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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:44 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:25 pm
Posts: 51
Nowhere near the appeal stage yet - and hoping never to be - but I have called our local Family Info Service at the local authority last week to find out if they thought my DH's possible redundancy (affecting his whole department, D-day 1st Feb - in "consultation" with unions at the mo - he has 20 years service with a major airline and our whole family background is wrapped up with this airline - hence it will be a complete rug pulling/devastation to family life not to mention pensions etc etc). Our DC have this airline running through them like sticks of rock, they have only known this and it is a huge part of our life, attending open days, spotting aircraft, great opportunities to travel etc. We had the first announcement in July and it is only now that I am beginning to realise how devastating this is going to be if they (new senior management) pull this off. DH & I are not sleeping but as a few/skeleton staff will be retained we are not telling DC until/unless we have to. However, I am still not clear as to whether I could cite this as an Exceptional Circumstance so DS (present Y6) could to go to the school he expects to - with his friends and their parents to support him and us as they do now, as we have no familial support, they are already busy caring for one disabled adult & another with a dementia diagnosis. LA said put it down but I have no one who can speak for my son or write as a professional on our behalf? And this seems to be a pre-requisite. (Welfare Officer who knows us well recently left his middle school) We have neither a probation officer nor a social worker (yet!), GP not appropriate obviously, and this probably sounds like a very middle class problem but I truly believe DS could not cope with 2 such major upsets in his little life in quick succession. Who can I get to speak up for him? Loads more to this but 1) we are in catchment though school is over-subscribed and varies year on year whether children at this distance get a place & 2) it is not our closest school, that would be our 2nd choice but it is in another Borough and we would know very few children/families there.

Any thoughts or comments please?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:37 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:14 am
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We know a family who were successful under exceptional circumstances for primary admission.
They had an extremely disabled son who was older and in hospital a lot. They had a grandparent close to their preferred school who was able to collect the sibling if the older child was in hospital ( which he was nearly every month). The grandparent didn't drive.They had support from their GP ,hospital consultant and social worker.
I have no other experience of successful exceptional circumstances admissions.
Clearly this threat of redundancy is an absolutely devastating blow to your family.
I would imagine however that the admission authority would not consider it to be exceptional enough.
I think it would be hard to justify were the parents of a child who lived closer but had not got a place as a result questioned the admission authority's decision.
I could be entirely wrong and I do hope that you have good news in February.
We live in really harsh times at the moment. The three dads who had been made redundant from my daughters primary year group used to get together at the school gates. It was really hard and they were supported by other parents which I would like to think helped. Sadly I just don't think it would be possible to justify that redundancy is exceptional these days.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:22 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 2831
I'm sorry that you are in this situation - redundancy is hard but is becoming much more of a norm in this day and age. I'm also sorry that your son "expects" to go to a certain school - LEA's certainly still need to do more work on parent and child expectations with school places - even when in catchment the rules are very clear that there is no guarantee of a place, due to the numbers game. If you are in catchment but the school is over-subscribed, why do you say with such certainty that his friends will get a place there? You say your husband is being made redundant - are you? Do you work? If not, I assume you will be able to support him integrate into whichever school he gets a place at? If your husband is not working, he will be able to support too.

I'm sorry to appear blunt but I am trying to show you the sorts of considerations an appeal panel will make. It is a normal transition time so children all move and change happens. You don't need anyone to speak up for him, if you have to go to appeal - you can do it. Certainly the Head at his primary school should be able to write something which supports the evidence you are presenting - you don't need a Welfare Officer to do that. But be prepared that your family circumstances, although obviously devastating to you, may not compare to that of other appellants.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:53 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:25 pm
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The first thing I would say is despite how distressed you are feeling at this moment DC are amazingly resiliant and cope remarkably well in these sort of situations. I speak from personal experience and we have had a few disruptions on the same scale as your present one, if not worse. If your DC finds himself in a new school without familiar friends it will be at a time when many others are in the same position and he is highly likely to fit in quickly. More so if you remain positive about the school regardless of the fact that it is not your 1st school choice. Therefore I would suggest visiting the school now if you haven't all ready and selling it to your DC as a good second option. If it's closer being easier to get to might be a good start.

On your CAF form you can only do what the LEA have suggested, put the school you want first on your list and write down your reasons for wanting a place at that preferred school. Make sure to include the second choice school though (some people think if they only put one school they will then get that school. This doesn't happen)

Then you will have to wait until school allocations which I think is March the 1st. By then you will have a clear idea where you stand with the redundancy situation.

If you do not get your chosen school then you will be able to go on a waiting list and appeal.

That is when the support team in this section advise you. However as the other posters explained your situation is unlikely to be unique and there will probably be DC in a worse position so you do need to accept that your circumstances will not guarantee your DS a place at the school.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:14 am
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Just wanted to add a little more.
If at all possible I think it really helps children's resilience to these things if you can manage to put a positive slant on things.
If your son were at the most local school then presumably he would have some new local friends. If perhaps this could be portrayed as a very positive thing as these would be in addition to his old friends maybe that would help a little.
I actually think that going to secondary school with friends from primary can inhibit children establishing new friends.
Children do cope with these upheavals, and often so much better than we expect.
Major health issues in our family a couple of years ago meant multiple hospital admissions and absolutely no travel beyond an hours drive of our local hospital for well over a year.
My children look back on what they did in that year really positively. We found so much close to home we didn't know about.Our favourite weekends were pitching tents in friends gardens for the kids to sleep in.
Redundancy is a blow ( we've done that too) but also a chance for some extra family time/ teaching kids to be frugal etc.
I do hope it all works out for you but even if it doesn't I bet life won't be half as terrible as you think it will be.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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"Exceptional circumstances" (or "Extenuating circumstances") is a phrase normally used in relation to underperformance in the 11+.

I'm going to assume that you're talking about an oversubscribed non-selective school, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Some - not all - admission authorities have an "Exceptional Social/Medical Criterion".
Have you checked the admission rules for the school you want?

Even if they have an "Exceptional Social/Medical Criterion", it is likely to be enforced very rigorously. There would need to be supporting evidence that this is the only school that could possibly meet your son's needs.

I'm sorry to say I think your LA are just palming you off by referring you to the "reasons box" on the CAF form. The box is only there because the government says it must be! In reality it forms no part of the admissions process. If there is a sibling rule or an "Exceptional Social/Medical Criterion", there are usually specific boxes to be ticked, or an instruction about what to do.

http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a27

Places can only be allocated in line with the published criteria. Those published criteria are not going to be changed because of anything someone writes in the "reasons box".

However, at a later date, an appeal panel would be interested in any reasons you originally mentioned.
Without supporting evidence, though, it might not be a strong case.

The deadline for submitting evidence for appeal purposes is usually quite late - probably sometime in the early summer term (you should be given an exact date in due course).
If the redundancy goes ahead, and if there is a serious impact on your son, one would expect the current class teacher to notice that all is not well. A strong letter of support from the current school might well help.

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:25 pm
Posts: 51
Thank you everyone for the positive and the not-so-positive slants on this issue. The 2nd choice but nearest school is in a completely different district authority (across a river that makes the boundary) and we basically have no connections there at all. except to go to their big sports hall for parties occasionally. Etienne you are correct, our first choice school for which we are in catchment is a usually over subscribed non-selective school, and thanks for clarifying the comments box. Point taken re. redundancy not being exceptional in this day and age - but I feel it would be an exceptional and devastating circumstance in our family - I am confident about going to Appeal on the issue if I must, but I am not sure about flagging it up formally at the front end of the process...... I would definitely use the the comments box, but I am still not sure that the option to flag him up as under Exceptional Circumstances is appropriate. Thanks again all for your valuable input.


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