My child was offered place at selective grammar school today. The oversubscription criteria meant that although deemed suitable for a place we lived too far (we are out of the area).
Although we were given very short notice (5 days) I manged to arrange time off work to attend stage one of the hearing (group hearing).
We received the schools reasons as to why they could not take any more students (12 pages). I went through it in detail highlighting ambiguous statements. The pertinent point was the school has taken students above the PAN in several years, whereone year this was 8 over PAN.
This was my first experience of an appeal. There was 8 parents appealing. The panel introduced themselves and then asked the school representative (Assistant Head) to make her case. She read succinct points from the document we had received. The parents were then asked if they had any questions and this is where it all began.
The first was straight forward, the school had taken over their PAN and thus there was a precedent. She just replied they had as the appeals were successful.
I asked regarding the square footage as the school has been refurbished and although she could not say what this was, when pushed she admitted 'more space ' had resulted.
The admission numbers for sixth firm was a very strange concept of '20 plus number in Year 11' which the panel found puzzling as she kept emphasising how full they were, yet had no definite numbers they could take in Year 12.
I asked if the school had hard evidence showing prejudice to the efficient use of resources had occurred in previous years where intake had increased significantly. She replied (to her unwitting detriment ) the school prides itself in quality of teaching and that cohort did very well.
Classroom could take up to 30 children but they decided 28 students was best. When probed she said the extra space was for support staff. The question asked the was how many support staff the school had and number of SEN children. There was 3 in entire school and only 1 child with SEN entering in September 2015. The panel did not appear impressed with her lack of knowledge or that there were 'spaces' for something that was not really required.
The summary was that after many more questions the schools argument had many holes in it. The panel went away and deliberated for 40mins before the clerk came back to say all children who had passed the exam (3 of the 8 ) would be given a place as the school did have space and there was no need to attend individual hearing. The remaining 5 children would have to as theirs was non qualification as well.
All in all it pays to research the schools argument, whilst coming across as reasonable questioning the schools argument was key. I was congratulated by several parents whilst waiting for the initial verdict on the number of questions I had asked. My thoughts were that it would help us all and not just my son, so did not hold back.