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Waiting list or appeal?

(32 Posts)
Jotim02 Sat 04-Mar-17 21:19:56

My daughter hasn't got into our preferred school, we have been given the lower attaining local one rather than the COfE city centre one. We were in the first church going category but people got in who lived nearer.

She is 6th on the waiting list before late applications, there are 200 students in each year. Do you think she will get in, do you think we should appeal?

We have a number of friends who are appealing... my daughter is happy, bright, confident, she loves music and the school we want her to go to is very musical as opposed to the local school - but I can't think of a single good reason why she should get a place more than someone who lives closer. Am I missing something here! Why is everyone else appealing? Of course I want her to go to the better school but it's a process which has been carried out objectively and we didn't win...

PanelChair Sat 04-Mar-17 23:04:20

You are (forgive me for saying so) commendably clear-sighted about the situation.

It doesn't sound as if there has been any error - I'm assuming from what you say that no children were admitted from categories lower than yours, and that they had to draw the line just above you. Being 6th on the waiting list at schools near me would probably mean you would get in via the waiting list, because we're in an area with a lot of churn, but it could be very different where you are, so listen to the local grapevine.

If you decide to appeal, it's not about deserving (for want of a better word) a place more than a child who lives nearer. It's about aguing why this school is better able to meet your child's needs and why the prejudice (ie disadvantage) to them in not attending would outweigh the prejudice to the school in taking another pupil. If your child is musical and the music provision is demonstrably better - more instruments taught, more bands and orchestras etc - that might be the basis of an arguable appeal. Whether it would succeed would depend on whether you could identify other reasons too for needing a place at this school and the relative strength's of your case and the school's case for not admitting.

BarbarianMum Sat 04-Mar-17 23:07:38

6th on the waiting list is pretty good (though she may move down as well as up).

Lots of people appeal because they don't understand the system - then they get cross/dispondent because it didn't work. You can try to appeal on the basis of her music if you can demonstrate her love of it (instrument grades, plays in bands or orchestra) , it won't hurt, but honestly I think the waiting list is going to be your best bet.

pieceofpurplesky Sat 04-Mar-17 23:14:02

The school I work in has 230 in a year and work on the basis that 10/15 will get in on appeal. We are a CofE school.

PanelChair Sat 04-Mar-17 23:16:03

OP seems to be aware that late applicants could join the waiting list above her.

I tend to think: why not exercise your right to appeal?

PanelChair Sat 04-Mar-17 23:20:12

Really, pieceofpurplesky? There's something very odd going on - either at the admissions stage or at the appeal panel or even both - if the school is losing that number of appeals every year.

Doowappydoo Sat 04-Mar-17 23:28:00

You must appeal - if the first stage is successful - i.e the school can take additional pupils without prejudice then whoever has appealed will get in ahead of those on the waiting list. It's very possible the first stage won't be successful - but sometimes it is- if not you can decide whether you want to participate in the second stage and argue that the prejudice to your particular child outweighs the prejudice to the school.

prh47bridge Sat 04-Mar-17 23:53:05

Your thread title makes it sound as if it is either the waiting list or an appeal. It isn't. Your daughter will remain on the waiting list if you appeal. The appeal will not affect her position on the waiting list. If you win your appeal she will be admitted to the school immediately. If not you may still get a place through the waiting list.

Remember that appeals aren't just about putting right mistakes. If you can put together a case as to why your daughter will be disadvantaged if she doesn't go to this school I would give it a shot. You have nothing to lose.

ArriettyClock1 Sun 05-Mar-17 00:22:43

I would set the wheels in motion for the appeal and hope the continued interest place comes up within the first few rounds.

We were 27th on a waiting list, and went down, not up every month, so number 6 sounds very promising to me!

We ended up appealing, but I am the only one I know who went through it. everyone else got what they wanted on the waiting lists.

Witchend Sun 05-Mar-17 00:34:55

I would appeal from an experience that happened at a local school.

Oversubscribed, a number who would have expected to get in didn't.

About 15 appealed. Previously there had been appeals, but very few had been successful.
On this occasion the head turned up said "yep, I think we can take 15 extra" and all the appeals got in.

Now that probably sounds lovely from a lot of ways BUT those at the top of the waiting list, down to about number 5/6 thought they'd get in on the waiting list (and would have done in any other year) so didn't bother appealing.
Now of course 15 people have to leave before number 1 gets offered a place.
So the person at number 1 is still waiting 2.5 years later and will still have to have about 5 people leave before they get offered a place.

This has only happened this one year. Any other year appeals have been rejected about 75%.

Jotim02 Sun 05-Mar-17 08:56:33

Thanks I agree it's not an either or, what I don't understand is I thought most appeals are later in the year May onwards, but we hear about second round of offers at the beginning of May. Will they hold back places incase people are successful in appeal? I thought they would just have more numbers if appeals were successful?

Doowappydoo Sun 05-Mar-17 09:34:09

no they can't hold back places in case people are successful at appeal - if you get in via the waiting list then you don't need to go ahead with the appeal but if not then you need to have already submitted your appeal so you then you are part of the appeal process which firstly considers whether the admission procedures have been correctly followed and whether the school take take additional places over it its PAN without prejudice. If it can't it or it can take additional pupils but not all that have appealed then it goes to the second stage when each child's individual circumstances are looked at. Whilst all this is going on the waiting list continues to operate as normal.

Plenty of people appeal but then withdraw or let it go ahead in their absence if they already have a place or have a place at another school.

If you don't appeal then this could happen - you are 6th on the waiting list - 10 people appeal who may not be the 5 ahead of you, you don't get in on the second round, at the appeal the panel decide the school can take 10 over their PAN, those 10 are then admitted ahead of you and you remain on the waiting list requiring 6 people to drop out before you get a place.

pieceofpurplesky Sun 05-Mar-17 09:55:33

Panel nothing odd - there are 4 oversubscribed schools
In the area and the local council ask every year that they increase numbers.

SoulAccount Sun 05-Mar-17 10:21:18

Appeals are, in effect, a way to leapfrog the waiting list and those who meet the admissions criteria, and to be honest I think that beyond the very legitimate social / medical appeals, most are about getting the better school. Not all, of course. But most posts got appeal advice on MN are casting around for grounds to appeal, rather than saying 'we preferred this school specifically because if it's music / sport / Chinese languages provision but have not got a place'.

But, OP, it is a legitimate part of the process, it is legal and honest, the opportunity is there, so why not take it? The independent panel will decide. I wouldn't sit around waiting for other appeal applicants to take up the first 6 places that become available!

PanelChair Sun 05-Mar-17 11:06:45

Pieceofpurplesky - No, that is odd and seems to be in contravention of the admissions code. If there is a shortage of places in the area, the schools should be agreeing an increase in their planned admission number (PAN) with the LEA. They should then fill those additional places using their published admissions criteria, from the waiting list if done after allocation day. The LEA should not be instructing the school/appeal panel that as (say) PAN has gone up by 12, they should allow 12 appeals, which is what you seem to be suggesting happens regularly.

Doowappydoo Sun 05-Mar-17 11:44:49

Panelchair - if the school has a PAN and there are appeals it is for the school to prove at first stage that they can't take anymore without prejudice. Sometimes a school will come along to the 1st stage of the appeal and - for example- say we can take an extra 10 above pan without prejudice - then 10 who have appealed get in or the panel - despite what the school say decide the school can take above PAN. This happens and it does mean that appeals leapfrog the waiting list which doesn't seem fair but it's the way the appeal system works - the school have to show prejudice and if their case isn't good enough or they concede they may be able to take more, then more places are offered at appeal and not to those on the waiting list who haven't appealed. I have seen cases where when preparing for 1st stage of the appeal the school realise they can offer more places so they go to the waiting list but sometimes this just doesn't happen until the appeal.

Doowappydoo Sun 05-Mar-17 11:46:14

Sorry that's as clear as mud but my advice would be to always appeal - even if you're number 1 on the waiting list.

tiggytape Sun 05-Mar-17 12:01:16

As others have advised - why not appeal, you have nothing to lose? And given that you know the chances aren't brilliant but a chance exists, that's a realistic position to approach it from.

The only confusion perhaps to clarigy is that appeal places don't exist instead of other people getting places. They are extra places newly created just for people who win appeals.

A class of 32 (where 2 people won on appeal) would only be a class of 30 were it not for those successful appeals. It wouldn't be a class of 32 with 2 different children who deserved it more or were higher up the list.

The only risk of missing out is when several people win at appeal causing the waiting list to come to a halt until normal numbers are restored again. A class of 32 where 2 of those people won appeals cannot start to offer places from the waiting list again even if 2 other people in that class leave. They have to wait until 3 people leave and the numbers are back down to 29. So if you only stay on waiting lists and don't appeal, you can risk being leapfrogged in that way.

pieceofpurplesky Sun 05-Mar-17 12:40:26

Panel as doo said. There is a shortage of school places here - despite there being 5 in the area of which 4 are good. Three new housing estates of 1,000+ new homes and a baby boom, mixed in with a rise in status of the area leading to movement in have meant a huge shortage. Five years ago all school were undersubscribed. Next year we are full again - had to increase our numbers by 50 but will still get quite a few on appeal.

PanelChair Sun 05-Mar-17 12:51:46

Err, thanks for the lecture. I have been chairing appeals for a decade now. Anyway, I stand by what I said. If any school is regularly turning up at appeals saying they can take another dozen pupils above PAN without prejudice, that strongly suggests that there is something wrong locally with the PAN-setting process. If additional places are being created year after year in a fairly predictable way, they ought to be filled via PAN, the oversubscription criteria/waiting list. If a school was repeatedly turning up at appeals saying they could take a few more - and repeatedly timed this announcement to 'catch' additional pupils from the appeal pool - I would wonder whether there was some sort of social engineering going on.

Obviously each appeal is decided on its merits.

Doowappydoo Sun 05-Mar-17 13:03:58

Not interested in lecturing anyone but is a fact that schools do take above their PAN and some schools do this regularly- suspect sometimes it is because they want those children out of catchment who have appealed or because circumstances change year on year - e.g. new building work - lower numbers than usual in another year.

SoulAccount Sun 05-Mar-17 13:05:48

"If a school was repeatedly turning up at appeals saying they could take a few more - and repeatedly timed this announcement to 'catch' additional pupils from the appeal pool - I would wonder whether there was some sort of social engineering going on."

That's exactly what I wondered. A school adjusting its cohort to include those with aspirational parents, kids with musical, sporting and maths skills? Surely not wink

PanelChair Sun 05-Mar-17 14:27:56

Yes, SoulAccount, that's exactly my point. There will always be one-off instances - creation of additional space through building work completed in the spring, say - that might allow a school to take additional pupils at the last minute. But if this was a regular thing and happened year after year, I'd wonder why the school (or the LEA, depending on which is the admission authority) found the children whose parents were appealing, more appealing. The school should not "want those children out of catchment who have appealed" or any others, as that amounts to selection outside the admissions criteria and is, as I said, a form of social engineering.

prh47bridge Sun 05-Mar-17 14:42:57

Sometimes a school will come along to the 1st stage of the appeal and - for example- say we can take an extra 10 above pan without prejudice

Any school that does so is admitting breaking the law. Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 S86 an admission authority must comply with parental preference unless doing so would cause prejudice or the pupil has been permanently excluded from two or more schools. The only exception is for selective schools where the pupil has failed to achieve a pass mark in the entrance exam. As soon as the school realises it can admit more pupils without prejudice it should admit the relevant number from the waiting list. Indeed, under Admissions Code 1.4, if they knew they could admit more pupils before places were allocated they were required to tell the LA.

If a school is doing this regularly it smacks of holding back places for successful appeals (which is prohibited). It also smacks of attempting to bully the appeal panel into admitting the number of pupils the school wants.

In my view an appeal panel faced with a school saying this should adjourn the hearing, telling the school that they will reconvene when the school has admitted the relevant number of pupils from the waiting list and will then decide whether to admit any more. Schools must not be allowed to think they can get away with this kind of behaviour.

is a fact that schools do take above their PAN and some schools do this regularly

There is nothing wrong with admitting beyond PAN. What is wrong is going to the appeal panel and saying, "we can admit x additional pupils and we want you to decide who gets the places". That is not a question for the appeal panel. Those additional places should go to the waiting list. The appeal panel should then decide if they think the school can handle even more pupils.

Any school doing this regularly should definitely be referred to the Schools Adjudicator. They are clearly holding back places for successful appeals. That is specifically prohibited.

SoulAccount Sun 05-Mar-17 14:52:41

Such a scenario presumably opens the door for appeals from waiting list applicants who find their places have been given away in this way!

Waiting list applicants: find out how the appeal places have been accommodated!

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