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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:03 am 
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New member here and hoping for some advice?!

The query is on sibling rules. Our school admission policy states “Boys applying who have an elder brother or sister who will still be at the school when the applicant starts in the September will take priority (ie the sibling is on roll at the school both at the point of application and at the point of admission).“ Our youngest son [name removed by Moderator] has failed to gain a place so we are looking at appealing. He has two elder brothers who attended the school but they will have left when he starts in September so therefore he does not qualify for the above sibling link.

The school has confirmed that it has in the past allowed siblings to attend where the older brother/sister were not on the school role when they started. The reason was the elder sibling did not achieve the grades or decided to leave sixth form. This is in breach of their admission policy. They argue that they cannot withdraw an offer just because the elder sibling leaves school but I argue that that is immaterial as the older sibling is not on the school role at time of starting therefore that child should not have been offered a place and has prejudiced other children.

Its a technical question so wouldn't mind some views?

Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:22 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
It is indeed a technical question, and I'm surprised that more schools don't fall foul of this.

The correct wording for an Admissions Policy in this situation should be along the lines of: "Siblings who are on the roll of the school or are expected to be on the roll of the school at the time of the proposed admission".

In reality, the school is doing the only humane thing possible when an older sibling drops out after GCSEs or at the end of Y12. Imagine the situation: little brother is awarded a place at the school on 1st March, but then big brother flunks his GCSEs in mid-August, and little brother's place is withdrawn as a result, a mere two weeks before he is due to start at the school.

The implications for the boys involved are too huge to even contemplate.

I don't think that this argument will hold any water for you at an appeal because the panel will view it as a technicality. If you want to make a fuss about it, you could either write to the school, asking them to amend their Policy for the sake of clarity when they next consult on it (in the autumn) or you can complain to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, who polices school admissions policies.

In the meantime, you should focus on your reasons for wanting a place at the school, and having had two older siblings attend is likely to add a little (just a little) extra weight to your case. You will get more sympathy for that argument than for a technicality that could simply derail your own case.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:41 am 
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Thank you for the quick response! Yes, I will be majoring on the fact that his two elder brothers attended the school but it may be that there is some mileage on this.

The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and are legal according to the school admissions appeals code. Its clear that it hasn't. The school admission code 2012 does allow for sibling links from ex students (section 1.11) but it must set out a clear and simple definition of such former pupils and how their siblings will be treated in the oversubscription criteria – it has failed to do so. Students have been allowed to attend when no sibling link was available whatever the reason may have been.

To my knowledge, appeals sometimes are successful if the parent can demonstrate the flaw in their policy. Totally agree that withdrawing a place for a younger sibling because the elder has failed his grades or went to college would cause huge problems for that family and that is not what I am advocating.

Just wondered what the appeals panel view would be if this was part but not all or our appeal?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:23 am 
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MrP4556 wrote:

To my knowledge, appeals sometimes are successful if the parent can demonstrate the flaw in their policy. Totally agree that withdrawing a place for a younger sibling because the elder has failed his grades or went to college would cause huge problems for that family and that is not what I am advocating.

Just wondered what the appeals panel view would be if this was part but not all or our appeal?


I think you need to re read Sally-Anne's advice:


Quote:
I don't think that this argument will hold any water for you at an appeal because the panel will view it as a technicality
.

Quote:
In the meantime, you should focus on your reasons for wanting a place at the school, and having had two older siblings attend is likely to add a little (just a little) extra weight to your case. You will get more sympathy for that argument than for a technicality that could simply derail your own case.


Having had 2 children at the school will give you an insight as to what it can offer for your child and why it would be the right place for them.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:51 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Quote:
The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and are legal according to the school admissions appeals code. Its clear that it hasn't. The school admission code 2012 does allow for sibling links from ex students (section 1.11) but it must set out a clear and simple definition of such former pupils and how their siblings will be treated in the oversubscription criteria – it has failed to do so. Students have been allowed to attend when no sibling link was available whatever the reason may have been.

The Code has been updated - it is now the 2014 version. Section 1.11 refers primarily to the issue of former pupils, where they are given priority in a school's Policy. That is not the case here because the school has not chosen to give priority in the Policy to siblings of former pupils.

The issue that they should be addressing, although the Code is very weak on the point, is the first line of Section 1.11:

Quote:
Admission authorities must state clearly in their arrangements what they mean by ‘sibling’ ...

It is worth noting that the Code contains, as an Appendix, "Sample Admission Arrangements". It states clearly that they are "provided for illustrative purposes only – they are not “suggested” arrangements and should not be seen as such. That rather begs the question as to why they are there at all, but it does show the weakness of the Code with this statement:

Quote:
(2) Children with a sibling attending the school at the time of application. Sibling is defined in these arrangements as children who live as brother or sister in the same house, including natural brothers or sisters, adopted siblings, stepbrothers or sisters and foster brothers and sisters.

The Code makes no mention of the need to define the point in time at which a sibling is considered to be on the roll of the school for the purpose of a proposed admission, and yet the "Sample Admission Arrangements" include a reference to it.

Very poor, I'm afraid, and the 2009 Code, which preceded the "slimmed-down" versions of 2012 and 2014 was far more robust on the topic.

MrP4556 wrote:
To my knowledge, appeals sometimes are successful if the parent can demonstrate the flaw in their policy. Totally agree that withdrawing a place for a younger sibling because the elder has failed his grades or went to college would cause huge problems for that family and that is not what I am advocating.

Just wondered what the appeals panel view would be if this was part but not all or our appeal?

Of course appeals do succeed where there has been a flaw in the Admissions process, but it is rarely the only reason they succeed. Serious flaws are almost always sorted out long before an appeal.

Another issue is that it could also come across as sounding like sour grapes towards the children who have been admitted!

In any event, even if the panel accepts the technical error/omission in the Policy, their next question will be: "So what are your reasons for wanting a place at the school?" That is where your case should start, and the technicality is simply an additional point that could provoke the panel's feelings of "natural justice": "We would also just like to mention ..."

Also, if you mention the technical point towards the end of your case and the hearing does get derailed by it, you have at least got across the positive points first. By "derailed" I mean that some quite fierce arguments have been known to break out at appeals over technical matters, and that can leave the opposing factions in a bad mood for the rest of the hearing.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:06 am 
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Oh what i wouldn't give to have you by my side at the appeal - thank you for your advice again!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:20 pm 
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I guess another issue is that at the point of the appeal you won't know whether the guideline has been breached in that year because unless a child has left the school already there will not yet have been a breach. That breach, if it happens will only come when GCSE results are released and sixth form choices are confirmed. Unless you and the school are already aware of a sibling who is leaving/ has left you are surely speculating that there might be a breach not that there has been one.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:57 pm 
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True but the school has already written to me confirming that siblings have started in previous years where the elder was not on the school role in September. The school have said that they are not allowed to withdraw the younger sibling place unless it was a fraudulent application. Soooo, my point was that as they have confirmed that, they have admitted to breaching their admission policy by allowing sibling link with ex students so why not with my son?!!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:03 pm 
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I looked at this from a slightly different perspective. Presumably the older brothers are currently attending the school as the OP says (future tense) that "they will have left when he starts in September". How does the school know that the older brothers will have left by then? Assuming the older brothers are of an age where they could continue / join the sixth form, surely they have to assume that they will and allow the younger sibling a place under their sibling policy. Technically they could withdraw that offer once they knew that the older brothers were not going to continue, but as the OP says "The school has confirmed that it has in the past allowed siblings to attend where the older brother/sister were not on the school role when they started. The reason was the elder sibling did not achieve the grades or decided to leave sixth form."

So rather than attempting to point out the issue with the sibling policy, should MrP4556 not be attempting to benefit from it by claiming/implying that the older brothers will continue?

(Of course, all this falls down if the older brothers are both in the Upper Sixth, or whatever it's called these days.)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:08 pm 
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MrP4556 wrote:
The school have said that they are not allowed to withdraw the younger sibling place unless it was a fraudulent application.

The 2009 Code was explicit on that point, but it was removed from the 2012 (edited - typo!) & 2014 Codes. The school is out of date on the subject, but so are many other schools.

Goodheart, I am reading it that one sibling has already left the school, and the other is in Y13 and will therefore leave at the end of this year.


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