add additional children as they did that themselves in their bulge year.

titchy Sun 05-Mar-17 19:46:11

What admission category were you in? It sounds as if you might not have been either sibling or church - did you fill in an extra form for the church criteria?

The criteria should be clear, whether weekly, monthly or whatever.

PanelChair Sun 05-Mar-17 19:56:33

A few thoughts ...

You haven't said where the sibling category fits in the oversubscription criteria. As Admission has said, it would be very difficult - in a secondary school where siblings are near the top of the admissions categories - for the school to run out of places before all siblings had got a place.

Your latest post seems to imply that you have not been considered under the church affiliation category and that the sibling category in which you've been placed is lower in the admissions categories. Is that so? It does sometimes happen that siblings are separated into two categories - siblings/church affiliation and then siblings/other, either directly beneath that category or with other church affiliation applications in between.

I understand you don't want to answer publicly, but you need to unravel what has happened, especially how regular church attendance is measured - this should be spelt out somewhere - and how and why you were deemed not to fulfil that criterion.

One last thing: "They can't argue it is detrimental to the school to add additional children as they did that themselves in their bulge year." It doesn't quite work like that. A bulge class is just that, a bulge class. What you would be asking at an appeal is for the school to take your child as (say) the 31st child in a classroom designed for 30. Of course, the bulge class does help you counter any arguments about the negative effects of overcrowding in (eg) the canteen, but that will leave questions about whether there will be enough workstations in the science lab or whatever. You can still argue that the prejudice to your child in not having a place at the school outweighs any prejudice to the school there.

Theworldisfullofidiots Sun 05-Mar-17 20:15:07

Thanks. Having talked to someone they apparently have assessed church places on feel. Thanks to you lot I am now aware that it looks like they are not complying with the oversubscription criteria so I am going to ask them about that tomorrow. If this is true this might change the waiting list situation for us.

TeenAndTween Sun 05-Mar-17 20:25:04

They apparently have assessed church places on feel

That doesn't sound very objective !!

AlexanderHamilton Sun 05-Mar-17 20:31:07

Admission to a school surely can't be on "feel". Criteria have to be clearly stated & adhered to.

Trb17 Sun 05-Mar-17 20:31:24

I can't imagine that the church criteria in the schools admission policy stated "on feel" so perhaps that it itself is grounds for appeal.

TeenAndTween Sun 05-Mar-17 20:37:14

OP, if you were to PM one of the experts the name and location of the school, I'm sure they would look at the criteria for you.

Acornantics Sun 05-Mar-17 21:15:36

Most faith schools will define what they regard as 'regular church attendance' in their admissions policy. It might stipulate a list of churches that are given priority, for example local CofE, followed by churches of other denominations. Some say at least once a month for the two years up to the application date is regular, others say twice a month, and a form signed by the Vicar to support this is required. Many churches ask families to sign a register these days.

To say it's been decided on 'feel' is peculiar and absolutely subjective and possibly sound grounds for an appeal to be upheld because the admissions policy is unclear.

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