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School appeals - help offered

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
1.2K replies 218.8K views
hayleyjghayleyjg Forumite
34 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
I work for an local authority in the school admissions team and have many years experience of school appeals (both admissions and exclusions) so if anyone has any questions I would be happy to help.
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  • inkieinkie Forumite
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    Thanks for that offer, I am sure it will prove invaluable to some people on here.
  • lyns_2lyns_2 Forumite
    314 posts
    hayleyjg wrote:
    I work for an local authority in the school admissions team and have many years experience of school appeals (both admissions and exclusions) so if anyone has any questions I would be happy to help.

    Hi my Daughter ha been offered 3rd on our list it was a school we did not want but had to put down as there is another school not to far away that no one wants and they tend to send all children there that dont get any of their choices.I have phoned for a appeal form and found out the last nonsibling offered a place was 4357mtrs from the school and we are 4372mtrs.
    The school i was offerd is about 2000mtrs from where we live but i have found out that it is a mainly white school and my daughter is mixed race and a lot of bullying goes on there. she is not very confident and quiet and all her friends have been given the prefered school even though they live 2 bus rides from there and we are on the school bus route it seems so unfair working it out as the crow flies.

    My problem seems to be what reason do i give on the appeal form
    Number 4 due 21st jan
  • KarrieKarrie Forumite
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    oh thank you thank you thank you. I am appealing against our authorities decision. Is the process of attending a hearing as bad as it sounds? also, I found out today that a lot of parents only put one choice of school down and not the minimum of two as requested on the form. Can they do that? All my sons friends got their choice (they only put one so they say) and I put two (because the form said I had to) and he gets the school he refuses to go to (long story). Any information would be greatly welcome - thank you.
    Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what yer gonna get ;);)
  • hayleyjg wrote:
    I work for an local authority in the school admissions team and have many years experience of school appeals (both admissions and exclusions) so if anyone has any questions I would be happy to help.
    Thanks for the offer. My daughter wasn't offered any of our choices in secondary school. Unfortunately we live 5 minutes from the local dustbin school that nobody wants to go to due to pupils stabbing, fighting and failing educationally. It is the only school that currently have vacancies. The LA site our choice schools all being oversubscribed and us being out of catchment area. I'm appealing in desperation, in yr opinion what grounds can win this appeal? Can you offer any tips on the appeal? I am considering employing one of these appeal consultantancies is there anyone with experience/advice on this? I live in London so naturally I need all the help anyone can offer me!!!!
  • hayleyjghayleyjg Forumite
    34 posts
    To all who replied, my apologies for not replying earlier but life has been very hectic, as we have just sent out 11,000+ high school offer letters.

    As a general point ( and I have no connection with this gentleman at all) the best book about school appeals is "How to win your school appeal" by Ben Rooney which is the most sensible book about the process I have seen.

    To lyns - two points

    1. Distance - is it specified how the distance was measured. We use crow fly distances but other authorities use different methods such as walking routes from home to school. It can be possible to challenge these at appeals if you believe that a route you would use is shorter or if the route they are suggesting is unsafe. It may also be useful to check how the distance was actually measured as there may be room for challenge there.

    2. Panel's often hear cases involving allegations of actual or feared bullying and these can be a strong factor in winning an appeal particularly if there is racist element. You will need to prove to the panel that bullying is a problem at the school you have been offered. Look at the last OFSTED report for the school - it may mention it and you could use it as evidence at the appeal. Also you should provide evidence that your daughter is particularly vulnerable - has she been the victim of bullies or racist incidents in the past. Maybe her present teacher could write a letter in support (note however not all teachers will do this). Your case will be much stronger if your can produce evidence from third parties.

    To karrie – parents are able to put as many preferences on the form as they wish. We allow parents three preferences but many only put one particularly if they live in a rural area where it is only practical to go the local school It doesn’t make any difference how many preferences you put down when places are allocated.

    Please don’t be put off at the thought of attending a hearing. Yes it is a bit daunting as you have to face a room full of people, three (or sometime five) panel members, a clerk and a representative of the local authority (this is what I do as part of my job). However it is the reasons for your appeal that are important NOT so much how you present that. I have been at appeals where parents have employed barristers to present their case and still been unsuccessful while very nervous or inarticulate families have been successful. Panel are experienced in getting information out of parents but you do have to prepared for the odd strange question! It is always worth putting an appeal in.

    To: seekerof : You are unlikely to be unsuccessful if you base you appeal on slogging another off. This is very common and if a panel have a lot of appeals for one school where the parents are opposed to one other school they will hear this argument over and over again. What you need to concentrate on is why it is important for your child to go to the school you are appealing for. The legal test put simply is that it is more important for your child to go to the school than for the school to have another pupil. You need to look at the sprecif reason why you rchild need to go the school. As I said above any supporting evidence is always useful for example if you are claiming a medical reason, get a doctors or hospital report.

    I don;t have any experince of the school consultancies but i would recommend the book above as a starting point.

    That’s some very basic advice. If anyone has any specific questions, let mw know.
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • KarrieKarrie Forumite
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    Thank you - I received the above mentioned book yesterday and you are right, it is very informative. I have since found our that 2 girls that live in another county have got into the preferred school (no siblings, no special needs) can I bring this up at an appeal?

    I have to admit, I am not the sharpest tool in the box and I am really very nervous about doing this appeal on behalf of my son. I am so passionate about the reasons he should not go to the other school, I am worried that I might break down in tears or something silly like that.
    Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what yer gonna get ;);)
  • KarrieKarrie Forumite
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    Sorry another question - I have read the ofsted report of the school that my son has been allocated - not good reading when it comes to the quality of teaching and the behaviour of the pupils. I guess I should put this in my appeal huh?
    Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what yer gonna get ;);)
  • hayleyjghayleyjg Forumite
    34 posts
    I would suggest that you are careful in quoting the OFSTED too much. It may be more sensible to include some really pertinant quotes about the school you have been alloacted and contrast then them with quotes from the OFSTED of the school you want. The question reagrding the two girls from another county - you should be sent a copy of the school's written case saying why it is full beofre the appeal. this should include deatils of how many children have been allocatde places at the school and how many were allocated in which category of the admission criteria. You could challenge that if you think that children who fall into a lower catgepory then your son have been offered a place and he hasn't. Although they may say that that they cannot talk about other families details, they should answer the point as a general issue.

    Please don't worry about crying at the hearing - many parents do. Panels realise that it is a very stressful and emotional experience. It's always worth appealling - the statistics say than nationally aroung a thrid of parents are sucessful. Don't forget that even if you are sucessful this year, you can appeal again in the next school year.
  • KarrieKarrie Forumite
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    Thank you for your help and advise. It's nice to have someone that knows the ins and outs. Stupid me thought he would have no problem getting in to this school and now my whole life is taken up by this appeal. Without a doubt I am doing it for my son but I never realised how it would make us all feel. Thanks again. :beer:
    Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what yer gonna get ;);)
  • silvercarsilvercar Forumite, Board Guide
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    Karrie wrote:
    Thank you - I received the above mentioned book yesterday and you are right, it is very informative. I have since found our that 2 girls that live in another county have got into the preferred school (no siblings, no special needs) can I bring this up at an appeal?

    We live on the boundary of three London boroughs and a shire county; geographically we are in the county but there is one local school that is dire. It was formed by amalgamating two dire schools, so they now have only one school at the bottom of the league tables rather than two - allegedly.
    Anyway people try every which way they can to cross boundaries.

    There was a ruling a few years ago, that I understand is still in force (as its used a lot round here!). Its called the Greenwich ruling from memory. Basically a school can have a criteria measured by distance but they cannot discriminate by artificial boundaries. So you can have rules by measuring distance from school to home but schools cannot state that you have to live in a particular local authority or county.

    It may be that the 2 girls you refer to actually live nearer the school.
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