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High school appeals help please

(29 Posts)
Samara1188 Sun 04-Mar-18 14:46:19

Desperate for help

My son was refused all theee preferences and was given a school that I would never consider for him due to the bad reputation and poor performance. Not one parent I know from his current school has chosen this school for their child.

My first choice was a sports academy that is the nearest school as the crow flies to my nearest address. As an academy it is not based on distance from home to school but has centrepoints in each surrounding town and is calculated on distance from these points. The academy or LEA does not provide information on how near you needs to live to these centrepoints. I assume not being offered a place was not we are not in the catchment area although the school is our nearest from home.

The academy is a sports academy and admit the top 20 from sports aptitude which my son came 27th in 😢. My son is a sports enthusiastic and is a confident sports player in all sporting activities and lives and breaths sports. At the moment he requires extra support at school for his academic subjects in English and mathematics. As he struggles with these subjects he has low confidence levels but is like a different child when involved in sports and his confidence increases.
Another reason I picked The academy was because they use year 7 catch up funding which has been proven to work effectively to provide additional support such as one to one support for pupils and group work to ensure that eligible students acquire the literacy and numeracy skills required to be successful, because of this the gap between these students and other students are narrowing. The school my child has been given a place in has been reported that lower and middle attaining students are not progressing as well as they could and that teaching activities were for the most able students.

Another reason why I applied for the academy is the little support we have around us. As a single mum and working full time long unsociable hours in the NHS I depend on those closest to me to help out with childcare. I only have one close friend who can help me with my son, her daughter currently goes to the academy and her son was accepted as he came in the top 10 sports test. At the moment she takes my son to school at least 2-3times a week as I start work at 0645. I drop my son to her house before work and she takes him to school with her son and picks him up for me as I don't finish till 1915hrs. She has already agreed that she would continue to do the same if they go on to attend the same school as she can take them before she goes to work. I know schools expect children to commute to school but I can not leave my son at home alone whilst I'm at work to go school in the morning. For my son to commute to the school they have placed him in from my friends address would mean him crossing over two busy double roads where accidents are rife. As one of the youngest in his year group I know my son is not capable of commuting to school on his own, we all know our kids and know what they are and not capable of and he is quite young minded for his age.

Lastly we are in the process of buying a new house although contracts won't be exchanged till June/July as still being built. From this new address the school they have given us is 4.6 miles by car and 1 and half hours walk away. From observations in the area we are moving to I see many of the school kids attend the sports academy as one of the centroid points is close by, I have not seen any kids in the area that go to he school they have put my son in. Moving to a new area is already nerve racking for us both and going to a school that is nearly 5 miles away and where none of the local kids go to is unfair.

I'm desperate for anyone's help and any input please, last year the academy had over 100 appeals and none were won. Do I have grounds to appeal, im struggling to concentrate at work, eat or sleep as I'm so stressed with the thoughts of sending my son to the chosen school.
Thanks xx

OP’s posts: |
HolyShet Sun 04-Mar-18 15:01:18

The admissions experts will be along to help - they are brilliant.
They will tell you that an appeal has to be based on the school's fit for your son rather than the negatives of the other - but on sport and supporting those who need to catch up it sounds like you could make a case.

But, for now, take heart. First get his name on waiting lists for all 3 schools on your preferred list. You can ring up and find out where they are on that waiting list.
You can also ask about the locations and distances from the centre points you mention.

When you move you may jump up the waiting list

Also the thing about the commute - I know it seems less than ideal but it is amazing how much they change at this age, how much more confident and capable they become. I have seen it with my son and with DD now.

Middleoftheroad Sun 04-Mar-18 15:59:44

Let me recommend @prh47bridge @admissions @patriciaholm @panelchair @Tiggytape
and all the other experts who will help.

PatriciaHolm Sun 04-Mar-18 17:29:35

Hi there.

Firstly; you should have/will get a letter saying why you didn't get a place; it will say something like "furthest distance admitted from node A was 850 metres, you live 900 metres". Check this is correct - did they use the correct address?

Assuming yes and no mistake was made, an appeal will hinge on showing that the detriment to him of not attending the school is higher than the detriment to the school of taking another pupil. You have a lot of points that speak to that - that it is a sports academy and he is a gifted sportsman, that they are effective in supporting children that need it in year 7 (what is your evidence for this?).

The commuting/childcare points can be raised but will provide only a little support in reality, as it is expected that a year 7 should be able to get themselves to and from school unless there are significant special needs, and childcare is not a concern for the appeals panel.

The final point is that as soon as you have exchanged, make sure the schools you are on waiting lists for update their addresses for you to ensure you are placed in the right spot.

PanelChair Sun 04-Mar-18 18:08:32

Hi. Another one answering rhe Batphone.

As Patricia says, you first need to clarify how the nodal system operates and check that they have correctly measured your distance from the relevant node. As Patricia also says, your logistical difficulties as a working parent won't cut much ice at appeal, because Y7 children are expected (in nearly every case) to be capable of getting themselves to and from school. You do, though, have some weighter arguments to use around his need for additional support (especially if you can show that the allocated school cannot match the provision) and around his interest in and aptitude for sport.

admission Sun 04-Mar-18 19:03:03

Not much else that i can add to Panelchair and PatriciaHolmes, other than to reinforce that issues around getting to the school and childcare will have no influence on the panel. You need to be concentrating on why the school you want is the only school for your son and this is going to revolve around sports but do look for anything else that is appropriate.
As far as the year 7 catchup funding is concerned, the preferred school may well be doing a much better job than the school you have been allocated but it is about the school you want, so do not talk about the other school talk about how successful the preferred school has been and show the panel the results if you have any data.
I do have to say that all schools should be using the catchup funding effectively and I am sure that is what the presenting officer for the admission authority will say but we all know that some schools are better than others. When it does come up at appeal, ask the presenting officer whether he can give any examples locally where the results are as good as you preferred school, bet they can't off the top of their heads.

prh47bridge Sun 04-Mar-18 19:54:25

Also answering the batphone only to find that you've already been given lots of good advice. The sports angle and the Y7 catchup are definitely your strongest points, especially if you can give data that shows how effective your preferred school is on Y7 catchup, so concentrate on those. You can talk about the commuting and childcare issues if you want but don't spend too much time on them as they are very unlikely to win your appeal. Make sure that the vast majority of your appeal is about the strong points of your case.

tiggytape Sun 04-Mar-18 23:03:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Samara1188 Mon 05-Mar-18 00:24:24

Thank you all for your messages and advice, it states in the Ofsted report that the academy is effective in supporting children in year 7, also when I attended the open day they told me how effective the support is for students below their academic age. I also read the catch up programme document/policy on the academy website that states that those that participated in catch up for numeracy 100% students progressed and increased their functional numeracy.

In regards to contacting the school for information, I'm not sure what I'm asking for, thoughts I had was to ask:

1) how many students in each year group are currently attending the academy.
2) how many students have been accepted into year 7 over the past 5years.
3)if they have admitted extra children in the past and if so is there evidence that this has had an impact on the school.

I'm definitely no professional as you can see. Thanks again for your help and advice.

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Mon 05-Mar-18 07:52:29

Those are good questions. Do this by email.

Also ask them to confirm what they told you at the open day about the catch-up; for brevity and clarity, you could set out what they told you about what they can offer your son with an “is that so?” at the end. You then have a statement to show the panel.

Samara1188 Tue 06-Mar-18 10:09:01

Im going to send my appeal letter next week, how much information do I provide in the letter that has to be sent in by the end of march as its going to take me a lot longer to write my appeal in full.
Thanks in advance

OP’s posts: |
Samara1188 Tue 06-Mar-18 10:09:37

Thank you for your reply@PanelChair

OP’s posts: |
tiggytape Tue 06-Mar-18 10:47:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Samara1188 Tue 06-Mar-18 11:46:45

Thank you @tiggytape

So I assume all my reasons such as sporting aptitude, catch up and the other reasons I listed should be on this letter detailed in full by end of march.

The pressures on sooner than I thought 😢

OP’s posts: |
tiggytape Tue 06-Mar-18 11:56:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PatriciaHolm Tue 06-Mar-18 15:08:02

A couple of things on that deadline - yes, get as much in as you can, but don't panic if something hasn't been completed/received - you can submit evidence later, as long as it's received in good time for the actual appeal (ideally a good week before).

Also - don't write pages and pages. Your appeal is a fairly standard one, and it won't be helped by you writing multiple pages on how fab your son is. Focus on your key points and on backing them up with evidence.

prh47bridge Tue 06-Mar-18 15:27:45

Agree with PatriciaHolm. When helping parents prepare appeals I see far too many statements that have pages and pages of irrelevant stuff. Often the parents have thrown the kitchen sink at it, including so many trivial points that it is hard to pick out the strong points. It is vital to keep the statement focussed on the key points so that it is easy for the appeal panel to understand your case. Remember also that the appeal panel will have lots of statements to read. They won't thank you if your statement is as long as War and Peace!

PanelChair Tue 06-Mar-18 16:57:10

Another one agreeing with Patricia and Prh about deadlines and about relevance. Don’t waste space (or try the panel’s patience) with an essay about your child’s undoubted virtues; focus on key points about why they need this school.

gussyfinknottle Tue 06-Mar-18 17:07:29

Really handy advice. I actually like the school we have but my dd doesn't. I have lodged an appeal and want to give it my best shot but am likely to lose.

Tymy Wed 07-Mar-18 07:05:30

Hi i applied for 5 schools for my daughter. She wasn't offered any of them. But has been allocated a school I am not happy with due it being in a rough area and has a history of under achieveing. My daughter is left distraught due to not getting one of her choices. I do want to appeal but how can i make a strong case. She has no medical needs. However she is a timid and quiet child and finds it hard to make friends. She didn't get her prefered schools as they were over subscribed. She has been placed on the waiting lists for the preferred schools.
Would it be possible to re submit an application to apply for other schools as I have been told by the LA i cannot as I didn't put them as a preference and they to are over subscribed and can only apply for schools that have places. Please advise thankyou

gussyfinknottle Wed 07-Mar-18 07:14:20

I think (and more knowledgeable people are on here) you have to make a case as to why a school is the best fit for your child. What does the school offer, that kind of thing. That isn't offered at the other school.

PanelChair Wed 07-Mar-18 08:05:56

Gussy is right about how to construct an appeal, but nothing you have mentioned so far sounds likely to win you the appeal. When you applied, did you include one school (usually your catchment school) that you could be fairly sure of getting into?

gussyfinknottle Wed 07-Mar-18 08:20:59

I'm pretty happy with our second preference school but dd wants to appeal for our first preference. My only real argument is that I have chronic debilitating illness (was diagnosed 8 years ago) and our family needs support from my in laws who live in the catchment area. I work ; I'm pretty able bodied right now but, intermittently, it can floor me and, as a consequence, adversely affect her learning experience when neither I nor my dh (who's helping me) can give proper support to my dd. My in laws can.
I personally don't think that's enough of an argument. But it's all I've got. The schools are pretty similar in what they offer students.

Bekabeech Wed 07-Mar-18 09:48:23

Gussy - you say the schools are "pretty similar" but what are their differences?
Why does your DD prefer one?
And yes after school clubs, the odd different subject, different start/end times, different sports etc. Can all be valid grounds in an appeal.

gussyfinknottle Wed 07-Mar-18 10:02:12

She prefers it because she is the only girl from her class down for the one she has got. A couple of girls from her class got into the one she wants for sibling/catchment area reasons. Most girls (including best friend) have got to a third slightly less (only slightly less) well regarded school. She isn't angling for the third school.Her reasons are not, in my view let alone the Council 's, good enough. We are 300 metres out of catchment area.
I am looking at both schools' websites to see if there is an extra-curricular activity she likes to boost her case. To be honest, the allocated school has more to suit. Both specialise in Maths and computing - which she does well.
My real appeal is to her, to be honest.

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