Hello, clockstruck13, and welcome!
In the FAQ C2 under ‘medical or social reasons’, Etienne indicates that the burden on the appellants is to convincingly demonstrate why ONLY the school under appeal can satisfy documented needs.
Ideally, yes. You quote me correctly, although this is in the context of a 'balancing stage'. I think I probably worded this as I did because - although the very strongest cases tend to be medical/social - a lot of medical/social reasons put forward at appeal can be be somewhat trivial! What I've written sounds in isolation like an absolute test, whereas the test is a relative one - is the social/medical need sufficient to outweigh any prejudice to the school?
Clearly - if you have a tough panel, not inclined to allow many appeals - then the more extreme the medical/social need, the more likely it should be that even a tough panel will accept that it outweighs the prejudice to the school.
In the theoretical case of a wheelchair-bound child appealing for the only local school with access facilities, need is clear. It would be the ONLY school it would be possible to attend and the alternative would be attending no school. When the appeal is based on social and psychological reasons, the need is less black and white. Attendance at another school would not be physically impossible, so it seems to be a case of demonstrating the risk of significant emotional harm, which is a bit more nebulous.
I agree. We're usually into the realm of very subjective judgements anyway (what exactly would be the impact of one more child on the other children? - do the reasons for wanting a place outweigh the prejudice to the school?
My inclination is to let the fact of a protection plan and scheduled emergency intervention speak for the severity of the situation, rather than trawl through the grim soap opera specifics. Will a print out of definitions such as 'emotional harm' and 'neglect' as they're used by social services, along with the threshold criteria that must be satisfied before a court will make an emergency order under the Children Act 1989, provide an adequate sense of the issues involved? Something very brief like this, for instance: http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/Res ... eaflet.pdf
Yes - perhaps you could mark or underline the bits you wish to draw to the panel's attention. (A highlighter may not work so well when the papers are duplicated.)
I have her case protection notes, but they are highly confidential and I’m uncomfortable with the idea of sending out so many copies. It would perhaps be possible to submit extracts with all but the relevant recommendations and targets blacked out – thoughts?
I think this would be entirely acceptable. A good idea to bring the report to the hearing, to hold it up, and explain "Because of its highly confidential nature, I hope you'll understand our reluctance to submit it in its entirety.
I don’t know what level of knowledge about these issues to assume. I’d like to build a concrete, evidenced case but I also don’t want to swamp the panelists with long documents. Would it be appropriate to provide select examples of respected literature on child abuse? Studies point to the long term negative effects, regardless of whether a child is eventually moved to a loving home, and make particular protective recommendations for deconstructing the impact of trauma and safeguarding emotional development. Outcomes can include serious interpersonal problems, difficulties during adolescence, cognitive impairment, suicidal behaviour, psychiatric disorders etc A social worker familiar with my niece’s case will be attending the hearing, so perhaps their testimony/advocacy will be enough?
In my view, best not to swamp the panel. The social worker should suffice.
If too much detail is given, it can sometimes become difficult to see the wood for the trees! My advice is always to get the essentials of the case down to one side of A4 (plus supporting evidence). Then let the panel ask questions, and address those areas that they want to focus on.
Her headmaster and learning mentor have written very strong and detailed letters of support confirming the difficulties of the last few years and her outstanding potential.
2. Her mother has previously presented at her primary school and security concerns remain. Independent travel for at least the first year is therefore not going to be possible. My brother is a single parent who has had to take on a second job to cover rent of the new home he moved into to accommodate a child and it will be logistically difficult for him to transport her to a school that is far away from his work or route home. His time is already stretched to the limit and having to drive long distances every day will further impair his ability to spend quality time with her precisely when she'll most need focused attention and reassurance. I understand from what i've read over the last few days that transport considerations do not typically hold much weight, but I wonder if they are worth mentioning in this particular case? The school under appeal is closest to his work. Knowing he was so close would make a difference to her emotional wellbeing.
I do think a brief mention would be very relevant in this case.
Any thoughts on any of this appreciated. I have only recently found this site but I have read scores of threads in quick succession. I'd like to join the chorus of sincere thanks for the very helpful and generous efforts of Etienne, Sally-Anne and any other mods/ regular contributors.
Thank you very much indeed for that.
Appeals can be unpredictable, and I am obviously in no position to say what the outcome will be - but speaking just from my own experience, I never encountered a case like this that was not considered sufficient to outweigh the prejudice to the school.
Good luck - and please do let us know if we can be of any further assistance.