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Any advice on appeal for my granddaughter please?

(8 Posts)
Grandmagillybob Mon 06-Mar-17 14:23:25

I am a new member so please be gentle with me smile.

I have joined on the advice of some of my lovely virtual friends over at Gransnet with the hope of getting some good advice from anyone who can help please. Basically my son and daughter in law and their 3 children moved home over a year ago. The reasons for the move were a nicer area, a bigger house and easier for me and other grandma to provide ongoing childcare etc. We tried and failed appeals to get the children into the local primaries meaning that the children face very long commutes to school via public transport and are often late. Additionally the knock on effect of failure to get into a feeder is that eldest granddaughter (now 11) has been refused a place in the secondary school she can almost see from her bedroom window. I am told that the main reason for the failure to get a place is that the secondary has filled up with sibling link children and those from the feeder primaries (one of which is so far away from the fed secondary that they bus the children in every day)leaving no places for any other children ,even those like my granddaughter who live very close by. The LEA have subsequently offered her a place at a (particularly bad) school that is miles away from home. Granddaughter is distraught and has convinced herself that the schools beside where she lives don't want her. She has said that she "can't see the point in continuing to work hard at school" and "hates her life" All of these things worry me so much but having been through the appeals process (primaries) I wonder how realistic the hope of winning a secondary school appeal would be? Can the LEA really expect a (small for age) 11 year old girl to travel a long distance alone, using 2 buses and a long, lonely wait in between Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.

VictoriaMcdade Mon 06-Mar-17 14:31:24

You need to look at the criteria that the school uses for accepting children. I'm afraid the only real grounds for appeal will be if the council has made a mistake.

I'm surprised if children with no siblings, but who went to feeder schools rank higher than children who live closer, but someone who knows more may be along to correct me that this is a thing.

However, it is well worth getting on the waiting list as places may come up, especially if she lives very close.

And perhaps look and see if there is a local parents support group on Facebook. I would not be surprised off your DGD was not the only child in this situation, and it might help to talk to other parents.

It's horrible. Good luck

tiggytape Mon 06-Mar-17 14:31:32

Copying some from original thread:
Secondary school appeals are certainly much easier to win than appeals for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This is because no maximum class size law applies to children in Year 3 and upwards as it does in Year 2 and below. Before Year 3, appeals are incredibly hard to win without an admissions error being proved (and people who move late to join a school very rarely fall into that bracket as the reason they are rejected is simply that the school is full not that they don't meet some criteria or other).

So an appeal is definitely worth it.

The advice however is to remember all appeals are about appealing for the school you want not against the one you don't wan

In addition, transport or childcare rarely carry any weight at appeal unless disability is a factor or unless the school is more than an hour away from home or has an exceptionally complicated journey with more than 1 change of bus or train.
Unfortunately, the answer to your question is "yes" the council might expect an 11 year old to make the journey you describe unless it is very complicated or way over an hour. As prh said on the other thread though, if it's more than 3 miles from home (by road not as the crow flies) the LA must provide or fund transport for your GDD.

At appeal you should concentrate on what the appeal school offers that your GDD would benefit from or that meets her needs:
Do they offer GCSE or A Level options that meet her talents and interests especially where these are not catered for elsewhere?
Do they have clubs and bands or anything that meet her interests and talents?
Does GDD have any additional needs that this school is expert at helping with or has good support systems or specialist staff to help with?
You can also make the point about being new to an area and benefiting from being able to make local friends
And if the school has more than the published numbers in other year groups and copes with this, you can also make the point that they could possibly cope with more in Year 7 without it being an insurmountably problem.

You can ask the appeal school for current numbers in each year group to see if they go over numbers and cope. You can use the school newsletters and websites to potentially identify things that the appeal school offers that would be of particular benefit to your GDD

VictoriaMcdade Mon 06-Mar-17 14:34:01

And yes, the LEA won't give a toss about the travel. Which sucks. As far as they are concerned, they have provided a school for the child. Job done.

Please reassure your grand daughter though that this is just the start of the process, and that all the family will give this their best shot.

tiggytape Mon 06-Mar-17 14:34:01

You need to look at the criteria that the school uses for accepting children. I'm afraid the only real grounds for appeal will be if the council has made a mistake.
This is simply not true.

It is true that appeals for YR-Y2 are incredibly hard to win and that an admissions error is one of the very few grounds that enable parents to succeed with such an appeal

It isn't at all true for secondary. The vast majority of appeals at secondary are won on the grounds of balance of prejudice (where the word prejudice means harm) i.e. parents prove the disadvantage to their child of not getting a place marginally (or sometimes vastly) outweighs the harm to the school of having to accommodate one more.

tiggytape Mon 06-Mar-17 14:36:06

Most secondary school appeals are won where there was no mistake with the admissions process and where everyone agrees the child clearly does not qualify for a place using the admissions criteria i.e. they have no sibling, don't attend the feeder school and live well outside the last distance offered.
They get a place at appeal despite that.

Grandmagillybob Mon 06-Mar-17 14:45:12

I admit to being very frustrated with the process of school appeals and waiting lists and always assumed that living so close to the school would put her in an advantage compared to children from miles away. How wrong can one woman be?

Parents have just received a letter warning them they could be fined and taken to court by the LEA if the children continue to be late for their primary school and I am fuming. They are little children 7,9 and 11 who face a very long journey using 2 buses everyday. What can we do? The buses are late the children are late. The buses are on time, the children are on time. Its really that simple. Now by offering my eldest granddaughter a secondary school miles away the LEA are almost passing sentence to the parents as there is no way on this earth they could guarantee getting to school on time.

Thank you everyone who has responded to my plea. I very much appreciate it and apologies for my first ever post being in the wrong place .
Not a good start. smile

tiggytape Mon 06-Mar-17 15:47:07

You weren't in the wrong place at all. The reason for separate threads here is that the general ones get so long that specific advice might get lost.

For allocations: unfortunately in a feeder school system with sibling priority, living close to the school without attending the feeder school or having a sibling there is likely to mean being too low down on admissions criteria to get a place.
Not all schools use distance as a main criteria (a bit like those living near faith schools or grammar schools or schools using a lottery system for example who cannot get into their local school).

Definitely try for an appeal listing things relevant to how well the school matches your DGD's needs and interests and not relying too heavily on the journey. The key is to be positive and specific about what the appeal school offers her and why she needs that. If there are medical or other needs involved, try to get supporting evidence from this from a professional to say that DGD needs this school above any other as it is best placed to help with..../ deal with...../ meet this specific need.
If it is more based on what the school offers, be specific about what DGD is good or enjoys and why this school is the best match.

As for the younger children, how far are they traveling by road each way? The younger one for example would qualify for LA funding or help if it is more than 2 miles each way and the older ones would qualify if it was more than 3 miles. Some LAs pay bus fares (for children not parents) but some have taxis they use. It would be worth looking into this partly because if you are entitled to it, you should get it and partly because if the LA are involved in the transport and can see the failings of it, it might help the case over lateness.

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