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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:01 pm 
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Living in Bucks and preparing for over subscription appeal, I have asked a number of questions of County. They have responded as if they we FOI requests, have suggested they might charge and have 20 working days to respond, which means we may not have the answers by the appeal date. Is this fair and can I do anything about it? Does anyone have similar experiences?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:02 pm 
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tobyprice wrote:
Living in Bucks and preparing for over subscription appeal, I have asked a number of questions of County. They have responded as if they we FOI requests, have suggested they might charge and have 20 working days to respond, which means we may not have the answers by the appeal date. Is this fair and can I do anything about it? Does anyone have similar experiences?


With you on this one too....!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:50 pm 
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Are there any questions people on here might know?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:27 pm 
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Even if you do not mention Freedom of Information, a public body may have to assume this because requesters do not necessarily have to mention FoI for the Act to apply.

Information should usually be provided free of charge, unless the amount of work involved in answering your questions is unreasonable.
The response you've received is probably a standard one, rather than something specifically targeted at you.

      Quote:
      Currently, the cost limit for complying with a request or a linked series of requests from the same person or group is set at £600 for central government, Parliament and the armed forces and £450 for all other public authorities. You can refuse a request if you estimate that the cost of compliance would exceed this limit. This provision is found at section 12 of the Act.

      Quote:
      Can we charge extra if complying with a request exceeds the cost limit

      Yes, if complying with a request would cost you more than the £450 or £600 limit, you can refuse it outright or do the work for an extra charge.

      If you choose to comply with a request costing over £450 or £600, you can charge:

      the cost of compliance (the costs allowed in calculating whether the appropriate limit is exceeded); plus
      the communication costs (see What should we do when we receive a request?); plus
      £25 an hour for staff time taken for printing, copying or sending the information.

      You should not do this work without getting written agreement from the requester that they will pay the extra costs. You should also give the requester the option of refining their request rather than paying extra. The ‘time for compliance’ clock is paused in these circumstances, until you receive payment.

      http://www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations ... _a_request

Public bodies are expected to respond promptly. 20 working days is a maximum.
      Quote:
      Your main obligation under the Act is to respond to requests promptly, with a time limit acting as the longest time you can take.

If you are concerned about potential costs or delays:
      Quote:
      ....... if you are planning to ask for a large volume of information, or make a very general request, you should first consider whether you could narrow or refocus the scope of the request, as this may help you get what you really want and reduce any unnecessary burden or costs on the authority. Alternatively, you could try approaching the public authority for advice and assistance to help you reduce the scope of your request and cut down the cost of compliance – they have a duty to consider what advice and assistance they can provide.

      Although you don’t have to say why you want the information, if you are happy to do so it might avoid a lot of wasted time and be more likely to get you what you want.

      http://www.ico.org.uk/for_the_public/of ... nformation

      It could be worth telling them that you need the information to help prepare for an appeal, quoting the Appeals Code: "2.8 Admission authorities must comply with reasonable requests from parents for information which they need to help them prepare their case for appeal." See: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c26

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:44 am 
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thanks Etienne and others. I have gone back and asked for the information in time for our appeal, so we'll see.

BTW, we have in writing asked the Council to stop allocating places to out of catchment students until the appeals process is complete. It probably won't have any effect, but I thought it should be asked. I hope it doesn't negatively affect anyone on the Forum, but I'm sure you would agree that in catchment qualified children ought to have a fair chance.

Some of the questions I have asked County are specific to the appeal, so I probably ought not to post them, but here are some of the more general ones, so if anyone already has any answers, I would very much appreciate them, as may others on the forum. Apologies if these are already answered elsewhere, but I haven't been able to find them.

1) How many girls are currently on the waiting list for *** and how many of these live within catchment? How many (to date) will be appealing on oversubscription and will this be handled in separate appeals or one joint appeal? [First point can't be answered on the forum, but if anyone can suggest how I can quickly get this information, that would be helpful. Apparently the schools do not know this information, which I find odd. Last point already answered - joint appeal in the morning, separate in the afternoon.]

2) How many appeals have been won by parents on oversubscription appeals in the last 5 years in Bucks? Do you have a breakdown of the primary grounds on which the appeals were won? [I don't expect an answer to the last question, but you never know].

3) How many successful IAP appeals have there been so far this year? How many of these followed SRP appeals (assuming the rest went straight to IAP)? [This is important in considering maladministration and also helps determine how many children have been adversely affected by the new process].

4) How many children have been granted places in Grammar schools this year following successful IAP appeals? [if this has been happening as routine, for instance offering places from the waiting list, this prejudices appeal cases heard later, where they may consequently have to go through oversubscription appeals, even though they may be closer to the school than earlier children who have been granted places].

5) Please can you also tell me the calculations behind the net capacity figure of nnnn for *** School and when these were done. If you have it, please could you also send me the completed Capacity Assessment Form for ***? [Mysteriously, our preferred school has a net capacity of 1050, which is exactly 7 years * 5 classes * 30 children. The net capacity ought to be calculated based on some complex mathematical work!

6) Where is our DD on the waiting list? [Obviously not something that can be answered on the forum, but any advice on how to 'encourage' County to give me this information would be helpful.]

Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:05 pm 
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I can't answer all your questions, but I have a bit of information on a couple which might help you:
1) We asked how many OS appeals would be heard for DC's grammar school. BCC wouldn't give us an exact figure, but said it was 'fewer than five.' They had already told us that there were around 20 IAP hearings for that school so we assumed a maximum of four had been successful. BCC should be able to give you that info for your GS.

(No info on 2 and 3, I'm afraid)

4) Our DC was offered a place from the waiting list before our OS appeal. DC was first on the waiting list according to the school's admission criteria - ie sibling rule and we live in catchment. I believe children are ranked on the waiting list in strict order of the school's admission criteria, but I agree that it would be unfair if an OOC child was allocated a place from the waiting list before an in-catchment child's appeal was heard (although that has obviously been happening since the first admission round on 1st March). Unfortunately, there is a lot about this system that is unfair, but if BCC could be persuaded to give you that information, it could help your appeal.

5) No idea - have you tried the DfE site?

6) We received a letter from BCC confirming that DC was first on the waiting list. I don't think this information is secret - if we got a letter, I don't see why you can't have one!

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:33 pm 
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thanks so much redkite12. Since the Admissions Authority is bound legally by the Schools Admissions Appeals Policy 2012, there is a fine line between 'unfair' and 'illegal' imho.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:06 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
tobyprice wrote:

BTW, we have in writing asked the Council to stop allocating places to out of catchment students until the appeals process is complete. It probably won't have any effect, but I thought it should be asked. I hope it doesn't negatively affect anyone on the Forum, but I'm sure you would agree that in catchment qualified children ought to have a fair chance.



I would assume that once you have got through a non-quallification appeal you are on the reserve list and the reserve lists are in the order in which you meet the admissions criteria so out of catchment students could not be awarded places ahead of catchment students who have now been deemed qualified (I am assuming that al the on-time non qualification appeals have now been held and it is only the oversubscription appeals which remain).

Quote:
4) How many children have been granted places in Grammar schools this year following successful IAP appeals? [if this has been happening as routine, for instance offering places from the waiting list, this prejudices appeal cases heard later, where they may consequently have to go through oversubscription appeals, even though they may be closer to the school than earlier children who have been granted places].


I think I might understand what you are asking here but I am not sure whether you will get the answers you are seeking with this question. I think you would need to confine your question to the particular school for which you are appealing and ask specifically about what places have been allocated when and under which criterion of the oversubscription criteria. In fact this information should be part of the Admission Authority's case at appeal as they do have to explain how places have been allocated. It should be clear to you then, for example, if the LA have been allocating places on a rolling basis, therefore advantaging people whose appeals were held earlier, or whether they waited until all non-qualification IAP appeals for the school had been heard before allocating places. If it were the former I think that would amount to maladministration if it transpired that people who met the criteria better were deprived of places in favour of people who met them less well but whose appeals were heard earlier. However, it is usual for a LA to go on allocating places from the waiting lists as they become free (once the set allocation dates have gone by) whether or not the appeals have been held. In other places it is just par for the course that you go on "missing out" on any place which has become vacant before the appeals are heard. BUT Bucks is unique in that it has separated out the non-qualification part of its appeals from the oversubscription part and so has (for this year at least) created, it appears, a unique problem.

Then, of course, there is the other problem that some of you have got through the non-qualification appeal because the IAP first deemed that the selection review was not FCO, so raising the issue of whether, had it been FCO a different decision might have been reached and you would have got a place at the "right" time along with the original allocations. My thinking would be that if the IAP deemed the child qualified having decided the review was not FCO, they also have implicitly said the review came to the wrong decision through not being FCO. I find it hard to imagine that if the same panel were hearing the oversubscription part of the appeal as well they would not award a place to a child who would have got one in the original round of allocations had they been deemed qualified at the time. I also think there would be grounds for complaint for anyone who did not get through oversubscription appeal in these circumstances - BUT I really don't know what view the EFA would take on it - it just seems to go against all notions of natural justice. This would be compounded still further when there was a disability issue which was not handled properly by the original Review panel.

Quote:
5) Please can you also tell me the calculations behind the net capacity figure of nnnn for *** School and when these were done. If you have it, please could you also send me the completed Capacity Assessment Form for ***? [Mysteriously, our preferred school has a net capacity of 1050, which is exactly 7 years * 5 classes * 30 children. The net capacity ought to be calculated based on some complex mathematical work!


Both the LA and the school should have copies of the last capacity assessment. The formula actually results in a capacity range and the actual PAN is set within this range, usually with a number which results in even size classes! Because the assessment is based on work areas (usually classrooms) which are designed to hold a certain number of children (usually 30) it is not so odd that the final figure ends up somewhere close to multiples of 30 in many cases.

6)
Quote:
Where is our DD on the waiting list? [Obviously not something that can be answered on the forum, but any advice on how to 'encourage' County to give me this information would be helpful.]


I really can't imagine why this information is not available to you - both LA and school will hold it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:45 am 
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Quote:
have you tried the DfE site?
We give a link to the DfE statistics in A6(b):
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a6
(I see the DfE have moved the relevant page, so I've corrected the link.)
You will find Bucks in table 3 of the spreadsheet.

However:
• there's always a time lag (the latest figures I've seen are for 2010-2011)
• they do not show grammar schools separately
• the DfE (shamefully in my view) have decided to omit academies from these statistics - it may not make much difference with converter academies for the moment (because of the time lag), but in due course it will.

Quote:
Do you have a breakdown of the primary grounds on which the appeals were won? [I don't expect an answer to the last question, but you never know].
I think you're probably right to be pessimistic ...... :)

Even if they tried to do this, it would be very difficult to come up with anything meaningful because reasons are not being looked at in isolation.

In a normal 'prejudice case', decisions are based on a balancing of the parental reasons and the admission authority case. The parents' reasons could actually be quite weak - but they might nevertheless still win if the case for the admission authority is even weaker!

Parents with quite good reasons could lose because their case is overshadowed by other, even stronger, parental cases.

The process is not without subjective judgement:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c20

The reasons behind a decision can be multi-faceted. A decision letter should try to 'capture' those reasons, but may give only a partial picture of what three individual panel members were each thinking.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:11 am 
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Etienne wrote:
Quote:
Do you have a breakdown of the primary grounds on which the appeals were won? [I don't expect an answer to the last question, but you never know].
I think you're probably right to be pessimistic ...... :)

Even if they tried to do this, it would be very difficult to come up with anything meaningful because reasons are not being looked at in isolation.


Two comments on that (expanding on Etienne) - firstly, I'm not sure that the schools/A's always get a list of the grounds on which the appeals were won or lost. That is usually information kept by the Clerk to the Appeals, who even if working for the LEA would not be from the Education department. Personally I'd be very hard pushed to come up with such a list from memory as every appeal is so different, and the actual grounds on which any one appeal wins over another could be very subtle.

For instance (fictional simplified example) only two appeals are heard for one school, both non-qualifications, and afterwards the panel decides that only one can be allowed before the prejudice to the school outweighs that to the child appealing. Both pupils have excellent academic evidence, both were ill on the day of the test, but one was actually sick during the test so the panel decided to allow that appeal. Would it be recorded as being won because a) the child was academically bright, b) the child was ill or c) the child threw up?

Secondly, if a magic list existed of primary grounds on which appeals were won, parents might start to write their appeals to fit the list - and miss out on some minor things which could actually swing their appeal.

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