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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:25 am 
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We have just received the school's case from the appeal.

Firstly, the letter was quite agressive. I was suprised by the tone - in it the headmaster virtually accused us of lying.

Secondly, we have been informed that the Headmaster of the School will lead the questioning during the panel meeting. The members of the panel will not ask us questions. It seems quite an adversarial approach. Is this normal?

The issue that has really thrown me is that while the appeal was on academic grounds the school now states that they are applying the criteria of 'prejudice' - that taking on one more student could prejudice the education of the students that have been accepted. This is the first time that this has been raised.

We have three weeks to prepare our case. We would be really grateful for any advice or help!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:59 am 
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Until help arrives have a look through this. http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... rs.php#b18
Section C in particular is about appealing for an oversubscribed school.


I'm afraid that non-qualification is only one part of the case. In most cases a school fills up through the normal allocation round. There may well be children appealing who have qualified but could not be offered a place as the school was already full.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Hi, PJ

Could I ask you, please, not to create multiple threads on appeals? This is explained in the 'PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU POST' announcement at the top of the page. If you require further help, we often need to refer back to previous information about the case. We just don't have time to trawl back through numerous threads to check for anything that might be relevant.

Thanks for your understanding - and I do appreciate that you're under a lot of stress.

First of all, I would say it's unusual for the admission authority to be aggressive, but try not to worry. The more aggressive they are, the more sympathetic towards you the panel might be! It could actually work to your advantage. I'm assuming, of course, that you have a reasonable panel.

Quote:
we have been informed that the Headmaster of the School will lead the questioning during the panel meeting. The members of the panel will not ask us questions. It seems quite an adversarial approach. Is this normal?
I'm also assuming that this is a foundation school, and that the headteacher will be presenting the case on behalf of the admission authority (i.e. the governors). It's quite normal for the admission authority to question you about your case, just as you have the right to question the presenting officer about the school's case. However, it would be strange if the panel fail to ask any questions. If this is what happens, it might possibly be grounds for a complaint to the ombudsman at a later date.

Quote:
The issue that has really thrown me is that while the appeal was on academic grounds the school now states that they are applying the criteria of 'prejudice' - that taking on one more student could prejudice the education of the students that have been accepted. This is the first time that this has been raised.
I can't recall all the previous facts about your case, but I'm afraid that, if the school is full in the relevant year group, they cannot offer you a place even if you were to win the non-qualification argument, so it is inevitable that 'prejudice' is going to be part of their case.

Mitasol has already pointed you in the right direction. Section C2 should give you some ideas that you might put forward at the appeal.

This is not something we can usually do, but if you have a scanner, and wish to email the school case to the Appeals Box, I'm willing to have a look at it for you.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:18 pm 
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Thank you for the quick response and the advice.

I have sent the letter to the appeal box.

Please accept my apologies for multiple posts - I posted by theme not as a single case :oops:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:38 pm 
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Location: Bexley
Another reason why some appeal literature feels aggressive and intimidating is to make you drop the appeal. Don't fall for it!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:39 pm 
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I think there are some technical errors in the school's case. Here is what they are required to submit to the clerk, who must then forward identical papers to all parties:
Quote:
2.20 The admission authority must supply the clerk to the appeal panel with the documents listed below at least ten school days before the hearing (unless this is not practicable because the appellants have waived their right to a period of ten school days notice of their appeal as in paragraph 2.10):
a) a written statement summarising how places at the school were allocated (without disclosing personal details of applicants which would enable identification of individuals)
and how the admission arrangements for the school apply to the appellants’ application, accompanied by any relevant background information and documents on which they placed substantial reliance (such as the appellants’ application form or references from religious ministers). Where distance criteria have been used to allocate places, admission authorities must demonstrate how this was applied to the appellants’ application compared to those offered a place;
b) a written statement summarising the reasons for the decision (and attaching a copy of the decision letter), explaining how admission of an additional child would cause prejudice to
the provision of efficient education or use of resources, making it clear whether or not the admission authority is defending its decision on the basis of infant class size legislation. The admission authority must include a summary of the school’s net capacity and could also include a map/plan of the school if this would be helpful. Admission authorities’ statements referring to accommodation, class sizes, capacity etc, must be supported by
factual information, as panel members cannot undergo ‘tours’ of schools to make their own assessments, as it could call into question their independence and lead to allegations of lobbying;
c) the relevant extract of the area’s coordinated admissions scheme where this is relevant to the appeal (e.g. a parent or child appealing for a place at a school they ranked lower on
their common application form than the one offered under the scheme) and, in the case of a voluntary aided or foundation school or an Academy, a statement from the local authority explaining how the scheme was applied;
d) details of how the locally agreed Fair Access Protocol operates, where relevant (see paragraph 3.3); and
e) copies of any information or documents that will be supplied to the panel at the hearing, including any documents that have been submitted by appellants.

Note that they must satisfy the panel that the admission arrangements have been carried out properly - but they do not say exactly how places have been allocated. They state "all available places have been offered and accepted" but do not explain on what basis. There ought to be a breakdown of the allocations, and it should be clear under what criterion the last place was offered. Was it distance? - if so, what was the distance? Was it score? - if so, what was the score?

I see no copy of the decision letter refusing you a place. You may not need it yourself, but the panel should have a copy, and you should have the same paperwork as them.

Unless I've missed it, I see no reference to the school's net capacity (a mandatory requirement), and I see only a limited attempt to substantiate the accommodation argument. Ideally they would provide a document called the Net Capacity Assessment, which states the net capacity (the total number of pupils the school can physically accommodate), gives a breakdown of all the rooms, and specifies how many pupils each room can accommodate.

Moreover, it seems to me most unfair that the school - as part of their own case - should be querying and rebutting your case in advance of the hearing, when you have not had the opportunity to do the same with regard to their case. They're absolutely within their rights to challenge you at the hearing - I don't believe they should be doing so in detail beforehand.

As a matter of interest, is the appeal taking place at the school, or on neutral ground?

They dismiss some of your academic evidence as not being relevant to the reasoning test score. You are perfectly entitled to introduce any academic evidence to establish grammar school ability - you are not required to match it to the test format. The Code of Practice states:
Quote:
3.37 Where there is no local review process (as described in paragraph 3.34) or no local review
process has been applied, the panel should consider any factors which appellants contend may have affected the child’s performance (e.g. illness, bereavement); whether the family
made the admission authority aware of these before they sat the test; and whether it offered alternative testing arrangements or made reasonable adjustments (e.g. in the case of children with disabilities). The panel may then need to consider any clear evidence presented by the appellants to support their claim that the child is of the required academic standard e.g. school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT results or a letter of support from their
current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability.


I'm not suggesting you pursue all the shortcomings in their case for the moment, especially if they're unlikely to help you to win your case. You don't want to appear too argumentative when the objective is to win the sympathy and goodwill of the panel; and, anyway, points such as the failure to state how the admission arrangements were done could be kept back for a possible complaint to the ombudsman. However, I do think you should refer the panel to what the Code says about academic evidence.

I suggest as a matter of urgency that you write and ask for the following information which you need for the appeal (and had thought would be included in the case papers):
1. A full copy of the school's most recent net capacity assessment
2. A breakdown of the expected numbers in each year group in September (the current numbers will do if they make a fuss!)
3. The total number on roll

It will be interesting to see whether any classes have been above 30, in which case you can ask what evidence there is that this has prejudiced the education of the other 30 children.

If they fail to provide the information on time, then you can draw this to the attention of the panel (and to the ombudsman at a later date!).

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:47 am 
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Thank you for the advice.

The panel meeting isn't being held in the school but at a location selected by the school.

It feels so intimidating the Headmaster has a reputation of being a 'strong character' and the whole process seems to be an adversarial one. I really don't know how to approach it - I thought I would be presenting a reasoned case to the panel not being cross-examined by a single individual! He has made it clear in his letter that he doesn't intend to take one more pupil.

Does anyone have any experience of this or advice on how to deal with this?

I am also concerned about the time available. We have only got 15 mins for the whole process and I am not sure what we should present. Do we present our original case as we presented it or do we assume that they have read the case and just address the issues the statement from school querying and rebutting our case?

We could gather more evidence to address the issues raised by the Headmaster - but are we allowed to introduce more evidence at this stage?

Any advice would be welcome!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:10 am 
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Location: surrey
I see no copy of the decision letter refusing you a place. You may not need it yourself, but the panel should have a copy, and you should have the same paperwork as them.


If this is an appeal to a foundation school as the La would have sent out the letter it is often the case the school itself will not be able to lay their hand s on the letter to the parent .

Unless I've missed it, I see no reference to the school's net capacity (a mandatory requirement

The code actually says they school must provide a SUMMARY of the school's net capacity not the whole document . Para 3.48 of the appeals code says that the panel must take into account the school's published admission number which is set with regard to the indicated admission number derived from the net capacity assessment for the school and further at para 3.49 it is made clear that it is not the role of the panel to reassess the capacity of the school and the panel should consider the impact on the school of admitting further children in terms of the organisation and size of classes, the availability of teaching staff and the effect on children already at the school"

As a clerk i have seen numerous appeals get hopelessly bogged down arguing over sizes of rooms when the school attached the whole capacity document and the no time left to present the child's case for attending the school.

Lastly even if you have been allocated 15 mins that is no reason that you stop at that point . Parents should have as long as they want within reason to present their case and there is nothing on the code that says there is time limit. I presume the 15 mins is only for your stage 2 case which does not seem a lot of time. If it includes the stage 1 argument as well then that is an unrealistic time set by the clerk/ school .


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:53 am 
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Thank you catcool and Etienne for you advice. I have prepared a letter for the school requesting the information you suggested.

My son is in the primary catchment area for the school - so had to just pass the exam to get automatic entry into the School. We have the letter sent by the school stating that he had failed the exam (but not giving us the results) and therefore wouldn't be offered a place. The letter from the LEA just states that he wasn't offered a place in either his first (the GS or second choice of school).

We have been informed that we have no more than 15 mins for the appeal. It seems that it is for both stage one and two.

I agree that this seems unrealistic. Can we request more time? Or do we just run with this and then use this as grounds for appeal to the ombudsman (if we aren't sucessful).

The agenda has six items (excluding questions or answers to the pannel) but including the case for the school, questioning by the HM, summing up by the HM - so we could find ourselves in the position where we have only seven mins to present our case, question the school and sum up!!! If the panel members ask us questions this could go down to 4 or 5 mins.

I way that this is structured really makes me feel that it is set up for us to fail and its just a 'performance piece' the school feels it needs to go through.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:57 am 
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Quote:
The panel meeting isn't being held in the school but at a location selected by the school.
Good!
Quote:
It feels so intimidating the Headmaster has a reputation of being a 'strong character' and the whole process seems to be an adversarial one. I really don't know how to approach it - I thought I would be presenting a reasoned case to the panel not being cross-examined by a single individual! He has made it clear in his letter that he doesn't intend to take one more pupil.
The more adversarial/aggressive he is, the more courteous and reasonable you should be (without backing down!).

Quote:
We could gather more evidence to address the issues raised by the Headmaster - but are we allowed to introduce more evidence at this stage?
Yes. If you produced lengthy new evidence for the first time, such as an educational psychologist's report, the panel would be within their rights to adjourn so that everyone has time to consider it, but you should certainly try and address any new points. You didn't even know until now that you're appealing against oversubscription!

catcool wrote:
If this is an appeal to a foundation school as the La would have sent out the letter it is often the case the school itself will not be able to lay their hand s on the letter to the parent .
Agreed.

Quote:
The code actually says they school must provide a SUMMARY of the school's net capacity not the whole document .
Indeed - and it seems to me a very serious omission not even to state what the net capacity is, and not to provide a proper summary.

Quote:
As a clerk i have seen numerous appeals get hopelessly bogged down arguing over sizes of rooms when the school attached the whole capacity document and the no time left to present the child's case for attending the school.
I agree this is a danger, but I've had the advantage of seeing the school case, and the headteacher does very little to substantiate his accommodation claims. He shouldn't get away this, so I would like PJ to have the opportunity to see beforehand what the Net Capacity Assessment shows. It may well justify the headteacher's claims. At least it will state what the net capacity is!
Quote:
Lastly even if you have been allocated 15 mins that is no reason that you stop at that point . Parents should have as long as they want within reason to present their case and there is nothing on the code that says there is time limit. I presume the 15 mins is only for your stage 2 case which does not seem a lot of time. If it includes the stage 1 argument as well then that is an unrealistic time set by the clerk/ school .
Agreed. Provided you are not making irrelevant or repetitive statements, you should be allowed as much time as you need.

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Etienne


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