I think there are some technical errors in the school's case. Here is what they are required to submit to the clerk, who must then forward identical papers to all parties:
2.20 The admission authority must supply the clerk to the appeal panel with the documents listed below at least ten school days before the hearing (unless this is not practicable because the appellants have waived their right to a period of ten school days notice of their appeal as in paragraph 2.10):
a) a written statement summarising how places at the school were allocated (without disclosing personal details of applicants which would enable identification of individuals)
and how the admission arrangements for the school apply to the appellantsâ€™ application, accompanied by any relevant background information and documents on which they placed substantial reliance (such as the appellantsâ€™ application form or references from religious ministers). Where distance criteria have been used to allocate places, admission authorities must demonstrate how this was applied to the appellantsâ€™ application compared to those offered a place;
b) a written statement summarising the reasons for the decision (and attaching a copy of the decision letter), explaining how admission of an additional child would cause prejudice to
the provision of efficient education or use of resources, making it clear whether or not the admission authority is defending its decision on the basis of infant class size legislation. The admission authority must include a summary of the schoolâ€™s net capacity and could also include a map/plan of the school if this would be helpful. Admission authoritiesâ€™ statements referring to accommodation, class sizes, capacity etc, must be supported by
factual information, as panel members cannot undergo â€˜toursâ€™ of schools to make their own assessments, as it could call into question their independence and lead to allegations of lobbying;
c) the relevant extract of the areaâ€™s coordinated admissions scheme where this is relevant to the appeal (e.g. a parent or child appealing for a place at a school they ranked lower on
their common application form than the one offered under the scheme) and, in the case of a voluntary aided or foundation school or an Academy, a statement from the local authority explaining how the scheme was applied;
d) details of how the locally agreed Fair Access Protocol operates, where relevant (see paragraph 3.3); and
e) copies of any information or documents that will be supplied to the panel at the hearing, including any documents that have been submitted by appellants.
Note that they must satisfy the panel that the admission arrangements have been carried out properly - but they do not say exactly how places have been allocated. They state "all available places have been offered and accepted" but do not explain on what basis. There ought to be a breakdown of the allocations, and it should be clear under what criterion the last place was offered. Was it distance? - if so, what was the distance? Was it score? - if so, what was the score?
I see no copy of the decision letter refusing you a place. You may not need it yourself, but the panel should have a copy, and you should have the same paperwork as them.
Unless I've missed it, I see no reference to the school's net capacity (a mandatory requirement), and I see only a limited attempt to substantiate the accommodation argument. Ideally they would provide a document called the Net Capacity Assessment, which states the net capacity (the total number of pupils the school can physically accommodate), gives a breakdown of all the rooms, and specifies how many pupils each room can accommodate.
Moreover, it seems to me most
unfair that the school - as part of their own case - should be querying and rebutting your case in advance of the hearing, when you have not had the opportunity to do the same with regard to their case. They're absolutely within their rights to challenge you at the hearing - I don't believe they should be doing so in detail beforehand.
As a matter of interest, is the appeal taking place at the school, or on neutral ground?
They dismiss some of your academic evidence as not being relevant to the reasoning test score. You are perfectly entitled to introduce any academic evidence to establish grammar school ability - you are not required to match it to the test format. The Code of Practice states:
3.37 Where there is no local review process (as described in paragraph 3.34) or no local review
process has been applied, the panel should consider any factors which appellants contend may have affected the childâ€™s performance (e.g. illness, bereavement); whether the family
made the admission authority aware of these before they sat the test; and whether it offered alternative testing arrangements or made reasonable adjustments (e.g. in the case of children with disabilities). The panel may then need to consider any clear evidence presented by the appellants to support their claim that the child is of the required academic standard e.g. school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT results or a letter of support from their
current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability.
I'm not suggesting you pursue all the shortcomings in their case for the moment, especially if they're unlikely to help you to win your case. You don't want to appear too argumentative when the objective is to win the sympathy and goodwill of the panel; and, anyway, points such as the failure to state how the admission arrangements were done could be kept back for a possible complaint to the ombudsman. However, I do think you should refer the panel to what the Code says about academic evidence.
I suggest as a matter of urgency that you write and ask for the following information which you need for the appeal (and had thought would be included in the case papers):
1. A full copy of the school's most recent net capacity assessment
2. A breakdown of the expected numbers in each year group in September (the current numbers will do if they make a fuss!)
3. The total number on roll
It will be interesting to see whether any classes have been above 30, in which case you can ask what evidence there is that this has prejudiced the education of the other 30 children.
If they fail to provide the information on time, then you can draw this to the attention of the panel (and to the ombudsman at a later date!).