Please help me with appeal on medsoc refusal

(12 Posts)
Catgotyourbrain Thu 16-Mar-17 21:26:43

Bit long this, throwing myself at the mercy of your advice on appealing our refused medical and social application.

We didn't get a place and are now number 29 on wait list for a popular school with an intake of 120.

I've had conflicting advice on what they will take into account and also on whether to take anyone else in to the appeal. Head of DCs primary said she will def come with me (she likes a challenge ;-) )

The person at the local borough drop-in session after 'offer day' (head of admissions in borough) counselled against 'antagonising' the panel by consulting a professional appeals lawyer; she also advised I go in playing the emotional side rather than the militant parent side hmm.

Someone else has just recommended me a SEN lawyer who is very good and I'm tempted to call her.

School admissions and appeals process is that they give the reasons you were refused ten days before the appeal and we can submit evidence up to five school days before the appeal. So it seems the thing to do is get all the supporting letters lined up and tweak them to answer to the reasons more fully when we have the reasons?

I have ed psyche, CAMHS psychiatrist x 2, psychologist, senco, form teacher and headteacher all writing me letters, and I have hammered out the specific points they need to think about with senco and ed psyche.

So any further advice would be helpful. I really really don't know what we'll do if we don't get this school because it really is a unique situation and he will fail massively in a different environment. Very very briefly: DS has ADHD and a lot of social anxiety and has been bullied persistently at primary. He is very vulnerable, immature and lacks social and executive function skills. He will refuse school if he's made to go on a bus or train on his own. If he makes it there his stress levels will rocket and his concentration and impulse control will zero. Given a large school to navigate he will get lost or distracted. He has a massively 'spiky' cognitive profile - being exceptional in some things and average in others- meaning setted classes will fail him massively. I could go on.

This school is in its first year - would have 240 students when he starts, he'd be able to walk to school, and as it's a catchment based school all the cohort would be nearby and he'd be in control of his social life. The school doesn't set so he would have mixed ability teaching which would be perfect for him. There would be only a few teachers to get to know. It really is the only way he would have an environment to be 'normal' in and learn properly.

I am losing sleep on this and DS is very anxious (we are not talking too much to him about it and accessing advice on that)

He has a place at a school that's far too far away for him to go to.

admission Thu 16-Mar-17 22:27:24

You need to go back to the Admission criteria. I am assuming that there was a medical / social criteria on it and you formally applied under this criteria. The school, assuming that they are the admission authority will have had to refuse you under the med/ social criteria so what are they saying about that? You really should, under best practice, have been made aware that they were not going to admit under the criteria before the places were allocated on 1st March.
As the school is in its first year, I would be wondering just what they did about your application. There should have been somebody making decisions based on the evidence submitted. So what did you submit and why did they say the application was rejected.

If you did not make a formal submission against the med/ soc criteria before the cut off date then the school would simply have considered you against the other criteria and it would be no surprise you did not get the offer of a place. In that situation whilst you can still appeal the panel cannot retrospectively offer you a place. You will need to make out the best possible case for admission under appeal and hope that the panel is prepared to admit more pupils. I will be honest and say the letters from the school will carry little weight at the appeal, what will carry far more weight are the letters from ed pysch etc as long as they say that in the writers opinion the only school that is appropriate is X. If the letters say Mrs Y tells me that her son feels they need to go to X school, they will not carry much weight.

Catgotyourbrain Thu 16-Mar-17 22:54:42

Thanks @admission

The medsoc criteria is only one para- in summary you need two letters from a 'medical professional or social worker' saying why only this school suitable.

I submitted it correctly and on time

I have made and received the results of a FOI request on how many other medsocs applied and admitted (some admitted). I also asked who the admissions committee was and were there any medical profs or social workers. The panel was internal to the school - senior management.

I also asked if any succesful applicants submitted letters from non medical professionals - which they won't tell me. I think lots of people are putting in letters from headteachers etc when strictly speaking according to schools criteria these should be disallowed.

The letters are all properly from the opinion of the person concerned - I'm giving them points to cover but they are fully supportive (ed psyche knows DC v well and also will have an additional anxiety assessment with dc for this purpose). There won't be any 'catgotyourbrain tells me'.

Could you point me to evidence of this best practise letting you know before offer day? At the moment it's clear they won't tell me why until the last moment.

Thanks for advice

admission Fri 17-Mar-17 20:54:34

Best practice is what it says, it is what the best schools do but is in no way required to be done. So the best admission authorities will always look at med / soc requests before the cut off point for on-time applications and give an answer as to why they will or will not be accepted under that criteria. They are however not obliged to tell you.

It is interesting that your FOI request seems to have unearthed that some pupils were accepted under that criteria. If it is more than 1 or 2 then I would be suspicious that pupils are being accepted for spurious med / soc reasons.

At appeal I would be asking in part 1 of the appeal, for specific details of how many applied and how many were accepted (though that should be in their case which you get beforehand). I would ask what were the kinds of applications that were accepted. I would not actually expect them to give a specific reply to the question as it would / should be confidential, however it will make them squirm a bit. But that question then allows you the opportunity to ask why specifically your request was rejected, which they should be able to answer. It is not unusual for the "panel" of the school to be just senior managers of the school. I personally think it is wrong but as long as they are clear about who it is then it has to be accepted. However it would be worth asking at appeal why the people concerned felt that they could reject the medical advice of the experts that you supplied but accept other applications.

user1488391504 Fri 17-Mar-17 21:39:39

Could I ask anyone that has responded what your views are on a issues,
Firstly a school advertise admission numbers for exceptional social and medical as being higher than is actually offered- school stats offers 4, stats released by council 1. ?
Secondly the council website states a panel of local authority experts will review the documents for social and medical but when we enquired we get pushed to the school and get told they make all the decisions.
Lastly for last 4 years only one has been accepted however before that the numbers varied 2,3,4 never 1. It's almost like there is a policy that only one is accepted. Any views would be most welcomed.

user1488391504 Fri 17-Mar-17 22:16:36

@Catgotyourbrain just to let you know your not alone my son sounds exactly like your son and the school we have been offered has massive bullying issues which have come to light since Christmas. We also applied to our first choice under exceptional social and medical grounds with the correct letters, It's awful and I'm also loosing sleep. did you put his name on other waiting lists? It's worth considering it may open up other options. I heard you can add name to lists into July but they do go by admission criteria.

Catgotyourbrain Fri 17-Mar-17 23:03:53

@admission more than five were admitted on medsoc. More than 20 applied (not being precise for identifying reasons).

Hmmm

QGMum Sat 18-Mar-17 12:09:17

Not an admissions expert here but a parent who went to an appeal (for infant school place). which was lost but then got that decision over turned by the local government ombudsman. We felt that if we had taken a lawyer initially we would have won straight away. The panel were woefully unaware of the rules and one of the findings of the ombudsman was that the la had to provide proper training for their panels.

The comments about not antagonising the panel are worrying. They should make a decision based on facts only.

It sounds like you meet the admission criteria under med/soc so why was that not accepted by the admissions panel seems to be the key question. Were the correct rules followed? You seem to have done everything correctly.

Good luck.

prh47bridge Sat 18-Mar-17 15:20:26

The panel were woefully unaware of the rules and one of the findings of the ombudsman was that the la had to provide proper training for their panels

Most panels understand the rules properly. A few don't but they are very much in the minority in my experience.

They should make a decision based on facts only

Any appeal decision involves an element of judgement and the panel are only human. If the appellant has antagonised them they may be less inclined to give them the benefit of any doubt. They will not deliberately find against an appellant just for this reason but, if the decision is close, it may subconsciously affect their judgement.

eddiemairswife Sat 18-Mar-17 17:03:03

And that's particularly true of a non Infant Class Size appeal, where the decision will probably be based on balancing the school's case against that of the parents. Not all panel decisions are unanimous, even though each panel member has heard the same information.

Catgotyourbrain Sat 18-Mar-17 18:43:02

Thanks all.

Do you think I also have a point that they didn't have any med professionals or social workers on the original panel?

prh47bridge Sat 18-Mar-17 19:03:19

There isn't a requirement for them to do so but if your evidence was good it raises questions as to why these unqualified people thought they knew better than the professionals. You should raise those questions!

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