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 Post subject: primary appeals.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:33 am 
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Sorry to be asking this when you are busy with Bucks appeals but I need the info before tomorrow as CAF forms need to be finalised by then and I am trying to reassure worried friends and parents.

Our local primary will be over subscribed to such an extent in September that only children with siblings will get in. The school has tried to have the admission number raised but it is too late to do anything for this year.

Some parents have only put one choice on their form believing that this will strenghthen their case. Some being sensibly cautious given the school they will automatically be allocated have put alternatives.

What I want to know is, if this second group are penalised by following the correct proceedure and can prove that this has happened i.e if those who only put down the one school end up getting places and they don't all other criterea being equal will an independent appeals panel allow them a place at the school because the authority have not followed good practice? Or will it be a case of you naughty authority slap on the wrist but utlimately tough on you poor parents who followed the rules it is too late.

There is room for all these children at the school presently as there are a large number of children leaving and the school has gained an extra classroom.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Thanks for raising this - it may not be relevant to 11+ exams but I am certainly interested in the result.

The assumption locally is 'if you are 'in zone' and you put the school first, you will get a place'. The LEA keep very quiet about the fact that this isn't true and as a result it would be very easy for someone to get their fingers burnt.

I live in the catchment area of a very popular primary school. A few years ago the LEA took the decision to reduce our intake despite there being no evidence that the school was undersubscribed. Since then we have had flats going up in the catchment area + a large housing estate in the catchment area of a local, unpopular school so places at the local church schools are being used up by children from that estate. All of which means places at our local school are in scarce supply. What's more there appears to be a baby boom amongst siblings who will be in my younger child's year.

For the last three years, I have suggested to the LEA that they perhaps ought to review the catchment area - for the last two years, a small number of children living 'in zone' have been turned down. However, my comments, even an official complaint, have been ignored or responded to with standard replies. Apparently flats make no difference to school intakes because families don't buy them - except that some do to get their kids into our local school!

I have now responded to a consultation on school places saying the zones should be reviewed so that in an average year the LEA would be able to fulfil parents' expectations that 'if you're in zone your child can go to the school'. (Accept that my local school's intake won't be reviewed but maybe families further from the school could be put in zone for an adjoining school. Unfortunately this would probably mean the previously mentioned unpopular school (actually it's far from the worst in the area and would probably be our second choice but it does have a bad press) but they would end up there anyway as all the other adjoining schools are full and at least that way, if people have realistic expectations, they can look at alternatives early.

As I understand it, only putting one school down does not strengthen your case but I would personally be tempted to do it and go down the maladministration route as the LEA have known there is a mismatch between parents' expectations and the reality of the situation for several years and have done nothing.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:31 pm 
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Dear Tolstoy

It would have to be shown that these parents were deprived of a place to which they would otherwise have been entitled, had the correct procedures been followed. If so, I think the answer to your question is 'Yes', provided that the school could cope with all the additional children - both in terms of accommodation and teaching staff.

If the appeal panel decided the school could not cope, it would have to consider in each case whether the parents' reasons for needing a place outweighed any prejudice to the school. If the number of potentially successful appeals is still too high, the cases would then be ranked in order of merit, and the strongest ones upheld until the point is reached where the panel feels the school could no longer cope.

There could be consequences for the school if we're talking about an infants' class, and if teaching groups in the future were to exceed 30 in reception, year 1 or year 2.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:39 pm 
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Location: london
Our local primary school has been oversubscribed (in catchment) for several years. Occassionally people have only put one school on their form, believing this will in some way force the LA's hand. I has not and they have ended up with a school miles away instead. In my experience those who put other schools down (albeit ones that they do not really want) will not be penalised and may at least get a school within say 10 miles!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:54 pm 
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I'd agree with that; Birmingham LEA strongly cautions against only putting one school down.

Anyone who doesn't express a second preference and fails to get their first choice will not be considered further until everyone who has expressed a preference has been allocated a place. So they will get whatever is left - certainly an unpopular school (probably unpopular for a reason) and possibly a very distant school. They can, of course, appeal against that...

Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:15 pm 
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I would recommend filling in ALL the options.

When I filled in the CAF for my dd one of her friends filled in three choices and she got the third one. We atually got given our fifth choice - as it turns out it was the best choice out of all of them (even i I have to travel a couple of extra miles) as it has consistently been in the top three performing primary schools for the county.

I know people who have only filled in one option for secondary and got given whatever was left after everyone else had been allocated - the local failing school.

Fill in ALL options, at least then you have a chance of getting a school you want (however remotely you want it) rather than one you don't want!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:59 pm 
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Thankyou for all these responses.

I am in a tricky position because as well as being a parent of a child who will be starting in September ( two older siblings and very close proximity, phew! ) I am also a parent governor.

The school does not want to lose these childen( 1/3 of the intake approx) especially as many of them have younger siblings so the knock on for a village school could be hugely undersubscribed year groups in the future.

Etienne, we have been assured by the head that they can be accommodated but it will mean at some point, probably Y1 they will have to be split. The current Y6 class is the same size and they had to be split twice during their progression through the school.

Currently I have been giving out the advise you are all recommending.

What I am interested in finding out is

....does anyone know of an actual case where guidlines weren't followed and child A ended up with a place because of this and child B didn't but when it came to appeal although the authority were in the wrong child B still missed out because there was not enough room and child A gets to keep its place regardless.

...or alternatively this has happened and child A has its place given to child B be because their needs were equal and they followed correct procedure.

I am so thankful that this is a village school, the issues aound catchement being faced by many of you in towns are horrendous. I had an inkling of them when we lived in the Midlands when our eldest were toddlers, we would have been well and truly caught up in it by now. It is just as problematic as secondary but far less publicised.

We have a friend who temporarily rented a house opposite a primary to ensure their child went there. Their own house would have been borderline even though the school was their closest school and they were within catchment. Sheer madness to be putting people through.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:17 pm 
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Once a place has been offered it won't be withdrawn.

I would assume that parents who only put one choice down are intending to appeal if they don't get in, working on the theory that they will stand more chance of success at appeal if they are allocated something further away?

It may be possible that the strategy would work, but I wouldn't like to take the risk personally. And as far as I understand it, it's open to someone who is allocated a second or lower preference to appeal as well?

Mike


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Location: london
I agree with Mike :!:
Moreover, from my experience (I'm also a parent governor) where people have only named one school and appealed they have been unsuccessful and have got a unanimous 'well more fool you' response to the fact that they have been allocated the worst school possible.
Also, Tolstoy, you said you have been advising people...if someone appealed and then they said they had been advised by a governor that would be an issue...I think as a governor you have to be very cautious about recommending anyone does anything other than comply with the requirements of the admissions authority. Sorry to harp on, a ridiculous part of the past 4 years of my life has been spent involved in some of these things and what I have learned is that as a governor you need to be very careful before you give out advice to anyone, if at all, more than ever when admissions are concerned.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:45 pm 
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The original question, unless I've misunderstood, is whether parents who've put down more than one choice could be disadvantaged ......

Quote:
does anyone know of an actual case where guidlines weren't followed and child A ended up with a place because of this and child B didn't but when it came to appeal although the authority were in the wrong child B still missed out because there was not enough room and child A gets to keep its place regardless.

...or alternatively this has happened and child A has its place given to child B be because their needs were equal and they followed correct procedure.

It is unlikely that child A would have its place taken away if it's the authority's fault. The authority would have to rescind the place very swiftly (within days).
See C16.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... #section-C

I've not come across your first example in practice. I believe that an appeal panel would do everything possible to remedy any maladministration - my only proviso is that there might come a point where the total number of children is beyond the school's capacity to cope, and the appeal panel would then be required to take that into account.

If the headteacher were to turn up as a witness at such an appeal, and in answer to a question were to state "We could cope with all these children," it would strengthen the parents' case!

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