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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:01 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:36 pm
Posts: 13
Location: hounslow
I wished my daughter to attend faith school (CofE) but am of 'other denomination'. The school does allow 25% other faiths entrance.
I was advised that a place was not offered as we were 3.01km from the school and others were closer (last offer being 2.75km) as being the only reason on the phone. They use 'multimap' as the calculator. Intrugued i tried to replicate their calculation online, only to find that the format for distance is postcode to postcode... but also the route (by car shortest dist) in effect is from my house to a non existent school gate up a side street next to the school, whilst the main gate is on the main road adding at least two hunderd yards. Depending on which way the approach is calculated gives an unfair advantage to some applications by that amount. At best it would make me equal in distance to last place offered.

Since I was refused a place because of this small distance what should I do...

a) take it up with the school first (and show my hand) or present this in an appeal. or,
b) would it be judged as maladministration or,
c) should I approach my MP

any help greatly appreciated and other suggestions.
Apologise for the long post but have to be accurate.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Dear regbosie

The first step is to take it up with the school. You have nothing to gain by waiting for an appeal.

If you are not satisfied with their response, you can then pursue the issue at appeal.

An MP might make sympathetic noises, but cannot really do more than advise you to go to appeal if necessary.

I would just add - if there is a general fault in the system, as opposed to an error that applies only to you, it would probably be necessary to re-measure everybody's distance, and you might find yourself to be still outside the cut-off distance.

Hope this helps

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
Posts: 1068
Location: Lincolnshire
Hi,

The crucial thing about the distance measurement is what is said about it in the school's admission policy. It should state clearly either in the numbered oversubscription criteria or as a footnote to those criteria the points from and to which the distance is measured, how it is measured and what routes or means are to be used - eg only driving, or walking etc. There should really be no ambiguity. Schools I am familiar with use various points in or by the school to measure from - the headteacher's office, the front entrance, the gate on X road etc, and some use the front door of your house, others the entrance from the front of your house to the nearest maintained road, others the post office mapping address point. They can really choose whatever they like so long as they stick to it. If there is any ambiguity in the written policy then it is open to challenge. You should make sure that the online mapping system you are using is the same as the school's - there are various different ones so you must use exactly the same as their one and measure from exactly the points which they state. If it is still throwing up something different then do challenge it.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:07 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:36 pm
Posts: 13
Location: hounslow
Thanks Etienne and Alex,
The schools admission policy states they use the online ‘multimap.co.uk ‘ calculator, using the shortest distance by car.
I can replicate the 3.01km distance they quote. Its just that the method of calculation used by multimap is to a non existent gate up a side street adjacent to the school. I guess this is the same for all calculations that were made.
What grieves me is that dependant on the approach to the school ie if from an easterly direction this would be shorter than if from any other as this entails going past the real main gate by some 200yds.

As you say Etienne, this may still put me outside if all calculations are redone, but at least it would be fair to all in my opinion.

From your experience

If I take it up with the school first, they may recalculate in my favour or not , but then gives them a chance to have a smart answer prepared against me.
If I only present this at the appeal as new evidence then do you think it may put a doubt in the appeal panels minds.

Would it be classed as maladministration, or would the panel redirect the school to recalculate all again. Do they have the power to do that ? If it is recognised as a shortfall in the ability of the calculator, what chance my appeal being upheld prior to any other arguments I put forward.

At worse can the panel disregard this and say well that’s that the way all calculations were done.

Since the school administers its own admissions, will the appeal panel include a rep from the school to answer this. What generally is the makeup of the panel when the school administers its own admissions.

Sorry again for the long post, appreciate any comments.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 3:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Quote:
If I only present this at the appeal as new evidence then do you think it may put a doubt in the appeal panels minds.

No, you are entitled to question the authority's case for the first time at the appeal, but it might then be necessary for the panel to adjourn all the hearings, so that further information can be obtained.

Quote:
Would it be classed as maladministration, or would the panel redirect the school to recalculate all again. Do they have the power to do that ? If it is recognised as a shortfall in the ability of the calculator, what chance my appeal being upheld prior to any other arguments I put forward.

The panel could ask the school to re-measure all the distances, and that would probably require an adjournment.

It depends at what point maladministration is accepted (if it is accepted) whether or not it would be necessary for you to present your stage 2 case.

Quote:
At worse can the panel disregard this and say well that’s that the way all calculations were done.

They might, if everyone has been treated equally.

Quote:
Since the school administers its own admissions, will the appeal panel include a rep from the school to answer this. What generally is the makeup of the panel when the school administers its own admissions.

The school cannot have a representative on the panel, but it does appoint three independent panel members, at least one of whom must have some experience in education, and at least one of whom must not.
The school should be represented by a "presenting officer" who has to make the case that the school is full and to admit further pupils would cause prejudice.

The ombudsman has previously stated:
It needs to be clear how distance is measured, whether by straight line on a map, by walking route, by a simple road measurement, or by public transport route. It also needs to be made clear from what point on the school site the measurement is taken, and also what point from the pupil’s home is taken into account. It needs to be specified whether this is the front entrance or whichever entrance is nearer to the school, whether front or back (or indeed any other point). We do not think it is sensible to prioritise by reference to postcodes (since that can have the effect of distorting distance priority) or journey time (which is open to dispute).

If your appeal is unsuccessful, and you feel that the panel did not handle the distance issue properly, you are entitled to complain to the ombudsman.

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Etienne


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