"The decision was made upon the basis that it was highly likely based on patterns of acceptances in previous years that sufficient families would decline the offer of a school place between the allocation date and the start of term so as to allow the admission of pupils living in catchment at this stage without the overall numbers going above the PAN by the time of the start of the academic year"
They appear to be taking a gamble on that!
The case papers do not mention the procedure under which the extra places were allocated. Rather they refer to an exercise of powers by the Director of Children's Service under the Schools Admission Code .....
This is what the Admissions Code says about powers of direction (maintained schools):
3.16 Local authority powers of direction (general) - A local authority has the power to direct the admission authority for any maintained school in its area to admit a child even when the school is full. The local authority can only make such a direction in respect of a child in the local authority’s area who has been refused entry to, or has been permanently excluded from, every suitable school within a reasonable distance. The local authority must choose a school that is a reasonable distance from the child’s home and from which the child is not permanently excluded. It must not choose a sixth-form that selects by ability unless the child meets the selection requirements, or a school that would have to take measures to avoid breaking the rules on infant class sizes if those measures would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
3.17 Before deciding to give a direction, the local authority must consult the governing body of the school, the parent of the child and the child if they are over compulsory school age. If, following consultation, the local authority decides to direct, it must inform the governing body and head teacher of the school. The governing body can appeal by referring the case to the Schools Adjudicator within 15 days. If it does this, the governing body must tell the local authority. The local authority must not make a direction until the 15 days have passed and the case has not been referred.
Questions: For unplaced children, what was the approx. distance to alternative schools?
Were the governors consulted, and what was their response?
How often in this LA has a school been directed to take such a large number of children?
1.3 Own admission authorities are not required to consult on their PAN where they propose either to increase or keep the same PAN. For a community or voluntary controlled school, the local authority (as admission authority) must consult at least the governing body of the school where it proposes either to increase or keep the same PAN. ...........
3.6 Variations - Once admission arrangements have been determined for a particular academic year, they cannot be revised by the admission authority unless such revision is necessary to give effect to a mandatory requirement of this Code, admissions law, a determination of the Adjudicator or any misprint in the admission arrangements. Admission authorities may propose other variations where they consider such changes to be necessary in view of a major change in circumstances. Such proposals must be referred to the Schools Adjudicator for approval, and the appropriate bodies notified. Where the local authority is the admission authority for a community or voluntary controlled school, it must consult the governing body of the school before making any reference. A variation to increase a school’s PAN is not required to be referred to the Schools Adjudicator.
3.7 Admission authorities must notify the appropriate bodies of all variations and must display a copy of the full varied admission arrangements on their website until they are replaced by different admission arrangements. Local authorities must display the varied admission arrangements on their
website where an admission authority has raised its PAN.
Questions: Is there any update on the LA or school website about the admission number? Is this a temporary PAN or isn't it?
There is obviously a "hope" that the number on roll will fall back to the previously published admission number by September - but what if it doesn't? Will those on the waiting list then be disadvantaged? Can we be absolutely clear about what number will be used for waiting list purposes?
A questioning approach is best for stage one, and I do hope there is going to be a group hearing to deal with this!
In the light of what is revealed at stage one, and in the event of an unsuccessful appeal, we can scrutinise the wording of the decision letter, and look into the lawfulness of the arrangements and whether they have been correctly applied. If your SIL has any concerns at that point, the ombudsman could be asked to investigate. (Unfortunately it won't be a quick process.)