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Secondary school appeal advice

(21 Posts)
QueenOfLists Sun 03-Mar-19 08:50:59

DD has a type of dwarfism and is going to face practical challenges at high school. She got her second choice school but we're going to appeal - I've read loads of advice on here so I'm hoping I've got the right idea but it would be great to get some feedback.

Most provisions can be put in place by OT at either school, but preferred school has some significant advantages that can't be matched by offered school:

1. DD gets pains in her legs if she has to walk long distances without having rest days in between, which can be really debilitating - we have a consultant's letter to confirm this - so walking between classes/canteen/etc needs to be kept to a minimum. Our preferred school is a single square building and has the smallest "footprint" of any of the local schools, which minimises distances between classes. The offered school has several buildings spread in a line over a larger area, so depending on the timetable would involve walking longer distances - easy to demonstrate on a google map print.

2. Preferred school has an inclusion centre where dd could leave bags so she's not carrying them round, and also rest if her legs do get tired. It's a separate building but right next door to the main one so easy to get to from wherever she is. Offered school has similar but it's right at one end of the stretch of buildings so nothing like as useful - if her legs ache she's not going to want to walk all the way to the other end of the school to rest them.

3. While dd struggles with continuous exercise, short bursts, e.g. PE, are fine, and she does love sport, but there are some sports she is medically advised not to do. At preferred school the class is split into groups for PE, each doing a different sport, so if dd is on a rotation for a sport she can't do she can join a different group instead. At offered school all the class do the same sport so dd would have to go and sit in the library during particular rotations - she would hate this.

4. The height difference between dd and her peers is now significant and will get larger (height charts/forecasts to prove it) - even in a school with an anti-bullying policy we are concerned about social exclusion as she's not at head height and can easily miss conversations, plus the OT provisions will mark her out as "different" anyway. Only one of her friends has a place at her offered school, most are going to preferred school, and the support of her existing friends is going to be crucial to her fitting in at high school. We have a letter from a large dwarfism charity to support this - not sure how much weight this carries?

Any comments or advice greatly appreciated, thanks.

OP’s posts: |
FanDabbyFloozy Sun 03-Mar-19 09:15:32

I am bumping this for you but have no advice. It does sound like you've good grounds. Do you know their PAN and if they normally take any on appeal?

suitcaseofdreams Sun 03-Mar-19 09:19:14

Based on what I’ve read on here (am no expert) it may be worth you looking to get some professional opinions to back up your arguments - eg letter from consultant stating that school x is the only school which would be appropriate in their professional opinion for x, y and z reasons

Best of luck...

ToDuk Sun 03-Mar-19 09:20:56

Does she have an EHCP? I have a couple of students with dwarfism on my caseload and they both do, which makes it easier to get the school they want.

prh47bridge Sun 03-Mar-19 09:39:31

That sounds like a solid appeal. A letter from a medical professional (GP or consultant) would help support your case. Any such letter needs to say something like "in my professional opinion QueenOfLists daughter needs to go to this school". It needs to be clear that they are giving their professional view, not simply echoing your views.

QueenOfLists Sun 03-Mar-19 09:47:21

Oh wow that's encouraging, thanks. We did go for EHCP in the autumn in preparation for high school but the chairman of the panel said they were rejecting it on the grounds that once she was at the right school she'd be ok with OT provisions, she doesn't have any complications re hearing, fine motor skills, etc that I know some have. Chairman actually advised us to appeal if we didn't get first choice. We had a consultant's letter to support EHCP but it was "may get leg pain" etc rather than "does" and it didn't specify a school - I'm going to see if they will redo it with stronger language and a definite support of preferred school.

Am I right that supporting evidence doesn't have to be sent off yet as long as it's there 10 days before hearing? Closing date for appeals is 29th March - any advantage to getting the form back sooner rather than later?

PAN is 255, I don't yet know whether they've gone over that in previous years but I suspect so - anecdotally I've heard of successful appeals.

OP’s posts: |
Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Sun 03-Mar-19 10:14:57

Take a deep breath. You’ve got nearly a month to get your appeal in - and all appeals which are in before the deadline will be treated equally. There’s no first come, first served aspect here.

To me - but admittedly I’m no appeals guru - it sounds like you have a strong case. Get as much irrefutable medical evidence as you can. Ask the experts here. And loads of luck.

shatteredandstressed Sun 03-Mar-19 10:23:14

Can someone tell me what PAN stands for?

prh47bridge Sun 03-Mar-19 10:53:36

Am I right that supporting evidence doesn't have to be sent off yet as long as it's there 10 days before hearing?

You are right that you don't need to submit supporting evidence at this stage. As for when it needs to be there, the Appeals Code no longer has any deadlines. The clerk to the appeal panel should tell you when the evidence is needed. They need time to copy it and send copies to the panel members so that they can read it before the hearing.

Closing date for appeals is 29th March - any advantage to getting the form back sooner rather than later?

None whatsoever. All appeals are heard by the same panel who won't make any decisions until they have heard all the cases.

Can someone tell me what PAN stands for?

Published Admission Number, i.e. the number of pupils the school will admit.

ToDuk Sun 03-Mar-19 11:07:35

the chairman of the panel said they were rejecting it on the grounds that once she was at the right school she'd be ok with OT provisions,
Do you have this in writing? Massive supporting evidence there.

QueenOfLists Sun 03-Mar-19 11:48:19

ToDuk: I'd not even thought about that. The conversation was by phone and the follow-up letter is more generic. It states "The LA is clear in their thinking that DD's needs can be met at secondary school without the recourse to an assessment, with clear supportive transition planning, adjustments and pastoral support. Support from OT has already been sourced to ensure DD would be able to access the school environment at [preferred school named] should a place be offered.

We'd named our preferred school as part of the EHCP application but I hadn't twigged that they'd specifically referred back to that in the rejection letter. Should this letter be part of the appeal, even though OT could in practice work with any school including the offered one?

OP’s posts: |
ASauvignonADay Sun 03-Mar-19 11:53:56

Sounds like a strong case.

Thought I'd also add: I know a girl with dwarfism who has been very popular through secondary, it doesn't seem to have held her back at all in that respect ☺️

my2bundles Sun 03-Mar-19 12:01:29

Good luck with your appeal. My child has a completely different disability but what I found helped when appealing a primary school place was to get full backing from tne currant school with reports etc. As many reports from every profeson all involved as possible including all medical. Gather as much as you can. Good luck x

prh47bridge Sun 03-Mar-19 18:07:44

Yes, I would include that letter as evidence for the appeal. It isn't persuasive on its own but it helps a little.

QueenOfLists Sun 03-Mar-19 19:47:56

Thanks all for the advice and positive stories, it's all really helpful, I feel a lot more confident that I know what I'm doing now!

OP’s posts: |
ToDuk Sun 03-Mar-19 19:58:05

Absolutely include it. Sounds like you have a good case.

admission Sun 03-Mar-19 22:53:31

In the context of most appeal hearings you have the basis of a very solid case. You do need to accept that there are times when all appeals for a school are rejected because the prejudice to the school and the pupils in the school is simply just too great but you should go to appeal confident that you have got the best possible case to put before the panel.

HotpotLawyer Mon 04-Mar-19 06:07:35

QueenOfLists : my son’s primary and secondary places were under the SEN category: check my two posts on this thread

Good luck, your case sounds very strong.

QueenOfLists Mon 04-Mar-19 06:27:01

@Admission: thanks, we are preparing ourselves for the fact that we might lose, in which case we'll just have to figure out how dd can cope for the best. I know I can't control the decision, as long as I've put the best case forward, that's all I can do.

@hotpot: I've read those, thanks, that's helpful.

OP’s posts: |
HotpotLawyer Mon 04-Mar-19 16:58:14

It is quite likely that we would have got the secondary place on distance anyway (but definitely not the primary place) but because we applied for the place under the S&M category we got the immediate attention of the inclusion team at the school, which was a benefit in lots of ways, and made it much easier when occasionally issues arose.

(we didn't have to appeal for secondary - because by then I knew exactly what the letters needed to say, etc, but we did appeal for primary - lost one, won one.)

admission Mon 04-Mar-19 17:52:15

OP, there is one thing that you should not do at appeal and that is either bring your daughter or bring a photo of her. You have sufficient professional input to your appeal that the panel will understand the issues. If you ram your daughter's dwarfism down their throat you might just antagonise them.
I have been on many panels where parents have brought photos on the basis of we are talking about my child not some faceless entity. Believe me that most panel members have children and understand we are talking about somebody precious to the parents. We just don't need reminding we are making difficult decisions that are deeply personal to the family involved and that they should be given priority

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