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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:54 am 
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I have an appeal hearing for a secondary school place at a Foundation school in early September. I have been home educating up until now.

I am finding it all very overwhelming and have a few questions I hope someone can help me with.

1)I have received the notice of the appeal date and it says the hearing is to take place at the school where I'm trying to get a place for my son. The rules & regs says the venue must be neutral. I don't know whether I should be complaining about this or not or do you think it doesn't really matter?

2)Also, how do I know the three panel members don't have any connections to the school. Do I ask the appeal clerk whether or not they do or do I just assume they don't?

3) I am appealing against the schools claim it is oversubscribed for a year 8 place for this September. I applied in June for a year 8 place to start in Sept' but was told that it had to be considered as an application for a year 7 place at the time hence the reson why I'm talking about year 7 places for last year.

Last year in year 7 they admitted 46 over their PAN number of 234 and they have done the same again for year 7 this year. They exceeded their numbers last year due to public/parental demand according to their school literature so it must be for the same reason this year for the new intake of year 7 as they have exceeded their PAN number again by the same amount. This year in year 8 for this Sept' according to the school website they now have 276 places, instead of 280 when the year group started last Sept' as year 7. Does this mean they now have four places available in year 8 for Sept' or have I interpreted the figures wrongly?
Thanks for any replies.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:22 am 
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Welcome!

1. The rules in fact say the venue should be neutral wherever possible, not must. The Code explains "should" as follows:
Quote:
The Code also includes guidelines which the relevant bodies should follow unless they can demonstrate, if challenged, that they are justified in not doing so. Where guidelines refer to good practice, the Code will state that the relevant bodies ‘should’ follow the particular guidelines. Where the guidelines refer to a practice normally regarded as poor practice, but where there may be exceptional circumstances when it may be justified, the Code will state that the practice ‘should not’ be used.

I think it's best to accept this situation for the present. If you have cause to complain about the hearing at a later date, you could raise the issue then.

2. It's usually safe to assume that they don't. It's a legal requirement that they are independent and have no connection with the school such that there could be perceived to be a conflict of interest. (I don't think it would help your case to question their independence at this stage.)

3. Technically there are no places available until the number has fallen below PAN.

Your best approach is to argue that the school is used to coping with numbers well in excess of PAN.

Hope this helps.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:59 am 
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Location: Gloucestershire
Hi,

To expand on Etiennes' reply:

One of the schools I used to deal with always held appeals in the school, until 2 years ago when the new clerk insisted on a neutral venue. I did do an appeal recently in a school, but it was very short notice (less than 1 week) the day before the end of term, and the clerk did not have time to find a neutral venue. Both sets of parents were asked if this would be acceptable to them at the time of booking the appeal, and they agreed (otherwise they may well have had to wait until after the new term started). They were held after the school day had finished an the staff had gone home. But this was exceptional.

Quote:
2)Also, how do I know the three panel members don't have any connections to the school. Do I ask the appeal clerk whether or not they do or do I just assume they don't?

They may introduce themselves saying that they have no connection. You could always google them along with the school name, but I would assume 99% that they're neutral.

As for oversubscription, they key questions to ask the school side are "how many pupils have been admitted each year", "How has the school coped with this", "Has having such a large number over PAN affected the results" (check stats for KS3 SAT scores & GCSE / A results - hopefully they will have been improving, so they can't argue that the large number of pupils affects negatively), and finally, "How many pupils are currently on role for Year 8". Don't be grumpy with the school side - ask nicely. If you forget, there's a chance the panel may well ask the same questions.

Assuming that the school is improving in results, there are less pupils on role than they started with and it does not make it the largest year group in the school, you can argue easily that taking one more will not prejudice the other pupils.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:14 am 
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Capers makes some very good points.

Above all, could I emphasise that you need to focus on your reasons for needing a place at this particular school.

Assuming oversubscription is the only issue, see the Q&As, especially C2.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... #section-C

See also "How not to win an oversubscription appeal!" (the last post):
viewtopic.php?p=107672#107672

and, earlier in the same thread, "13. Chances of success at an oversubscription appeal".

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:40 pm 
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Thank you both for your very helpful replies. I am learning a lot.

In answer to my first question regarding the appeal venue, in one way it might be good that the hearing is taking place at the school, as there are lots of new impressive buildings there (inc a science building and an ICT building) as they have had millions of pounds spent on the school these past five years and they are due to finish a brand new expansion on their sixth form building as well so the appeal board might notice all of this when I raise it at the hearing.

How would I know who to ask when the PAN was last set for the school and should I ask this before the appeal hearing? I'm wondering whether it was last fixed before the school had millions of pounds spent on it. I'm also wondering you see that maybe this is one of the reasons they are now admitting numbers well in excess of their PAN number? Their exam results are very good and they continue to increase their numbers beyond their PAN number as well as having very good results.

There are lots of other reasons why this particular school would be good for my son apart from academic reasons. They have a very strong pastoral support team which my son might need due to a history of bullying in the past at his primary school which meant he had a breakdown. I have a medical report from a Consultant Paeditrician Neurologist done at the time he suffered bullying which showed how negative stress affects him severely. Hence why I have been home educating him ever since. He is much better now but would not be able to cope with the bullying if it happened again to him and he was left to cope alone again. The report is about five years old now. Will that still be considered good enough to submit even though it's five years old as I want to prove how badly he was affected by the bullying before?

The alternative school that would be offered is two bus rides away and my son would not be able to cope with doing that particularly as its a completely new area for him as we've just moved house and having regard to the number of times he has been assaulted in the past. He would feel too vulnerable being left to cope alone at two bus stops, in the dark and would not be able to take part in the after school activities due to having to take two buses home again.

I'm afraid he has had some very bad experiences in the past where we lived before and he is only 12 now. It is therefore of vital importance that I find the right school for him rather than him being offered any school.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:15 pm 
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Quote:
How would I know who to ask when the PAN was last set for the school and should I ask this before the appeal hearing?
You are entitled to ask the school representative at the hearing. (After the school has presented its case, there has to be a slot for any questions).

Ask whether the new buildings have now been included in the school's Net Capacity Assessment. If so, ask what the Indicated Admission Number (IAN) is - it is derived from the assessment - and compare it with the actual PAN.

It's possible that the school representative won't know what the IAN is, so you could try asking for a full copy of the Net Capacity Assessment in advance of the hearing. Whether anyone at the school can help with such a request during the holiday is an open question. The Local Authority might have a copy.

Quote:
I have a medical report from a Consultant Paeditrician Neurologist
Five years makes this rather dated, but it will still be valuable evidence and you should certainly introduce it.

The more evidence, the better.

I would also advise you to see if you can get something more recent. Perhaps your last GP could write in support of your application for a place at this school? Be warned, however, that some GPs write cautiously along the lines "Mother tells me that ......" which is hardly compelling evidence! You need to be confident that the GP is "on side" and will be genuinely supportive.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:34 pm 
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That was a very helpful reply again, Etienne. I truly appreciate it.

I don't think I'll be able to get an up to date GP report as I have never had to take him to see a GP since he was home educated so I wouldn't know what to say to his old GP.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:45 pm 
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OK, I think that's a point you should make at the appeal.

Don't hesitate to ask if you have any other questions.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:00 pm 
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I know that I have to submit any medical evidence in support of my secondary school appeal but do I also include things like the school prospectus and copies of the school policies etc if I am quoting extracts from them?

My Appeal has to be in by tomorrow.

Message for Moderator
I posted this question elsewhere because it was a question I have and is about a separate issue to what I had asked about in this particular thread and others then reading ithe question might see that it answers the same question for them as well without having to read through all my above posts.

I have already read the FAQ's about Appeals but it still doesn't answer my question to do with evidence because the FAQ's talks about medical evidence and Ed Psy reports and letters from teachers but it doesn't mention about school policies and producing a copy of the school prospectus. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Hi LaL,

Whilst not an expert at appeals (I prepared one, but didn't actually get to use it, fortunately), I will try to help where I can - I think everyone 'in the know' must be on holiday/getting last minute things ready for the new term next week, I'm sure they'll be along later, but time is of the essence for you!!

If you are quoting anything at all, you should submit a copy of the piece and highlight the relevant extract.

You should also number them for ease of reference, so the panelists can quickly and easily find the passage you are referring to.

Don't assume any of the panellists will automatically know everything there is to know about the school you are appealing for. Give them all the information they need for all the points you are making and you cannot go wrong.

Wishing you all the best in your appeal, let us know how you get on.

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