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Appeals - School is full?

(33 Posts)
courderoy Tue 08-May-18 18:31:06

Apologies for a question that I’m sure as been asked a lot (I did search first).

I have an appeal hearing in a weeks time. The school have sent information about how they are full.

A lot of it seems to be that they don’t have facilities for the PAN, so they can’t take on any more (eg they are 8 toilets short, they don’t have enough gas taps in the labs for one between 2, some classrooms are only big enough for 26)

They also say that they have 4 pupils on roll under the fair access protocol - although they aren’t over PAN in any year according to the roll details. They have given the Fair access protocol as a reason that they can’t take on another child - but presumably this takes a school’s circumstances and Number on roll into account?

The pupil - teacher ratio is lower than national average and lower than all the other local schools, yet they say that more kids will be detrimental for teachers and cause stress.

There have only been 2 successful appeals in the last 6 years, I am not at all confident and very very stressed.

Does anyone have any experience/ advice around whether I could argue that if they don’t have facilities for the PAN one more wont make a big difference!

I have reasons for the appeal by the way.

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
admission Tue 08-May-18 21:42:02

I would not use that argument because the whole point is that the PAN is based on a calculation of net capacity, that assumes a level of space necessary for each pupil.
What you describe as their reasons for the school not taking any more pupils is what I will see in every appeal I sit on this year. Please do not assume that it is personal against you, the school has to show reason over and above admitting to the PAN. That is why they always talk about toilets etc, though I must admit the gas taps is a new one on me.
The Fair access protocol will be to other year groups in the school and it means they were admitted, as there was no other suitable school, when the school was at or above PAN in that year group. They have subsequently lost some pupils and that is why they at or below PAN in the older year groups. In fact FAP has no relevance to the appeal in year 7 as it is only to do with pupils who have no school place and are deemed to be hard to place. What you have is a straight forward admission appeal.
Go to the appeal, give it your best shot and walk out of the appeal knowing that you have done everything possible to gain a place at the school. Please try not to get too stressed about it, so I would write down everything you want to say at appeal to give you something to focus on, rather than being a quivering jelly.

AornisHades Tue 08-May-18 22:11:11

If you have reasons why it would be detrimental to your child not to go to that school, concentrate on those to build your case. In a straightforward "We're full" case I don't see the point in arguing over details. Accept they are full but make a good case as to why they should go over by one more for your child.

prh47bridge Wed 09-May-18 08:27:39

You can point out that their teacher-pupil ratio is low to counter their argument about additional stress. But I certainly wouldn't use your suggested argument around PAN.

courderoy Wed 09-May-18 16:24:15

Thank you everyone. The language around the appeals process made me wonder if the onus was on me to question their case. As I’m not an expert in these things - and as presumably the school has the same case for each appeal, this seemed an odd way to work things.

I will concentrate on my position.

Thanks again

OP’s posts: |
Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 06:34:34

Can anyone help or offer advice....
We were meant to have our school appeal on Tuesday. 10 other appeals were heard but ours wasn’t. 30 minutes before we were due to been seen we received a phone call from the local Authority saying the head teacher wanted more time with the additional information we sent in 6 days ago ( they allow 5 days, so we were within the time frame) and it wasn’t the appeal panel who wanted to defer.
The other appeals have been decided.
Has anyone else had any experience of this? We are now left in limbo just waiting to hear when we can have another hearing date but it seems unfair that they heard the other 10 appellants and not us.
The additional information I sent was proving the school had capacity to take more children and was quite conclusive.
Any ideas?

prh47bridge Thu 10-May-18 07:40:13

If the other appeals have actually been decided that is wrong. The appeal panel should have delayed any decisions until they had heard your case.

My view is that deferring your appeal on the basis that the head wanted more time was wrong. However, it is a much bigger problem if they have actually decided the other cases. If any of the other appeals have succeeded you may have been disadvantaged. And if your additional information does prove to the satisfaction of the appeal panel that the school can handle more pupils the other appellants may have been disadvantaged because this information was not available to the panel.

You need to find out urgently whether or not the other appeals have been decided.

Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 08:10:45

They have been decided as by following the code they have to notify within 5 days of the hearing and when I had a heated exchange with the local authority about it they clarified that the panel would be deciding by the end of the Tuesday. I intend on ringing our area office tomorrow to see how many of the 10 won.
Local authority really unhelpful, I asked when we would get our hearing and they said, “ the clerk and panel are really busy with other appeals so it will be when they can co-ordinate diaries!”
Very frustrated and don’t really know what to do?

prh47bridge Thu 10-May-18 08:38:55

No, that isn't what the Code says. The Code says that the decision must be sent out within five days "unless there is good reason". The Code also says that a panel hearing multiple appeals must not make decisions on any of those appeals until all the appeals have been heard. The fact that they have not heard all the appeals means they cannot make any decisions and provides good reason not to notify the other appellants of the decision within five days.

The LA is wrong. They have messed up by allowing the head to defer your hearing. They have compounded that by failing to rearrange your hearing and getting the appeal panel to make decisions before all the cases have been heard.

Get back to the LA. Point them at paragraph 2.18 of the Code. The final sentence is clear that no decisions should have been made. Point out that this clearly overrides the timescale for notification in paragraph 2.24 as it provides good reason to delay notification. Be clear that their actions have potentially disadvantaged all the appellants and that, unless they sort it out, you will be referring this mess to the Local Government Ombudsman.

They have dug themselves a huge hole here. It is difficult to see a way forward that would resolve this without either admitting all the appellants, including your child, or rerunning the hearings that have already taken place with a different appeal panel. However, that is not your problem. They have broken the Appeals Code. They have to sort it out.

Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 09:17:57

Thank you for your input prh47bridge
Have you got experience in this ? I don’t mean that disrespectfully
If I start causing a stink at the local authority does that make me seem unreasonable as I am very aware that school appeals prefer parents that are non confrontational.

prh47bridge Thu 10-May-18 09:33:07

Yes, I have plenty of experience. I've been helping people with admissions appeals for over a decade.

The appeal panel won't know about any stink you kick up with the LA and, even if they found out somehow, it does not provide reason for them to refuse an appeal. Schools may prefer parents that are non-confrontational but appeal panels should not let that cloud their judgement. If a parent annoys them they may be less inclined to give that parent the benefit of any doubt but they certainly shouldn't refuse an appeal just because the parent has been confrontational.

In any event, given that the LA has clearly breached the Admission Appeals Code in a way that has potentially disadvantaged you and others, kicking up a stink is not in any way unreasonable.

I would not accept the current situation. If the LA refuse to resolve the matter I would refer it to the Local Government Ombudsman. As I say, I struggle to see any way of resolving this within the Appeals Code other than either admitting everyone or starting the whole process again with a new panel. If they propose anything different please share it here before accepting.

Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 09:38:13

Thank you
I will get in touch with the local authority

admission Thu 10-May-18 18:58:06

Just to confirm everything that PRH has said, this has been done completely wrongly assuming that the school and the LA are actually following the admission appeal guidance.
Whilst you can ask how many of the appellants that were heard were admitted, I suspect that they will not release that information to you. If and when it gets to appeal then you will get told but only for the appeal. Please keep any written information you had about the original appeal hearing because the panel need to understand that you were ready to attend the appeal and were stood down by the LA by telephone call. I would bet the appeal panel were not told that the head teacher wanted more time but were told that you had either not turned up, had withdrawn or you has asked for more time, so any information proving that you attended but were stopped from appealing will be vital in any appeal or referral to the ombudsman.

Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 19:29:14

Thank you for the advice, I have screen shot my phone call information to the education office that day and I also followed it up with an email verifying what I had been told and asking them to confirm in writing for my records. Funnily enough they didn’t, they just said I would be sent a deferral letter in due course, but at least I have an email trail of what I sent and how they replied.
Very frustrated as it seems so underhand!

Clough1 Thu 10-May-18 21:02:09

2.19 Multiple appeals may be heard either individually or in groups. Hearing multiple appeals individually means holding a series of consecutive appeal hearings. The panel must ensure that the presenting officer does not produce new evidence in later appeals that was not presented in earlier appeals as this would mean that appellants whose cases were heard earlier in the process would not have the opportunity to consider and respond to the new evidence. If material new evidence comes to light during the questioning of the presenting officer, the clerk must ensure that the panel considers what bearing that evidence may have on all appeals
The sentence where I have asterisk is relevant, although we never even got in front of the panel or the presenting officer.! I presume they didn’t want our evidence applying to everyone else’s appeals.

prh47bridge Thu 10-May-18 21:55:10

I have to say that I suspected that when I read your first post. I may be wrong but it is an obvious inference. If I was attending your appeal I would set out exactly what has happened, encourage the appeal panel to find in your favour on the basis that you have been deprived of a fair hearing by the blatant disregard for the Appeals Code and encourage them to also reconsider their decision in any of the original cases that were rejected. I suspect the Clerk wouldn't like it but I have a few things I would like to say to the Clerk!

Clough1 Fri 11-May-18 07:45:26

What I don’t understand is that we didn’t get in front of the presenting officer or the appeal panel, but this decision was made after the other appeals had been heard.
I was under the assumption that the school and the clerk shouldn’t be talking about individual cases.
I want to find out how many appeals were allowed but my husband says we shouldn’t, as we shouldn’t show the council we are interested, basically play the game but it’s torture not knowing what is going on!
I have hoping to talk to the ministers of education office today to see what they say about this farce. If only they knew how much stress they are causing our family, oh and our daughter has her SATS next week! 😱

prh47bridge Fri 11-May-18 08:40:34

I suspect this was cooked up between the head and the clerk without any involvement from the panel. If the panel was involved I am with Admission in suspecting they were not told the truth - that the head wanted to delay the hearing to consider information that you submitted before the deadline. If they were told the truth they should have insisted on proceeding with the hearing. If they were persuaded to delay they should have known better than to make any decisions on the appeals they have heard.

The clerk and the school are free to discuss cases. The clerk does not play any part in the decision making process other than advising the panel on the law and making notes. The school must not discuss the case with the panel unless you are present.

I completely disagree with your husband. Showing the council you are interested will not have any adverse effects. They cannot say anything to the appeal panel about the discussions you have with them regarding what has happened. You can bring it up with the panel (and, as per my previous post, I would) but the LA and school cannot do anything beyond confirming the bare facts - that the hearing was delayed at the head's request.

You need to pile pressure on the clerk and make it clear that you know they have broken the Appeals Code. I would go ahead and ask how many appeals were allowed. My guess is they won't answer that question, although they will have to do so before the hearing whenever that is. But they should be able to tell you whether or not any appeals have been allowed. If they refuse to answer that, remind them that they are required to answer any questions you ask to help you prepare for your appeal and, in light of their blatant disregard for the Appeals Code, you need this information to understand how much you have been disadvantaged by their actions.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with the DfE. They are a waste of space on issues like this. In my experience their answers are often incorrect, or fail to address the question, or take so long to come through that they are useless (sometimes all three!). I certainly wouldn't trust any answers you got on the phone. You could go to the Local Government Ombudsman but they will almost certainly want you to try and sort this out with the local authority before they will take it on as a case. Again, I wouldn't trust any advice you get on the phone from the LGO. In my experience the people who man the phones have little understanding of school admissions appeals.

Clough1 Fri 11-May-18 10:03:20

I read that because it’s an academy you have to direct complaints to the Secretary of State?
We definitely need to know how many were allowed to help with our case.
If it wasn’t bad enough compiling a case for our daughters appeal I now feel I have to compile a case against the local authority which is just ridiculous as it shouldn’t be this way!

prh47bridge Fri 11-May-18 10:15:00

The EFA handles issues with academy appeals acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. I don't think they will touch it at this stage. I certainly wouldn't rely on any telephone advice I got from them.

Is the local authority handling appeals for the academy? Many academies use independent services to run appeals. If it was one of those rather than the LA I would find this less surprising, although it is still clearly wrong.

Clough1 Fri 11-May-18 10:22:31

Yes it’s the local authority they use.

admission Fri 11-May-18 22:04:57

Appreciate that you probably do not want to put info on the site but would you PM me, as I am interested to know what is the information that you have that seems to have caused this reaction. Is it that damning?
Normally in these situations they either cave in and say that they have made a mistake or they come in all guns blazing with lots of facts and figures to cause confusion around the point being made.

Clough1 Sat 12-May-18 14:54:43

I’ve messaged you.
Nothing from either the LA or school in the post today.
Just ridiculous!

prh47bridge Sat 12-May-18 15:32:25

I would also be interested in knowing what information you've got.

Clough1 Sat 12-May-18 16:06:30

I’ve messaged you

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