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No Secondary School Place Offered - what next?

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Mum52016 Sat 03-Mar-18 16:14:38

No Secondary School Place Offered - what next?

Hi

Firstly apologies for the long post. I feel a bit lost and confused. I have spent most of the last few days online trying find out what our options are or what I should do and feel overwhelmed.

My DS did not get a place at any of the 3 school preferences that we had put forward nor has he been offered any alternatives.

Currently my DC all attend a school in the neighbouring county. For my DS, our first choice was for an oversubscribed academy school in our LA and the second was a faith school in the neighbouring county. The third, also in the neighbouring county, was for a school that he would have fed into.

On Thursday, I didn't receive any emails but I was able to log into the council website to view the offers. On the application it says that they have not been able offer DS a place at this time.

I called up the admissions office Friday morning to clarify and the lady advised that she couldn't see the reasons why we weren't offered a place and I would have to wait for the schools to send written correspondence. I asked about waiting lists and she stated that I would have to respond to the correspondence to be added onto them.

When I questioned that no alternative place had been offered, she was a bit surprised but she advised that I would have to make a new application for any other schools I would like to apply to. There is a school that is within catchment but as it has been oversubscribed, I would be put onto a waiting list for that one, although there were a few others further out that had places available.

I am looking to appeal as our first choice school in our LA would be ideal and my son has his heart set on it, but on its list of 5 criteria, we would fall into the last one.

With our third choice I was extremely surprised he was not offered a place as the school DS attends is a feeder school and would fulfil the second criteria, although it maybe that because we are out of the catchment area, we didn't get a place.

I honestly have not got a clue what I should do. I have a few questions:

What should/could I do now?
At the moment I'm thinking that I should wait until they send out the letters to see what reasons they have for declining a place and then take it from there. But then I think that there is a risk I'm going to miss out on any opportunity.

Would the LA have the waiting lists or would it be the school, how soon are they compiled and when can I find out about where on the list my DS would be?

If I was to make another application, would this precede my original application or affect it in any way?

Why has an alternative not been offered?

From what I've read online, I appreciate that there still time for things to move but as this is all new to me, I'm hoping someone might be able to point me in the right direction.

Thanks in advance

prh47bridge Sat 03-Mar-18 16:43:02

Email the LA setting out your understanding of the conversation. That gets it in writing which could be useful if you need to appeal.

The LA should have come up with an offer for you somewhere. It is worrying that the person you spoke to can't see why you weren't offered a place. The advice she has given does not sound right to me. For a start, you should automatically be on the waiting list for your preferred schools. You shouldn't need to respond to correspondence for that to happen. I wonder if a mistake was made and they haven't processed your application properly.

Don't wait for the letters. They may never come. There should have been a letter from the local authority on 1st March stating which school you were being offered and why you did not get into your higher preferences. The letter would also have set out the mechanism for appealing.

Ring the LA again on Monday and chase for answers. After every conversation send them an email setting out your understanding of the discussion. Don't let them off the hook.

They will eventually come up with an offer. If they don't any appeal should be easy to win. But you need as much evidence as possible that they have messed up (assuming that is what has happened).

If you would like to identify your third choice school (PM me if you don't want to post it publicly) I will take a look and advise whether being out of catchment should have cost your son a place.

Considering your appeal for your first choice school, the fact that you are in the bottom category is irrelevant. The appeal panel don't care about that. You have to show that the disadvantage to your son through not being admitted outweighs the problems the school will face from having to cope with an additional pupil. While there is no offer that is an easy case to win as if he is not admitted your son doesn't have a school at all. However, you have to assume the LA will offer something and look at what this school offers that is particularly relevant to your son.

tiggytape Sat 03-Mar-18 17:21:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

admission Sat 03-Mar-18 21:34:49

My immediate reaction to your post and the response of the admission office is to wonder whether there has been no offer because either there is no received application or the application was late.
As others have said you need to be emailing the admission office asking for the reason that you have not been allocated a place because finding that out starts a train of events to getting a school place and then if necessary appealing for a school that is one of your preferred options.

Astronotus Sun 04-Mar-18 00:46:46

Although it feels like overkill when you are worrying and so stressed about the lack of a school place, I would 100% agree that after every phone call you have with your LA you send a follow up email detailing exactly what was said and the instructions you were given. This may seem over the top, but it really may make a difference if you go to appeal. Try to get the name of the person you speak to each time and even if they give you a central email address, please do email, addressing to the "attention of ... the person you spoke to" at that address.
Good luck.

Mum52016 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:18:24

Hi,

Thank you for your replies and apologies I haven't responded sooner.
I will get the emails done and also am planning on spending some time on the phone on Monday. I have been printing off all sorts of info with regards to the schools that I think I might find useful for appealing. The more I'm going through this, the more I'm learning and things seem to be making a bit more sense.

The application was sent before the deadline and I have confirmation email of when it was submitted. I don't know why they haven't sent me any emails on the day of offer as my email is still the same and hasn't been changed. I've checked my junk folder and there was nothing in there either. On my confirmation email from October it does state that I would receive offers via email.

Mum52016 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:18:58

From what I have been reading online, I agree that that the information that I was given didn't sound right. I am slightly concerned with what you have said prh47bridge in that they may not have processed the application correctly. The reason I say this is that back in early February, I received a call from the LA admissions claiming why had I put through 2 separate applications for DS. I advised them that as far as I am concerned, I had only put through one application via online client portal. I double checked DS details like name and DOB with her and she said that's what they had. I told the lady the 3 preferences I had listed and it seemed that she was noting them down. After that seemed to be clarified, I didn't think any more of it and unfortunately I can't remember the lady's name. When I later checked online through the client portal, there was only one application, so I unsure why she claimed there were 2.

Mum52016 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:20:43

I have kept a note of the lady's name that I spoke to on Friday. I have been going over the LA guide for school admissions and it does say in there that the "child's name will not automatically be placed on the waiting list you must complete and return the waiting list slip by 20th March". As well as this "you can only place your child's name on a waiting list for three schools. Another point is that if I wish to apply to another school, I would have to complete a new application. This would in turn overwrite the original application. If I wanted to keep any of the original preferences then I would have to include these on the new application. However, this would then be treated as a late application! Also if I've applied online, not sure why I would have to return a slip.

With regards to the third school option, I have found that the PAN was 310 and they received 558 application. 211 were offered under feeder criteria, 32 under sibling criteria and 66 on distance criteria. Furthest distance was 2.839 miles from school. I would be about 3.55 miles. In the case of high number of applications from feeder schools, priority is then given to distance from school.

prh47bridge Sun 04-Mar-18 14:34:51

Failing to automatically put children on the waiting list is debatable. I am not convinced the practice of making parents apply separately for the waiting list would withstand legal challenge. I can understand why an LA might want to do this as it avoids people being on the waiting list when they no longer want a place, but it risks people being left off the waiting list.

Regarding your third choice, are those the figures for this year? I wouldn't expect those to be out yet. But if they are and your child attended a feeder school there has clearly been a mistake as they've got down to the distance criteria (i.e. everyone who doesn't go to a feeder and isn't a sibling).

Your post of 14:18 is very interesting. It adds to my suspicions that they have failed to process your application at all. If that is the case they should offer you whichever school you would have been offered if your application had been processed properly. Unfortunately many LAs make parents go to appeal even when there has been a clear mistake. But if they have failed to process an on time application and you should have got a place at the school it should be a straightforward appeal to win.

If you still have access to your application through the online portal get screenshots of it now, along with any evidence that shows you submitted on time.

Mum52016 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:55:23

I have printed off the application that I had submitted online and also the email confirmation.

Yes, those are the figures from this year. I've directly messaged you the school. the statistics are on this link to the council website
www.newcastle.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wwwfileroot/offer_day_stats_0.pdf

admission Sun 04-Mar-18 19:28:29

Looking at the information you have received about the third preference school, there does appear to be an issue. If your child's current school is on the feeder list for the secondary school - you should check what is on their website under parent and then admissions, then 2018-19 admission criteria, then you should have been offered a place given as PRH says they had given places to all feeder school applicants and were working on distance. It could be that for some reason they did not believe you were at a feeder school, in which case they have made a mistake and it should be rectified.
However given your comments about a telephone call in early February I would be much more inclined to believe there has been some kind of mix up - is it possible they had two applications because there were two applications from two different families with the same name? The other explanation is that somehow following the telephone conversation in February you were treated as a late application which would typically be where there is no place allocated on the first round of allocations.
Everything to me points to this and therefore the need to be in touch with the LA admission office straight away, with every conversation being followed up with an email with names on it as to who you spoke to. I cannot emphasise how important it is if this goes to appeal to have every conversation confirmed in writing. Every year I do a number of appeals where parents allege things have gone wrong somehow but usually they have no information in writing to back themselves up, which makes it very difficult for the panel, because the LA always record what they think was said in any telephone conversation and we have to go on the available evidence.

Mum52016 Sun 04-Mar-18 21:40:28

Hi Admission, thank you for your reply.

To be honest, I had also made an application for my DS2 - 8 years old - who has a similar name for Year 5 middle school (same school as DS1's first preference, if that makes sense).

This is the first thing I clarified with her and she said no, she could see that and it was separate. I remember she was quite specific that there were 2 for DS1.

I have written quite a lengthy email just now which I will send off shortly and will call through first thing in the morning.

100 % that the application was submitted on time. On the paper work I have it states that the application was submitted on the 26/10/2017 at 15.23.

Mum52016 Mon 05-Mar-18 17:43:03

Hi,

Just thought I'd give a quick update. I called my LA admissions this morning and spoke to another lady. There's only 2 that work in the office. I again tried to get information about the fact that I haven't had an offer of a place and that I didn't want to put through another application. She confirmed that it was a choice of either a new application which would be treated as a late application or to go on the waiting lists. She told me that as they're not able to take instruction over the phone, I could email her to say that I wanted to go on to the waiting lists and I would be added on. A bit annoyed as I wasn't told this last week.

Also she couldn't give me reasons why no place had been offered. When I mentioned the schools, without looking into the application she did say two of the school are oversubscribed and are quite difficult to get into and could be the reason why we didn't get an offer.

With our third preference she suggested that we get in touch with the neighbouring LA to see if they can shed any light.

I called them up and the advisor confirmed that we have actually been offered our 3rd choice. Apparently there's a few parents in my county that have called through this morning with similar situation. She said that everything has been correctly processed on their part and so must be some mistake on my LA side. She also sent me an email to confirm that we have accepted the offer.

So for now I have accepted our third choice. I have emailed my LA again and advised them that an offer has been made for 3rd choice which we have accepted but that I still want to be added to our first preference. I have also emailed the school and advised them that I would like to go onto the waiting list and they have replied to confirm this has been done.

Mum52016 Mon 05-Mar-18 17:45:03

I also received 3 letters this morning from the my LA. Two separate refusals for preference 2 & 3 and another which contains refusal for 1st and acceptance for 3rd! So clearly a mistake had been made somewhere.

The reason given for the refusal of our first choice is that we were 'lower categories of the oversubscription criteria'

One other thing I've found out is that our first preference school in year 2016 & 2017 they had PAN of 50 but this year they have reduced it down to 36. Would there be any reason why they would do this?

prh47bridge Mon 05-Mar-18 18:22:34

There can be all kinds of reasons for reducing PAN. If other years are over full they may need a year with fewer pupils. They may want to take more sixth form pupils (if they have a sixth form) and reduce the numbers in Y7 to Y11. There may be a need to reduce capacity due to building works. And I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons I can't immediately think of.

I'm glad the situation has been sorted and you do have an offer for your third choice. Your LA's admissions team isn't exactly covering themselves in glory.

Mum52016 Tue 06-Mar-18 13:32:24

Thank you for all your help everyone.

No they're not. There's only two people working in the office and the one I spoke to yesterday had over 160 email to get through!

Back to our first preference school, I have noticed that they will be increasing PAN in both reception and 6th form.

Could reduction in PAN be a point to include in an appeal?

Mum52016 Tue 06-Mar-18 13:35:48

The LA haven't sent me any information on appealing. Should they have done so?

prh47bridge Tue 06-Mar-18 13:56:16

Yes, they should have sent you information about appealing as part of a letter telling you that you've got your third choice and explaining why you didn't get your first and second choices.

The reduction in PAN may be something you can bring up. If they are reducing PAN in order to admit more in the sixth form the panel may not be impressed. I note, however, that you mention reception. Is this a straight through school, i.e. covering Reception right the way through to sixth form?

Mum52016 Tue 06-Mar-18 14:35:22

I think it's a 3 tier school system, first school, middle school and senior school. I've pm'd you the school if you'd like to have a look. I've included a link stating changes to admissions as well. It was on the website that I found the information.

prh47bridge Tue 06-Mar-18 15:03:12

Thanks. I've responded to your PM.

Mum52016 Tue 06-Mar-18 19:42:33

Thanks prh47bridge. I have emailed the school to find out why the PAN was reduced this year and will wait and see what they say.

Thanks

Mum52016 Tue 13-Mar-18 11:42:05

Hi,

As suggested I have sent follow up emails and questions to my LA over a week ago and they have yet to respond. I did speak to them on Wednesday to clarify the situation with my third choice in school and they checked and advised that I have an offer from them which they accepted over the phone. I'm not sure if they've taken that as a resolution to the issue and not bothered to reply to my emails. I appreciate that there could be a legitimate explanation but how would I establish if an error has been made in handling our application as everything at the moment seems circumstantial?

I have also emailed the school a week ago with regards to the PAN and also to check DS position on the waiting list and they haven't responded either.

I am unsure if I should add anything about the reduction in PAN in our appeal letter or to raise this at the appeal meeting instead.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Dontoutmenow Tue 13-Mar-18 11:57:32

Just from reading what you’ve said, it sounds as though many errors have been made!

prh47bridge Tue 13-Mar-18 13:56:32

Keep chasing the LA for a response to your emails.

You don't need absolute proof of an error. The appeal panel should decide on the balance of probabilities. If the LA cannot come up with a clear explanation of what has happened the panel may conclude that there has been a mistake.

I wouldn't put anything about the reduction in PAN in the appeal letter. If the responses you get are helpful you can add it later or bring it up when questioning the school's representative in the hearing.

Tilliemarie Wed 14-Mar-18 14:05:55

Hi I’m in the same position, my son didn’t get any of his schools but a Catholic school in Uxbridge we live in Hammersmith and Fulham area
He is on the waiting list for Gunnersbury 2nd on the list I’m just praying a place comes up for him, they said they will let us know if any places come up at the end of March if not I’m going to have to Home school
It’s all one big headache

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