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Secondary Appeal

(14 Posts)
MovingTowardsANewPositivity Wed 04-Mar-20 12:59:00

We are devastated our son has been refused a place at our first choice preferred secondary school for September 2020 and are planning on appealing the decision.

Does anyone have any advice on how to best present our case to the hearing at the appeal please?

We are planning on appealing on the grounds of the preferred school being better able to meet his needs, he has a variety of SEN/disabilities and the allocated school will not meet his needs (his older sister attends there in Year 8 at present and receives no help at all with her SEN as she is 'too academically able'!)

I was planning on outlining his strengths and difficulties and using information gathered to show how the preferred school better meets these needs, rather than stating that the offered school will not meet his needs, but I am not sure of exactly what are considered to be sufficient or suitable grounds for appeal. Or how best to structure my case.

We do not live in catchment for the preferred school, in fact we are around 20 miles away but I am a full time carer to both younger children so would be driving him to school.

We also would like to transfer his sister into year 9 in September (due to her lack of support at current school and logistical issues with being in two places at once...).

We are also considering moving into catchment later this year. So I think we have done all we can but I just desperately do not want to mess this up, and would appreciate any ideas from those who have done this before, thanks smile.

We applied for an EHCP in July 2019, to allow an entire school year for the process, as we know our LA do not stick to the legal timescale of 20 weeks...but received a letter refusing to issue an EHCP following his needs assessment on Saturday, which we are also appealing.

If we are successful in appealing the EHCP and one is issued we will be naming our first preferred choice in that so should be offered a place.

I have also just managed to find out that my son is at no. 8 on the waiting list.

Thanks in advance if anyone managed to read all that and has any advice but I wanted to include all relevant information about the situation!

OP’s posts: |
AlunWynsKnee Wed 04-Mar-20 16:04:36

You are right that you need to focus on why the requested school can meet his needs. You need letters from relevant professionals with specific points you will be claiming in your statement. You need clear evidenced points too.
As for the EHCNA do try mediation - it can work and doesn't prevent you appealing further.

MovingTowardsANewPositivity Sun 08-Mar-20 00:50:33

Thank you Alun, I have arranged mediation re EHCP and started preparing my grounds for the school appeal too, so fingers crossed one way or another we will get him there!

I have focused on reasons why we believe the preferred school meets his needs best and what it offers that the offered school doesn't, as well as what he can offer the school.

I have his diagnoses letters, a copy of his recent EP report (done for EHCP Needs Assessment) and a letter is being written by his current teacher. I'm taking him for a full dyslexia assessment on Monday so hopefully the report from that with his strengths and weaknesses may help too. I'm thinking of getting DS to write a letter, just saying why he would like to attend preferred school but not sure if that's a good or bad idea?

OP’s posts: |
AlunWynsKnee Sun 08-Mar-20 01:09:30

We took dd with us to the mediation but advice on here I've seen was not to use a letter from the child. Appeal boards like facts!
The LA will say that all schools cope with 'common' issues like autism, dyslexia etc so focus on specific difficulties. You need to identify everything the school advertises that suits your ds that the other school doesn't. After school clubs, in school clubs, uniform, environment, accessibility etc. Don't waffle on your statement.

LuluJakey1 Sun 08-Mar-20 01:27:30

Having sat through lots of appeals, they are turned down on the basis of SEN in the vast majority of cases unless the school has a particular additionally resourced provision such as MLD unit (which should be covered by an EHCP really). Otherwise, the view is all secondary schools are equipped and do deal with SEN - dyslexia, ADHD, ASD etc.
Why do you think your preferred school will better meet his SEN? Or is that what you think may be your best bet to win an appeal?
I have only seen two cases where the appeal succeeded out of over 50. Both lived close to the school and the parent had not completed the application until very late. Both related to traumatic family circumstances - the impact of terminal illness or death of a parent or sibling on an already vulnerable family and a very vulnerable child with grandparents who lived near the school and were providing extensive support. Both were supported by CAMHS reports. Had the parent applied on time both would have lived close enough to the school to be offered a place- although others in the catchment would not have then received offers.
I have never seen an SEN appeal that was granted.

LuluJakey1 Sun 08-Mar-20 01:28:48

What he can offer the school is nice but irrelevant to an appeal.

AlunWynsKnee Sun 08-Mar-20 01:34:27

Lulu we won our appeal that centred around dd's autism. There were many things about the offered school that presented real difficulties for dd and many reasons why our preferred school was far more suitable.

MagicMM Mon 09-Mar-20 09:51:16

Has anybody heard of successful appeal for places by selective criteria/ability criteria. I think they are the most difficult cause places are allocated purely on exam score. What ground of appeal you should have in order to win. Thanks.

I have read or heard for an example when 2 brothres are already in the same grammar and the child achieved exceptionally well in primary and they won. I have heard for other cases when they got a place after appeal but no information why and how. Generally, it is possible even for grammars but still is a question for me how and based on what solid grounds ?

PanelChair Mon 09-Mar-20 10:15:52

MagicMM - I suggest you start your own thread, as that needs to be a separate discussion. The difficulty centres around explaining why the child is of grammar school ability yet did not get a high enough score in the test.

OP - You’re on the right lines. Obviously it will be easier if you get the EHCP naming the school. Before then, it’s good that you have letters from various professionals but do they state clearly that in their professional opinion your child will be disadvantaged if they don’t attend this school? Simply documenting their needs isn’t enough, particularly since (as others have said) all schools are expected to cater for a wide range of needs. You need to be clear about aspects of provision in this school which cater for his needs and aren’t available elsewhere.

LuluJakey1 Mon 09-Mar-20 10:21:22

alan You are one of the few, I think. Appeals are quite heartbreaking to hear because families so desperately want the best for their children and the process is usually so strict. However, occasionally a panel is persuaded.

Ihatemyseleffordoingthis Mon 09-Mar-20 10:22:13


Just sending solidarity - and also to say 8th on the waiting list is probably great - my dd was 37th - we had to wait until January, but her number came up - basically, even if the appeal is unsuccessful, hold your nerve.

Can your child's primary head send a note saying this school would be better on their understanding of your son's needs? and yes then imagine yourself answering the essay question: how does this school, and no other meet your son's needs best? Focus only on the school you want, not the one you don't.

Also tactically, if there is an in year place available now for your DD - ad that will work for her, move her now - if it is likely that a sibling link will move you up the waiting list.

MovingTowardsANewPositivity Tue 31-Mar-20 01:08:33

Just wanted to update to say the situation has now been resolved smile. The LA overturned their decision and an EHCP is being prepared, and I had a phone call from the Admissions team a couple of days ago to say that my son had been offered a place at our first choice school grin, really happy and relieved that I no longer have to prepare for two hearings!

I have just applied for a place at our preferred school for our dd to transfer into year 9 from September 2020, so fingers crossed she will get a place too, thanks for everyone's advice and support, it was much appreciated thanks.

OP’s posts: |
MovingTowardsANewPositivity Tue 31-Mar-20 01:13:52

I had already sent in our appeal grounds documents, which included a letter from his current teacher (who is fab and lovely) and a copy of his Ed Psych report that said he needed small group/extended transition which only the preferred school offered (why we wanted him to go there!) and I had 8 grounds in total so I like to think they saw all my evidence and thought they didn't fancy their chances - DH said the LA see my name and think 'nah, this one is not going to go away' so they roll over...grin!

OP’s posts: |
Enko Fri 03-Apr-20 10:14:25

Good news you got a place.

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