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 Post subject: Helpful/unhelpful LAs
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 5:36 pm 
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From reading messages sent to me, it is clear that the way in which parents are dealt with varies enormously from local authority to local authority.

Some LA officers are extremely helpful and professional, while others appear to be the worst sort of bureaucrats, lacking any concept of service.

Several people have told me that they have been positively discouraged from appealing - they have actually been told they have "no chance". It seems to me absolutely outrageous that any representative of an LA should be prejudging the outcome of an independent panel in this way.

Others have reported that they cannot easily get information about even lodging an appeal.

If you are dissatisfied with the service, my advice is to complain to your elected representative, your local councillor, who is there to assist you.

Another possibility is to go to your MP. MPs, of course, have no direct responsibility for local education, but are usually willing to intervene on behalf of an aggrieved constituent. A letter from an MP to the local director of education will often stir things up and get things moving.

This will not prejudice your appeal. Appeal panels are independent of the local authority!

Where a LA is providing poor service, improvements are much more likely to come about if people make a reasonable complaint.

It's a wise precaution to keep copies of all correspondence with the LA, and a record of all phone calls (with the date and time, and name of the person spoken to).

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 9:56 pm 
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Quote from the ombudsman:-

We do come across examples where statements are included which are seriously misleading or which give the impression that the admission authority is attempting to discourage parents from appealing. We have, for example, been critical when we have found situations like the following.
• A guidance document included the statement “... appeals can only succeed in the most exceptional of circumstances. Situations which are equally likely to apply to a number of unsuccessful applicants, for example, have very little chance at appeal.” That statement was inappropriate because it could be taken as intended – or this could be the practical outcome – to dissuade parents from appealing, or to persuade parents to cut down the grounds for their appeal.
• Where parents are told they must base their appeal on the admissions criteria and specify which of the criteria they think are relevant, it is not the case that the grounds for the appeal can only be related to the criteria, but on the contrary parents can put forward any reasons they choose and the appeal panel must give them proper consideration.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 10:06 am 
From the blog entries on Radio 4 re PM 10th May, Lord Adonis talking on SEN.

This popped up and I thought it may be of interest here:

'I sit as an independent panel member on school appeals panels.
Too many times I have heard or seen evidence of LEA staff ignoring messages, failing to return calls, failing to send documents such as maps showing alternative schools, 'losing' inconvenient paperwork... perfectly transparent, and not in a good way.
I've also known a school with an unusually large intake one year, put all 30-odd surplus applicants through the Appeal process, with all the stress that involves for the children and their families.
The panel took its job seriously and only upheld a very few appeals, usually on the most extreme H&S grounds. (The panel has to balance the alleged prejudice to the pupil of having to attend another school, against the alleged prejudice to the school of admitting another pupil.)
It was a horrible, horrible job and took a whole extra day just to get through the decision making. I'm self-employed so that unbudgeted extra day hurt financially as well as mentally.
Later I heard that the school then went and let in an additional dozen children, from those that the panel had turned down. Evidently it did have more capacity but was making the panel do its dirty work by turning away most of the applicants.
How cynical is that?
I nearly resigned when I found out. I am not paid to sit on these panels, which are invariably time consuming and emotionally draining. Making volunteers feel used is not a smart thing to do. And what about the families who went through all that angst?
In the end I didn't resign. That would help nobody, and make it even harder for parents to engage with the process.
But it's made me think.'
E.D.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 11:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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A very interesting post.

Quote:
I am not paid to sit on these panels, which are invariably time consuming and emotionally draining.

Sounds familiar :D.

I hope the chickens come home to roost the following year! An appeal panel is likely to ask why the admission number was exceeded the previous year. It might well take the view that the school's case for prejudice is not as strong as is claimed!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 4:03 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:04 am
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Very interesting - thanks for sharing that.


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