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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:15 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:55 pm
Posts: 12
Hi everyone.

I am a new member so please be gentle with me! :)

Anyway, I am hoping you can help me with my particular case or at least give me some advice.

My son recently started secondary school in September, his catchment school for our address. Since September my son’s father and I have separated and we have since sold the house and my son and I have moved back to my parents house.

Up until the break of Christmas half term he continued to go to his offered school as we arranged with family and friends to accommodate the move, nothing long term however. In the back ground I spoke to the head teacher about applying for the local catchment school for my parents address and she suggested I apply to the LEA which I did.

The catchment school is full so I appealed and today I have received the appeal date. Since Christmas and because of the circumstances i have taken the decision to take my son from the originally offered school and temporally do home working of which his school provided. They have now taken him off the role so as of today my son doesn't have any school.

***********************************************************

The basis of my appeal is as follows:

Having recently moved back with parents due to domestic circumstances my sons current school is no longer the catchment school. Furthermore, for my son to continue his education at his current School he would be required to travel in excess of 30 miles per day averaging approximately 3.07hrs. In addition, my sons school day is approximately 6.15 hrs so for him to attend his current school his school day would equal some 9.22 hrs (46.1 hrs per week). This, in my opinion is un-healthy for an 11 year old boy.

From January 2009 it will not be possible for my son to attend this school in Castle Bromwich. I have made arrangements with work, family and friends to enable my son to attend until the end of term 2008 however these have only been temporary arrangements and from January 2009 I do not have any arrangements in place and will be unable to transport my son to his school due to work commitments and the distance involved.

Having looked into all possible travel options I do not feel it is practical for my son to travel 15.6 miles each way to school and back on public transport as this would involve catching 2 buses and a walk taking 1 hour and 37 minutes in the morning and 1 hour 30 minutes in the evening (journey route enclosed).

If my son set out on his journey at 7:08am he would not arrive at school until 8:45am, he is required to be in form ready to start the school day at 8:45am. Furthermore, this does not take into account any traffic delays in the morning or the walk into school which would make it unrealistic to get to school in time and setting out on his journey any earlier would make his school day a lot longer if when he comes home and has to do homework.

At his current school my son has always been punctual and as held an excellent attendance record, this could not be guaranteed for the future if travelling 31.2 miles a day on public transport. The other options I have looked into is a taxi to and from school, this is at a cost of £14 each way costing £28 per day which at a £142 per week isn’t feasible to get my son to school and back. I do not feel I have any alternative but to appeal against the decision for a place at the new catchment School, the catchment school for my address. My son would be able to walk to and from the catchment school in 20 minutes. His current school are aware of the situation and as he is unable to attend his current school from January 2009 they have sent work home for him to complete until he is offered a place at an alternative school. I am not happy for this situation to carry on in the long term as I feel his education will suffer and relying on my nan looking after him whilst he is unable to attend school then catching up on his school work in the evenings when I finish work is not a situation that can carry on for any length of time.

I wish for you to consider my appeal for my son on the grounds that the (new school) is his catchment school and he is unable to get to (Old school) due to the distance involved. I have looked into transport options to obtain help but have been advised there is no funding available. Furthermore I have also discussed other schools with the council which are close to where we live however all Solihull schools have no spaces except for (current school). I believe that by refusing my son a place at (new school) it will affect his education in that he will be constantly tired and unable to take part in social activities either at school or at weekends which ultimately will affect his social learning and development long term. In addition, it is also my opinion that his health will suffer dramatically.

By offering my son a place at (new school) it is my opinion that it wouldn’t cause prejudice to another child as by the enclosed documentation will show, he is a very clever and able boy who will fit in almost straight away without the requirement of “special attentionâ€


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 8:03 pm
Posts: 1827
Location: Gloucestershire
Hi, and welcome. How old is your son?

Have the LEA offered a school for your new address & have you notified them that you have moved? If the school offered is more than 3 miles from your home, then the LEA will fund travelling - be it bus, car or even taxi.

It could be worth taking any offered school even if it's not ideal, and then making sure you're on the waiting list for a nearer school which you want your son to go to.

My background: I'm one of the people on this forum who currently or in the past sit on the independent appeals panels (my last ones were at least 4 1/2 hours ago - appeals for infant school admissions). We're all also parents. We don't have all the answers, though!

_________________
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:55 pm
Posts: 12
Hi, thanks for the reply.

My son is 11 as per the appeal letter and he is in Yr7. The school which he originally enrolled have now taken him off the roll due to the circumstances and the logistics involved in travel, as of now my son has no school.

The LEA have been made aware hence why they have rushed through the appeal for the catchment school of the new address. They are aware of the circumstances and that we have moved. Jack has been supplied work from his old school to tie him over until the LEA finds him a school.

In relation to other schools than that of the catchment school, the LEA have advised that the only Solihull school which currently has available places is his old school so, its pointless them even offering it. The travel is 15.8 miles each way, we have asked for funding and the LEA has advised that no funding for travel is available. Been there, tried that.

We aren't being awkward but please, see the points above am I, as his mother being unreasonable.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8199
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi solihullmom, and welcome!

I think you have some very strong points there, but they are slightly hiding their light under a bushel at present! :)

I think that you need to be a little more explicit about your current domestic arrangements and the reason for them (marital separation). "Nan" appears halfway through, and I felt that perhaps I had missed something earlier. That is the "backdrop" to your case, and it is important.

Then I think you need to put in the situation with the current school - distance, travel time, transport, social life, out-of-school activities, temporary arrangements, homeworking, no longer on the roll.

I would emphasise that you have been forced to take him out because of the journey already being unmanageable. You do need to be careful that the panel don't think that you pulled him out in order to hold a gun to the LEA's head on the local school.

Then you need to introduce the fact that you currently have no school for him, and have not been offered one. Then the killer point, which is that this appeal is for his catchment school.

The one phrase I would take out is this:

Quote:
In addition, it is also my opinion that his health will suffer dramatically.

That is pure speculation on your part, and IMHO it undermines all the facts in your case.

I would also take out the comments about the overall length of his school day - it is the travel time that is important.

The point about your son being able, and not requiring extra help is worth making, but remember that "prejudice to the school " comes in many forms - insufficient desks and loos, health and safety considerations, etc.

So, try to shuffle it around a little, and if you can perhaps deal with some of the text via bullet points, it will be more readable and forceful.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
Posts: 1068
Location: Lincolnshire
Hi,

I would endorse what Sally-Anne has written above about how to present the facts in your submission. I am a great fan of bullet points - makes everything easier to read and tends to make people structure their arguments succinctly and in an ordered way!!

I have a couple of comments about your situation if I have understood it correctly:

It is not usual for a school to take a child off roll until another school placement has been found. Whilst a child is still on roll the school retains a responsibility to set and mark work for that child even if they are not able to physically attend.

The Local Authority have responsibility to find you a school place if you are asking for one (and not electing to "home educate"). If the nearest available place is 15 miles away then they must either find you something nearer or pay the travel costs to that school. In many authorities the Local Authority would be directing a full school to take over its published admission number if there were no available school place within a reasonable distance. Where authorities differ considerably is in what distance they consider to be reasonable for the child to travel. Times for the journeys should not generally exceed the Government recommendations, but the times you have quoted would fall within these. In rural areas it would not be particularly unusual for a child to travel these distances but I would suspect that where you live local opinion might possibly consider them excessive?

LAs are generally more willing and able to direct Community schools to admit further pupils than they are Foundation or VA schools as they are the admissions authority for Community schools.

I would be inclined to go back to your admissions department and ask them to at least name a school they are prepared to offer you and ask why your child was taken off roll at the current school when no alternative had been arranged. Also ask them what arrangements they will make for your son were your appeal to be unsuccessful. It just feels a little bit as though they are pushing all the responsibility back onto your shoulders and hoping all will work out (and hopefully it will!) - but you need a few answers from them as well.

What sort of school are you appealing for? If it is a Community School the LA rep would, I imagine, come in for some pretty tough questioning from the panel. However, if it is a Foundation or VA school there will be no LA presence there to explain any alternatives or lack of them. If the appeal is for a Foundation or VA school it may be worth asking the Local Authority Admissions Department to put in writing the current vacancy, or lack of it, position in all the surrounding schools so that you can present that as part of your evidence.

I wish you all the very best in a difficult situation.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:55 pm
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Thanks both - slight problem though, that text is actually what i have already submitted :-(

I feel i have made a huge error! Also, as far as I know the catchment school is a normal school, Arden in Solihull?

The school in which they say they can offer is the school i have had to pull him from as the distance is unmanageable. That school is Park Hall in Castle Bromwich. How can they expect him though to commute when he will arrive at school late each day. Yes it is because his father and I have split but i was advised by the headteacher who subsequenlty is the headteacher of both schools to leave this out.

The LA have said there is no funding available for them to pay his travel.

Nightmare!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:22 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
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Location: Lincolnshire
Don't panic!! You have the chance to "present" your case at the appeal and you can emphasise points, add them, talk through things more. I think most appeal panels would like to see something about the school for which you are appealing and why it is right for your child (in addition to the fact that it is your local catchment school) rather than just a list of why not the other school. A brief glance at the website for the school shows it has a lot of strengths so you could see if you could match any of these to your son's own areas of interest or need.

I cannot understand why the head would advise you not to mention the fact that you have split with your son's father. It is, after all, the reason for your unavoidable move.

The school appears to be a community school so the LA is the admissions authority.

The Local Authority cannot just wipe their hands of your son and say there is no funding for travel - they must either find him an alternative nearer place or fund his travel (I am assuming that your son's current school was the catchment school for your original address).

In your position I think I would write to the Local Authority Admissions Team - you should write direct to the head of it - should be able to find their name and title on the LA website or phone and ask. This means that they will have to make a written reply to you. You should state clearly that you are writing to ask them to clarify your position following your telephone communications with them. Reiterate all the basic facts:
- son's name, dob, name of school he attended, previous address, current address and date of move to current address and why you were forced to move.
- State that you can not afford to transport your son to his previous school and that the journey is long and difficult for a child his age and, if it is impossible for him to get there for the start of the school day on public transport, say so.
- Say that you would like him to move to his current Catchment School, Arden School, but that you have been told that it is oversubscribed and have submitted an appeal.
- Say that you are concerned because it appears that no viable alternative school placement has been offered to your son. It is not possible for him to continue to attend his previous school without travel being funded and even then it is not a sensible long term solution because of the travel difficulties.
- State that it was never your intention to home educate your son and you definitely are asking the LA to find a school place for him. Ask them to clarify whether your son is still on roll at the previous school or not Say that you have been told he may no longer be on roll and if so ask them why he was removed from roll without any alternative placement being found for him.
- State that you obviously hope that your appeal for Arden School will be successful but ask them what arrangements will be made for you son's education should the appeal not be upheld.

I really do feel they should be giving you some definitive answers in writing.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:30 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Superb advice from Alex, who has far more experience of transfer appeals than I do.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:41 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:51 pm
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You should perhaps bear in mind that Arden is the best state school in Solihull (some Solihull heads would argue otherwise, I'm sure) and one of the top 100 state schools in the country while Park Hall is well below the national average (never mind by Solihull standards!), so I'm sure the LEA has seen countless parents trying all sorts of shenanigins to try and circumvent the oversubscription. That being so, I would imagine that you need to make it very, very clear that it's your change in personal circumstances that have forced you to this position.

Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1300
Location: Birmingham
Quote:
In relation to other schools than that of the catchment school, the LEA have advised that the only Solihull school which currently has available places is his old school so, its pointless them even offering it. The travel is 15.8 miles each way, we have asked for funding and the LEA has advised that no funding for travel is available. Been there, tried that.


I think it's worthwhile clarifying the position regarding new parents and pupils moving into Solihull MBC from other areas of the country.

Are Solihull really saying that ALL pupils movings into say the Knowle area from other LEAs will only be offered places at Park Hall Castle Bromwich? I suspect the answer will be no because there will be pupils moving out of the area as well and this would be impractical.

I suspect the problem is related to the fact that yours is an Intra Solihull move and even though it is bone fide for personal circumstances the LEA are suspicious as I guess many parents have tried this sort of trick in the past.

I'm surprised that Solihull are so inflexible that they can't manage this unless it's by Appeal.

I would certainly contact your local Solihull councillor(for your new parents home) and seek their support; I know the local Silhill Councillor very well and I know they are always happy to try to resolve issues in situations where the Admission procedures are failing. Who knows they may even be on the Education Sub Committee and will be able to ask questions in Committee!

PS Make sure your register to vote at your new parents address, that way there will be an extra vote at that address.

Hope this helps

Ken


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