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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:39 pm 
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My wife and I could really do with some honest to goodness advice on a situation that has arisen with our local LEA (Bury).

We live in Bury and our son sat his Grammar tests in Lancashire (cover Bury) and Trafford.

With a lot of hard work he passed all his tests at the following schools;
Bacup & Rawtenstall (Lancashire LEA)
Sale Grammar (Trafford LEA)
Urmston Grammar (Trafford LEA)
Altrincham Grammar (Trafford LEA)

Feedback from Bacup & Rawtenstall was quick and our son was offered a place there within a few weeks of sitting his test. We wrote a letter to Bacup & Rawtenstall as well as Bury LEA to state we would provisionally accept the place pending results from the Trafford Grammar schools in March 2011. Our main aim was to try to get him in to a school in Trafford borough.

Bury LEA then said in our admissions options form that we should put down in order of preference 1,2,3 for each different LEA. As we had already been offered Bacup, we should put that as number 1 choice for Lancashire. Our list ended up like this, cordoned off with seperate LEA's;

1) Bacup - Lancs LEA
2) Sale - Trafford LEA
3) Altrincham - Trafford LEA
4) Urmston - Trafford LEA
5) Parrenthorn High - Bury LEA
6) Philips High - Bury LEA
7) St. Monicas - Bury LEA

As and when the results came in, in March 2011 we would then get a choice from the Trafford Grammar schools too.

After receiving the admissions letter today from Bury LEA we were only offered Bacup. Upon calling Bury LEA to clarify if it was the catchment area that had let us down for the Trafford schools, we were told that actually we had received offers from Sale and Urmston Grammar but Bury LEA had turned them down (on our behalf) as we had already selected Bacup as option 1 on the options form (only as we had followed Bury LEA's advice to fill in the form as such).

They have offered us a place on the reserve list - even though he was offered a place originally!

We feel totally let down by Bury LEA and heartbroken for our son who worked his socks off to acheive the grades required - only to be let down by some really poor advice.

Do we have grounds for appeal - and how far should we take this? Your feedback would be appreciated.

Genuine thanks.
Nasir.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:46 pm 
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Hi Nasir and welcome,

I am a bit puzzled as the schools can't really offer you places prior to March 1st, they can let you know that the child has passed but that isn't the offer.

You then have to fill in a single CAF in the area you live - not one for each LEA. And unfortunately at March 1st you get an offer just from the one school - the highest school on your list for which you are eligible - in this case Bacup.

This is a national protocol and changed some years ago to stop people getting multiple offers from different LEAs. Did you get any of this advice (which does not sound right :? ) from the people at the LEA in writing?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Thanks for the prompt response HermanMunster :)

Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar came back to us within weeks. Not sure how the system works with them but we got an offical offer letter. We provisionally accepted their offer and notified Bury LEA and the school in writing.

After numerous conversations and meetings approx 5-6 months ago as I feared this situation may arise with Bury LEA we were advised by the LEA that we could apply for various other LEA's as long as we seperated them on a list as mentioned in previous post.

Of course now the results are back and I have taken Bury LEA to task for their advice - Bury LEA are denying everything!

I'm outraged that more than one of their senior advisors gave us what appears outdated advice!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:27 pm 
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I am still puzzled about Bacup and Rawtenstall offering a place before March 1st! What did the letter say?

The local North Yorks letters say that a child has reached the required standard but will need to put the school on the CAF to be offered a place.

Have a look at page 9 of Bury's booklet here....


http://www.bury.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/95C ... ok2011.pdf


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:40 pm 
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Absolutey 100% offer letter from Bacup - I think our son may have gained a top percentile score in the test and they offered. I even called them to double check and they said yes, your son has been given a place. We can confirm this. We were obviously delighted.

This is what led us to contact Bury LEA and say we have been offered but we want to await the outcome from Trafford in March 2011.

Bury LEA said on the CAF form that we should therefore put down Bacup as number one choice for Lancashire, as we could always turn it down if we received good news from the Trafford schools.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:45 pm 
This is weird. I have no knowledge of your area I'm afraid, so please excuse my interest.

But how did you manage to list 7 school choices given that the Bury CAF only appears to allow a total of 3 choices (including both schools in Bury and any other LEAs)? Did you fill in more than one form? If so, that might be evidence of confusion/ misinformation on your part which might help at an appeal.

Did you not receive the handbook mentioned in the post above? It does indicate both on page 9 and in one of the appendices that if more than one school can offer you a place the offer will be from the school you rank highest, irrespective of which LEA it is in. Did you expect multiple offers?

Or am I just being really dim and getting my Burys mixed up? Apologies if I am.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:50 pm 
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snowym wrote:
Absolutey 100% offer letter from Bacup - I think our son may have gained a top percentile score in the test and they offered. I even called them to double check and they said yes, your son has been given a place. We can confirm this. We were obviously delighted.

This is what led us to contact Bury LEA and say we have been offered but we want to await the outcome from Trafford in March 2011.

Bury LEA said on the CAF form that we should therefore put down Bacup as number one choice for Lancashire, as we could always turn it down if we received good news from the Trafford schools.



I am afraid it is wrong you can only get one offer - it sounds like Bacup were trying to encourage you to put them first (some schools do this after the exam results are out). Which school do you really want now?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:57 pm 
Sorry, meant to add that I think you need to contact Trafford LEA directly and ask for their advice. Also, check their website to see if there is any information on their appeal and waiting list procedures. Until recently individual schools generally handled their own waiting lists but that has been changed in our area (and I think nationally) so that they cannot now do this. Instead, the LEA manages the lists and just tells the schools whom they can admit. This means you are basically in the hands of Trafford LEA. Bury LEA might back you up and explain that they made a mistake, but it sounds like they have been pretty unhelpful so far.

It is probably worth also phoning the grammar schools directly and checking this with them. Remember, they will want to take your son if they are allowed to, so they are likely to be "on your side" and to help you if they can.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:02 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
I am afraid that whatever the advice you were given – and I am assuming that it was given on the telephone, not in writing so that there is no way of proving exactly what was said and where the misunderstandings have arisen – that you will not get far with pursuing this line. The written information provided by Bury in its booklet is quite clear; note particularly:


Quote:
A co-ordinated scheme is in operation, which is intended to make the process simpler for
parents. You need to complete just one CAF, which can include faith schools and schools
in other LAs (except for independent schools). This form is now available online from your
home authority.
Each LA will forward requests to other LAs who will consider all requests in accordance
with their criteria.
If two LAs are able to offer places, the school which you ranked highest will be offered.
Bury LA will notify Bury parents of decisions. Other LAs will notify parents who live in their
area. This should result in you receiving just one offer of a place.


And:

Quote:
The scheme enables parents of all pupils living within Bury who are transferring to
secondary school, to complete one common application form (CAF) expressing up
to three preferences for admission to all maintained secondary schools both within
Bury and also in other LA areas.


If more than one school place can be offered to one pupil by different admission
authorities, a single offer will be made by the home LA for the school which was
ranked highest by the parent.


However, on a more positive note, you can appeal for any school which was on your form for which you did not receive an offer. You should accept the offered school so that you retain that place whilst appealing for any of the other schools which you prefer. You will need to concentrate on the reasons why the other school(s) are most suitable for your child – see the Q&A s particularly the sections on oversubscription appeals and do come back with any questions about the appeals.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:04 pm 
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No, you have made some really good points.

Bury stated on their advice booklet that you are only allowed 3 school options.

The only problem was that in our catchment area we were going to struggle to get our son at a school that could offer an education that we felt was suitable for his acheivements to date. He has always been the top performer at his school and won numerous county awards for educational acheivement. However, irrespective of that we were being offered a school that could only be described politely as poor (I shan't name the school).

The local school within 500 metres of our home included;
St Monica's (Outstanding - OFSTED) Roman Catholic
King David (Outstanding - OFTED) Jewish Denomination

We were told in no uncertain terms to not even bother applying by the schools - by the schools themselves.

Therefore we were in a position that with only 3 spaces to fill in on the CAF application and our son sitting 5 grammar school entrance tests, we would have to select on the basis of how our 10 year old son felt his tests went!

And here's the crucial bit - had we put grammars in position1,2,3 and he failed all the tests, we would have had to go with our local school, that again I shan't name. We claimed successfully that this was detrimental to Bury's own educational charter to provide the best for each child.

After taking advice from various educationalists, we presented our case to Bury LEA who then said that we could put as many schools down as we wanted as long as we split them into seperate boroughs with preferences in 1,2,3 order fo each borough. Once the resilts came in from each borough - we could decide which was the best option.


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