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 Post subject: Secondary School Appeal
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:40 am 
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I need to appeal about my daughters secondary school and this board has been recommended to me. Does anyone have any advice or successfully won an appeal. Do you think the reasons I am going to use would be successful?

We only applied for one school which is an academy, the one in our catchment. My daughter is not at the feeder school as she stayed at the one by our old house when we moved 2 years ago.

We have been offered a secondary school that has an ofsted rating of 4 (yes, 4!) in 2011, down from 3 in 2009. My daughter has always has really good results at school so there is no way I want to send her to a school with such poor results. Was going to quote the Ofsted results in my appeal, the school we want has a 1 rating, and good GCSE results.

The main reason we want her to go there and the reason we didnt change school is in 2009 her brother (my son died) and to keep some continuity in her life and at the advice of her bereavement consellors, kept her at the same school so she could have the support from her teachers and friends. Can also get supporting evidence that a bereaved child needs continuity and that they see school as a safe haven so was going to use this in the appeal documents.

Her school are willing to write a letter supporting this to the appeal panel and also give details of her SATs results as the preferred school specilises in maths so was going to push that side.

Also, my daughter lost her uncle (my brother) last year, so moving to a school where she knows no one I feel will not be good for her where as at this school she has already made friends.

Also the allocated school is over 3 miles away and I am unable to take her so she will have to take public transport, sometimes 2 buses away if she has to go back to the childminders (which will be most days), some times it will be in the dark if she attends after school activities which I do not feel is safe for an 11 year old, I also dont want to change childminders as again it comes down to continuity which I feel is important to her. Also, her sister who is 3 is with this childminder so I dont want them to be with different childminders. I am a student nurse so am on placement and work 24 hour shifts so it has not been easy to find a childminder to look after the children overnight (I am a single parent). If my daughter has to go to this school, then it would mean me having to withdraw from my own studies. This would leave the family without any financial stability, not a particularly happy place etc. Would this have any bearing on the appeal and be worth mentioning?

Are there any other points I should put in my appeal. Is it likely I would win on these points?

It seems unfair that I put my daughters well being first and didnt change school to her local one and she is now being punished for it.

All the other secondary schools in the area seem to go on catchment area for admission criteria, I am just unlucky that the school I want uses feeder schools before catchment and due to circumstances we didnt change schools.

I feel so strongly about this other school that I will be keeping her at home and if necessary getting a home tutor until a space becomes available as I feel it would do her more harm than good sending her there as the place is a dumping ground for anyone who cant get a space in a decent school in the town. Just want this sorted!

I find it incredible that a school that is classed as inadaquate is still accepting pupils. If that was a staff appraisal, the person would lose their job, if it was an item bought from a shop it would be returned for a refund, a meal in a restaurant wouldnt be paid for, but something as important as a child's education and it is considered acceptable to keep this (any many other) schools open. What is even more shocking is the Ofsted report where around 60% of the parents considered the teaching standards to be acceptable when only 37% of pupils came away with 3 or more GCSEs at A-C grades.

OK, back to the appeal, any help would be much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:00 am 
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Quote:
Is it likely I would win on these points?
I do think you have a good case, but it's very difficult to predict the outcome of appeals:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c20

Quote:
I find it incredible that a school that is classed as inadaquate is still accepting pupils
For appeal purposes, however, try to avoid being too negative about the school offered - panels tend to prefer parents who are 'positive', so it is always better to keep the focus on why the school you're appealing for would suit your daughter best.

Quote:
I feel so strongly about this other school that I will be keeping her at home
Best not to volunteer that information to the panel, unless they ask what you intend to do if unsuccessful.

Suggest you read right through the Q&As if you haven't already done so. You will find lots of useful advice.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:23 am
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Hi, thanks for your response.

I am such a logical sort of person that I am struggling with the fact that the outcome will be down to the whim of a person on a particular day and that I have no real idea of whether we will be successful as each case is based on its own merits. Although I would like to hope that few children have been through as much emotional distress as my daughter, but I was unsure as to whether they took this into account during the appeal process.

The only mention I have made of the allocated school is the distance and the fact my daughter would have to travel over 3 miles on her own, during the dark in the winter, and also that I didnt want her to have childcare near to this school as I wanted to keep both my children together as if I was working nights I felt it important they were together. But there was nothing derogatory about the school (and that was hard but I did manage to keep the appeal very matter of fact despite it being an emotive subject).

Also, how far do you think I need to go with regards to evidence that a child needs to stay at their school following a bereavement? So far I have just referenced this literature. Would it be worth printing it off and putting it in the appeal documents?

I am also going to ask my tutor at university to write a letter confirming the hours I work can be 24/7 when on placement, that it was a difficult course to get on (I think out of 400 applicants only 20 people were accepted, therefore it would be a shame for me to have to give this up just to me to give my daughter a lift to and from school), and also that I am doing well, good grades, committed etc.

I was also going to try and get year intakes for the previous few years and compare against this years, and also the criteria. Do you know where I can get this information from please?

To be honest, I cant really think of anything else but hope for the best and that I get a very sympathetic person on the panel.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:54 am 
Hi

I am very sorry to hear about the difficult circumstances in your case. I have enormous sympathy for the troubles your family has been through.

I do however think that a journey of 3 miles involving 2 buses does not sound unreasonable for a secondary school child. Perhaps you could print off the timetable and attach it as an appendix to your appeal with exact timings door to door? and try the journey out to support this evidence?

I hope that doesn't sound too negative but from my reading through I would have thought the panel would attach more weight to the bereavement than to the journey.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:09 am 
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stargirluk wrote:
I was also going to try and get year intakes for the previous few years and compare against this years, and also the criteria. Do you know where I can get this information from please?



Can I ask which school (s) and which area - someone may be able to find the figures then. Also you need to make sure she is on the waitinglist for the school you want and try to find out from the LEA / school where she is on the list.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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Quote:
I am such a logical sort of person that I am struggling with the fact that the outcome will be down to the whim of a person on a particular day and that I have no real idea of whether we will be successful as each case is based on its own merits.
The 'logical' or 'objective' system is the application of oversubscription criteria, or the 11+ in the case of grammar schools. An appeal, on the other hand, provides an opportunity for someone to exercise discretion - but it inevitably means subjective judgements will be made. Those judgements are not just limited to your own case - they involve a 'balancing' exercise in relation to the school case, and possibly in relation to other appellants' cases. This is why outcomes are so unpredictable!

Quote:
Although I would like to hope that few children have been through as much emotional distress as my daughter, but I was unsure as to whether they took this into account during the appeal process.
Panel members get to hear many distressing cases ......

Quote:
The only mention I have made of the allocated school is the distance and the fact my daughter would have to travel over 3 miles on her own, during the dark in the winter, and also that I didnt want her to have childcare near to this school as I wanted to keep both my children together as if I was working nights I felt it important they were together. But there was nothing derogatory about the school (and that was hard but I did manage to keep the appeal very matter of fact despite it being an emotive subject).
Good.

Quote:
Also, how far do you think I need to go with regards to evidence that a child needs to stay at their school following a bereavement? So far I have just referenced this literature. Would it be worth printing it off and putting it in the appeal documents?
I suggest not. You could take a copy with you to the hearing just in case anyone wants to query your references, but I think this is unlikely.

Quote:
I am also going to ask my tutor at university to write a letter confirming the hours I work can be 24/7 when on placement, that it was a difficult course to get on (I think out of 400 applicants only 20 people were accepted, therefore it would be a shame for me to have to give this up just to me to give my daughter a lift to and from school), and also that I am doing well, good grades, committed etc.
That would be helpful.

Quote:
I was also going to try and get year intakes for the previous few years and compare against this years, and also the criteria. Do you know where I can get this information from please?
See this thread (and also follow the links):
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=23847&p=293004&hilit=foi+freedom+of+information#p293004

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:41 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:23 am
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Thanks everyone for your quick responses. I am almost (almost) feeling a bit better. The school is in North Bucks, and can PM anyone with the name of the school if they are able to help.

She is definitely on the waiting list as the email offering the place came through yesterday and I officially lodged the appeal and went on the waiting list then so should image we are near to the top of the list for those in the catchment but think there will be others who are in the feeder schools, or perhaps closer within the catchment who make take priority. But as you say, every case it looked at on an individual case so maybe my daughters will have more weight than the others so may be looked at more favourably just because the other child lives closer to the schoo.

One other question, I have heard that most appeals are rejected at stage 1, and heard at the appeal stage 2 at the panel. When I lodged the appeal on line I briefly stated the reasons why we would appeal (but still have the forms to complete). Would these be looked at and likely to be offered a place or still be rejected and have to go to a panel?

I was so naive and just expected a place to be offered. Never realised the stress it would bring. Just manage to get over one obstacle and another is thrown in the way. Hopefully we have a good case and will win this.

Do you think the appeal consultants are worth paying for. Is our case strong enough without employing a consultant? Just dont want to leave any stone unturned for such an important matter.

Thanks again for taking to time to help me. It really is appreciated.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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Quote:
I have heard that most appeals are rejected at stage 1, and heard at the appeal stage 2 at the panel.
I would put it differently - at stage 1 admission authorities, more often than not, are able to satisfy the panel that they have a case.

Quote:
When I lodged the appeal on line I briefly stated the reasons why we would appeal (but still have the forms to complete). Would these be looked at and likely to be offered a place?
No, I don't think so.

Quote:
Do you think the appeal consultants are worth paying for.
No!
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a11

Quote:
Thanks again for taking to time to help me. It really is appreciated.
You're very welcome! :)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:12 pm
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Location: Kent
Hi, I have read your post with much interest and empathy. It is my opinion you have the basis for a good case, there are a number of elements to it which (if communicated appropriately) should give you the outcome hoped for. Some of the examples I can relate to, and so do want to wish you the very best of luck with your appeal.

We took the very good advice of members and mods on this site to prepare for our hearing but with so much information around why we wanted a particular school some of my reasons were lost in translation at the first appeal (which we lost), for the only school we wanted for DS. It was devastating, but the experience helped us to move on. A v long story cut short saw us apply for a place at an alternative school which was granted and the rest as they say is history.

I was able to use travel to the school and my own work as supporting evidence but limited each to a reference in the case summary, linking to an appendix for further information. May not be explaining this very well, so essentially what we did was:

Bullet point the reasons in a single page summary, linking each to an appendix. Then on the appendix was a fuller explanation with supporting evidence, like evidence of suitable ability, letter from Primary HT, letter from employer etc. I even had a map of the county, highlighting where we lived, the allocated school and the preferred school but this was taken to show on the day to avoid the most important points of the case being lost. The travel things was relevant and referred to but driven on the day by adding to it. At the suggestion of the mods (Etienne I think) I even took a copy of the death certificate to the hearing and offered to produce it if the panel felt it was necessary to view (tactfully of course and they naturally didn't want to see it, but it showed I was prepared to bare my soul for this if they wanted it!!). For us that was relevant because I didn't want the school to cover the situation in their summary of DS as I wanted them to comment solely on his ability. Of course for you that is likely to be different.

If you do follow a similar example you just need to make sure all pages are very clearly marked as the pages will be photocopied for sending out to panel members etc. and if they aren't the whole thing will become a muddle.

As for the hearing, it is really hard going. We were challenged on some of our claims but kept a level head and just referred back to our evidence. The key was that the school was wanted by DS as much, if not more than me. It was suitable for him for reasons x, y and z. In your case if you had moved DD at the time of a house move would she have been granted a place on allocation day? If she would and you can evidence, on the advice of professionals she remained in her primary for stability during a difficult time your case is very strong but not at all guaranteed so don't become complacent - this was how I feel we lost our initial hearing. DS should have got a place on sibling criteria and I relied on that too much with hindsight.....

My advice is to remain as positive as you can and argue why this school is best for your child, and what makes it the most suitable educational provision for her. Oh, and I would be quoting Ofsted for the school you want over the one you don't want especially if there is comment on a specifc area of interest to your child / outstanding pastoral care which would of course be relevant.

Time for some ironing now........

p.s. no I wouldn't personally pay a consultant.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:12 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi stargirluk

I am sorry to hear what you been through and, like others, I am happy to help if possible.

stargirluk wrote:
The school is in North Bucks, and can PM anyone with the name of the school if they are able to help.
I suspect I know which school it is, but I will still look into it for you when I have time ( probably later today).

Please could you PM me your daughter's current school, allocated school, preferred school and home postcode. I will dig around to see what I can come up with on both the schools and travel.

Sally-Anne


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