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schools appeal advice urgently needed

Discussion in 'Governors' started by schooling123, May 12, 2013.

  1. Dear

    We are appealing against our daughter not securing a place into the school of her 1st choice. We are using a multi-angled approach in terms of our appeal. Our approach is as follows:

    A Specialism - we are using the schools specialism of MUSIC as the main argument.
    This is because our daughter (11) has not only played piano for 6 years and passed grades 1 and 2 and is currently studying for grade 3, but is also a performing arts student in two other areas acting (acting singing and dance) and circus skills at two prominent performing arts schools. Not intending to blow our own trumpets just trying to present a full picture to the forum.

    B EXTRA TUITION and academic help; our daughter has needed help with math’s (and being distracted) for the last two years and we have employed a tutor to help this. Although it has worked and she is blossoming there is work yet to be done. The tutor will have to stop teaching our daughter at the end of year 6 as she is only qualified to teach math’s (and help with other subjects) up to a primary perspective. It has also been a major financial strain and we are not hopeful that we will have the finds to continue paying for a private tutor. The school we wish our daughter to attend offers excellent facilities’ for extra tuition in fact any child not performing HAS to attend extra help outside normal school hours. The school has a zero tolerance towards bad behavior and offers a strict nurturing environment for children that have difficulty in academic work.

    C Our daughter is an only child and has a strong network of friends (from primary school) that are actually going to the school she has been refused. So we are using this angle also.

    D the allocated school is girls only school and our daughter is adamant that she wishes to go to a mixed school only. we also think that it is important for her to be with males and females.

    To give our daughter the best chance to win the appeal we are also using a third party professional at the appeal, who has written books on the subject of school appeals and helped us formulate the best approach. He has helped us with drafting the personal statement. He is going to concentrate on the technical administrative areas and loopholes such as class size, reasons for admission refusal, prejudice (formal term not race issues) and other less well known technical approaches etc.
    I would like to state that we are poor not well off, my ex partner has had to do out of hours manual laboring just to pay for the representative who is not cheap, though extremely knowledge.
    Everything possible, we have managed (barely) to do. The appeal is in a few days so we are pleading for any and all parents (successful or not) to post on this thread offering us (two ex partners who have come together for their daughter) to post their experiences good and bad which will give us a better insight about the appeals procedure. We are specifically interested in knowing anything we should or shouldn’t do on the day that will impact the panel’s decision for the better. For example, dress, attitude, being formal or over emotional, pushy etc.

    Thank you for your support and we await your valued replies.
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Is this for a Grammar school that selects all its intake by overall academic ability ?

    If not, does the school select part of its intake (typically 10%) by aptitude for Music? Or is Music just its specialism but aptitude for it gives no admissions priority?
  3. Hi thank you for coming back to me.

    This is for an academy but it is very over subscribed. There were approx 1200 applications for 200 places.Music is just its specialism but aptitude for it gives no admissions priority.

    I look forward to your response.
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    schooling123, I chair independent admissions appeal panels and I think it's very hard to advise you on this without knowing all your personal situation and that of the school, things that of course you cannot post on a public forum. It's especially hard to comment without knowing the school's oversubscription criteria. One thing I can answer though is your final question; it will make no difference what you wear! Parents are often emotional at hearings, I wouldn't worry about that. Most of all panels respond best to cases that are clearly presented and (where relevant) you have provided supporting evidence for.

    You have hired a professional to advise and represent you so they ought to be able to help you on what to say. The key to its is the 'prejudice' argument you refer to. You need to demonstrate that not admitting your daughter to the school would cause more problems for your daughter than it would for the school if it took in one more pupil, that your daughter would be more disadvantaged than the school would be.

    I have to be honest with you and say that the case you have outlined here doesn't sound strong and I'm doubtful how far the music specialism argument will get you. Discuss it with your representative. The school doesn't give admissions priority to applicants with musical ability or aptitude so however hard you argue for your daughter's ability it will probably won't carry much weight with the appeals panel. C and D are potentially stronger arguments but even so not likely to win you a place. Your argument 'C' is one panels hear from nearly every parent and it rarely carries much weight.

    I realise I'm not offering you many positive comments here, but really the only thing I can say, on the very limited information you can post, is that you discuss it with your representative. Also look at the websites of organisations like ACE and local parent partnership groups who have good advice on how to prepare and submit your case. This is the ACE guidance for example:

    Middlemarch likes this.
  5. Thank you

    Would it be possible to speak with you on the telephone for five mins of your time? My no is 07904256571 or perhaps I could email you directly as pretty urgent

    Thank you
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Sorry schooling, but I always make it a rule that I only discuss governnace and school issues on the public forums.
  7. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    I'm not sure what your third party professional is telling you, but you should be aware that the appeals process is, in effect, a legal one, not an emotional one.

    The only grounds legitimate grounds for appeal are that your daughter should have been admitted in the first place because she achieved the admissions criteria but still wasn't offered a place. The role of any professional in this is to e.g. establish that the school admitted pupils from up to 1 mile away but your daughter resides 0.8 miles away.

    I am a Y6 teacher, and see parents appealing all the time. The only successful one this year that I know of was a child who had a sibling in the school, and this was number 2 (after looked-after children) on their admissions list - ie the admissions people made a mistake and could be shown to have admitted children from criteria 3 & 4.

    The music may be a way forward if the admissions panel believe that your daughter's music skills are comparable to the 10% of those who were offered a place based on their musical ability.

    Points B-D are largely irrelevant since any reference to pupils needing extra support and/or pastoral care which are likely to be in the admissions policy are really reserved for those children with huge SEN and/or emotional needs who for whatever reason would not cope anywhere else. This would normally be backed up by educational psychologist statements and/or other professionals (e.g. social services).

    Focus on Point A, quote the admissions criteria frequently in your appeal, and try to find some data which indicates that the school was admitting children from categories below those relevant to your daughter.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    To put it politely littlerussel, that is nonsense and would seriously have seriously misled schooling123 were it not for the fact that their appeal was last week so I doubt schooling123 will ever read it. That is one legitimate grounds for appeal, it is neither the only one nor the most common one. I suggest you read the School Admission Appeals Code 2012 before offering advice on how to present admissions appeals.

    schooling123 has already said that the school in question does not give admissions priority for musical aptitude.

  9. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Rott Weiler -

    As I read it, your link actually proves most of my post correct. Paragraphs 3.2 and 3.7 make it clear that the role of the panel is to determine whether the admissions process has been correctly applied, before progressing to a second stage where they consider the impact of admitting the child to the school (on the child and the school).

    In a heavily over-subscribed school, there will be a very limited number of circumstances which the appeals panel will need to test have been applied correctly. Given that there is no mention of faith, and no selection by aptitude, then the possibilities might be

    (i) Looked-after or statement of SEN (not mentioned in the OP's post)

    (ii) Siblings in the school (not mentioned)

    (iii) Distance from the school.

    Once these criteria have been applied, the school will certainly be full since it is so heavily over-subscribed.

    (i) My child needs extra tuition (there is no mention of SEN).

    (ii) My child wants to be with her friends

    (iii) My child wants to be in a girls' school.

    (iv) My child is good at music.

    If none of these are mentioned in the schools' admission criteria, they simply cannot admit her. (i)-(iii) are clearly irrelevant. On (iv) I wrongly assumed that musical aptitude was relevant (I missed the OP's second post), but it still remains stronger than any of the others.

    Other than challenging the specific application of the admissions criteria, how else will the child be admitted?
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    As you have now found out there are two stages to the appeal. The First Stage (the paras 3.2 and 3.7 that you refer to) deals with (amongst other things) whether the school admission policy has been correctly applied. Admission appeals then normally proceed to the Second Stage, balancing the relative 'prejudice' to the school and the pupil of not admitting the pupil (paras 3.8 - 3.10 of SAAC). It is therefore not true, as you asserted, that "the only grounds legitimate grounds for appeal are that your daughter should have been admitted in the first place because she achieved the admissions criteria but still wasn't offered a place". Applying the admissions policy incorrectly does happen but is uncommon. Most successful admissions appeals are on prejudice grounds and are decided at the Second Stage, and that is the answer to your final question. Precisely what that argument might be in schooling123's case is unknowable on this forum, although I did say to schooling123 that in my opinion, as the Chair of an admissions appeals panel, on the information posted their case looked weak.

    Untrue, Second Stage is about 'balancing prejudice' and these are potentially relevant factors. How strong they are is a different matter, I don't think they are very strong but they are valid considerations in assessing prejudice all the same. Whether they are mentioned in the school's admissions criteria has nothing to do with it, at the Second Stage 'balancing prjudice' decision you are, by definition, only considering matters which are not in the school's admissions criteria.
  11. v1vam

    v1vam New commenter

    Hmmm - I am in a trickier position - my child has not been allocated a place at either 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice. The school she has been allocated is where I work. The local council agree that the placement is wrong for her but there are no other spaces in any other school nearby as high birth rate year in this area. They can only put her on a waiting list for a school which is 54 mins journey away needing 2 buses and walks between stops. Does anyone know what to do if my appeals are not successful?
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    @v1vam Is this for admission to Primary (Reception) or secondary transfer (Year 7)?

    "The local council agree that the placement is wrong for her". What was their grounds for saying that? Is the Council the Admissions Authority for the school?
  13. v1vam

    v1vam New commenter

    This is for 2ndry school transfer. The council can see the complications of having a child in the same school. She is on SA+ and simply where I work is the wrong school for her. School admissions are very sympathetic but there are no places to offer. I have an appeals date - hoping for the best.
  14. v1vam

    v1vam New commenter

    The council does not have admissions control over the schools which are suitable. They only have spaces in the one she has been allocated and can only offer waiting lists for schools with too difficult a journey.
  15. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    It's awful that this happens. When I was at school-and in fact most of the time I was teaching-this never seemed to happen. You just didn't hear of schools being 'oversubscribed'. Never heard of any friends/family in any area not getting a place at their local school.
  16. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    If the admissions IAP panel decision is that your appeal fails then you have to accept the place that has been offered (unless you take your child out of the state system and go private, or home educate). You can't bring another appeal for the same school year.

    Check with the schools whose waiting lists you are on where you are on the waiting list you are and whether it is likely a place will come up for you during 2016/17.

    If in 12 months time you are still unhappy with the school allocated you can make another application for admission to year 8 in your preferred schools, and if that is unsuccessful make another appeal. After your child has been in his school for the whole of Year 7 though, made new friends, your child may be reluctant to make a change.

    It would help your case at appeal if the council was willing to put that in writing. I doubt they will though, or that the IAP will give that much weight. Children being pupils at a school where their parent works is common and doesn't normally cause any 'complications', unless there are some unusual circumstances in your case.
    v1vam likes this.

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