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School Appeal What are my chances?

(23 Posts)
ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 02:20:15

Hi can anyone give me an idea of how realistic our chances are of winning an appeal?

Out of four choices we didn't get any and were offered a placement at another school. This is within our borough. The original four were in a different borough.

To cut a long story short our son was misdiagnosed with ADHD three years ago but recently received his new diagnosis of ASD. This came too late as the school application had already been made. His current Primary school are in the process of making an application for an EHCP but this can take 6 months to process. He has however been under SEN since nursery.

The school rejected his application citing that by taking him would put too much strain on their resources and impact the educational needs of the students already placed there in an already deprived area. (it is not a deprived area although with every place there are some under privileged children.

My son is doing fine educationally in mainstream bit has struggled socially and finally within the last year he has made some friends who accept him for who he is.

CAHMS and his current school have both provided statements as to why he should be able to attend this school and by not accepting him will have an adverse effect on his wellbeing.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 02:21:42

Part two

This an extract from the school:

Please forward this letter on to the relevant individuals in support of your appeal for X Secondary School placement.

I write to you concerning pupil XX whose parents have recently found has been offered a place in a Secondary School in XXX which was not on their preference list. XX was not offered a place in a XX school as he lives out of borough.

XX has attended XX Primary School in the same borough as the Secondary school he wanted for all of his primary education. XX has very recently received a diagnosis from CAMHS of ASD. This diagnosis has been something parents and school have been encouraging CAMHS to explore for some time now. Whilst parents and school are pleased the diagnosis has now been confirmed, there is some frustration with the delay in diagnosis due to the impact this has on secondary transition.

Transitioning to secondary school for any child is anxiety provoking; for XX this is exacerbated by the needs he has, outlined through his ASD diagnosis. XX and his parents are appealing for XX to gain a
place at XX, not only due to its smaller size and their approach to SEND but importantly because XX has cousins and friends who attend or will be attending the school. For someone who finds making friends and social interaction challenging, to be in the same environment of one or two individuals with whom XX has a trusting relationship will be extremely significant in supporting his transition and success in his secondary education.

XX is a polite and engaging young man who has a particular love for History. Academically XX is working within year 6 expectations for Reading and Maths and just below this in Writing. XX has particular difficulties with communication and social interaction and requires support to enable him to interact with his peers and feel confident in doing so. He receives weekly ELSA support to explore his thoughts and feelings and social interactions. The school are currently working with parents to make an EHCP application. We would ask you to take time to strongly consider offering XX a place at XX as we believe being in this setting would have a significant impact on the success he will be able to experience throughout his secondary education and the longer term implications of this.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if any further information is required.

This is an extract from the CAMHS support letter:

I can confirm that XX has been known to XX CAMHS Neurodevelopmental Team since 2013 and was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in February 2017.
I am writing to you in support of his parents’ appeal for his secondary school place. I understand that XX and his family hoped that XX would be able to attend XX School. However they have found that he has been given a place in XX and wish to appeal this decision.

This letter is aimed at supporting this appeal. Here is an outline of the main issues:

1.XX difficulties with social interaction mean that it takes him a long time to make and keep friends. So much so, that XX has only just managed to make a few friends in the last year. His parents are very happy about this and are very worried that if he goes to XX, as he will not know anyone, that he will lose all the self-confidence and social skills he has recently gained.

2.XX has two older cousins attending XX and his parents hoped that if XX could go there, they will be able to provide him with a kind of mentoring support at school to help him with his social and communication difficulties. They also hoped that XX cousins will be able to help him gain skills in independence by walking with him to school and back on occasion (his mother has been doing this up until now due to his difficulties with road safety as well as social vulnerabilities).

3.On a practical level XX mother needs to drop off XX younger sisters at a school near XX. She does not know how she will be able to drop XX off at XX whilst also having to drop off his two sisters at the same time in another borough. Should XX go to XX school, these multiple drop offs are manageable. In discussion with XX mothet, it does not seem that XX is ready for public transport or school bus type transportation yet due to his social vulnerabilities and XX worries that he could be bullied on the bus, or he could be exploited or he could even go off with strangers if they were able to engage him in his favourite topic.

4.XC is a smaller school and XX has not managed well in the past in large environments with many children.

5.Due to his Autism, XX has difficulty with changes and transitions. XX has visited XX school a number of times over the last few years and feels comfortable there. He is very keen to go to XX school. He does not have any knowledge of XX and he does not know anyone who goes there. The transition to secondary school is likely to be harder for XX than most other children due to his Autism, and his parents worry that a transition to an entirely new school may be too much for him to manage. XX has expressed suicidal ideation in the past and although he is much happier now, his parents worry about his mental health deteriorating if he is not able to cope at the school he has been placed in.

Is this enough with two independent statements?

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 08:39:58

Can anyone help?

meditrina Tue 16-May-17 08:51:47

"XX was not offered a place in a XX school as he lives out of borough."

This is against the law (Greenwich ruling) and if they administered the application relying in this as worded in this letter (rather than it being a mis-statement for 'lived too far away') then you could appeal on the grounds of maladministration, though this is only successful if the mistake meant your DC did not receive an offer that they would have received if the application had been properly handled.

Is the school its own admissions authority?

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-May-17 08:54:57

I think it sounds hopeful, though a timeline would help - when did you start the EHCP process, what grounds did you apply under (did you apply under medical/social grounds if they exist and what was the decision made on why he didn't qualify, and when did you get told the decision), when did the diagnosis become official (and did you tell admissions at that time, which might have affected the medical/social decision), what is the timeline for the EHCP, etc. So it is crystal clear to the panel.

You say the school have denied him a place based on strain on resources - do you mean they considered him under medical/social and this is their response? Otherwise that is an odd comment as I would imagine that he was treated under normal distance criteria so not being able to deal with his needs would be irrelevant.

prh47bridge Tue 16-May-17 09:13:02

Nothing is ever certain with appeals. It depends on the strength of the school's case and the appeal panel you get. However, this looks a fairly strong case. I would say you have a decent chance of success.

I agree with PatriciaHolm that a timeline would be useful.

Of the two letters I think the one from his school is better. The CAMHS letter comes across somewhat as repeating your concerns rather than giving their own views. There is a bit too much "his parents hope" and "his parents worry" for my liking. Having said that, there is some good stuff about his condition which the panel should take into account. I would emphasise those parts of the CAMHS letter in presenting your case.

I share the concerns expressed by Meditrina and PatriciaHolm. If the school rejected your son due to his living in a different borough that could be a breach of the Greenwich ruling. Denying him a place due to the strain on resources also sounds questionable if this was part of the normal admissions round. If there was maladministration that significantly strengthens your case. What did they actually say and when?

admission Tue 16-May-17 11:14:59

The letter from CAMHS in my area would not be given any weight in an appeal because it does not say that the person writing the letter is making definitive statements about your son, it is reflecting what you have said. Your case would be strengthened if the letter said, in my professional opinion X should be given a place at the school because ....

The comments around reasons for the rejection seem very strange as they do not relate to any admission criteria which should be allowed. Are the words quoted by you actually in the letter rejecting your application? Whilst I would want to see the full letter, such remarks would appear to indicate a situation where the school are not applying the correct admission procedure. If that was the case then an appeal would seem to be the sensible way forward with a reasonable expectation to believe it would be successful. Though as PRH says nothing is guaranteed. If they have run roughshod over the correct admission procedure in your case, how many others are in the same position? If there were quite a lot then this might be a reason why an admission appeal panel would have to start making decisions about how many appeals they could allow before it did have a serious effect on the school. So even though you might have a strong case, you might not be given a place at the school.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 13:55:12

Hi all thanks for the very helpful responses.

My child was diagnosed with ADHSD with autistic traits back in 2013. The school and his parents didn't see any ADHA issues on him so the school pushed for CAHMS to re-assess (as with everything this took forever). They finally cam out and did an observation evaluation and he received his diagnosis of autism which was expected in Feb 2017. I applied for his Secondary school in Oct 2016 and on the admissions page it said if you are applying under criteria 2, you would need an EHCP as evidence. (we didn't have one so I had do as if he had no issues) but I did complete the addition information part and explained the circumstances. The school and CAHMs advised that he would need an EHCP and they started this process in March which is when we received the rejection.

Within the appeals paper it has a section Prejudice to Efficient Education Use of Resources. It then goes on to say:-

1. The Governing Body (GB) may refuse to comply with a parents stated preference under the School Standards & Framework Act 1998 when it can demonstrate that compliance with the preference would prejudice the provision of efficient education and the efficient use of resources.

2. The GB believes that the duty to comply with parental preference does not apply in this case because:-

They then list my address and state we are 3861m from the school.

That there school is the 8th closest to our residence.

They then list those schools. Four are in the borough where we live so I would have the same issue which is why I chose their school (my daughters who are much younger attend in the same borough as the school where I want my son to go). The remaining three are in the the same borough as the school that rejected us. I applied to two of those as was rejected as well (they are church / catholic schools) ad the remaining one he didn't like it at all when he visited so I didn't include it on the application.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 14:04:42

It then goes on to background and stats where it lists total students, how many EHCP etc.

They then say:-
Due to these factors we need small class sizes in order to effectively meet the needs of our students.

1. In order to ensure our weakest students make outstanding progress we have a class of only 15 students referred to as our GOA group. These students are selected due to their SEND, emotional vulnerability or low KS2 levels. As such a high percentage of our student body require support and each year our GOAL class is without fail oversubscribed and unable to accommodate all of the students who would benefit from this form of intervention. This will be no different for the students with us in September 2017.

2. Our current staffing model is at capacity and is a constant challenge as we are funded on our on roll figure from the previous academic year. As a growing school with an improving reputation we have lower numbers of students in KS4 compared to KS3 thus creating a funding deficit.

3. We currently have 150 students who have accepted places for entry to the school in September 2017.

4. By offering XX a place at XX it would put a further strain on our ability to offer an outstanding education to the students of the deprived community we already serve.

They are not in an deprived area but as with all towns, cities there are always deprived areas!

I have taken your comments on the CAHMS letter and will ask them to make it a little more independent rather than saying I worry etc.

Thanks

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-May-17 14:54:20

OK - so you didn't apply under Medical Criteria, but just put some text in the additional box - so the application wasn't considered under those grounds. So they didn't need to tell you the application to be placed under these criteria was rejected. Text in the additional box is basically irrelevant and thus ignored unless it supports your request to be in a different criteria.

The rest of the letter re.the schools case is standard, everyone appealing will have the same letter - it's not referring to his needs specifically, it's just the general "we are full and this is why we don't want to take any more" content. So i don't think from this that there is any indication that the admissions authority made a mistake. You didn't get in because you live too far away (and I think CAHMS have probably made an error in how they have represented it).

So you need to make sure all the evidence presented shows how it is this school that meets his needs specifically, in the opinion of the medical professionals involved, not just - for example - a small school, one close to home, one near his sisters, etc. It has to relate to this school.

Realistically, did you have a chance of getting into this school on distance? Or any of the others on your application?

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 15:01:37

The application wouldn't allow us to put his medical criteria. It stated you needed an EHCP or statement to apply under this. As we didn't have the autistic diagnosis at the time we could only explain the situation in the additional information box. I did contact the LA when we got it but they said it would make no difference without an EHCP. Because of the misdiagnosis and delays my son is the one that loses out. Seems unfair.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 15:07:48

Also as my sister who lives in the same borough as me and only 500 yards away from me goes to this school so I know they take children from my area.

The school is good for him because it will meet his needs emotionally.. as in have friends and people he knows. Going to a school where you know no one and are already socially impaired and struggle to make friendships will have fired consequences.

admission Tue 16-May-17 16:46:35

I question why the school will only accept potential pupils under medical with an EHC plan. If you had an EHC plan then you could name the school on the plan and in effect the school would have to admit you. The whole point of a medical category is that it is for those that do not have an EHC Plan but can show high levels of medical need.
The school are being slightly naughty in something they say. It is correct of them to state how far away you live but what they should then have been saying is that they gave 150 places and they were all within the distance to your home from the school, that is you live too far away. Quoting that there are 8 other schools nearer to your home is not relevant and could be said to be prejudicing your case for admission to the school.

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-May-17 17:07:37

Which school is this, OP? If you don't want to put it on here, you are welcome to PM me. I can take a look at the admissions criteria; as admission says, having an EHCP that names the school means the school has to take the child, regardless, so it's irrelevant as far as criteria go.

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-May-17 19:10:51

OK, I have had a look at the admissions criteria and there is nothing unusual about criteria 2, looking at exceptional medical or social grounds. It doesn't mention needing an EHCP or statement. OP, did someone at the school or the LEA explicitly tell you you needed one to apply under criteria 2, and do you have evidence of that, say an email?

If so that was a clear error on their part and you should make the argument that they mislead you away from making an application under criteria 2.

The issue with that is the criteria are quite clearly explained on the schools admissions policy document on their website and also on the LEAs website, so the panel may take the view that it is really up to you to decide, but if you have evidence they misled you, that could be important. Of course there was no guarantee you would have been accepted under criteria 2, but you might, and their advice contributed to you not trying. So the point is worth raising.

It's also worth just noting that you are quite a long distance past the furthest offers for the last few years on distance - at least a kilometre further. The panel may ask about your choices given it seems you applied to a number of schools that you didn't stand much of a chance getting into on distance.

prh47bridge Tue 16-May-17 19:24:16

I'm going to go a bit further than others. From what you say, social/medical needs are criteria 2. That being the case it is a breach of the Admissions Code to say that an EHCP is required to qualify under criteria 2. It implies that pupils with an EHCP naming the school can be refused entry if the school is already full with looked after pupils. It also implies the school has some discretion over whether or not to admit pupils with an EHCP. They do not. Every pupil with an EHCP naming the school must be admitted even if the school is already full.

Like Admission I am unhappy that the school has listed the schools nearer home. They are not relevant. There is no requirement that you go send your children to the nearest school.

It will definitely help if you can get a better letter from CAMHS.

Like PatriciaHolm, I would be interested in taking a look at their admission arrangements if you would like to PM me to let me know which school we are talking about.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 19:43:08

I have requested a better letter from CAHMS. I will inbox you the name of the school.. Thanks for all your input... worrying now I missed something at the time of the application.

He didn't have the diagnosis at the time of the application so technically I could argue that we didn't have confirmation of his disability. I am re-checking the application.

Thanks

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 20:12:19

I re-checked the admission criteria - there was no option of ECHP or SEN. It just mentions second priority - exceptional arrangements and evidence must be submitted from consultant doctor for medical cases or documented evidence from any support services involved for other sensitive family circumstances will be required.. As no diagnosis I had no evidence to submit at the time. I also remember talking to the LA after the diagnosis and outcome it was them that said that unless I had a EHCP then it wouldn't help my case regardless of the autism diagnosis. The other priorities were looked after children, third - brothers and sisters, forth - children whom the college is the nearest to their home and finally any other applicant.

prh47bridge Tue 16-May-17 21:03:24

The admission arrangements say that criteria 2 is only available in very limited circumstances. Even with an ASD diagnosis it is not clear you would have got a place. So I suspect the LA was right that an EHCP naming the school was needed in order to get a place due to your son's ASD. So you fell into the "any other applicant" category and missed out on distance.

Given that they give priority to children for whom the school is the nearest to their home it is not unreasonable for the school to point out that they aren't your nearest school, although I still think they shouldn't have named all the other schools.

This is going to come down to whether or not you can persuade the appeal panel that your son needs to go to this school due to his ASD.

ezzmoe1 Tue 16-May-17 21:24:44

Thanks for all your help. Well it's next week so we shall see.

ezzmoe1 Thu 25-May-17 14:28:11

Well I went very prepared. 8 page statement and a ton of attached documents for evidence. We never actually got to the individual hearing as our appeal was upheld during the group process with two other parents. Thank you for all your help we are so happy and our little boy will be on cloud nine. 😊😊😊

prh47bridge Thu 25-May-17 15:09:46

Excellent news. Well done.

PatriciaHolm Thu 25-May-17 16:40:00

Excellent, very pleased for you!

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