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paging appeals experts - please help with these documents

(17 Posts)
practicalnomad Sun 10-Jun-18 18:42:13


Desperate plea for help here. I'm appealing on behalf of my daughter for secondary. The catchment for our local school shrunk by nearly 1 km this year, and we were 40m outside it...

I'm appealing on the following grounds

a) allocated school doesn't offer 2 MFL and she is on the G&T list for modern foreign languages. Preferred school offers 3
b) allocated school doesn't offer latin and allocated school does
c) allocated school doesn't have an orchestra (she's a keen violinist and member of primary string ensemble) and has no musical cohort for GCSE . Preferred school does
d) allocated school has no library books for her reading level. Preferred school does
e) School she wanted does triple science and allocated does not

I have submitted evidence...
a) letter from her primary stating she is on G&T list and attends string ensemble as keen violinist
b) email from allocated school stating that it has no orchestra and few children playing musical instruments,

I've just had the reply from the LA
the only evidence they offer is that they applied distance criteria correctly and their discussion just says 'most schools offer MFL' and maths and science.

There is no attempt to prove the school (which has just had an expensive rebuild which hasn't increased PAN) is full.

The reply seems to say that the only reasons that the appeal will succeed is if
A) I can prove they have applied their criteria incorrectly (they haven't, and I can't)
B) If they have been 'highly unreasonable'.

They seem to be insisting there is no appeal on the grounds of prejudice to the child exceeding prejudice to school.

Can they do this, and can I still argue that there is more prejudice to the child? They just haven't attempted to argue a case at all.

I should stress no-one ever wins at appeal at this school.

The Appeals Clerk also says that it will disregard the letter from the Head as they won't look at any letters from school teachers, SENCOs or heads as it is unfair for them to do so? How else am I supposed to provide evidence?

Any advice VERY much appreciated.

So sorry to bother.

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Sun 10-Jun-18 20:18:54

OP I am going to tag people for you: @prh47bridge @admission @PatriciaHolm

nothing123 Sun 10-Jun-18 20:29:09

Look at the school website for their budget, I think they have to show the last 12 months. if you can prove their income has increased they you can argue that they can afford more teachers / staff.

It is a long shot a lot of schools are losing funding. Good luck!

nothing123 Sun 10-Jun-18 20:29:43

Just had another thought you can also buy online books on show to appeal as well. Might help.

prh47bridge Sun 10-Jun-18 21:02:08

They seem to be insisting there is no appeal on the grounds of prejudice to the child exceeding prejudice to school

That is wrong. There is no choice. An appeal for a secondary school can be won on prejudice grounds. If the appeal panel does not consider whether the prejudice to the child outweighs the prejudice to the school that is a clear breach of the Appeals Code.

The Appeals Clerk also says that it will disregard the letter from the Head as they won't look at any letters from school teachers, SENCOs or heads as it is unfair for them to do so

It sounds like the clerk may have misunderstood paragraph 2.13 of the Appeals Code. That says representatives of schools must not be allowed to support individual appeals for places at their school. There is no prohibition on supporting appeals for places at another school.

If the clerk insists on excluding your evidence and you lose your appeal you will have good grounds for referring the matter to the ESFA or LGO (which is appropriate depends on the type of school).

if you can prove their income has increased they you can argue that they can afford more teachers / staff

Not necessarily. Any significant increase in income is likely to be due to an increase in the number of pupils. This argument is unlikely to fly.

Just had another thought you can also buy online books on show to appeal as well. Might help

There might be some good ones out there but the ones I've seen are rubbish.

practicalnomad Sun 10-Jun-18 21:34:05

Many thanks all. I'm just so confused, because it didn't look like the kind of response I was expecting at all from the LA. It's an ordinary LA school - but as I say, the LA hasn't had an appeal upheld against it in years....

It's weird to see no attempt to prove school is full, isn't it ? They have simply provided no evidence about why PAN is what it is, just that they only admit xx number and there were more applications than that.

The summary reads

xx council considers that it is relieved of its duty to admit xx to xx school because the school is full. Therefore xx council contends that the panel must only uphold the appeal if it is satisfied that either

Ground A - that xx would have been offered a place at xx school if the admissions arrangements had complied with admissions law or been correctly and impartially applied or

Ground B - the decision by xx not to offer xx a place at xx school was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

That is the entire summary of the case...

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Sun 10-Jun-18 22:12:31

Could you PM me the name of the school and LA involved please.

If they are in England, that case is clearly wrong and contrary to the Appeals Code. The council can contend all it likes. The appeal code is clear that appeals can be won on prejudice grounds. It also states that "the admission authority must be able to demonstrate prejudice over and above the fact that the published admission number has already been reached" (paragraph 3.10). If the council's case is simply "we've reached PAN" the appeal panel should find in favour of all the appellants because the council simply hasn't made a case.

PatriciaHolm Mon 11-Jun-18 08:28:25

Total agree with Prh. They can't just say "we are full so therefore prejudice is proved" - they actually have to prove it. The vast majority of "full to PAN" schools wouldn't suffer a significant amount of prejudice by admitting one or two more - they need to provide evidence that there would be prejudice, and then the panel will weigh whether the prejudice to your child of not attending is greater. On the face of it they have made no case.

The clerk is also incorrect - letters from primary school Heads, SENCOs etc are routinely submitted and accepted and there is nothing in the code to prevent this. I would submit it and if they refuse to allow it, question them on the day as to where exactly in the code they think it is prohibited.

practicalnomad Mon 11-Jun-18 09:30:39

Thanks to you as well patriciaholm

It feels like David arguing with a (very incompetent) Goliath- but I will have a go.

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Mum52016 Mon 11-Jun-18 11:49:03

Apologies, I hope you don't mind me asking this question here but @PatriciaHolm @ prhbridge

In what way would they have to prove that they are full? Or what evidence would they need to present?

prh47bridge Mon 11-Jun-18 12:06:23

It varies from school to school but typically they might talk about the amount of equipment available, overcrowding in the corridors, classroom sizes and pressure on staff. Some schools get quite inventive!

PatriciaHolm Mon 11-Jun-18 13:04:29

Indeed. A standard case would be that the classrooms are too small for any more chairs, there are only enough computers for 1 per child and thus any more would mean children having to share, having to stagger lunchtimes as halls too small, no purpose built science blocks so not enough space, old buildings so narrow corridors and no scope to expand etc etc....

There isn't a checklist of what they have to show to prove that there would be prejudice, but just saying "we have admitted up to PAN" doesn't prove anything. They have to say why this means there would be prejudice to the effective education of pupils if any more were admitted.

In many cases the panel will accept that the school is technically full, yes, and there would be some prejudice caused by more pupils, but then it's down to the appellants to show that the prejudice to their child of not attending is greater. The level of prejudice required will differ depending on the school's case.

Mum52016 Mon 11-Jun-18 19:02:56

Thank you for clarifying that.

PanelChair Tue 12-Jun-18 10:20:15

I can’t add much to what prh47bridge and PatriciaHolm have said. The quotes from the LEA’s letter sound as if they belong (if anywhere) to an infant class size appeal. The LEA is misrepresenting the situation and it is up to them to demonstrate prejudice, not simply to assert that it exists.

practicalnomad Tue 12-Jun-18 10:41:55

Thanks to you, as well, PanelChair

- I've been through the Appeals Code and written out what I want to say....thanks to all of your help.

I'm just baffled as to why they wouldn't put forward a proper case though

Can they suddenly spring a whole load of stuff about classroom size/corridors and science labs on me on the day?

Unfortunately I suspect that the panel members will not be as good as you lot are - the school has never had an appeal upheld against it as far as I can see, and as PRH points out, the LA as a whole has a far lower than usual uphold rate. If this is the quality of case they are churning out and they routinely win, I don't understand how..unless the panel are badly trained or not truly independent.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 12-Jun-18 11:11:33

There shouldn't be any surprises in the LA's case. They certainly can't introduce any documentary evidence on the day. Whilst the Appeals Code doesn't specifically prevent them making points that aren't in their written case, if they do so to any significant degree that would be against the spirit of paragraph 2.9 in my view. If they do try to ambush you it might be worth asking for an adjournment so that you can consider the new evidence and prepare your response.

practicalnomad Tue 12-Jun-18 11:30:38

Thanks. I've got 2.9 in my case...(read the admissions code from front to back yesterday) - appreciate this.

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