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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:02 pm 
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Please can anyone help me with the following

We have just had an independent appeal turned down on the following grounds.

Circumstances

In catchment

Non qualified

Strong academic evidence and headteacher support

All school places allocated


The panel found that the evidence we submitted explained the non qualification and that therefore child deemed to have attained eligibility criteria for qualification, but that we did not present enough compelling evidence as to why we wanted child to go to school.

We do have some very genuine and real reasons why and to be honest the panel did not ask anything at all about what alternative provision we had made which would have drawn out the reasons.

There is far more to the case than this but this is just an outline. I would be happy to give further details if anyone can help.

My main questions at this point are

If child is eligible following panel decision and meets criteria in terms of postcode then should we not be offered a place or at the very very least added to waiting list, which seems to consist of all children from outside catchment who were not in the postcode area or top twenty scores?

Has panel been at fault by not asking what school we would send child to if not admitted?

Letter says result is binding on school and panel- can we take further and to whom?


I would be very very grateful for any help/advice anyone could offer. Thanks so much.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:23 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Hi Tiddlymum,
I am sure Etienne will be along later to give you more answers, but here are a couple of observations in the meantime.

You said
We do have some very genuine and real reasons why and to be honest the panel did not ask anything at all about what alternative provision we had made which would have drawn out the reasons.

It is essentially up to you to present the reasons that you wish the panel to take into consideration. A panel cannot infer reasons which are not put before them and whilst they may elicit further information in their questioning it is not up to them to cover any ground which you may not have included in your submissions. If the alternative provision was important to your case for your child it was really for you to you to raise this issue. Therefore, I don't feel the panel were at fault for not asking about the alternative school.

The other issue you have raised I think is more complicated. Firstly, just to clarify, the waiting list for a school is managed completely separately from the appeals process. It is not within the panel's remit to tell a school or LA to add a child or determine a child's place on the waiting list - they may only allow the appeal which means the child is admitted or dismiss it which means the child does not get a place. You should contact the school or LA directly about the waiting list and ask that, given the fact that the part of the appeal that was against non-qualification was upheld, your child is placed on the list in the appropriate position.

If I have understood you correctly, you believe that, had your child qualified before places were allocated, (s)he would definitely have got a place? I have never seen a case where someone has succeeded at the non-qualification part of an appeal but not at the oversubscription part where they would definitely have got a place had they qualified with the others at the normal time and took the tests at the normal time. I think there is a question of natural justice here. It does not seem just to me that a child should miss out on a place they would have got had they qualified at the correct time.

However, the same considerations do not apply equally when the child has been a late entrant or where the school admits on score order (where a panel may consider that the child should have reached the qualifying score but nevertheless not attained a high enough score to gain a place).

I am not sure how the ombudsman would view the natural justice consideration but it might be worth talking to their helpline to sound them out a bit. I think, though, that you must be very clear that your child would definitely have got a place had they reached the qualifying score when they took the tests.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:12 am 
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Dear Tiddlymum

I agree with Alex.

A skilful panel might possibly have done more to draw your case out of you, but I don't think they can necessarily be blamed for not asking about alternative provision - they were there to hear your reasons for wanting this particular school, and it was up to you to tell them any points you wanted to be taken into consideration.

The waiting list, as Alex has explained, is nothing to do with an appeals panel. That is between you and the admission authority, and I see no reason why they can't add you to the waiting list now.

I'm not sure you will get anywhere with the natural justice argument. Where a school is oversubscribed, your only recourse normally is to convince an appeal panel that your reasons for wanting a place outweigh any prejudice to the school.

However, I'm uneasy about the use of the word "compelling" in the decision. It seems to me that from a technical point of view you do not have to put forward "compelling" reasons, but you do need to have reasons that are sufficient to outweigh any prejudice to the school.

The decision is binding unless there has been a procedural error so serious as to cause an injustice, in which case you can complain to the ombudsman.

Was it made clear to you, for example, that the school had to explain why the admission of an extra pupil would cause prejudice, and that you would have to put forward reasons why you wanted a place?

You will find out a bit more about the procedure for oversubscription appeals in C1-C2 here:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... #section-C

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:43 am 
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Location: Gloucestershire
TIDDLYMUM wrote:
If child is eligible following panel decision and meets criteria in terms of postcode then should we not be offered a place


Yes, but don't forget that they are not just looking at your appeal - they're looking at all the appeals that they have decided are eligible and balancing them against the school. In a simple case - they found that there were two appeals eligible, and then decided that the school could only accommodate one more pupil without damaging all the other pupils - then they have to decide which one to allow.

Quote:
or at the very very least added to waiting list,

Down to the school now - appeals are totally separate to the waiting list. Unfortunately if they've allowed more appeals, then the school will be oversubscribed and they won't be able to allow anyone else off the waiting list until it's back down to the published admission number.

Quote:
Has panel been at fault by not asking what school we would send child to if not admitted?


No. In our area, the panels are supplied with details of which schools they have applied for and which one they have been allocated. We don't take any notice of the order they have put the schools down in - so you could have put the school you're appealing for as last choice, but we will treat the appeal equally to one where it's the first choice.

Quote:
Letter says result is binding on school and panel- can we take further and to whom?

That's why it's an independent appeal panel - our decision is binding on both the parents and the school (so the school can't go off and say 'we don't want 8 more pupils - we're not having them').

If the process of the appeal was wrong you can take it to the Ombudsman, but not if you just don't like the decision the panel came to.

Only once has an appeal I was on a panel for been referred to the Ombudsman, and that was purely because the parents didn't like our decision - hence the Ombudsman rejected their complaint after investigating. More and more parents take this route now - they don't like the panels decision so think "we'll take it to the boss" - all the Ombudsman can do is order a re-appeal with a new panel, and of course, by that time the school is even more likely to be full to the seams so is less likely to succeed. But the threat of having an appeal go to the Ombudsman does keep us on our toes and both us and our clerks do our level best to assure that appeals are properly and fairly heard.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:15 pm 
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Hello

Thanks so much to you all. At work now so will go home tonight to read, think and post reply later.

TIDDLYMUM


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:42 am 
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Hello

Just phoned the school who have said that (on request) they will add my niece to the waiting list for a place!

From memory and at the time of the appeal, the first person on the waiting list was further away from the school (admission criteria is on distance after allocation to the top 20 scores) so dependent on what the appeal has thrown up then we should be near to or at the top of the list.

I am still going to write to the Appeal Clerk with some additional circumstances about why we would require a place (we didn't really push this enough at the appeal as we were concentrating on the non qual so much, in hindsight this was a big mistake).

Amongst the reason is that the alternative school that we have selected (very few alternatives on offer) is a sixteen mile bus ride away, and a bus ride away from the school bus on top! With two younger children I am nor sure of how the logistics of this will work. There is also the cost factor as there is only a single family wage and teh cost is £65.00 per month.

Anyway, thanks so much to the three of you for your advice. We are in a better position than we were this time last week and keeping everything crossed for the waiting list. Best of luck to anyone else in similar positions.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:13 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
TIDDLYMUM wrote:
I am still going to write to the Appeal Clerk with some additional circumstances about why we would require a place (we didn't really push this enough at the appeal as we were concentrating on the non qual so much, in hindsight this was a big mistake).


Nothing can be considered after the panel has made its decision, so no point writing to the clerk - and the panel has nothing to do with waiting list order at all. If it is new, significant information, then you might be able to apply for a new appeal; however, be warned that the school will be even more full now if other appeals have been upheld.

Sorry to be pessimistic.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:49 am 
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I have posted some information to the Confidential Inbox. Do you think there is anything else we can do?

Any info would be grateffully received.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:06 pm 
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Dear TIDDLYMUM

I've had a look at your message in the Appeals Box.

As I've asked before: Was it made clear to you that the school had to explain why the admission of an extra pupil would cause prejudice, and that you would have to put forward reasons why you wanted a place?
The process should have been explained properly in writing in advance of the hearing. If it wasn't, then there might be grounds for a complaint.

There is no requirement for appeals to be timetabled before allocations are made, so I don't think this is a matter for the ombudsman.

Sorry that I can't be more helpful.

With regard to the W/L, as a last resort you could demand to know the position by quoting the Data Protection Act. The school can charge up to £10 for this, but must respond to any such written request from the parent. (However, I've never heard of anyone having to go to such lengths to find out their child's position on the W/L!)

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Hi TIDDLYMUM,
I have a great deal of sympathy with you – to win on non-qualification but then lose on oversubscription when you know a place would have been allocated had the child qualified at the right time is desperately disappointing.

However, the system of hearing non-qualification appeals after allocation is the usual one and it inevitably means that many, if not most, Grammar Schools will be full by the time appeals are heard. I think Buckinghamshire are unique in having a formal system of hearing non-qualification appeals by independent appeals panels before allocation.

The fact that you were facing both non-qualification issues and oversubscription issues should have been apparent from the school’s case for prejudice which should have been sent to you before the appeal. I am really sorry but I think if you did not make the arguments about why this particular school was the right one for your child either in your “reasons for appealâ€


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