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Appeals advice after relocating

(22 Posts)
TheWiff34 Tue 12-Mar-19 10:30:49

Hi,

I would like to find out if I have a valid reason to appeal if my DS is not allocated a place at a secondary school when we move up north in July. I know that we can only apply for a place once we are residents in the new area. I would really appreciate some feedback from the knowledgeable people on here such as @prh47bridge @admission & @panelmember about whether or not I am going about it in the right way.

We plan on moving into an area where the closest and only secondary would be School X, which is rated Outstanding and no surprise is oversubscribed.

I contacted the LA for the area we are moving to and asked what school DS would be allocated if no place is available at School X and was told it would be School Y, which is rated Inadequate and undersubscribed. There have been yearly monitoring reports from Ofsted since this inspection and it appears to be making improvements. However, since it was made an academy in 2017 there have been no such reports to check on its progress. School Y is also in a different area to where we would be moving to and I was informed by the adviser in the council admissions team that they would try to offer a place that was within a walking distance of 3 miles.

I asked about the appeals process and was told that I could appeal on the basis that DS is new to the area, therefore being unfamiliar with transport routes and the area he would be better off at a school which is closest to him.

I understand that I should not focus on why he should not go to School Y, but rather why he should go to School X, so I have put together some points such as things School X offers, which DS would benefit from. However, I have noticed that in relation to transport, I have found School Y is off a main road which is deemed a Red Route. Is this something I can mention as a concern in an appeal? My son will be starting Year 7 in September, has never travelled on his own before and has relocated from an area, which is 200 miles away. Although the council admissions adviser has mentioned I could appeal on the basis of being new to the area, what is the feeling amongst appeal panels with regards to this reason?

If my points are reasonable for an appeal, could I mention that going to a school which is closest to home, would allow DS to take part in extra-curricular activities and still have time to do homework? If he is having to spend more time travelling, this could have an impact on the activities he can do after school as he would then have less time to spend on homework.

Another point I would really appreciate someone to explain to me is how the PAN works. I know it's the Published Admission Number and admission authorities allocate places up to this number. Upon reading the Secondary Education booklet for the LA in question, I have noticed that two of the schools (neither School X nor Y) have admitted above their PAN. I thought this was due to appeals being won, but for one of the schools, none of the appeals were upheld, while the other school did uphold some appeals, but the figure does not match the number of places allocated above the PAN.

I know there are many experts on here and have been following all the posts about appealing places so would really appreciate your feedback on whether the points I have raised are valid to appeal on.

Thank you for taking the time to read this:-)

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 12-Mar-19 17:29:16

School Y is off a main road which is deemed a Red Route

You can mention it but it is unlikely to carry much weight with the panel. Similarly, being unfamiliar with transport routes is unlikely to carry much weight. The things school X offers that are missing from school Y are more likely to persuade the appeal panel.

could I mention that going to a school which is closest to home, would allow DS to take part in extra-curricular activities and still have time to do homework? If he is having to spend more time travelling, this could have an impact on the activities he can do after school as he would then have less time to spend on homework

Again, you can mention this but it is unlikely to carry a huge amount of weight unless the journey time is unreasonable (more than 75 minutes each way). If the journey is more than 75 minutes, that is a major point which you should bring up.

I have noticed that two of the schools (neither School X nor Y) have admitted above their PAN

PAN is the number they must admit. A school can admit beyond PAN if it wishes. There are also a number of ways it can be foreced to admit beyond PAN - a child getting an EHCP naming the school, a looked after or previously looked after child moving into the area and applying for a place at the school, or a child being allocated a place through the Fair Access Protocol. In some circumstances the local authority can direct a school to admit a child. If they've gone a long way beyond PAN (20+ places) it is likely that the LA persuaded the school to accept a bulge class, i.e. create an additional class for the year in question so that they can admit more pupils without changing PAN.

PanelChair Tue 12-Mar-19 18:00:32

You’re on the right lines, pretty much. You need to find positive reasons for your child to attend this school and no other, so settling into a new area and making friends could be a large component of that. I’d advise against arguing about the red route, though. With very few exceptions, Y7 children are expected to get themselves to school and many of them will have to negotiate main roads. It’ll be hard to convince the panel that your child is any different and, for all you know, their children could be at that school.

It helps your argument if you can show that the school is over PAN in other years, because that shows they can cope with additional pupils.

admission Tue 12-Mar-19 18:35:06

The other issue you need to be careful of here is timing. If you do not move till July then it is unlikely that there will be any appeal hearing much before the end of September.
I think you need to get written confirmation from the LA that they will only consider allocating a school place when you have actually moved. Given the time constraints it would be far preferable if you could apply in mid-June for September start as this will mean an appeal before the summer break. Any information you can supply to the LA in terms of address and when you are moving in will help in trying to get them to accept you application in mid-June.
If the LA will not budge on when you can apply, then you can apply from where you are currently living, say in May. You need to apply to your LA for the preference school where you are going to live. The current LA will pass that on to the other LA and as you are in effect a late application you will go to the very bottom of the waiting list over distance to the school. You will obviously then be rejected by the LA but much more importantly you will be able to appeal and expect to have an appeal before the summer break by which time you will either be in residence or very close to residency.

TheWiff34 Wed 13-Mar-19 09:06:04

Thank you all for taking the time to reply and for your advice. I really appreciate your help and have taken your points on board.

I will contact the LA today to get clarification on the application process as I am also concerned about timings. As we are planning a move in mid-July, we will be looking for rented accommodation from around the beginning of June so with some luck on our side we will have an address in mid-June or shortly after to provide to the LA in the new area. If not, then I will find out what would happen in this instance.

Thanks again:-)

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Wed 13-Mar-19 11:31:42

You're welcome. If you're speaking to the LEA, also check the local rules about rentals and what evidence of residence you'll need to submit.

And I'd endorse everything Admission says about timing. It'll help you if you make an application ASAP (even one from your current address) that enables your appeal to be held in the main round.

TheWiff34 Wed 13-Mar-19 13:06:15

Thank you PanelChair!

I contacted the LA where we are moving to and here is what they said:

As we are moving in mid-July, we should apply to our local LA for a place which will obviously be under our current address in early May. Our LA will co-ordinate with them and they will more than likely reject the application on the grounds that the school is full. My DS would go onto a waiting list.

I should then contact the LA I am moving to for the Appeals form and once this is lodged, allow about 8 weeks for an appeal hearing. I was advised that appeals are normally heard in 30 school days, but some of the primary schools in the LA we are moving to have an extra week during the May half term. These schools are primary and although I am applying for a secondary school place, was advised to err on the side of caution and allow some extra time just in case these extra primary school holidays are included in the time frame.

So, the date in which to make the initial application to our LA is early May, to allow time for the application to be processed by my LA, the LA we are moving to and for me to obtain the appeals form, complete and lodge. Once we have secured accommodation, we need to provide the LA with the tenancy agreement for a minimum period of 6 months. Position on waiting list will then change to reflect the new address. While our appeal won't be heard in the normal round i.e. June, it will at least be heard before the summer break. Better than September! (Thank you admission)

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Wed 13-Mar-19 13:29:40

Hmm. In my view, it would still be better to apply right now. If you apply and therefore appeal later, there is a risk that there will already have been some successful appeals, which strengthens the school’s argument that they can’t take your child because they’re already 3 (or whatever) over PAN. Panels are supposed to take all decisions on the same school at the same time, so if your appeal’s already in the pipeline they should wait to take their decision, but the timeline above suggests that by the time you lodge your appeal the panels may already be sitting. In your shoes I’d try to avoid that risk.

TheWiff34 Wed 13-Mar-19 13:56:41

You make a very good point, PanelChair. The earliest we can get a tenancy agreement and thus secure an address in the new area is around mid to end of June. This will depend on how many rentals are coming up in the period we are looking. So, if I applied now and got an appeal going to be heard in June, I may not have evidence of an address change. If I go to an appeal hearing without having secured accommodation yet, would this not weaken my appeal as all I would have as an argument is that we are looking for a place to rent? How could we get around this?

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Wed 13-Mar-19 15:46:46

Yes, there are pitfalls on either side. Is there no chance of finding a suitable rental and getting a tenancy agreement etc before June?

admission Wed 13-Mar-19 15:59:57

The issue over timing will probably be dictated by the reaction of the LA as to how long they will allow a place to be allocated and not to be taken up. If you are talking about any year group other than 7 then it will probably be no more than a halt term. Obviously for year 7 pupils do know their allocation earlier but they will probably treat pupils arriving from elsewhere as only a half term because they have had too many instances in the past where things change and school places are not taken up. So they keep it to a minimum before the place has to be taken up.
I can only suggest that as soon as you can you start renting.

TheWiff34 Wed 13-Mar-19 19:11:59

Yes, I see what you mean. So, let me play this out: If I apply to my local LA now, that will hopefully get me in the first round of appeals which takes place in June. How would this affect my DS's current secondary school place? He was given his first preference and I have accepted it. Do I have the right to keep this place despite applying for another school 200 miles away? My argument for keeping it at the moment is that a lot can happen between now and when a tenancy agreement is signed. Worst case scenario, is if we haven't managed to move by the time school starts in September, I would like to know that he still has a place. At what point is it reasonable for me to give it up ?

With regards to the tenancy, where do we stand if the tenancy were to start before my DS has finished primary school at the current address? I did mention this scenario (one of us moves while the other remains with DS at current address) when I first called the LA a few weeks ago and not sure if I misunderstood what was said, but I understood that our address would be updated based on DS moving as well and the LA would expect DS to finish his primary education at the new address. Is this reasonable? If a tenancy starts before DS breaks up for the summer, should the LA still consider the address change despite him not living there at the time of the appeal?

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Wed 13-Mar-19 19:46:22

The LA is being reasonable. They are allowed to set their own rules for when a new address is taken into account. Unless their admission arrangements say otherwise, they are allowed to refuse to use your new address until your child is actually living there.

TheWiff34 Thu 14-Mar-19 09:03:10

Thank you prh47bridge.

If I apply now, please could you advise if I am within my rights to keep my DS's current secondary school place until we have signed a tenancy agreement? I am thinking of applying now to be in the initial rounds of appeals. If I don't have an agreement in place by the time of the hearing, could I ask for my hearing to be postponed until I have an address? Or, do you think it is worth attending the hearing in June as we may have found somewhere to stay, but in the process of having all the checks/references done on us with the estate agent? Failing that, at least show evidence that we are actively looking? Although I suppose anyone could probably say they are 'looking'. If the appeal is rejected I understand from reading the education booklet provided by the council that I would only be able to appeal again based on a change of address.

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Thu 14-Mar-19 09:19:00

Evidence of “actively looking” almost certainly won’t be enough to fulfil the LEA’s requirements for proof of address (because, sadly, there are people who aren’t above registering with an estate or two to create a false impression of being about to move into an area, in the misplaced hope of bamboozling their way into a school place). This is why, although timings are tricky here, you need to sort an address in the new area ASAP and, crucially, be able to show that your child is actually residing there (and taking note too of the points made earlier about how long a school/LEA will keep a place open).

You can keep your existing school place right up until you have an offer from another school. Don’t surrender it until you’re sure you’ve got an alternative, unless you’re willing to accept the risk of having nothing in September.

TheWiff34 Thu 14-Mar-19 11:12:56

Thank you PanelChair.

@admission and @PanelChair

Please forgive me for being a bit slow on this one, but regarding the point made about asking the LEA how long they will allow a place to be allocated and not to be taken up. Please could you clarify this one for me?

My understanding is that a place is unlikely to be allocated to my DS because the school is full hence the appeal. The tenancy agreement (showing a commitment to moving) will have a date when we will be moving in (July after DS has finished school). If we're lucky and a place becomes available based on the new address, we accept and DS starts in September. Or, are you referring to places the LEA have already allocated to other DCs, which could potentially become available for my DS if it is not taken up? If I have understood correctly what admission said about allocations for Y7s, is this referring to what I have heard where DCs don't turn up on the first day of term and what process does the LEA follow in this case?

Thanks again for all your help. I am learning so much about the admission process through this forum!

OP’s posts: |
PanelChair Thu 14-Mar-19 12:29:18

Generally speaking, when LEAs allocate school places in-year, they expect them to be taken up in a matter of weeks. Obviously, the situation is different here because you're going to be applying now (or oon) for a place in Y7 for September. This might be a non-issue but if (say) the timing of your relocation slips so that you won't be residing in the new area until (say) November, you may find that the LEA won't keep a place open for that long. It is possible that more places will become available at the school because people accept places elsewhere via waiting lists (including some who just don't show up in September) but that's not the potential (hopefully non-) issue we're flagging up.

In all the circumstances, the sooner you can relocate to the new area the better. Is there no possibility of moving now-ish? Obviously moving mid-way through Y6 isn't ideal, but if he could get into a local school for the rest of Y6 it would help your son settle n the area and you'd literally be in a better place for the application and appeal.

TheWiff34 Thu 14-Mar-19 16:53:18

Ah, got it! Thanks for explaining it to me.

Unfortunately, I am the one slowing down the process due to commitments I have here.

I agree it would have been great to have DS settle into the area a bit more by having him complete his last term of primary in the new location. Hopefully he can make some friends in the summer holidays if there are any holiday clubs running locally. There are some good sports facilities in the area so they may well be running things for kids over the summer.

OP’s posts: |
TheWiff34 Fri 15-Mar-19 10:30:08

Going back to what prh47bridge said about journey time if it is more than 75 minutes each way. What evidence would I be expected to provide to the appeal panel for this? Sorry to be going back to it but just trying to digest everything and after having re-read the education booklet I have more to ask:-)

The admissions adviser and the education booklet mentioned for people moving into the area they would need to offer a place that is within the safest walking distance of 3 miles. Then reading the booklet it states that for relocations to the area, where a place is not available the LA will consult the Head Teacher of the school and decide if the prejudice caused to the child by not offering them a place outweighs the prejudice caused to the school by admitting the child. This was not mentioned to me by the LA when I called them so this to me is an extra step in the process that the LA would need to fulfil before lodging an appeal if I needed to. There is also a statement that if no place can be offered within a reasonable distance the LA must decide which school is appropriate based on the circumstances of the applicant and the school.

So based on this particular LA, should I be looking at the distance from home to school should be within 3 miles (shortest walking route) or journey time of no more than 75 minutes?

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Fri 15-Mar-19 21:54:53

If the school is more than 75 minutes away the LA will have to provide free transport. So you are looking at the time it takes via whatever form of transport they provide. If it is a bus pass, the bus timetables will do. If it is a school bus or a taxi, time the journey by car and measure the distance. The appeal panel will know the area so you won't have to come up with lots of evidence around the journey time.

The relevance of 3 miles is that if the shortest safe walking distance is longer than that the LA must provide free transport, so there is obviously an incentive for them to stay within that limit. However, for appeal purposes a journey is only unreasonable if it is more than 75 minutes each way.

TheWiff34 Fri 22-Mar-19 10:08:05

Here's an update on where things are at the moment.

I have applied for a place for my DS with my LEA. I have also spoken to the appeals clerk at the LEA where we are moving to and was informed when the appeal hearing will take place for the school we have applied for. With a bit of luck we will have a signed tenancy agreement in place by then (fingers crossed). At least there's a date we can work towards. Thanks again for the great advice to get my application in now!!

One of the things I need some clarity on is about admissions and how places are allocated. I was informed that if my DS is not allocated the school we have applied for then the LEA will allocate a place at the nearest school with availability. This, I referred to as School Y in my first post. What I failed to mention at the time of my post is that the school is CofE which has converted to an Academy and it's last admission criterion (number 7) shows it will admit 'Other children'.

When I called the LEA a few days ago I was informed that School Y is now also getting full and was informed the next school that could be offered is School Z (Catholic). I understand when applying for schools you obviously check the admission criteria and base your preferences on whether your DC is suitable. If you're not suitable you don't list it as a preference. However, if you don't get offered a place at the schools you've listed as a preference, for whatever reason, it seems that my DS could be offered a Faith school because there's space even though I would not have applied for it due to the admission criteria. School Y mainly takes DCs who have a commitment or some commitment to church or from some of the feeder schools. For the Faith school it is very similar but the last criterion is for non-Catholic DCs whose parents want them to have a Catholic education.

If I have understood this correctly, based on the admission criteria, I would not apply for such schools, but since the LEA have a duty to ensure children have a school place, it would appear that a DC could be allocated a school they would not have otherwise been eligible for?

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Fri 22-Mar-19 11:36:41

The LA has to find a place for your son somewhere. If none of your preferences are available they will offer the nearest school with places. If these schools have places you are definitely eligible for them.

The last criterion for the RC school is a little debatable in its wording - if you apply and they have a place available they must admit regardless of whether or not you want your child to have a Catholic education.

If all schools are full the LA must still find a place for your son so it has to get a school to admit him even though they are already full. They can use their Fair Access Protocol for this if necessary, which could result in him getting a place at a school where he would never normally be admitted.

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