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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:25 pm
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Hi,

I'm totally new here - but really could do with some help.

My DS has a Statement of special needs.
He sat the 11 plus and when we fgot the results he was borderline to previous years but there was no "official" pass mark given to determine whether he was in or not. Difficult to make the call at that point as he was so close.
We then registered the grammar school to our LEA for year 7 transition as our first choice.

The grammar school made contact with his current school to discuss his special needs and whilst I took that with a pinch of salt - felt reassured when we got his final amended statement.
However when the confirmed school places was issued - it wasn't the grammar school we wanted. The school are saying that he didn't reach the pass rate criteria.

There has now been a backwards and forwards debate between two LEAs (The grammar school is in another LEA) the current school the grammar school and ourselves - where today they have refused to meet with us.

Having looked at the admissions code they do not have to accept children with a statement - however there will have been correspondence from the LEA requesting confirmation if they did not want to accept our child. There was no such correspondence ever issued.

We have consulted with a solicitor and awaiting next steps - but the schools LEA (who says its nothing to do with them). But clearly we have been severly let down by our LEA. We now have a final statement which isn't fit for purpose and Im at pains to find anyone to take responsibility to action!
Helo please if anyone has had a similar experience or can give me any advice.

Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:49 pm 
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Hi I am no expert - just another mum who has gone through a grammar school appeal due to a son being the wrong side of the cutoff and having some mild SEN but not statemented . I don't know the ins and outs of the statement process but I guess if the grammar school is a super-selective and take the top scorers to PAN this was unfortunately always a possibility.

I'd imagine you might have to appeal for a place if you feel that that school is the most suitable for your DS and part of the appeal should the specific reasons for why that school is so suitable but you would need to come up with some very strong alternative evidence of academic ability to counter the test score. Was your ds entitled to any adjustments for the exam such as extra time or rest breaks/ scribe etc and did he get them?

I would be concerned if the school seemed quite negative or resistant to being able to cope with his needs. Have you met with the SENCO and discussed how his needs could be met by the school? My own experience was a school that was actually quite helpful and welcoming of DS and a supportive primary school which helped with supplying evidence etc

Not sure if any of the moderators will have an different view or any other advice


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
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Location: Lincolnshire
Welcome

Quote:
He sat the 11 plus and when we fgot the results he was borderline to previous years but there was no "official" pass mark given to determine whether he was in or not. Difficult to make the call at that point as he was so close.


Does this mean that the school has no pass mark as such but allocates on score order so that the cut-off may differ from year to year?

Quote:
The grammar school made contact with his current school to discuss his special needs and whilst I took that with a pinch of salt - felt reassured when we got his final amended statement.


The final amended Statement should have named the school in Part 4? The proposed amended statement must not name the school so as to leave the parent(s) to select the school they wish the LA to name. The LA then has to do a formal consultation with the school and the school would normally say at that stage whether or not they can meet the needs of the child. This should normally be done within 15 working days. If the school is in a different LA the home LA must also consult with the other LA. When did you find out that the school you wanted was not being named? The statement should have been finalised by February 15th.

Quote:
The school are saying that he didn't reach the pass rate criteria.


If your child still has a Statement as opposed to an EHC Plan (as the transfer to EHC should also happen this year for him) the legal underpinnings are different for maintained schools as opposed to academies. The new CFA has brought everything together so that distinction will no longer exist. However, for a maintained school under the old system and for any school including academies (but not independent schools) under the new system, the LA must name the parents' preferred school providing it is suitable for the child's age, ability and aptitude and the special educational needs set out in part 2 of the statement; provided the child's attendance is not incompatible with the efficient education of other children in the school and the placement is an efficient use of the LA's resources. It will be important for you to ascertain exactly why the school have said no. In very general terms the failure to meet the same "pass mark" as the other children would not be enough in itself to say that the school was not suitable for the child's ability, but there may be other considerations the school have put forward. If the school is an academy under the old system the position is not quite as strong for the parent who must rely on the LA having to try to educate the child in accordance with the parent's wishes under Section 9 EA 1996.

However, it is up to your own LA to decide whether or not to name the school that you wanted. LAs can and sometimes do name schools against the wishes of the school though they would generally want to be sure of their ground before doing so.

Quote:
There has now been a backwards and forwards debate between two LEAs (The grammar school is in another LEA) the current school the grammar school and ourselves - where today they have refused to meet with us.


This sounds a bit as though your home LA wants to name the school but the other LA is not happy??

Quote:
Having looked at the admissions code they do not have to accept children with a statement - however there will have been correspondence from the LEA requesting confirmation if they did not want to accept our child. There was no such correspondence ever issued.


No state school can refuse to admit a child with a Statement - that was clarified a while ago now. Their only recourse, if named, when they do not wish to admit is to appeal to the Secretary of State. I think the correspondence to which you are referring may be the official consultation? You could ask your own LA to give you the exact details of when they sent the consultation documents both to the school and the other LA and when they received replies and what they said.

Your route of appeal if your LA have not named the school you want is through the SEND Tribunal. The appeal is against your own LA as it is they who make the decision whether or not to name the school. It is extremely important in this situation to look at the whole of the Statement, not just the Part 4 naming of the school. The needs identified in Part 2 and the provision detailed in Part 3 must all point to the placement Part 4 being what you want it to be (and you may also want to say that the named placement is not suitable for the needs and provision detailed).

It is not straightforward so if you can afford the legal help or qualify for Legal Aid it would help you. If not IPSEA may be able to help.

I think it may be worth asking whether, when they do the transfer to EHC Plan, this gives you another "bite of the cherry" as the transfer process is supposed to be a reassessment process not a mere transfer over of the old statement. The new system I think puts you in a rather stronger position than the old if the school you want is an academy.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:25 pm
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Hello
Thanks for the responses.

The lea did consult the school and gave them the usual 15 days deadline. But the school sent no response -which the lea deemed as acceptance. The issued the statement naming that school.( as were our wishes)
So from put perspective there's nothing wrong with the statement.

The school are saying ( and they are an academy Grammer school) that under paragraph 2.8 they do not have to comply with a statement as he did not qualify.

The score is different year on year and even at the time of publishing the results had not determined what the pass rate was that year (!!)
It is only now because of this I know the pass rate was 219 and my ds got 204.

I think my lea have to persue via the admissions authority now.

Regarding engaging with the school we had made an appointment with them and today they cancelled stating they did not have to meet with is as there was no point as he did not have a place!!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
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Location: Lincolnshire
What a mess!

Quote:
But the school sent no response -which the lea deemed as acceptance.


I am unsure as to whether it is acceptable to deem a non response as acceptance - I should have expected the LA to press further for a response and perhaps warn that they were minded to name the school if it raised no objections...You probably need a legal view of this.


Quote:
So from put perspective there's nothing wrong with the statement.


At the moment there is not much you can do. Your next steps will depend on whether the LA amend the statement to name a different school in which case you can appeal to SENDIST or whether they leave things as they are and the school continue to refuse to admit, in which case I think your only recourse would be to go to the Secretary of State.

Quote:
The school are saying ( and they are an academy Grammer school) that under paragraph 2.8 they do not have to comply with a statement as he did not qualify.


It is complicated! Grammar schools do not have to admit children who do not qualify; on the other hand any school named in a Statement must admit; both of these are primary legislation but clearly they may conflict.

It seems to me that either the school knew that 204 was going to fall outside of the range that it would consider to be a "pass" in which case they should have answered the consultation with a "No" for that reason; or else they were not sure where the pass cut off was going to be and thought that 204 might be within it. In that case it also seems to me that they are not applying an overall ability criterion but an oversubscription criterion. If so I think it is harder for them to argue that your child is not of the correct ability for the school. If the pass mark varies enough from year to year with a test which is apparently similar in its difficulty level, then cohorts differ and I think they would have to say that your child was outside of the general ability range, not just the ability range for the particular year of entry in order to say that he was not of the right ability level for the school.

I do think you need legal advice but make sure that you go to someone who is well versed in SEN law.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:06 pm 
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Ah looks like Alex has got some great advice for you ...hope it works out for you and your DS.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:26 am 
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I do hope it works out for you - but just a note of caution from me - I don't know what school you are trying to get a place in but locally, Warwickshire, with my sons school, a score of 219 (as the minimum pass mark) and a score of 204 (your son's pass mark) would be the difference in possibly 200+ kids....and we are also in an area where the cut off is only decided after all the results are in (the AQS is set when they are all in, and is usually set around the PAN of the school) - maybe his score, although on the face of it appearing relatively near the cut off, is actually a really, really long way off. This may not be the right place for him?

Just playing devil's advocate.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:21 am 
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kenyancowgirl wrote:
I do hope it works out for you - but just a note of caution from me - I don't know what school you are trying to get a place in but locally, Warwickshire, with my sons school, a score of 219 (as the minimum pass mark) and a score of 204 (your son's pass mark) would be the difference in possibly 200+ kids....and we are also in an area where the cut off is only decided after all the results are in (the AQS is set when they are all in, and is usually set around the PAN of the school) - maybe his score, although on the face of it appearing relatively near the cut off, is actually a really, really long way off. This may not be the right place for him?

Just playing devil's advocate.

This could be a concern but it does appear that the school / LEA or both have made a bit of a mess of the situation.
I can only say that my ds was only 3 points below the cut off and there were 50 boys with a higher score......but our appeal was successful I can only imagine because of the academic evidence, mitigating circumstances and having good reasons why the school was a good fit for ds.
I was also appealing to a school with a track record for some successful appeals and also having a track record for supporting boys with some SEN . There are other local grammar school I would not have thought it worth the effort.
Anyway .....DS despite his relatively low 11+ score is positively thriving and though he is never going to be an artist or do very well with sport he is doing really well at the traditional academic subjects and his quiet geeky nature is accepted.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 11:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:25 pm
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Thanks all.

I really appreciate every who have [posted their comments.

We have a solictoir who is on the case and waiting on our LEA to confirm what their legal stand point is.

I totally agree that no response in these sorts of cases shouldn't be deemed as acceptance - and I would expect that their be SOME verbal acknowledgement between the Lea and the schools senco.

I also get that at the time all the results were published that might not know the threshold of who had what - but they would have been able to give the lea a holding position, which they didn't.

I can only assume its down to lack of resource, a lack of experience and full understanding of the law and all the changes that are going on.

When we went to the open day -I spoke to many teachers about SEN support - and wouldn't have considered it if I didn't think they could appeal to my on DS "geeky" traits in history and other subjects. That being said they way the school are opting out of engaging with us now - makes me doubt the type of pastoral care he is going to need.

I think I am stuck until my LEA make a decision on how we proceed....
They are the ones that have a responsibility to provide a school place for my child and they can not now just amend his statement. I think Im right to say that I can push for a JR or report them to the ombudsman if they even try this?


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