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Secondary School Appeal

(68 Posts)
blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 16:19:00

My ds has been refused a place at our preferred secondary school. It's not historically the catchment school for our primary school but every child who has applied in the last 35 years has been accepted. We have not once in the last 7 years been told by any other school or the council that our children would not transition to the secondary school. Our primary school has been heavily involved with activities at the secondary school. My son has attended master classes whilst in year 5 and 3 transition days in year 6. We have been invited to concerts and open evenings at the secondary school throughout my sons time at primary school. Several teachers have been invited to teach years 3-6 at the primary school (sports skills and maths). We have never had any contact from any other secondary school. Our primary headteacher and the secondary school headteacher were unaware that there would be an issue with places. All children with siblings were taken leaving 14 without places. This has been such a huge shock for these children who have been led to believe that they would all receive a place. The secondary school head teacher has stated he is prepared to take all children refused a place (38 in all as this includes children from other primary schools). The council have refused and we are appealing. Has anyone come across a similar situation? I have no idea what information I should be using in my appeal. Any support and information would be greatly appreciated. I'm sorry if this post has been long and rambling!

OP’s posts: |
tiggytape Mon 02-Apr-18 17:33:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BarbarianMum Mon 02-Apr-18 18:00:01

We have a similar situation w ds1' secondary. In a nutshell the head wants to grow the school to increase core budget but LEA resistant because additional kids come from a different county so don't bring a share of "capital" money with them.

None of this matters for your appeal though. What you need to do is state all the reasons why this school would be perfect for your ds - subjects offered, extra curricular opportunities, is it noted for anything eg music/sport that is really important to him?

blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 18:31:42

Thank you for the responses. Very much appreciated. We have contacted the LEA with several practical questions regarding PAN over the last few years and have enclosed written confirmation from the secondary school head acknowledging he will take all children who were refused a place. It'll be interesting to see the response. The story has also been documented in the local press as several prominent locals feel so strongly about the situation. I'm not sure this will carry any weight. I'm currently gathering information on the benefits of this school for my ds as opposed any others in the local area.

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admission Mon 02-Apr-18 19:50:41

Whilst it is imperative that you work on the principle that you will have to present a strong case of admission to the preferred school and submit such a case, you along with everybody else who has received a written confirmation from the headteacher to admit will be expecting this to happen.
The school assuming it is a maintained school is not the admission authority, the local authority is, and as such the head teacher is wrong to have made such a statement. The LA will no doubt be having a few words!
Having said that there have been plenty of cases where somebody in authority at a school has made promises and this does need to be taken into consideration by the admission appeal panel. Assuming that the headteacher's comments are in writing I think that the panel are going to find it difficult to ignore this statement. Their questioning of the admission authority rep is as likely to be more in trying to establish that the school can back up its comments about taking the pupils as anything else. So a key issue for me is that the head teacher is at the appeal and I would insist in writing that the head teacher is at the appeal to explain his written comments. If they are not there then you will get a standard response from the LA that the school has been filled to the PAN and they do not want to admit above the PAN. One question that needs answering is when the school and the LA first became clear that there was an issue with the numbers that were not going to get a place and what discussion there has been over resolving the issue. I suspect that is well before the date that places were allocated and therefore begs the question was no attempt made to resolve the issue. It might be that the head's written remarks are as a result of frustration with the LA not allowing an increase above PAN.

blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 22:41:28

Thank you for responding. I hadn't considered asking the head to attend the appeal. I'd like to think he would attend given that he does feel strongly about this issue. No one appears to want to accept responsibility regarding awareness of a lack of places. If we had been aware we would obviously have taken steps to organise a transition to an alternative school.

OP’s posts: |
EduCated Mon 02-Apr-18 23:12:43

You can still take steps to transition to an alternative school. Many children will have been allocated a school they haven’t previously visited, or may only have visited briefly.

Can I ask if you are in a very rural/isolated place? It sounds quite unusual in terms of the every child in the last 35 years having been accepted, and such strong assumptions that all children will progress to this school.

myrtleWilson Mon 02-Apr-18 23:17:57

Did you only apply for this one school blueblue - what is your allocated school like?

tiggytape Mon 02-Apr-18 23:32:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 23:37:28

EduCated- we have looked at an alternative school (not our allocated school) which my ds hated (although I liked it). He's struggling to accept he cannot attend the secondary school he has been so heavily involved in attending. It seems bizarre that the secondary school facilitated transition days after the point at which they must have realised there would not be enough places? I wonder if this common? Yes semi rural area with our preferred school being undersubscribed until recently.

myrtleWilson- yes we only applied there which with hindsight was ridiculously naive. I understand from the threads on here that in most parts of the country applying to several schools is commonplace (as is not being accepted at preferred secondary schools). Our allocated school is in special measures. Thank you both for taking the time to respond.

OP’s posts: |
myrtleWilson Mon 02-Apr-18 23:44:47

have you accepted the allocated school - you do need to accept a school otherwise the LA will have discharged its duty to you in providing a school place.

blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 23:46:23

tiggytape - I agree I am having difficulty overcoming my resentment which is not at all helpful. I now realise our situation was unusual in that we were so certain of a place being offered. I am hopeful that the support of the head will be a strong factor. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate any advice.

OP’s posts: |
blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 23:48:51

myrtleWilson - no I haven't. Do I have to do that even though we are appealing? It does make sense if that is the case.

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myrtleWilson Mon 02-Apr-18 23:53:42

Yes - I think you do. If the appeal is not successful you will have no place if you've not accepted the allocated school. You can go on the waiting lists for other schools but if you've turned down the allocated school and are unsuccessful at appeal then you may have limited options (aside from home educating and private provision).

blueblue122 Mon 02-Apr-18 23:56:08

Thank you. I'll do that asap.

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EduCated Tue 03-Apr-18 00:18:04

There are absolutely no downsides to accepting your allocated school - in fact I believe (and I’m sure I will be corrected if I am wrong!) that refusing the allocated place can go down badly at the appeal for your preferred school, as it can look like you are trying to force the hand of the appeals panel.

Also I don’t think the school have done wrong in organising transition days - many schools will hold these knowing that not all children attending will be allocated that school, or even apply. Spending time in a Secondary can be helpful for transition in a general way regardless of which school you then go to.

admission Tue 03-Apr-18 12:32:49

The question of days at the local high school is what is it being called. If the school call it a transition day, they are by implication suggesting that there is a place at the secondary school for that particular child. If however they call it something different like "open day" or "secondary sample day" then that is perfectly reasonable and does not imply any assumptions.
I have had parents come to appeal and argue that invitations to transition days in a secondary school do give an assumption of a place. In some cases the letter supporting the transition day has come very close to saying your child will get a place at the school, which then leaves the panel with a difficult decision to make.

DinkyDaisy Tue 03-Apr-18 16:57:01

How 'full' is school ds been allocated? If your preferred school took all 38 children, would that leave allocated school undersubscribed?
If one school increases PAN it can be detrimental to other schools.

blueblue122 Tue 03-Apr-18 17:54:48

Thank you for all the responses.

EduCated- I plan to apply for an alternative secondary school that has places available. Our allocated school has struggled since expanding and has been in special measures for a considerable amount of time. Would it be an issue not to accept the allocated school? Or will our alternative choice be valid in terms of the appeal process?

admission - The days spent at the secondary school were called transition days. Children were personally invited by letter and were given individual personally named packs containing the school prospectus (which names our primary school as a catchment school even though it is not).

DinkyDaisy - these are some of the questions I have formally asked the LA but have not yet had an answer. I believe the allocated school has always been under subscribed given that it has been in special measures for such a long period of time. This is hearsay though hence my request for hard facts from the LA.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 03-Apr-18 18:18:03

In that case I think you have a good argument that you were given an expectation of a place at this school. If the head gives evidence at appeal and repeats his statement that he is happy to take the extra children the LA won't like it but the appeal panel will almost certainly give places to the affected pupils. You shouldn't rely on that, however. You need to build a case showing that your son will be disadvantaged if he doesn't get a place at this school.

Would it be an issue not to accept the allocated school

You should accept the allocated school. That doesn't stop you from applying to other schools. If you arrive at the hearing without a place the appeal panel may think you are trying to bully them into giving you a place at your preferred school. They won't like that.

blueblue122 Wed 04-Apr-18 21:32:18

prh47bridge - thank you for your response and sound advice. I'm hopeful the head will attend but if not I have his written confirmation that he would accept all the children initially refused a place and he has evidence to support the school being easily able to accommodate them. I have yet to receive the requested information from the LA. I will post again once I have received it.

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Walkingdeadfangirl Thu 05-Apr-18 00:00:09

Not an admissions experts. In my experience its pretty normal for primary schools to work very closely with and visit the secondary where most of their children go. However nobody takes it for granted that it means they will get a place.
Also the head might want to take all the children but what if the council cant afford it? Its all very well for a head to make comments about accepting more children that have a financial implication but he isn't paying for them.
I very much doubt he has several classrooms sitting empty he can just spring into use.
Has the head actually said he can take them without he council giving him a ton more money to pay for them?
Just purely guessing that the council has spaces at other schools and it would make no sense for them to expand one school at great expense when then dont need to.

prh47bridge Thu 05-Apr-18 08:43:05

The head has said in writing that he would accept all the children and has evidence that the school can easily accommodate them. That is not a statement I would expect the head to make if he needed an additional classroom to accommodate them. As there are only 14 children involved he doesn't need several classrooms sitting empty. At most he needs one and with that number it may be possible to accommodate them simply by making class sizes a little bigger.

WowLookAtYou Thu 05-Apr-18 09:08:11

But it's not 14 children. The OP said 38 altogether, as there are further children from other primary schools in the same position.

prh47bridge Thu 05-Apr-18 10:05:22

Sorry - my mistake. But nonetheless, the head has stated that he has evidence that the school can easily accommodate them. That does not suggest any requirement for portakabins or the like.

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