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Oversubscription Secondary Appeals - admitting over PAN

(31 Posts)
Shattered04 Wed 07-Mar-18 10:07:24

As mentioned elsewhere, DD missed out by 64m (on a nearly six mile distance) to get into her chosen school. We are going to appeal*

We have solid reasons for wanting her there rather than our local comprehensive. She has ASD, and her best friend got in and she didn't, and she has social difficulties, plus the SEN provision is far better. We also have some sound, convincing academic reasons for things this school offers that our local doesn't that DD is talented in, so I'm hoping we have a decent case based on that.

However, from looking through the history back until 2015, the school has never admitted over PAN. And for appeals in our situation in that county, only 13% were successful last year.

What kind of counters can I use if the PAN has not been exceeded historically? Do we even have a chance?

Thank you!!

*whilst hoping against hope we get a waiting list place, but there was no change in the distance last year

OP’s posts: |
Rewn7 Wed 07-Mar-18 12:15:35

I know an expert will be along shortly but speaking of our own experience...

DD’s school took 20 over PAN at appeal this year. Obviously they’ve set a precedent there but going forward they must be sure they can accommodate those levels.

Rewn7 Wed 07-Mar-18 12:16:30

Meant to add, they had never taken that many before. A sudden first for them.

PatriciaHolm Wed 07-Mar-18 12:32:12

When you say "local comprehensive", do you mean that the school you want her to go to is a Grammar? In which case your case may be slightly different.

If not, then you are trying to make a case that the detriment to her of not attending is greater than the detriment to the school of taking another child. So, as you say, you are looking at things that make this school ideal for her - so subject it offers she excels in that she cannot get at the school she has been allocated, extra cirrculars.

A letter from a medical professional saying that her ASD means that she needs the support of good friends etc. will carry weight - you just saying it won't. Similarly, you need evidence of the SEN support she needs and that the school can provide it (the default assumption is that all schools can support children with ASD, and/or SEN). Everything needs evidence, not just your opinion.

The school's case will probably run along the lines that it is set up for this PAN, classrooms are designed for 30 per tutor group, they only have 30 computers in the IT suite, etc etc. Not taking over PAN means it's harder to prove that one more wouldn't cause issues as you can't call on precedent (ie. "you took extra last year and there haven't been any accidents etc), but you can look at room sizes, typical class sizes for GCSE etc.

PatriciaHolm Wed 07-Mar-18 12:33:39

"Obviously they’ve set a precedent there but going forward they must be sure they can accommodate those levels." - well, the appeals Panel thought they could anyway! Unless the school rolled over and basically didn't present a case, which is possible - more students = more money, so it occasionally happens....

Shattered04 Wed 07-Mar-18 13:05:52

Thank you both! Much appreciated.

Yes, it's a Grammar (academy - are they all?) - we're just over the border in a non-Grammar county, so it is Grammar v Comp.

DD's ASD is so recently diagnosed (but long suspected.. it just took this long to get the diagnosis of course) that we haven't even got the report yet. I have spoken to the assessment centre and they've put a note for the doctor asking them to elaborate more on her social needs at secondary, given our situation. They did talk in some detail with me during the feedback that they really felt she would be much better suited to a Grammar (and why - more structure, calmer, her abilities etc) and how important it was that she stayed with her best friend so she could have a solid base on which to reach out socially, so I'm hopeful they'll be able to put something in writing to that effect.

The Ofsteds for both schools suggest the SEN provision is superior at the Grammar, and lacking, especially in an academic sense, at the Comprehensive. There is also a very good bullying policy which is effective (according to children we know at the school) at the Grammar, but the Ofsted for the Comprehensive has several references to less than ideal behaviour. Her ASD makes her more vulnerable to bullying and even if she is never bullied, knowing the policy is effective will really help her confidence. These are all things I will be pulling out of course!

The Progress 8 scores for high attainers are drastically different, and hardly anyone does triple Science versus everyone at her preferred school, and they also on average do one extra GCSE. There is also no way she can do a foreign language and computer science at her allocated school for GCSE, and these are both a huge deal to her based on interest and talent. Same for extra curricular clubs - like many children with ASD, computers are her "thing" and there are no clubs I could see on the website for her allocated school - I will have to confirm this though. There are five clubs at her preferred school.

That's exactly what worries me - that they will say everything is set up for 30. I wouldn't blame them either! They have historically been undersubscribed until 3-4 years ago, so it's unlikely they'd be over PAN back then, nor expect to be.

The room sizes is a good idea, I'll look into that.

Even though I know it is extremely unlikely, is there any chance at all they could be wrong with the distance, e.g. used the wrong gate or whatever? How could I check it? (it's straight line) It's such a tiny amount it has to be worth a look over.

OP’s posts: |
Tinseltower Wed 07-Mar-18 13:11:06

Where are you on the waiting list? I imagine very close to the top with that distance. There will be movement between now and September so hopefully she’ll get a place from the waiting list.

Have a think about the environment of the two schools eg natural light, narrow or wider corridors that could affect her too.

Rewn7 Wed 07-Mar-18 13:13:33

Good point PatriciaHolm. As far as I know (from a parent who successfully appealed) the school put up no defence and she said the headmaster advised the appeal panel to approve/admit them.

This could of course be a twist to the truth but I also think that perhaps, since the school has revised their admission policy now for 2018 to include feeder schools, it was a way to allow a future higher PAN a year early and to fill in the gaps between the old and new admission policy. I could be wrong of course but it is an academy and they have seemed keen to promote (almost brag about) the higher intake at parent events.

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar Wed 07-Mar-18 13:14:25

Grammar schools don't usually have distance as their first criteria, do they? Did she pass the test?

Buxbaum Wed 07-Mar-18 13:28:29

If they've been undersubscribed in recent years then they might be willing to take her to secure the additional funding.

I assume she passed the entrance test? Do you know her mark?

Shattered04 Wed 07-Mar-18 14:23:16

Thanks all!

We haven't been told where we are on the waiting list - it's not their policy to until after the second round of allocations (which will also include late applications and those who have moved into the area after the cut off)

She did qualify, yep - with a very decent non-tutored score as well. Grammar schools aren't for everybody, especially if you live in a non-Grammar county like we do, but she is so academic and it is just a short, direct bus ride away (no others are in easy reach). The maximum distance has shrunk very drastically in recent years - until this year, several children each year from her school would get in. So when we moved to the area some years before that, we had always planned on sending her there, and she was desperate to go, as the school suited her perfectly.

In catchment children come first (past the usual higher ruled children) followed by social and medical, then it's just plain distance. As social and medical is the rule above us, there's no advantage to using her recent ASD diagnosis for that as it's unlikely to make any difference to our waiting list position.

Tinseltower - good point about the corridors, lighting etc. I'll look into that.

Buxbaum - I think the last possibly undersubscribed year (not by much) would be this year's Y11, so they're probably at their published capacity now.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Wed 07-Mar-18 18:14:51

I wouldn't say too much about the Ofsted report but you can bring up the superior SEN provision. Ideally you should explain how the SEN provision at this school is better than the allocated school without referring to the Ofsted report. Similarly the stuff about bullying - specific examples are better than pointing to Ofsted.

I would keep away from Progress 8 scores. That sounds too much like saying "my daughter needs a good school". Everyone knows that's what you want but it isn't a reason for the panel to award a place and it can make them less likely to give you the benefit of any doubt.

The subjects on offer is definitely something you can use, as is the extra curricular clubs.

It is very difficult to check the distance. That should have been measured using a system that is very accurate. However, you could ask for a map showing where the address was measured from and to.

I would make sure the school and local authority are aware of your daughter's ASD diagnosis. As things stand, people who live out of catchment but closer to the school than you and applied late will be ahead of you on the waiting list. New applicants living nearer than you will also go ahead of you on the waiting list. If you can get her accepted under the social and medical criteria it is likely that she would be ahead of anyone else out of catchment.

Oh and no, academies are not all grammar schools. Most of them aren't.

Shattered04 Wed 07-Mar-18 22:22:56

Thank you very much - that is really good advice and much appreciated.

It has been suggested that I get in touch with the SENCo at the preferred school and ask what provisions they could make for her, given we'd hopefully be near the top of the waiting list. Do you think this is a sensible thing to do, or inappropriate?

Unfortunately the stuff I have about bullying is effectively third hand - the best example is from a student there who heard about it, who told my daughter, who told me. I don't even know the student's full name as I have only seen her at passing at the club pickup they both attend. Does that make it inadmissible? But then I'd also feel kind of bad naming a student who probably had no idea her quote could be used in this way.

That's a few experienced people now who have warned me off the Progress 8 stuff - it seems paradoxical on the surface but once explained, it does make sense why I should just leave it.

I assume I would ask the council for the map, is this correct?

Hmm, that's a very good point about people out of catchment moving to the area. I had only considered people closer in than our tiny distance but of course that only applies in the first round - now it is everybody between us and the catchment area too. However, I don't fancy our chances of getting in on social and medical criteria, as I have heard they are very strict. And the deadline is 15th March, and we won't have our ASD report by then probably. That said, nothing ventured - and if the report does show up on time (I have already rung them to explain our situation) then it might be worth a shot.

Thank you again!

OP’s posts: |
Witchend Wed 07-Mar-18 22:35:24

DD’s school took 20 over PAN at appeal this year. Obviously they’ve set a precedent there but going forward they must be sure they can accommodate those levels.
Don't assume that a precedent has been set.
Ds' school the head appeared at the appeals for his year and said the school could accommodate all children at the appeal (3 per class) for that year so all appeals were upheld, and they have large classes in his year.
They've fought every other year before and after and very few appeals get through, even now in his year most subsequent appeals have been fought and lost despite they are down a fair number from where they started.

Rewn7 Wed 07-Mar-18 22:44:48

That’s really interesting Witchend. After reading your post I checked and indeed they haven’t raised the PAN for 2018 so DD’s year will (apart from any successful appeals) have 20 more children than the year below. The year above only allowed 4 appeals only so quite a difference.

I’ll keep an ear out for how appeals go this year (purely for my own curiosity). I wonder if like yours, they admitted all the appeals as a one off for reasons unknown and will go back to fighting them again for 2018?

prh47bridge Thu 08-Mar-18 00:10:06

My view is that getting in touch with the Senco at the preferred school is fine.

If the information you've got about bullying is third hand it won't carry very much weight. You shouldn't name the source if you use it - the name won't mean anything to the panel anyway. But it would be better if you could come up with other evidence that the preferred school takes a more proactive approach to dealing with bullying.

Yes, you can ask the council for a map.

Witchend Thu 08-Mar-18 08:20:49

Rewn7 the reason actually is very obvious, which I won't go into on here. It was good in that some of my friends got places which they wouldn't otherwise have got, so I was pleased for them. But the actual reason is so obvious I'm astounded he got away with it.

Shattered04 Thu 08-Mar-18 10:52:19

Thanks ph47bridge - I'll do that then.

I did actually speak to a parent today who has a son at the school in Y7. He was bullied in his first term, but she told me that they reacted very quickly and it was sorted very well. Is that more admissible, do you think? She's a good friend (DD2 is in the same class as her DD) so I think she would be willing to help.

How else could I get evidence? There's plenty in the Ofsted, and I could ask the SENCo, but is there anything else?

Thank you!!

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Thu 08-Mar-18 10:57:30

Anything you have on bullying is admissible, it is just a question of how much weight the panel will give it. This is an area where you could, potentially, use information in the Ofsted report if there is anything relevant. It is also worth checking to see if either school has published policies on bullying. If your preferred school has an anti-bullying policy and the allocated school doesn't that is clear evidence that your preferred school takes it more seriously. If the allocated school claims that it doesn't have a bullying problem you can use that and argue that all schools have a bullying problem but some are in denial about it.

Shattered04 Thu 08-Mar-18 11:09:32

Thank you! I could probably ask a few other parents as well if needs be. I'm going to look deeper into the anti-bullying policies of both now.

OP’s posts: |
Shattered04 Thu 08-Mar-18 11:18:15

Just had a look - our preferred school has a very detailed anti-bullying policy that goes over several pages. Whereas our allocated school only has this line "The school has an Anti-Bullying culture which reinforces that bullying is wrong and that such incidents must be reported." under a SEN section. Is this worth using?

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Thu 08-Mar-18 13:13:23

Absolutely. I would definitely use that as evidence that the preferred school takes bullying more seriously than the allocated one.

Shattered04 Thu 08-Mar-18 13:46:45

Great, thank you!!

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Shattered04 Thu 08-Mar-18 22:51:25

Just got our ASD report today. It's brief (well, it's NHS) and there's not much that is useful in the appeals sense besides the usual talk of social issues. However, one of the things it does mention is that it is important she goes to a secondary school with her best friend. Now, that is coming from the doctor, not us. It wasn't something I was going to use, or at least not in any significant way, but given it is stated by a professional.. thoughts about this? Could it actually make the difference?

I'm also wondering whether it is worth going for the social and medical rule just anyway, because of what was mentioned above about people out of catchment but closer to us. We have a week to get evidence for that in.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Thu 08-Mar-18 23:43:28

As it is stated by the doctor and is not simply repeating your opinion it is definitely worth bringing up in the appeal. It could indeed help to sway the panel.

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