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Drafting admission appeal

(13 Posts)
Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 13:16:47

On March 1st we were one of many families in the country that were given the news that the admission authority were unable to allocate any of our four preferences. My child was offered a place at a school we had visited over two consecutive years but due to a number of personal circumstances and limitations we did not consider the school when submitting our preference.

As things stand we have rejected the offer. Not because it wasn't a preferred choice. Now from what I have read this could appear as if we are holding the panel to ransom which didn't occur to me at the time.

I am currently putting together our child's case. Having scoured the internet and forums it appears most people may have 1-2 reasons for wanting a school and usually this relates to friendships or a particular school not doing too well. I am unsure if I am approaching this appeal correctly. I haven't counted our reasons for needing the school we are appealing for, but I would guess at around 10 points. Is that too many? I'm also unsure if the panel will consider my reasons as some relate to medical and personal family circumstances. I will be submitting hard evidence for every point I make as to why my child needs a place at this school and what this school can offer our child and us as a family that no other can.

I would appreciate any advice you are willing to give. I appreciate I've been quite vague to avoid identification.

Thanks in advance.

PatriciaHolm Wed 22-Mar-17 13:48:16

At secondary, the appeal will hinge on you showing that the detriment to the school of admitting is smaller than the detriment to the child of not being admitted.

You say medical and family circumstances - does the school have an social/medical criteria in admissions? Did you apply under this?

Assuming not, these are unlikely to carry much weight, as normally they aren't applicable just to this school.

10 points is fine, as long as they are clear, relevant and evidenced as far as possible - for example, it's not very helpful to say "X has been bullied and this schools seems friendly", you would need letters/evidence of the problems, and letters from professionals staying that X has a specific need to be with long term friends etc (for sake of example!). Similarly with medical requirements -as much evidence as possible that the need is for this school, and can't be easily met elsewhere.

Things like friendships and other schools not doing well are unlikely to win appeals; they don't show why child needs a specific school so much that that school should go over PAN to admit them. Every friendship group gets mixed up when children transition schools, and
panels don't take kindly to appellants running down schools - someone's got to go to them, possibly people the panel knows, or even their own children!

Things likely to carry more weight would be showing that the school has a specialism in a subject your child excels at, or offers a GCSE that other local schools don't that matches your child's talents/interests.

Rejecting the school places you in an awkward position in that it's up to you to find a place now - the LA has no obligation to make another offer. I'm assuming you have gone on waiting lists of all the other schools you would accept?

Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 14:10:18

Thank you.

Yes my child is on the CI list for the preferred schools.

Plan B so to speak would be to either homeschool until a place is available or consider a school out of town that is in the same county and does have spaces which my partner passes on his commute to work.

I spoke to counties appeal helpdesk a couple of weeks ago and they agreed they could see why I had not included any medical or social grounds at the time of submitting. For example my child doesn't have a EHCP. Although did feel this were relevant. Indeed they explain why there is a need for my child to attend the appeal school and why she would be actually unable to attend the allocated one. I have various medical letters, letter from school and some other pieces requested via a subject access request. I will also be submitting maps, floor plans of the appeal school and their prospectus (is this allowed)?

I know this sounds silly but this school specialises in a particular area that my child is keen on and I can evidence this with a number of certificates from the age of 4 to 11...Is that ridiculous to include though?

tiggytape Wed 22-Mar-17 14:34:06

Yes - definitely include evidence but do so selectively.

Every swimming / dancing / drama certificate from age 4 upwards is not necessary. A recent (or best) certificate and a letter from the coach to say DC has competed / performed for 7 years and would benefit from the appeal school as it offers: a specific qualification / industry experience in the chosen field / specialists groups or teaching / specialist resources is helpful in showing that need and suitability. Send copies of course. Do not send original documents.

The things you highlight are considered good reasons for asking for a particular school. They may or may not outweigh the school's own case that taking more children will be detrimental (some schools are genuinely so full that they cannot accept more pupils even if a high degree of need is demonstrated) but it is the kind of thing an appeal panel wants to hear about: why does a child need this school in particular? How will they be disadvantaged if they cannot attend?

Medical and other reasons that mean your child particularly needs (or will be disadvantaged by not attending) this school should be similarly evidenced if possible.

So it isn't enough to say "My child has mobility issues and finds stairs difficult" even if that is true. You need to explain how that fits with the appeal. So yes - a floor plan might be relevant if it shows that most classrooms are downstairs and that there is a lift. But that's best presented in conjunction with a Dr or specialist letter saying "This child has X condition which means her mobility is impaired and using stairs would be very difficult / exacerbate the condition / cause X problems.... It is my professional opinion that this child needs to attend either a school on one level or a school with few stairs or shallow stairs between classrooms. I agree with this child's mother that the school they are appealing for meets this child's medical needs in that respect and I therefore support the family's appeal and ask that these medical needs be considered...."

blackcatlover Wed 22-Mar-17 14:42:18

I am an appeal panellist and chair. I assume you haven't been able to identify a problem in the way the places were allocated.

You can bring floor plans etc if you want but I should point out it is likely that the panel has heard all that before (and the school has a rebuttal ready) - you really have to make the case for why it should be your child if they are to go over PAN.

You can certainly submit evidence of a hobby/interest if relevant to the school's specialism. You however need to show why it has to be that school and no other.

If you have medical evidence try and ensure it is relevant i.e. NOT 'I saw Ms Bloggs in the surgery today and she would like X to go to St Y's because X had an operation 5 years ago'.

In my experience panels will consider the whole family picture i.e. illness or exceptional needs only in really unusual circumstances, but I have been on panels who have done so.

Similar with a letter from the primary school. I have sat on panels and each appellant has produced an identical letter from the primary school. Make sure it is specific to your child.

I have seen people who have rejected all their choices and it will not influence the panel. I would however strongly advise you not to count on winning your appeal or a place becoming available on the waiting list and try and get a place somewhere. My own youngest child was allocated their 5th choice (we're in London) and that turned out OK.

Good luck. I always feel let down if we don't find anyone we can help but it is up to you to make a strong argument. A couple of strong arguments are better than a lot of small ones in my experience.

Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 14:51:59

Thank you tiggytape.

I had underestimated at first glance how much work goes into putting the appeal together. I'm just worried I will miss something or not evidence it correctly so that it can be considered.

I have no idea how many will appeal for this school. I know that they went over by seven last year and the HT was telling parents to appeal if they do not get a place back in October when she was showing prospective pupils around. It's a new build and currently the NOR is quite some way under the agreed net capacity. A growing roll has not affected standards which I continue to climb and the leadership and management is graded outstanding...presumably a few extra don't hurt. Am I correct in thinking that if there are a lot of appeals to be heard they will deal with the "we are full" issue publicly? Is it safe to assume if this section is not held publicly then there may not be so many appeals?

Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 15:02:25

Thank you blackcatlover.

Yes the floor plans are actually to demonstrate something the school had in abundance that my child needs access to due to the family situation. Other schools do not offer this. Without access it would affect progress and achievement of my child due to her circumstances which are evidenced.

Everything i have managed to compile so far is specific. I made sure I was very specific when requesting particular information or asking for letters. I explained the context, what I needed it to say and that I needed it linked to this or that.

A large part of my child's case relies on interplaying issues. None of my points are related to any friendship group. None of my points belittle the school which was offered.

I just can't help but feel hugely overwhelmed at the prospect of delivering the appeal. I've sat on various panels myself and so not worried about the panel as such, more just the personal importance.

blackcatlover Wed 22-Mar-17 15:09:40

The panel will have read the papers in advance. What you need to do is pick out the important bits and argue the case.

Most schools will do the 'we are full bit' for stage one and that may or may not be held separately. The panel can still admit, it is a balance of whether the detriment to the school or the appellant is greater. In my experience if the reason is good enough the appeal can be won.

admission Wed 22-Mar-17 17:34:32

I think you appear to be doing all the right things for the appeal and constructing the best possible argument.
I think that the area you also need to address is the fact you have no school. No matter what you say if you have rejected the offered place and have no alternative it will come across as a negative to the panel. Saying you might home educate will in my opinion also potentially weaken your case for admission to this specific school - it sounds like this school or nothing. You also need to be aware that after the appeals the school does not have to admit till the year cohort is below the PAN. So if the school admitted 7 last year on appeal, they do not have to admit till 8 pupils have left. That could mean you are home educating for a long time.
I would spend some time looking for a school that is acceptable and which you can get a place at. Apply and get the place so if it all goes pear shape at appeal you do have a school place and maybe more importantly there is an argument at appeal that you now do have a school place but it is by no means ideal, which is why we are appealing because of the following reasons....

Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 18:04:55

Thank you admission.

I have been looking at schools with spaces and because of where we are located I need to look out of the town. There is a school my partner could make a diversion to on his commute to work, however I do not know if they offer breakfast clubs etc so that my child could be dropped off early, my partner would also need to work through lunch break to leave early to collect my child, presumably there would be clubs or places to study for an additional hour or so after school. It isn't a school we have ever visited and by public transport would be ridiculous to get to so would purely be relying on my partner staying in the same job. I have unpredictable mobility issues which means I couldn't always collect as I can not always drive.

Rejecting the offer wasn't done lightly. I had no way of getting my child there and back. I appreciate a child of 11 would be expected to make a journey of two miles however in this case it isn't possible for rather complex reasons. I have ensured I will have evidence to confirm this directly from the gp. In addition to this, my child has been threatened and hit on a number of occasions by a child already on roll, again I've ensured I have evidence. However all said and done our appeal is mainly all reasons why that school specifically meets my child needs.

The minefield of school appeals. I really hope I do not have to undergo this process ever again.

Admission could you advise on further appeals to other schools please? I have read it is good to appeal to all schools. My appeals would be a lot weaker for the other preferred schools, would you still suggest an appeal anyway?

Thanks again for your advice.

prh47bridge Wed 22-Mar-17 20:48:10

My appeals would be a lot weaker for the other preferred schools, would you still suggest an appeal anyway

I tend to take the view that an appeal is a one way bet. If the appeal fails you haven't lost anything - you are in the same position as if you hadn't appealed at all. If you win you've gained a school place for your child. Sometimes the school's case to refuse admission is so weak that almost any appeal will succeed. Also, each school will have a different appeal panel and some appeal panels are more generous than others. So personally I would go for it. You have nothing to lose. And you may find that your weakest case turns out to be a winning one.

Submit Wed 22-Mar-17 21:00:09

Thank you for this prh47bridge. I had not considered it like that. I will be sure to register appeals for the other preferred schools too.

admission Wed 22-Mar-17 21:22:37

I would appeal for any school that you believe is suitable for your child, no matter how flimsy the reasons. It is your legal right and you should exercise it, accepting that it can become a full time job if you are not careful

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