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School Appeal failed

(16 Posts)
friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 15:59:21

I have been having an incredibly complicated year. I am a single parent with sole custody and have bipolar disorder.

I have 2 daughters of 15 and 11 - both very anxious. I have to work hard to get them to attend well and I do.

My younger daughter is at a Catholic school but we are not catholics.

My older daughter was at a large comprehensive until October when her anxiety got too much and the school failed to help her return to her lessons after a panic attack. She is being treated by CAMHS and after much difficulty because her attendance was so bad, I got her place (after some fierce emails) at a very good Catholic senior school in year 10. It is a small, quiet (and outstanding) school and very popular. She has done really well there.

Because my youngest daughter attends the feeder school, all her friends - all the class in fact - have got in apart from her. She got allocated the school I have made official complaints about - how they handled my older daughter's anxiety.

On monday I appealed for a place: I had letters from counsellor as evidence of her high anxiety. Also from school about her anxiety and evidence of an unsettled back ground, her sister's difficult experience at the school and how my younger daughter had witnessed all of this. Both girls are high need and there is only one of me, no family around at all, and a lot of the time I am not functioning well due to my long standing illness.

This is all genuine. It is not about the outstandingness of the school. It is about difficult logistics and the confidence of my children.

Everyone was lovely at the appeal and I felt I made my case well - with evidence for each part. I heard today that my appeal was not upheld.

Obviously I will be as positive as I can about allocated school but it is all pretty difficult. Youngest daughter in tears about how she will be at a huge school on her own - at the moment she still sees a counsellor for school induced anxiety. I just don't know how it will work in September.

Is there anything else I can do? I haven't had the letter about why appeal failed. I suppose basically it is because we are not Catholics, but I thought appeals were supposed to listen to something other than admissions policies. I suppose it could just be that there are children more high need. I just don't know how my family will cope. It is hard enough at the moment!

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ourkidmolly Wed 06-Jun-18 16:00:22

Can you convert?

friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 16:03:59

The other thing is that headmaster was representing school at appeal. His first words were about taking my daughter given that they have a small pastoral system and he already has her sister with anxiety. So then I had to reassure everyone that my daughter would not be hungry on resources - which may have made it sound like I was denying her need - basically I just didn't want him to think that she would be trouble.

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friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 16:06:19

I come from a catholic family. I am a catholic. I don't have faith - wish I did - and so never wanted to baptise children. I never planned for this situation. My older daughter didn't go there because I had huge ambitions for her - just because it is quiet and small and orderly.

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PhilODox Wed 06-Jun-18 16:10:21

That sounds incredibly difficult for you. I'm surprised she didn't get allocated a place as a sibling, in a feeder school, but I know faith schools near me have about twenty criteria on their admissions.
Have you remained on the waiting list? Hopefully there will be some movement.

friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 16:21:06

PhilODox, I am on waiting list but I think it will be a long one. Siblings is lower down than faith.

I just thought the appeal was supposed to take into consideration exceptional circumstance (i.e. something apart from religion and baptism). And with my difficulties, and my 2 daughter's difficulties, I would have thought they might have upheld our appeal.

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TaggieRR Wed 06-Jun-18 16:38:48

Can you see where your daughter is on the criteria? If faith is more important than sibling, and she is not baptised was she likely to get in?

friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 16:41:28

TaggieRR, my daughter was low down on criteria. But I thought appeal was supposed to go on need rather than admissions criteria. The needs of your child as opposed to the needs of the school. May well have been needier children. Just that my family feels pretty needy to me!

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shouldwestayorshouldwego Wed 06-Jun-18 16:51:09

It is the needs of the child compared to the needs of the school. So it may be that they didn't take anyone on appeal if they feel that the school is too full. Are there any other schools around which you can put her name on the list. There will still be some shuffling. If she has been at a Catholic primary school what is her opinion of getting baptised? She is old enough to contribute to that decision, not just your beliefs.

PatriciaHolm Wed 06-Jun-18 17:13:21

The panelists will have assessed whether the prejudice to your daughter of not attending the school was greater than the prejudice to the school of taking another pupil. As such, they would have been looking at her need for that school - I'm afraid it sounds as if you rather more made a case for why not the school she was allocated rather than why specifically this school.

It's possible that if the school is genuinely full and has constrictions on space etc that the panel didn't uphold any appeals.

You can appeal once for each school year so you can always try again in a year's time if the allocated school isn't working for her, as well as staying on waiting lists.

friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 17:36:50

PatriciaHolm, I made a extremely full appeal about her friend's attending this school, her sister being there, my difficulties trying to get 2 very anxious children to school - nobody can take older sister except me, and then it is quite touch and go.

Even if it did get her baptised, it wouldn't be in time for September and wouldn't make places at an oversubscribed school. Yes, she would be higher up the waiting list. I don't think she would want to anyway. She wants to be with her friends at a small school, where I am able to take her - at least initially - to help with her anxiety.

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PatriciaHolm Wed 06-Jun-18 19:12:11

My apologies, from your first post it sounded more like you were making a narrower case.

It does sound as if you had a reasonable case, however, again, friendship groups are a relatively weak case for appeal (though stronger if backed up by medical professionals explicit opinion that she must stay with her friends), and logistics are again quite weak (the panel may have taken the view that your youngest could get herself to school, though that sounds as if might be hard).

If the school put up a strong case for being full and why more children would cause prejudice to the education of pupils, then it could have been a very high bar to cross to have an appeal accepted.

In reality, I'm afraid all you can do is sit on the waiting list, and maybe appeal again in a year's time. Are there any other schools you would consider?

Bluntness100 Wed 06-Jun-18 19:23:32

I suspect based on what they said this is a resource concern, you are indeed in a catch 22.if you say she needs support, they hear resource intensive and as a small school they can't cope further. If you say she doesn't need that support, they think she doesn't need the place and you're weakening your own case.

Depending on how much resource your first daughter takes, it is likely they think your second may be similar and they don't have the resources to cope, depending on how many other children have additional needs in the school,already.

friendlyflicka Wed 06-Jun-18 19:43:55

Bluntness, I don't know. She doesn't actually take up that much. They have a learning suite with a permanent member of staff, and if she can't cope with the class room she is in there. Also, the head said they had 4 less ECHP admissions this year than last.

I think being an outstanding school probably does mean guarding your resources very strongly. For instance, when my oldest daughter was finally admitted, the reasons for her first (illegal) rejection was because they were a year with 3 girls with very challenging behaviour. My daughter says that the behaviour is the kind that was absolutely commonplace at her last school. That is why she is happier there - quiet and organised and less threatening.

My second daughter is very different but also anxious. She is very academic and is easy for teachers.

Problem is that the only other small schools I could look at for my younger daughter, are impossible for transport unless I take her. At present I am having to take my older daughter to this school!

I am sure it will all work out some how. I was just fairly optimistic about this appeal - so a bit gutted. Life has been very hard work for the last year: death of my mother, divorce, fight to get my daughter a new school place, and now this appeal.

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Snowysky20009 Wed 06-Jun-18 22:41:22

Just wondering did you talk about the benefits that the new school could offer her that her allocated school couldn't, for example certain subjects, subjects taken at GCSE, subjects taken at A-Level, extra curricular activities, field trips, music tuition, certain sports?

friendlyflicka Thu 07-Jun-18 10:56:30

I did talk about benefits for her. But I think you are probably all right - just too full.

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