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 Post subject: Appeals and Ombudsman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:03 pm 
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Hi to everyone,
Unfortunately we have lost our appeal for our daughter's first choice of school. Although we have another appeal coming next week for her second choice, this was the school she wanted most and had very good reasons for it. We will be requesting a fresh appeal from the Ombudsman. We feel that, there were several concerns of maladministration in the appeal and on the decision letter as well.
I would be grateful for any suggestions and help you can give.

Our appeal was for a community school with an overcrowding issue.In the first stage the LEA rep was not able to give any facts or evidence regarding the school's prejudice of admitting one more pupil.Appeals Code 2.20 b.
In the first stage panel members did not ask any questions to the LEA rep only at the end they asked one question vaguely about BSF.
In the second stage there were incidents that made us doubt the knowledge of both the panel and the LEA rep about the information we have already provided in our statement. Panel said they have read my statement but asked questions that showed they were not aware of some of the facts. Lea rep argued wrongly about accepting evidence and was not corrected by the panel. After a lenghty discussion they were told that I was right about the Appeals Code. Appeals Code 1.14
Appeals Code 1.3 was not met.
One panel member did not ask any questions and did not make any eye contact with us.
What capacity the panel members were serving in the community was not explained in the letter or during the appeal.
At the end of the hearing the LEA rep did not leave the room with us.
The decision letter did not explain in full why the appeal panel decided not the uphold the appeal.
I will be sending a letter to the clerk requesting the notes and then we will be writing to the Ombudsman for a fresh appeal.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this.
Thank you


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:05 pm 
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Sorry to hear your news.

I'm assuming the only issue for the appeal was oversubscription.

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Our appeal was for a community school with an overcrowding issue.In the first stage the LEA rep was not able to give any facts or evidence regarding the school's prejudice of admitting one more pupil.Appeals Code 2.20 b.
I hesitate slightly over the words "regarding the school's prejudice" because the facts or evidence would relate specifically to such matters as accommodation, class size, capacity. There's unlikely to be actual evidence of prejudice itself, since this tends to be a subjective judgement based on the aforementioned facts.

Having established the facts, the LA rep. ought to have explained what the prejudice would be. If not, the panel ought to have pressed for an explanation. Are you saying none of this happened?

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In the first stage panel members did not ask any questions to the LEA rep
Never a good sign!

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only at the end they asked one question vaguely about BSF.
BSF?

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In the second stage there were incidents that made us doubt the knowledge of both the panel and the LEA rep about the information we have already provided in our statement. Panel said they have read my statement but asked questions that showed they were not aware of some of the facts.
If there are a lot of appeals being heard, and a lot of paperwork involved, even the best of panels might forget some of the details and need reminding.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a18
It rather depends how many points they overlooked, and how significant these points were.

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Lea rep argued wrongly about accepting evidence and was not corrected by the panel. After a lenghty discussion they were told that I was right about the Appeals Code. Appeals Code 1.14
I'm not clear about your specific point.

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Appeals Code 1.3 was not met.
Which bit? There must without doubt be 3 or 5 panel members. If you're querying whether the panel was "as far as is practicable, representative of ... the area. This should be taken into account when advertising for new panel members," then note the words "as far as practicable" and "should" rather than "must". It can be very difficult indeed to get a representative sample of the local population volunteering for this sort of unpaid work. The authority would only have to point to the fact that it had advertised for new panel members as required, but the response was very limited.

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One panel member did not ask any questions and did not make any eye contact with us.
Again, not a good sign, but I don't think anyone would get a re-hearing on this basis.

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What capacity the panel members were serving in the community was not explained in the letter or during the appeal.
You should certainly be told whether they are 'lay' or 'non-lay' members, but I doubt that you have to be told more than that.

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At the end of the hearing the LEA rep did not leave the room with us.
If he/she was just slow to gather up his papers and leave the room, but did so within seconds, that would not be ideal.

If the door closed behind you, and he/she appeared to be staying in the room with the panel, that would be regarded as a very serious matter.

Quote:
The decision letter did not explain in full why the appeal panel decided not the uphold the appeal.
The most a decision letter is likely to do is to summarise the main points that were taken into account (which should be the easy bit), and then to state whether the parental case did or did not outweigh the prejudice to the school. The latter is quite simply a subjective judgement. It ought to be based on the facts, but is probably not capable of a 'full' explanation.

Any shortcoming in the decision letter is likely to be a 'technical' error rather than something that in itself causes an injustice.

My main concern in all of this would be whether the LA rep. explained what the prejudice would be, and whether he/she remained alone with the panel at the end of the hearing.

Just my view. Hope it may be of some help.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:34 pm 
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BSF...BFS? Building for schools (RIP)

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mad?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:02 pm 
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Thanks, mad?

Can't imagine why the panel would be asking about 'Building Schools for the Future' ....... :roll:

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Etienne wrote:
Thanks, mad?

Can't imagine why the panel would be asking about 'Building Schools for the Future' ....... :roll:

HA! BSF :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:07 pm 
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Hi Etienne,
In the first part the LEA rep talked about the general overcrowding issues stated by the school on the letter. For us to be able to argue about the class sizes,corridors and health and safety we requested actual measurements, net capacity, and any incidents regarding this concerns. Admission authority must include a summary of the school's net capacity,admission authorities' statements referring accomodation, class sizes, capacity etc must be supported by factual information. Appeals Code 2.20b
She has answered to all our questions in a agitated and unpleasent manner that this is what the headteacher was saying. Same answer for each question!
During the second part LEA rep told the panel that the letter from my daughter's class teacher was unacceptable and it should be dismissed. I argued saying that nowhere in the Appeals Code it said such thing unless it came from someone from the school where we were appealing for. All that time no one in the panel argued with her at the end the clerk had to state that I was right. This made me doubt the both LEA and the panels knowledge. I as a parent spent many weeks reading anything that I can find about the appeal but they have the training and experience. There were only two other families that day. During the appeal I have told them that I believed that they have read my full statement so I will not be taking their time by summarizing it. They all said yes. Some of the questions they have asked made me realize that they missed parts of it.
The panel is there to make a very important decision, the decision is going to effect not only the child but the whole family. I would like to believe that they should participate wholly and with the knowledge.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:53 pm 
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Quote:
In the first part the LEA rep talked about the general overcrowding issues stated by the school on the letter. For us to be able to argue about the class sizes,corridors and health and safety we requested actual measurements, net capacity, and any incidents regarding this concerns. Admission authority must include a summary of the school's net capacity,admission authorities' statements referring accomodation, class sizes, capacity etc must be supported by factual information. Appeals Code 2.20b
I'm reassured that you're talking about facts in relation to accommodation etc., as a basis for establishing whether prejudice would arise.

Net capacity is a "must" (except for academies), and I agree that if the authority want to argue about accommodation and class sizes, then they must provide the necessary factual information. If they raise H&S concerns, asking how many 'incidents' there have been is a good question, deserving of a clear answer.

Quote:
She has answered to all our questions in a agitated and unpleasent manner that this is what the headteacher was saying. Same answer for each question!
I understand how you're feeling, but the manner in which answers were given is unlikely to be reflected in the clerk's notes - and the ombudsman will rely on the clerk's notes for evidence.

Quote:
During the second part LEA rep told the panel that the letter from my daughter's class teacher was unacceptable and it should be dismissed. I argued saying that nowhere in the Appeals Code it said such thing unless it came from someone from the school where we were appealing for. All that time no one in the panel argued with her at the end the clerk had to state that I was right.
Technically you're absolutely right. The panel should have accepted the evidence, and then it was for them to decide what weight to give it.

Quote:
This made me doubt the both LEA and the panels knowledge. I as a parent spent many weeks reading anything that I can find about the appeal but they have the training and experience. There were only two other families that day. During the appeal I have told them that I believed that they have read my full statement so I will not be taking their time by summarizing it. They all said yes. Some of the questions they have asked made me realize that they missed parts of it.
If there weren't many appeals that day, then the more reason there is to expect the panel to be on top of things. We need to move from the general to the particular, however, and I repeat that it rather depends how many points they overlooked, and how significant these points were.

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The panel is there to make a very important decision, the decision is going to effect not only the child but the whole family. I would like to believe that they should participate wholly and with the knowledge.
I agree with you entirely, but it won't help a complaint to talk in general terms about the need to "participate wholly and with knowledge". There is an 'expectation' that panel members will play an active part in the questioning, but it's not an absolute requirement. The ombudsman will be looking for something very specific that led to an injustice.

You've not said anything more about the circumstances at the end of the hearing. Do you know if the LA rep. followed you out of the room, or did he/she appear to remain behind indefinitely?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:16 pm 
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At the end of the hearing, I was quite upset and crying when I came out of the door but carried on standing opposite of the door not visible to anyone because there were two other families waiting further away and did not want to be seen crying. My friend who was with me during the appeal was standing next to me and he told me that he did not see the LEA rep come out.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Hi Etienne,
Is it possible to pm you?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:36 pm 
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Sorry, no, but there is a facility for emailing confidential information if you wish:
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=9907

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