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Primary School appeals(25 Posts)
I would really appreciate some advice. The reason we have not gotten any of our three preferred choices is due to the fact that we failed to do an online application. However, we did submit a supplementary form in to the school because it is a faith school. Reason for no online form is that we did not know about it. No contact from LA and school did not do enough to inform parents imo. Each entity is passing the blame on to the other. Common sense would argue that if we were aware of online form we would have completed it seeing as we did the supplementary form. Both forms had same deadline, why do one and not the other?
The advice I would like is how to approach the appeal process. One bit of advice we had already was to highlight the above and detail how much more the school could have done to make parents aware and to highlight that the info they did give was not transparent enough. However, someone else said by blaming the school we will hinder the appeal and to focus instead on how detrimental it will be to our child if they fail to get a place at the school especially as they have a sibling in the same school. (we were written to by LA when sibling was same age) but on this occasion nothing. There is a six year age gap to be fair. Any advice would be much appreciated as we cannot afford a solicitor. Thanks in advance!
The LA will argue that they have publicised the need to apply and will say that the fact that you filled in a supplementary form confirms you should have known there was another form to fill in. The clue is in the word supplementary, I can hear them saying at appeal.
The panel will have heard similar reasoning before and I can more or less guarantee that the answer will be that you will not succeed at appeal unless there is some other very compelling evidence for admission. If the appeal is an infant class size appeal then the chance of success is even less because clearly no mistake was made by the admission authority.
I would suggest that you need to consider what your other options are. Firstly to make sure you are on the waiting list for those schools that are close to your home, in the hope that spaces do become available. Secondly to push the LA to come up with an allocation to a school which currently has spaces and to accept that place even if you know that it is not ideal because if you reject it, then the onus is on you to find a school on your own - the LA have met their legal duty by offering a place.
But if you filled in the supplementary form (for your 1st preference) and you had an idea of your three preferences didn't it strike you as odd that there was no facility to record your three preferences?
Have you subsequently applied and been offered/refused a place?
I agree with admissions. Unless there are compelling arguments why you wouldn't have known (living out of the country, for example) the argument that the school should have done more won't get you anywhere. Panels will almost certainly take the view that given thousands of other families manage the online process, there is really little lacking on that side of things.
Is the appeal infant class size?
Not wishing to rub salt in your wounds, but when you looked at the admissions information for the school whose SIF you submitted, was there really no explanation that completing the SIF did not constitute making an application to the school, this must be done by naming the school as one of your preferences on your local authority's Common Application Form? I've just had a look at the admissions info on the websites of a few of our local schools, (including the RC one because it has a SIF) and they all say quite clearly that applications must be made via the LA. I suspect that 'how to apply for a place' is one of the pieces of information that each school is required to have on its website.
From the school's point of view, it will look to see that it has received a SIF to allow it to rank correctly an actual application it receives via the LA. It's not going to chase up someone who submitted a SIF but for whose child the school doesn't also receive an application - they may have simply changed their mind and not applied after all.
You can only be honest and say that you managed not to submit your CAF to your local authority. Did you only 'apply' to the one school?
I was given the supplementary form by the pre-school staff who did not mention another form (the on-line). We did not attend the open day because we know the school. (most other parents found out through word of mouth or at open day.
We did not do an online form for our elder child so why would we think that we had to do one for our next child? Six years has passed, can we be forgiven for forgetting how it all works? Also, seeing as this year is the first time, online is the ONLY way to apply surely more information should have been given out by schools and the LA.
We did not consider other schools because we wrongly assumed it was a given she would get in to the same school as her sister on three main criteria i) she has a sibling in school ii) she is catholic iii) we live one mile from the school.
If you look at the attachments you will observe that the LA have put it in writing that we should have had a letter inviting us to apply and the school itself in a newsletter from 2 days before the deadline states that the LA should have contacted us in the previous October.
Even if we put our hands up and said yes we should have known, how is it fair that our daughter is punished? she is only four years of age. To rub salt in our wounds, the school has had trouble filling thirty spaces and has had to offer places to non-Catholics and people living out of the catchment area. I sincerely hope that the school can take in 31 pupils. Apologies but I know that LA is Local Authority but the other abbreviations in the replies I do not know sorry. I am worried sick about this school situation. I nearly lost my mother to cancer this year and the stress of this is making me ill.
But surely 6 years ago you filled in an application for your eldest child (even if it wasn't online)?
I feel terribly sorry for you but I think as a parent, you have to check the process. The information that you've provided about the L.A. writing to you doesn't say it's compulsory for the L.A. to have written to you- it refers specifically to some who won't have received a letter. Blaming the school is not going to get you anywhere. Unfortunately I think the waiting list route is the best chance you have.
On a more practical note, is your dd now on the waiting list? Is it 2 form intake? Presumably she should be no. 1 on the list and allowing for normal movement may get a place regardless.
Sorry this happened to you and its not about punishing your child.
I completed an on line application for my 9 yr old when he first started, so online applications are nothing new. The school has filled the allocated places with children who applied, the fact they are not Catholic or living locally is irrelevant. I know you have said its only 1 extra place, but class sizes are big enough and I would be very angry if my kids were in over capacity classes. If you add 1 extra, why not 5 or 10. The cut off is there for fairness and in all honesty, the L.A. have done nothing wrong. I doubt your appeal will win, its incredibly hard to succeed and the fact you completed a supplementary application but not primary application speaks for itself. Please get on the waiting list fast and pray that a position becomes available.
What school have you been offered and is it doable?
The images you posted both refer to the application and the supplementary. So the info from the school does refer to the need to both apply, and complete the supplementary and the deadlines for both those actions.
Yes, it appears that a letter has gone astray (the one to all,those known to have a DC in a nursery/preschool), but that won't be material to the appeal, because not all DC attend formal settings and there will have been other systems of publicity. I expect that isn't what you want to hear.
But as you are appealling, you must have applied to the LA now.
Have you been able to visit the school,younare currently allocated?
If the abbreviations you didn't understand were the ones I used(?):
SIF: Supplementary Information Form
RC: Roman Catholic (i assume this one wasn't a problem, though).
If places were offered to those in lower categories than your child would have been in, then as others have said, you are probably at or near the top of the waiting list (have you checked?). If you are lucky, one or more of those from a lower category will actually have put 'your' school as a lower preference on their own CAF (Common Application Form) and may get a waiting list place at one of their higher preference schools in the coming weeks.
Yes we filled in an application for your eldest child six years ago in response to a letter from the LA inviting us to do so. It was a paper form we sent off.
However, a lot has happened to us in those six years and apologies if we had forgotten how the whole process works. The excerpt from school newsletter I have attached does mention both supplementary and LA but it was sent on a Friday afternoon with the deadline on the following Monday. Not much notice is it? Does everyone read school newsletters as soon as they get them? It is my birthday on 15th January and we were away that weekend. I didn't read the newsletter until after the deadline. Perhaps if it had been in the newsletter more than just once, there would be no excuses to miss it.
It was the first and only time the LA were mentioned and the first since the previous October that the supplementary form had been in newsletter. The narrative is rather ambiguous and there is no mention of an online form. Perhaps a link to the online form would have been a lot more helpful. There is also an error with the dates.
When we handed in the supplementary form, we did not hand in the original copy of baptismal certificate or provide utility bills so that is a clear indication that we as parents 'were not on the ball', when the form was handed in. My mother was touch and go with cancer and my husband has another private matter involving his family which has been ongoing for two years so yes admittedly we are not firing on all cylinders. However, when everything was finally handed in to the school office regarding the supplementary form, the office staff member was asked 'Is that everything now?' The reply was yes. Would none of you of agree that it was at that juncture, the staff member could and should have prompted us about the on-line form. Especially as they observed that we were very scatty about the SIF.
There are parents across the land who are either illiterate, have language barriers or do not know how to use a PC so schools have to help the parents apply. Plus being in a school office face to face, one would think that helping parents is basic customer service skills.
It is one intake year so only 30 spaces.
I enclosed an email from the LA because it mentioned 'an invite to apply letter' and also 'failed to receive'. Also in newsletter, the school says we should have been contacted by LA. Like I said originally, the school told me to take up my issue with the LA and the LA have said the school should have written to us.
Yes she should be number one on the reserve list but there is no guarantee that a place will be available come September and the reserve list is only held until xmas so I have been told.
To the person 'happygolucky' who says they would not be happy with an extra child in class, if a family moves to the area halfway through a school year they have to be given a school place and then there is 31. Lots of infants schools have 31 or 32. Cut off points are fair when you are aware of them. We were not aware.
With this extra information provided, is there is still no chance of winning an appeal?
Sorry to be blunt but you have messed up and are trying to blame others. But as a positive a friend of mine did a very similar thing. Forgot to apply for a place at school for her third child (that would have got in as a sibling). Her child went on the waiting list and since she jumped to the top (as sibling priority) before term started she got a place when others dropped out. So your best bet is as others have said- make sure you are on school waitlist and contact LA to see where they offer you. The good news is that as a sibling your child will be top of waiting list.
I would stop all the fluff and get on with practicalities. It's a waiting list issue, not an appeal. Hopefully you will be number 1 now due to sibling policy.
Children do not get places part way through the year above the 30 places just because they move. The LA has to find a place in an 'available' school and siblings might be split between school, the same position you are in now.
Only as a very last resort does an LA make an infant class go over 30. You seem to be expecting to the LA to do all the work for you and blaming them for not doing so. And school office staff very often do not know all the ins and outs of the application process.
This school's supplementary form clearly states at the top of the form that you are required to complete the local authority form and that the supplementary form is not an application for a place. The school clearly states in the admission arrangements on its website that you must apply through your local authority. The local authority clearly states in multiple places on its website that you must apply through the local authority if you want a place at this school.
I understand that you are upset. I understand that you feel the school and local authority have let you down. But I'm afraid they haven't. They have both gone beyond the minimum required to make sure you knew how to apply. Even if the school's form was the only document you read, it told you that you needed to apply to the local authority. The school's staff were not required to prompt you to apply to the local authority and had no reason to do so. After all, you had submitted a form that told you what you had to do.
I'm sorry but, however much you might want it to be otherwise, no appeal panel will accept that either the school or the local authority is in any way to blame for your failure to apply on time. They will take the same view as people on this thread. It was up to you to apply on time. There was more than enough information available to you telling you what you had to do. The late application is therefore entirely down to you and does not provide any reason for an appeal to succeed.
As you are first on the waiting list you will almost certainly get a place. As you say, it is not guaranteed. But I would be very surprised if there is no movement at all between now and Christmas.
if a family moves to the area halfway through a school year they have to be given a school place and then there is 31
That would only happen if there were no schools with places available within a reasonable distance from home. The child would then be counted as "excepted" under the infant class size rules, which means they don't count towards the class size limit. As you haven't moved into the area but are just a late applicant your child is not excepted. If the school admitted your child they would be breaking the law on infant class sizes.
Cut off points are fair when you are aware of them. We were not aware
The school and the LA did everything they are required to do and more to make sure you were aware. It is clear that you completed a form that told you what to do. Hundreds of other parents got it right. I'm afraid it is your own fault you were not aware. The cut off point is perfectly fair. What would not be fair would be to treat you equally with those who applied on time.
With this extra information provided, is there is still no chance of winning an appeal?
No chance whatsoever, I'm afraid.
I know the above isn't what you want to hear. But it is how things are.
Sorry I should have been more clear. Office staff I refer to is head of admissions so one would hope they know their stuff.
So we messed up by not knowing what to do and it's nobody's fault but ours??? We did what we were asked to do.
I dispute the word 'forgot'. My husband asked me to buy some milk whilst I was in asda but on my return I realise I'd forgotten to get some.
You have to know about something to forget about it.
I have been in to other schools since to see how they do admissions. Their heads of admissions say they remind ALL parents to do the on line form especially another RC school where a friend's child goes.
We are not of the stance that we take no responsibility, we do kick ourselves that we mistakenly though that SIF form was how to apply. But when we asked the question 'is that everything?' to the head of admissions, that person should have said yes if you've completed an online form.
Anyway it appears to be an open and shut case. We missed the deadline so it's tough sh#t!
We are not all the same in life, some people need to be told everything and others find out for themselves.
At least we know it's a waste of time appealing because nobody is at fault except us.
Thank you for all your replies and honesty!
OP the school staff responded "yes" because as far as the school is concerned that WAS it. They had no way of knowing you meant "is that everything that i need to do in respect of the application as a whole?" rather than "is that everything the school needs?"
No, the school only has responsibility for handling the SIF and the documentation it requires to verify the information that you have given on the SIF.
Under the Coordinated Admissions Scheme for state schools, which has been the process for many years now, the actual admissions and allocations process is handled by the applicant's home LA and the school's LA (referred to in the process as the 'maintaining LA') The SIF is used by individual (mainly faith) schools in order to rank the applicants on the list that the school's LA passes to it, having received them either directly (if the applicant lives in the same LA) or via liaison with the other home LA (if s/he doesn't). The school has to rank all applicants, whether or not they have submitted a SIF, but they have no reason to rank SIFs not accompanied by an application via the LA, because it is the latter that actually is the application - as the school states on its SIF.
Oops, my 'No...' referred back to the OP's last post, not yours, namechangedtoday15...
I can't answer for your area OP, but around here there are signs up in libraries, doctors waiting rooms and general community noticeboards about the need to apply for school places. If you take your child to any sort of pre-school group then applying for school places is generally the hot topic among parents of 3/4 year olds.
You already have an older child and a link with the school. You are in a much better position to find out information than parents with only 1 child (or applying with their oldest child) who doesn't go to a pre-school setting - and yet I'm imagining some such parents did manage to work out they needed to fill in an on-line application?
The irony is that this section is for secondary schools and OP you have posted about a primary application. DD is now two years in at secondary and we had to do an online application for primary aeons ago, but some regions may be different.
You also say you had another child go through the system 6 years ago so that would be about the time to apply for secondary now so I presume you did an online application for their place? If not quite yet, just some advanced warning that secondary applications are generally online and the closing date is earlier, at present it is 31st of October. If there are selection tests e.g. for grammar, these are open now for some of the schools. How do I know this? I talk to other parents, look on forums and look on school and LA websites.
If you are first on the waiting list, I would be reasonably confident of a place soonish. When is your child 5? You can defer their start until the start of the term they are 5, so if they don't have a place at the start of the term you could possibly defer the other school to see if you get a place before they are 5.
The waiting list will continue by law until Christmas, but most schools will have a permanent waiting list maintained after that so ensure you stay on it.
Oh and yes, you know secondary applications are online too, don't you?
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