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Admissions experts help please xx

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Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 18:55:12

Admissions experts please help X

Very complex 6 week long nightmare with school admissions has resulted in catastrophic situation and I am at completely broken by the process.

My 10 year old is under the care of CAmhs and the GP for long term anxiety disorder and mental health which is recognised as a disability.
She is very vulnerable, this unfortunately leaves her open to bullying. In Jan of this yr I was forced to move her schools in year 5 after a 2 year long period of sustained physical and emotional bullying that led to a complete breakdown.
No matter how much I went to school, had meetings, sent emails they just did not support her enough or stop the bullying.

She moved in Jan which although difficult and led to a worsening in her symptoms is a more supportive school with less bullying. 4 weeks ago I did the rounds on school open evenings with my emphasis being on the schools that could best support mental and emotional health.
Met with all the Sen's and one school fitted our need fantastically well with a separate unit for mental and emotional issues, weekly self esteem counselling, weekly anger management and daily support in the unit.
2 other schools were not too far behind so we decided these were the ones we would list.
I was staggered to see that in the previous year the council had introduced s feeder school system. Being a bulge year where the council is currently trying to add ports cabins onto schools as they do not have currently enough places and going off the previous years statistics no schools in our area went further than feeder school criteria.
This is where it started, all schools had between 3/5 feeder schools except for my daughters ( which is the biggest school with a 3x class intake per year) and is in a deprived area, her school had only one choice.
This school does not cater to my child's additional need , the Sen admitted this.
I contacted admissions to ask why we only had one choice ? And to say I felt it disadvantaged children from that school especially against neighbouring schools within a 5 minute walk who had 3 more choices ? And if your child had an additional need how could they access the best provision for them with one choice ??
Also why had a secondary school in the same town added feeders further away and in other towns but not us ? At 1.5 miles away I feel this discriminates.

Admissions advised secondary schools choose their own feeders and they can't control that, but I advised her surely they are administering a system that isn't fair ?
Raised with director of education, same reply nothing could be done. I asked for my daughter to be considered as an exceptional circumstance as she had spent 6 years at the feeder school for 2 of our choices and was there when the criteria was introduced , and had had to move through no fault of her own.
My Councillor and MP also sent a representation - same story no.

I was advised I would have to apply under social and medical need with supporting letters from Camhs and GP.
Took me 2 weeks to get these letters and was now only a week away from submission. Upon registering on the online application I was shocked to see that this criteria meant the school had to be named as the "only " one that could fit the need of my child.

Rang admissions again to say I couldn't make this criteria fit as realistically if she didn't get passed on this criteria which they had already told me was very rare I would only be left with the one school that didn't cater.
She advised it was school specific so I would have to get the letters again with the top school name.
However as I advised my top choice was a community school so if the council considered this eveidence and refused it, my 2 nd choice academy who may view it differently now couldn't as the evidence would have the first school name on.
The criteria of one feeder school choice just does not a fit a child with a disability but no EHCP And I was being shoehorned into a category that wouldn't fit.

I was now left with a week to secure the letters again which isn't easy, also 2 days before when going online I saw they also expected me to fill in a statement for medical and social need and exceptional circumstances for these 3 schools max 3000 words each. This was a huge undertaking. And wasn't mentioned in their booklet- only " select the criteria and send in your letters "

I did this as soon as the last letter came on deadline day, it was very difficult as the Window for the 3000 word document was 3 lines wide.
Upon finishing and print previewing it had wiped off half the document and I couldn't see it. So I had to re do.

This is when the nightmare began, I clicked submit - Error, tried again Error. Re checked everything Error. There were no guidance notes except on the registration email it only stated trying to download MoZilla and google chrome as you had to use the most up to date version of the browser.
I was getting desperate now downloaded both programmes both on my laptop and Ipad - same result.
Regardless of trying on my laptop, phone, iPad nothing. The application form was 15 pages long and I had no idea what the error was and assumed the system
Must be down.

At 23.45 15 minutes before close of submission in a total panic attack I emailed the admissions team telling them I had tried to submit all night and just couldn't , advising all software had been done, different devices tried and I was at a complete loss as to what to do.

I screenshotted the screens of my laptop and iPad as evidence.i felt completely broken and at a loss as to what I could do I felt is tried everything I could .

The following morning the admissions team emailed me to advise they had received submissions until 23.59 and they could see I had been in the application at 4pm so it was working fine.

I sent her the screen shots as proof and she said she'd contact IT but I would now be treated as a late application.
I felt completely and utterly broken and haven't slept since, IT advised they can see I tried over and over to submit it but have sent off to Capita to download data and read it.

I am just completely at rock bottom with this and my daughter is extremely upset. she will now be allocated the worst school. I'm just beside myself I don't know what the error is and I don't know how I could know what the error was to correct on a 15 page 6000 word document with no indication of what was wrong.

I know from last time her school place broke down this year she won't cope again,

I'm so sorry for such a long post just wondered if anybody knows anything else I can do apart from appeal ?? Will my chance at appeal be zero because they will just say you would t have got a place anyway because you didn't apply on time ??

Thanks so much for your time X

GrockleBocs Sun 05-Nov-17 19:04:49

I'm in a similar position with regard to diagnosis of dd and no EHCP plus 0% chance of getting into the school that would suit her. So I was aware that we'd have to try for the compelling grounds. And we may still have to go to appeal.
I think you need to keep in touch with the admissions people and try to get representation from your local councillor to have it considered as submitted within the deadline.
Failing that, start gathering your information early in readiness for an appeal. You can appeal once the allocations are made.

OlennasWimple Sun 05-Nov-17 19:04:53

Can you clarify whether they have accepted your application as submitted on time?

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 19:08:53

Hi thankyou for your reply, no they will not accept as an on time application. Literally heartbroken

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 19:10:41

Thankyou I think it is a big criteria that is being missed, children with a disability but no EHCP they are basically just left with anything. if specifics schools cater to specific disabilities children with adequate proof of those disabilities should have a chance to apply on my opinion.
Good luck with yours xx

Battleax Sun 05-Nov-17 19:14:19

You can only appeal, including all the medical and technical evidence.

But it is REALLY important that you foster a dispassionate, fact-driven, calm approach. Your written appeal mustn't be anything like your post here, which is incredibly dramatic and seems to involve you being perpetually "shocked", "staggered" and "broken".

Stick to showing how your DD meets the written criteria, refer constantly to the admission policies and be as clear as you can about what went wrong on deadline day.

CAMHS support may well help. Good luck.

GrockleBocs Sun 05-Nov-17 19:19:05

Your other option is to go for the EHCP now and hope that you can get an appropriate school named. This overrides the admissions process. It isn't easy though.
You aren't at the end of the road so don't panic too much now. Try your councillor. Appeals are in some ways easier than convincing the admissions panel at this stage I'm led to believe.

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 19:19:27

I will do thankyou, I am usually like that but the past 4 weeks have been a terrible time and we have had a terrible time in our personal life recently , I am
A single parent with 2 jobs, epilepsy, going through 2 court cases and supporting my daughter with many many upsetting appointments. the last Couple of week I feel as if I'm having a meltdown which does come across in the post maybe I should amend sorry.

OlennasWimple Sun 05-Nov-17 19:20:47

Vent away here, but keep the official paperwork calm and collected

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 19:21:02

Thankyou for your reply, I don't think we'll reach the threshold for EHCP
My daughter is starting CBT this week it will be judged as we go along I think.

Battleax Sun 05-Nov-17 19:23:27

As long as you do a calm appeal, it doesn't matter how stressed you sound here smile

prh47bridge Sun 05-Nov-17 19:42:37

The LA has no say in which schools are named as feeders by academies. They can object to the admission arrangements proposed by academies but the deadline for that has long since passed. The LA only controls the admission criteria for community schools.

If the LA's IT department can see that you repeatedly tried to submit your application and can't identify anything you did wrong (e.g. failing to complete a compulsory field) the admissions team is being incredibly stupid treating you as a late applicant. If you have anything from the IT department in writing (email will do) make sure you keep it. If you don't, email them confirming what the IT department said. That, along with your screenshots, will give you evidence for your appeal.

At this stage I would contact the head of admissions and make the case that, given IT can see you repeatedly tried to submit your application and cannot identify anything you did wrong, the LA should treat you as an on time applicant since it is clearly not your fault that your application missed the deadline. Do everything in writing and keep everything. You may need it as evidence.

Assuming an appeal will be necessary, you will have a very good case if you can show that the allocated school does not cater for your daughter's disability. It will help if you can get this in writing from the SENCO - the simple way to do this is to email them and ask them to confirm that the school cannot cater for your daughter. If you can't get that in writing you may have more difficulty as, in theory, all schools can cope with disabilities. But you can still show that your preferred school has specific provision for your daughter's problems and would therefore be better for her than a school which does not.

I hope an appeal won't be necessary. If it is, please post about it on Mumsnet. I will be more than happy to provide any assistance I can.

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 20:00:59

Thankyou for your expert advice I very much appreciate it. When I rang the Academy they advised they had no feeder schools but have bought in to the LA to administrate their admissions for this year as they are newly an academy.
I raised this with admissions saying can I put them as a choice as they have told me they don't have feeders, admissions ( on email) advised me the academy was wrong and she would be speaking to them as they are giving the wrong advise out. Upon looking the academy does list feeder on their criteria ( however I think they have just copied last years criteria in to this years.
With regards to IT , admission have asked them to apply to Capita who own the sytems to download all the date, and if I had made a mistake anywhere I will not be processed. I had clicked all mandatory boxes I know this as on one try I missed off the click to accept terms and conditions and it told me to rectify it. However when I got the error all areas were filled in and no info as to what the error could be.
There were many subjective questions such as " do you believe it's in your catchment area " " do you believe it's easy for your child to travel to school to " " do you believe it to be a feeder " etc and for some I didn't what to put as we don't have catchments etc.

Kirt79 Sun 05-Nov-17 20:06:04

Ps also re the last part of your message I already had an email from the Senco at this school telling me it wasn't something they currently catered to but we will now not get allocated that original 1 feeder as she will not be allocated in the first round so that will be full.
There is only ever one school in our LA that is undersubscribed as it is in special measures and dire it is the only school left every year with places so we will be allocated that. This is also Catholic which we did not want either.
I feel I have done everything possible a 15 page form, 29 pages of evidence having to get 2 letters from Camhs and GP and we would have had to do this if she had more than one feeder choice.
Thanks again

tiggytape Sun 05-Nov-17 23:52:18

I think the feeder school issue, whilst annoying isn't something you can do anything about - LAs cannot and does not ensure fairness regarding feeder school systems (except to ensure they comply with the admissions code eg they must specifically name the schools in question etc).
Some schools use feeder schools, some schools don't. Some schools have lots of choices, some schools aren't named as a feeder to any secondary at all. There is no overall body that monitors the bigger picture and evens it all out - each school if it's own admission authority is free to choose. The LA merely follows the criteria each school chooses when coordinating allocations.

In your case also, you have the Medical and Social category which, with the evidence you provide, will hopefully side-step the feeder / non feeder school concerns (where Medical and Social criteria trumps feeder school criteria).

I agree with prh totally - the I.T thing is ridiculous and I bet most of the submissions they successfully received at 23:59 did not have medical documents attached. "Other people managed to submit on time" is not proof that the I.T system didn't fail for you. Use your screen shots to ask in writing for the LA to confirm that they will treat your application as being on time. If they really won't budge, save all emails and replies for an appeal but having it all in writing now is important in case the LA present a different version at appeal.

Worst case scenario: you are allocated a school which cannot meet your daughter's needs or is not in her best interests to attend, you go to appeal with your medical evidence and win hopefully an appeal for at least one of the 3 schools you like if not all of them.

You talk of schools being full but for Year 7 this isn't the massive obstacle that it is for reception. Many people win similar appeals every single year and whilst it isn't ideal, I hope it does offer some reassurance that this definitely isn't the end of the line should your worst case scenario play out (but again hopefully treated on time and with medical evidence it won't come to that).

RockinHippy Mon 06-Nov-17 01:04:04

Hi, I’ve been in a very similar situation to yours & thanks to PR8, Tiggytape, chair & others, I went to appeal, lost the appeal on irregularities, made an ombudsman complaint about irregularities & mistakes made at the appeal, which was upheld & our LEA were told to offer DD a place at our chosen school & they completely ignored that & intended to put us through a second appeal before giving DD her school place.

Along the way, someone suggested that I also make a “medical needs” school application. Which meant my writing to the local Community Paediatrician & explains DDs medical needs, with evidence & outlining why she needs to go to our chosen school & no other, use everything from distance, friendships, bullying, schools ability to provide the care your DD needs, quality of pastoral care etc etc. After giving the letter a week to go through the system, I then contacted out local councillor for help. DD had her school place the same day smile

RockinHippy Mon 06-Nov-17 01:07:30

That sounds wrong, thanks to help from prh etc

I should add, it’s very rare for an LEA to ignore an ombudsman ruling, so if you do go to appeal, don’t worry about that, but from our experience, going the medical needs route will be potentially quicker. You have a good case too

Kirt79 Mon 06-Nov-17 03:01:37

Thankyou all of you for your messages as I'm alone with no support and feeling completely overwhelmed it's very helpful.
IT have confirmed I continually tried to submit my application and they didn't know why it errored. The admissions team have pushed it further asking for all the data to be downloaded and read by Capita ( whose system it is) she advised that she is awaiting that and if I've made a mistake anywhere it won't be accepted as it currently isn't.
I had already sent my screenshots showing the time on phone and screen that evening, and emailed at 23.45.
Thankyou for your appeals advice ladies I don't know what a medical application is ?? But I have letters from my Camhs practitioner /( manager of the team ) and my GP stating conditions, symptoms, that my daughter is vulnerable and will need the consistent support that the school unit for emotionally vulnerable children offers, and that in their opinion the school best fits her need. It names school. I can also get further letters if need be they are very supportive.
If all else fails I wonder if I could remover her for 8 weeks home schooling and re introduce under fair access ??

RockinHippy Mon 06-Nov-17 06:39:24

Hi Kirt

This link explains what a Community Paediatrician is, it also lists the lead one for various areas, though I’m not sure how up to date it is, it should be a starting point for you at least...
https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/training-examinations-professional-development/postgraduate-training/sub-specialty-training/communit

I wrote to our local one & asked for their help in getting DD a place at our chosen school because of her medical needs. A lot of what I wrote in that letter & provided as evidence, I also used for our appeal, as the bulk of our appeal was based on medical need. Our situation arose due to a computer error too, though I had inside knowledge that this was because checks hadn’t been done for MAC compatibility ahead of that years admissions going live. Which I believe is probably why they dug their heels in so much & we lost an appeal we should have won, I initially asked for our MPs help on the advice of a friend who falls under an excellent MP & had the same problem, MP sorted it out for her, our MP made things worse.

& yes, you can remove your DD from school & homeschool until you get her in, simply turn down the unsuitable school offered & say it’s not a suitable offer as it doesn’t take into account your DCs “medical needs” which applies to mental health too. We did this for similar reasons to yourself, especially given that the school DD was offered was the worst local school & had a very bad reputation for bullying. So there was no way in hell I would send her there after all she had been through already.

You could try asking for your local councillors help now too, local policy is there role, so they might be able to help over the computer glitch & your LEA not accepting your application through no fault of your own. Good luck

RockinHippy Mon 06-Nov-17 06:50:13

I should have clarified. If you look in your chosen schools website for admissions criteria, you will see a priority list of entry criteria showing who gets priority. This is usually, “looked after children” “Medical Need” Siblings etc, religion for a faith school. Medical Need will get you higher up the list, usually top

Stressyseller Mon 06-Nov-17 06:56:37

Hi op I just wanted to post to say I'm sorry you are going through this - it sounds very hard indeed.

I also want to say that despite the difficulties you are facing it sounds as though you are being a wonderful advocate for your dd flowers

BlueberryIce Mon 06-Nov-17 07:13:48

flowers
That sounds utterly shitty OP. the system is unbelievably frustrating!!

Prh & Tiggytape are the admissions gurus on MN, they really know what they’re talking about.

I’d echo everything they and other posters have said really. Especially about getting written proof from the IT team.

I also think an EHCP could end up being something you need to try to get.

Best wishes, I can see you’ve got such a lot on your plate right now!

Kirt79 Mon 06-Nov-17 09:28:19

Thanks so much for all your kid words ladies. I will look into the peadeatrician info we have had a cons one at the Hosp, the social criteria is indeed number 2 on all criterias but this won't count as a late applicant after everybody has been admitted apart from for the waiting list. I don't hold out much hope if your case was turned down at appeal with a known glitch on Mac . Another thing I think is unreasonable I've looked at many many authorities admissions and Nearly all say
" late applicants will need a good reason why it's late to be considered "

RockinHippy Mon 06-Nov-17 10:00:37

Kirk gaining a medical needs place via the CP route will be completely separate from any appeal & you can do this alongside any appeal or waiting for them to sort out your online application cock up. At the time I approached the CP for help, DD did not have any suitable school offer, no school at all, so don’t let that put you off.

As for what happened to us, honestly even Prh/Tiggy etc were shocked at how our LEA behaved in response to the ombudsman upholding my complaint against them. We lost the appeal due to irregularities & mistakes on their part, for example I was quizzed as to why I had refused to accept the offered school, as opposed to my presenting my case FOR our chosen school, plus they messed up copies of my evidence, making it very hard to follow. I believe they dug their heels in over the computer glitch, as unfortunately, without meaning to, I had flagged up their slackness over computer checks ahead of going live. I found out later they had already been in trouble for this as others had the same problem in other years. Plus my MP kindly forwarded on my complaint letter flagging this to the people I was complaining about, which really helped - not😏
So please don’t let my experience put you off, you have a strong case & your DD clearly needs your chosen school. Plus my outcome never happens, I was just very unlucky to pee off the wrong people under an LA that can be a bit of a law unto themselves at times. YOU WILL WIN THIS for you DD 👍🏼

I’m sorry for the stress you are going through though, I think it nearly finished me off as it’s all just so unfair & a huge learning curve to get your head around, whilst having time constraints on your fight. You have great advice here from some of the same people who helped me too, I got there, so will you. FTR The fight was more than worth it, as DDs school have been an absolute godsend & more than deserve their fantastic reputation.

Also as a side note, have you thought of contacting MIND for help too, they can offer an advocate to speak in your DDs behalf, we were advised & did this over problems with our hospital, but basically they will do this in any situation needed

PanelChair Mon 06-Nov-17 10:28:30

I won't repeat what prh and tiggy have already said.

It sounds to me as if there's also some confusion (perhaps because of misleading advice given to you) between applications made with an EHCP (what used to be a statement) and on medical-social needs.

With an EHCP/statement application, where the preferred school is named on the statement, this in effect bypasses the main admission process, as the child is given a place in the school (it's unlawful not to).

Med-soc applications, though, are part of the main admissions round. You need to present evidence from health care professionals that, in their professional opinion, the preferred school is the one best able to meet your child's needs. Not all schools, though, have a med-soc category in their oversubscription criteria; does this one?

I too hope the LEA will accept that your application should be treated as on time, but you need to clarify whether there is a med-soc category for the school and whether your application will be considered within it. (That usually means referring your application to a panel made up of relevant professionals).

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