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 Post subject: High Court ruling
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:29 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:17 pm
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Location: Gloster-born'n'bred !
Interesting report in yesterday's Telegraph

IMO "Good" schools should expand if they are over subscribed and "bad " schools close if they are not popular . In Gloucestershire we have a well equipped comp. school with a bad reputation only half full whilst the next nearest "good " school has too many applicants . Its called the free market !

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/63 ... -full.html



Schools 'can still admit pupils' when full
Popular schools cannot reject pupils just because they are "full", the High Court has ruled.


By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
Published: 4:06PM BST 16 Oct 2009

They must create more space if benefits to individual children outweigh problems to existing pupils at the school.

The ruling came as a mother won a High Court case over her attempt to ensure her daughter was educated away from her rough inner-city neighbourhood.

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It comes amid a growing clamour to get into the best state schools. Around one-in-six children in England were rejected from their first choice secondary this year and growing numbers of parents are appealing against admissions rulings.

The girl, who cannot be named, was ordered by Haringey Council in north London to attend a nearby secondary school, despite parental concerns over crime and intimidation in the area.

Her mother complained through the authority’s independent appeals panel – a local admissions board set up to mediate over school placement disputes. It rejected her appeal on the grounds that her preferred school was full.

But the High Court said the panel used flawed procedures.

Under Labour’s school admissions rules, schools cannot simply reject a child because they are officially “fullâ€


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:34 am 
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Thanks for this, arealfarmer. It gives an opportunity to explain what the report is saying.

It's a very misleading headline IMHO.
Quote:
Schools 'can still admit pupils' when full
Popular schools cannot reject pupils just because they are "full", the High Court has ruled.
actually means 'Appeal panels cannot dismiss an appeal just because the school is full'!

Similarly, [quote]schools cannot simply reject a child because they are officially “fullâ€

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:56 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Etienne wrote:
It's such an elementary mistake and so blindingly obvious, one wonders why it had to go to the expense of a judicial review. The ombudsman would surely have picked it up? - and whoever was administering appeals should have intervened long before the ombudsman or judge became involved, and offered a re-hearing.


I too wondered why judicial review and not the Ombudsman. From the article it seemed that the LA was the Admissions Authority and one would indeed have hoped that 1. they train the panels they recruit adequately, and 2. they would properly address any complaint about a poor hearing.

However, experience of appeals arranged by foundation and VA schools and academies would suggest that it is not uncommon for the admission authority to present no case or a very inadequate case for prejudice at appeal nor for the panel not to question this and even to look shocked and surprised when the parents or their supporter questions it.

A large number of parents do not even realise that anything untoward has gone on; others settle for the alternative school rather than go through the process of pursuing a complaint, which so often means that their child may be out of school or at a different school for many months, and in the case of academies the complaint process is so unclear and complex that most are put off.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:32 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
My undestanding is that the case would have to have gone through the correct channels before the court case, which means that although the ombudsman has not been mentioned, he is also at fault for not having discovered the flaws in the school's case.
I think the ombudsman just pays lip service to the process of investigating complaints, and maybe more and more people need to go to court to have justice delivered. Although I'm not certain that a fresh appeal will get the result that is wanted, in fact why the court did not just demand that the child is given a place at the school is beyond me (unless of course they are not allowed to )

LFH


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:16 pm 
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It ought to have gone to the ombudsman (it's a free service! :)), but I'm not sure whether it is an absolute requirement prior to judicial review.

I don't think the judge would conclude a school place should be offered, unless it is clear that this is what would have happened but for the error.

Just for the record, the latest statistics for complaints of all types to the LGO in 2008/09 show:
4665 no or insufficient evidence of maladministration
2748 local settlement (usually means a re-hearing)
1510 outside jurisdiction
2485 ombudsman's discretion (i.e. not worth pursuing)

I agree with you, Alex - my reservations about the standard of some own-admission authority panels are well-known :(
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... ers.php#a6
although I haven't seen any figures for academy appeals yet.

The DCSF Statistical First Release giving information about appeals in 2007/08 is due to be published at the end of this month.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:18 pm 
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Quote:
"It is interesting that the judge also pointed out that in making their decisions panels cannot rely on the possibility of school places being available at other schools where no allocation had been made for the claimant's child."


I am trying to get my head around this point.

I thought that it was a given that they couldn't base their decisions on the availabilty of spaces in other schools?

The statement could imply that they can make decisions based on the availability of places at schools where an allocation had been made i.e if you put down your nearest school on the CAF form as a fall back and are allocated it and there are spaces there then it could have an adverse affect when it comes to an appeal.

This would go against all the advise we are given in filling in our CAF forms. For instance if you had a very mediocre school as your nearest but the next closest is a failing school then even though you don't want the local school you have to put it down to avoid landing up with the failing school.

If you then get allocated your backup rather than the school you really wished your child to go to and there are spaces there it implies the panel can take these spaces into consideration when deciding on your appeal.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:56 pm 
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It has always been the case that an admission authority could point out at an appeal that a place is available at another school. Equally, it is open to the parent to say why the school being appealed for is preferable.

A panel certainly shouldn't be refusing an appeal just because of the possibility of a place elsewhere. The issue for the panel is (or should be!) very clear: it is to decide whether the parents' reasons for needing a place at a particular school outweigh the prejudice to that school.

I wouldn't worry too much, Tolstoy. Fortunately, it's a minority of panels that seem to be less than competent, and in serious need of re-training (if not replacement!). In this case other things went wrong as well - Why didn't the clerk intervene? And what about the administrators?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Etienne wrote:
A panel certainly shouldn't be refusing an appeal just because of the possibility of a place elsewhere. The issue for the panel is (or should be!) very clear: it is to decide whether the parents' reasons for needing a place at a particular school outweigh the prejudice to that school.


Absolutely, but sometimes the issue of the alternative school (and usually there will have been an alternative school offered, unlike in the reported case where apparently there wasn't) will strengthen or weaken the parents' case. If the LA is only able to offer a school many miles away which does not offer the subjects the child particularly wishes to study, where the child will never be able to stay for after-school activities nor yet get home in time to do homework and get out for activities local to them, then the "prejudice" to that child is greater than if the offered school is nearby, meets some of the desired subjects and normal out of school activities will not be curtailed.

However, Tolstoy, LAs can and do point out at appeal where a parent could have put down a school which they chose not to and so ended up with a much more distant allocation than they otherwise would have.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:04 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
I think that because we made a good decision about our second choice school which was one we knew to be good and we would be accepted for counted against us at appeal, and that simply is not fair. I really do not understand why we need to be penalised because we made sensible choices.

LFH


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:08 pm 
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Yes, I was addressing the point about basing "decisions on the availability of spaces in other schools". A panel that refuses an appeal just because there's an alternative place somewhere else is on dangerous ground!

I agree that a parent who clearly has no acceptable alternative, and has done everything properly (e.g. applied on time, put down more than one school on the CAF! :)) might well have a stronger overall case than someone who does have an alternative, and whose reasons for preferring one school over the other are not particularly compelling.

I can reassure Tolstoy that I came across many cases where parents appealed successfully for a higher preference school - it depended on whether their reasons were strong enough to outweigh the prejudice to the school.

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