No easy answers, I'm afraid, SB3, but a few observations below.
I have just been reading last years review/appeal messages and threads.
Am I right in saying that last year the non qualification appeals were separate from the over subscription appeals and held before them? Did each school therefore have two potential appeals per child?
Yes. They had to get over the first hurdle in order to attempt the second.
This year is a merged appeal, which may result in a long delay in finding out if the qualification part was successful, not the five days of last year
In theory, yes - but not everything went smoothly last year. There were
delays. I'll come back to this point.
I hope to think they will break down the two elements in the decision letter....but who knows as imo it is all a bit blurry.
Having seen decision letters in other areas (where it is
the norm for qualification and oversubscription to be dealt with at the same hearing), they do not release decisions until the very end of the process, and they do not always break down the two elements.
For example, see here.
However, my guess is that the Appeals Team will
try and provide a clear breakdown.
What makes things even more complicated in Bucks is that the grammar schools have thrown FCO into the mix on top of everything else! (As far as I'm aware, they didn't have to do this - they could simply have declined to provide any evidence for FCO, as happens in other parts of the country.)
Last year it looks as if Appeals tried to circumvent some of the problems, but this led to other difficulties:
- delays caused by the constant repetition of FCO arguments:
We went for our IAP today and were told that because two cases in the morning had been ''extremely complicated', they had overrun to such a degree that our session (and others) would need to be postponed for 30 days!
- by having two separate appeals, the whole process spanned such a length of time that the Appeals Code was breached:
I re-read the appeals code today and note that it says that appeals MUST be held within 40 days of the deadline for submission date. I called the appeals team to check if this is likely to happen and they confirmed that they will not meet that requirement.
So - not only does the Appeals system have to clear up the mess created by reviews - it has to do it within tight legal and practical constraints.
This 'overload' is what I was warning about as far back as 23rd March 2012:
Is there someone somewhere I could write to, ring, or e mail to get answers now?
The authoritative source of information for how appeals are organised is the Appeals Team.
(Note that the Appeals Team are only responsible for BCC appeals. We know of two grammar schools which are running their own appeals - shamefully, in my view, in the light of what the chair of the AJTC (Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council) has written:
"In the case of schools/academies that are their own admission authorities, it is unsatisfactory that Foundation and Voluntary Aided schools and academies run their own appeal panels. Full independence needs to be ensured, following the principle of natural justice that no-one should judge her/his own case.")
Although you could ask the Appeals Team about the way in which BCC
appeals are being organised, they of course have nothing to do with the waiting list. Nor are they to blame for the overlapping problems - as far as I can see, they are doing their level best to clear up the mess created by the grammar schools.
You could discuss waiting lists with Admissions - but they only handle administration on behalf of the grammar schools.
Meanwhile the grammar schools are well away from the firing line, with no local accountability.
I've written elsewhere about what happened last year when a forum member sent a policy query about the admissions process to Admissions. Weeks went by, and there was no response. When he chased up Admissions, he was told "Oh - we sent it on to the school. Haven't they replied?
At least in the days when the LA was in charge, you knew where to go to - and you could complain to your county councillor if there was a problem!