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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 11:52 pm 
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We live in an area which is not one of the main selective areas listed. There are two local foundation grammar schools which operate a joint admissions procedure. Places are allocated according to ranked position in the 11+ exam. Offers of places above the necessary ranking are automatic; below that places will be offered to the next 30 candidates if offers to higher-ranked candidates are not accepted. Below that the schools will not offer places.
There is no distinction here between selection appeals and what Etienne describes as two-stage transfer appeals - there is just one appeal.
Does anyone have a view as to what the decision-making process should be? If, for example, there are 10 places available up to the school's PAL, and 30 appellants? What if there are only 9 appellants? What if there are 10 places, 30 appellants, and no evidence from the schools as to prejudice to efficient education/efficient use of resources?
The Code of Practice doesn't seem very clear on the subject. The Ombudsman's Special Report on School Admissions Appeals (excellent reading for anyone involved in an appeal) states categorically that the two-stage test applies to all appeals other than infant class size appeals, but is this right?
I am getting totally confused and the appeal panel before which I appeared seemed even more confused.
Are you out there Etienne? Can you bring light into my darkness?
I have now applied for a judicial review on the grounds of illegality and irrationality (not just for the confused decision-making process). Has anyone had any experience of these?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:40 am 
I am not very sure of the answers to your questions. However, a fair number of Grammar school admission policies make it clear that places will be left unfilled if insufficient numbers of candidates reach the entry requirements. There is no requirement for them to admit more people simply because the places are available. If there are more children meet the entry requirement than are places available then the oversubscription criteria should be laid down and be clear. Appeals should still be a 2 stage process, therefore, with the applicant first having to prove that they did reach, or would have reached, if it were not for extenuating circumstances of some kind, the required standard for that year (even though that required standard may vary from year to year). Only if that first stage is passed should the balancing of prejudice to school and child take place - of course if the school is undersubcribed with successful applicants the second stage is not needed as no extra space is required.

Have no experience at all of judicial review but clearly if the school have not followed the correct procedures there must be a logical next step. Do wish you all the best.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:14 am 
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Dear Hazel

What a very interesting post!

Obviously I have no knowledge of the two schools to which you refer, but I have written elsewhere in general terms of my concern about the way in which some foundation schools manage their own appeals. The fact that the panel members at your particular appeal seemed confused is very worrying.

As you imply, the Code of Practice does not really have much to say about appeals for selective schools. "Panels may take account of parents' arguments as to why their child did not perform their best on the day of the test, or of any evidence to support their contention that the child is suitable for admission to a grammar school ......However, the panel's role, as for appeals for other schools, is to consider an appeal against the decision to refuse admission and to determine whether the child should be admitted to the school."

The ombudsman's special report did not seem to take any account of appeals for selective schools. (Whether there is a formal two-stage process or not is probably not the critical issue - even in infant class-size appeals the panel would have to be satisfied that the case for the admission authority has been made, i.e. that an extra teacher would have to be employed or an extra classroom provided.)

I wish I could be of more help, but I would really need to see in full the exact wording of the admission arrangements, the refusal letter, and the school case, as these will be vital pieces of evidence. Even so, I might conclude that it would need a judge to sort this one out!

Well done on deciding to pursue the matter. Do let us know how you get on.

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 11:13 pm
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Anonymous wrote:
I am not very sure of the answers to your questions. However, a fair number of Grammar school admission policies make it clear that places will be left unfilled if insufficient numbers of candidates reach the entry requirements. There is no requirement for them to admit more people simply because the places are available. If there are more children meet the entry requirement than are places available then the oversubscription criteria should be laid down and be clear. Appeals should still be a 2 stage process, therefore, with the applicant first having to prove that they did reach, or would have reached, if it were not for extenuating circumstances of some kind, the required standard for that year (even though that required standard may vary from year to year). Only if that first stage is passed should the balancing of prejudice to school and child take place - of course if the school is undersubcribed with successful applicants the second stage is not needed as no extra space is required


Have no experience at all of judicial review but clearly if the school have not followed the correct procedures there must be a logical next step. Do wish you all the best.
.


Thank you for that. The legislation is clear in that the schools can leave places unfilled, but that does not apply to the IAP. The IAP must be able to allow appeals which would take the schools over their PAL, otherwise, where the selection criterion is the ranked position, as in this case, an appeal would be a pointless exercise unless a good many offers of a place were rejected.

We know that places were available, but we don't know how many (yet).


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:05 am 
Hi again.

It strikes me that if the published admissions policy states that up to 30 applicants may be admitted in score order below the established passmark then the school must then admit those students up to the planned admissions number. This would be the case however low their score might be unless there is something to say there is a further "cut-off" mark below which they will not admit. Once the planned admission number is reached anyone else with a score falling below the last candidate could appeal. With an admissions policy such as this one it now becomes complicated! If the school has admitted applicants with marks below the stated passmark, are appellants who believe they should have passed and would have done if there had not been some mitigating circumstances appealing on the grounds that they would have reached the original pass mark or that they would have reached the mark of the last child admitted?? It seems that the first stage of the appeal is not cut out, because there must be some recourse for those who felt their result on the day did not reflect their true ability, but it has become very complex. The second stage of appeal, balancing the prejudice to school and child, remains the same. As you say schools can and do admit over their planned admission numbers. Schools are advised to hold all their appeals as close together as possible and to consider them at the end of all the hearings so as to be fair to all the appellants.

It would seem that there may be a case for asking the ombudsman to look at the conduct of the school in relation to both its admissions policy and its conduct of the appeals, if as you believe, places were left unfilled below the PAN and the appeal panel did not conduct the appeal according to the guidelines.

It may be worth discussing your case with ACE (Advisory Centre for Education), helpline number 0808 8005793. I think they would also be able to point you in the direction of good legal advice if you need it.

Do let us all know the outcome!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:28 am 
And Hi Again!,

Sorry Hazel, I reread your post and you do imply that there is no passmark as such at all just admission on score rankings. In this case I would still think that the appeal should be 2 stage with the first part to say that the appellant would have reached the score of the last ranked applicant admitted if it were not for special circumstances etc.

It does make for a very confusing and non-transparent system.


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