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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:45 pm 
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A couple of questions related to getting information:

1) Does the LA have to provide you with a map of the points they use if you ask? Bucks have a "nearest open gate available for a pupil to use" and have not told me which gate they are measuring from, and I have asked directly twice now so it's getting awkward! They also say they don't have a map.

2) In terms of the school you're appealing for, how helpful are they supposed to be? Can you ask them any questions directly? Would they let you visit? (I realise the latter is unlikely, but..) I did try approaching the school to ask a question about SEN as I was making a late application under social and medical due to a recent ASD diagnosis, but they told me they would not be likely to reply as it would prejudice an appeal. This was only an application!

As it's an oversubscription appeal and they've never gone over PAN, I'm going to need to try and get information regarding things like classroom sizes, number of equipment items per class etc. How on earth can I get that?

I want to get as much evidence as I can, but it feels very frustrating when there are things that could potentially help our case but we can't get that information.

Thank you!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:03 pm 
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The previous Appeals Code (2009) stated: "1.31 …….. Admission authorities must give appellants appropriate guidance and information before the hearing to enable them to prepare their case for appeal ….. and, having regard to the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000, must respond to any reasonable requests for information about the school or the admissions process that the appellant may think they need to help them with this preparation ….."

The 2012 Appeals Code is more concise: "2.8 Admission authorities must comply with reasonable requests from parents for information which they need to help them prepare their case for appeal."

Assuming this is an academy, you could try a polite letter to the headteacher as follows:

      “Paragraph 2.8 of the Appeals Code states that admission authorities must comply with reasonable requests from parents for information which they need to help them prepare their case for appeal.

      In order to help prepare for an appeal, I should be very grateful if you would let me know ...........”

OR

You could try a FOI request:
https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a39


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Would they let you visit?
I would have hoped so, but it's their decision.

Quote:
they told me they would not be likely to reply as it would prejudice an appeal. This was only an application!
Sounds a bit harsh to me - they are obliged to provide factual information even for an appeal (as paragraph 2.8 above makes clear).

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Does the LA have to provide you with a map of the points
Try FOI.

Quote:
As it's an oversubscription appeal and they've never gone over PAN, I'm going to need to try and get information regarding things like classroom sizes, number of equipment items per class etc. How on earth can I get that?
I wouldn't spend too much time on the school case.

      Quote:
      v. Bear in mind that an appeal panel usually has a lot of experience within it, and in all probability is more than capable of analysing the authority’s case without anyone else’s help. By all means ask a few short, probing questions at stage 1 to try and dent the authority’s case a bit, but it is rare for an authority to lose at stage 1. If they do lose, that is a bonus that will almost certainly happen without any intervention on the part of parents. If you spend too long worrying about stage 1, it will risk distracting from what in most instances really matters. The vast majority of appeals are won or lost at stage 2, the parent’s case, and this is where your focus should be.
      http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... -school#c2

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:24 pm 
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Submit your questions as an FOI, they then must respond. Takes up to 20 working days though. Could always ask for the appeal to be postponed if you don't receive the necessary info in time.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:45 pm 
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I think this is Bucks? Because of the huge number of summer term appeals (the result of the review system), a postponed appeal might not be heard until September.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:29 pm 
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Thank you very much!! I'm very glad to hear that they are in fact supposed to respond to reasonable requests, and I don't think it's an unreasonable request to ask which gate they use! In this case, I've identified three gates to the school, the main gate (I'm fairly sure this is the one they used) and two others which I am currently unsure if they can be accessed by pupils. I intend to go down and have a look in the next few days! If either of the other two can be used, then we'd fall under the furthest distance admitted (yes, the distance is that tiny - 64 metres) Whether this would benefit us or not we have no way to know, because we can't know the locations of the other children who did get a place. It could be by using those other gates then the furthest distance would shrink further as the final child to be admitted would be nominally closer, and so we'd still be outside the distance. I don't want to leave any stone unturned though!

I think the problem with the SEN question I had was that I asked what they could offer to support my particular child and presumably they were worried they'd be showing favouritism. With hindsight, I'd have been better off asking in more generic terms, and asking more about their pastoral care for children with ASD. I think my mistake was saying in my email that even if we were unsuccessful with the late application which we wanted this information for, we could still use the information at appeal. Kicking myself for that now, I was just trying to make it seem like the effort wouldn't be wasted!!

Thank you for the information about the FOI, that's good to know.

And I'm very relieved to know I don't have to go completely down the rabbit hole of stage 1. My limited time would definitely be far better served by focusing on stage 2! I'm just a bit bothered as I don't think the school has ever gone over PAN.

Bucks does not appear to break down appeal results by school, only by type of appeal (e.g. unqualified for grammar, qualified for grammar) - is there anywhere I could find the actual school appeal breakdown? Curious to know how many people appealed last year.

The success rate for appeals (qualified for grammar) in 2017 was 13.7% which is somewhat disheartening. Obviously some good cases get thrown out, but it takes some effort to go to appeal so I'm guessing most people think they have a good case? I think we have a pretty strong one with SEN and a doctor's report backing up the school in question, plus a bunch of pastoral/extra-curricular which seem quite convincing which I'm hoping will tilt the odds a little in our favour. But I have no idea how much others prepare, and for all I know those 86.3% had cases just as strong if not stronger than ours and just as well prepared.

You've just mentioned something about a huge number of summer term appeals. Are these related to qualification? Is this a new thing?

Bucks CC did tell me that we really have to get our application in ASAP if we want to not do it in September! As recommended in your guide, I've already submitted a "stub" appeal stating the rest will follow by the deadline (which I'll do in a job lot of course!)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
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I think the school gate situation is pretty open-and-shut and your case won't hinge on it. You certainly wouldn't be barred...

BCC will have used whichever entrances have been registered with them by the school to make the allocations, and any new entrances that have sprung up since, or any that have previously been unused but are now in use won't be incorporated into the allocation process retrospectively. Nor will any entrances not registered by the school. It's probable that all three entrances have already been accounted for if they are regular entrances to the school anyway.

If I see someone scouting the school grounds and surrounding area with a trundle wheel this weekend sparklies, your cover is blown!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:27 pm 
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:lol: :lol: I was hoping this might just swing it! It might just be the key..

More seriously though, assuming the gates can be used, and could have been at the time of allocation but weren't included, they technically weren't following the letter of their own admissions code. It may well be that the gates are new (or newly available for pupils) since the school submitted its location, or it may even be that they just submitted the one gate as that's the one they thought pupils should/would be expected to use, without giving enough consideration to the term "available to use" and nitpicky people like me :oops:

I almost wish that the gates are clearly locked with a padlock the size of a dinner plate, with big notices on them saying "Not for pupils, EVER, don't even think about it!" so I can put this particular idea out of my head! If I don't go and have a look, then it'll play on my mind.

I really wish, especially given it's now straight line distances and not walking distances, that they'd just said "the school's main gate" or even "the centre of the school". That would have been the sensible thing to have done. They're leaving themselves open to stuff like this otherwise, and probably false hope by people in my position! I wonder if the wording is a legacy from the previous walking distance they used many moons ago?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:05 am 
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The exact wording is that they (BCC) use "the nearest open school gate available for pupils to use". That in itself is open to dispute because it might be open at certain times of the year and not at others, as is the case at a school near me.

Once you've scouted the entrances though, what next? You don't know the exact National Grid coordinate used for your own house (you may own a very large plot and will they have used the end of the drive, the front door or the back garden gate, for example?) so will you be able to determine if a particular gate has or hasn't been used in the distance measurement?

If you can show that there is a gate nearer to your house and that it wasn't used in the allocations then as you say, they will have to re-do the allocations for those at the margins. I can't see that happening. It would be a controversial move. A school-gate-gate, perhaps?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:19 am 
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The house side isn't too bad. They told me they use a specific data point provided by Royal Mail and OS or somesuch - can't remember the details now, but I'm fairly sure it's something I could work out.

Would they really redo all the allocations and potentially withdraw other offers at this point? I'd hope it would be more likely that whilst they might revisit some of the marginal allocations to see if we would have got in, I can't imagine they would be able to take away an offer from anyone else.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:32 am 
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Sorry, I should have been more specific: If you can provide indisputable evidence that there is a gate nearer to your house that meets the definition and that it wasn't used in the allocations then you would have a choice as to whether to challenge the school or not. If you did challenge them, I don't know what their reaction or solution would be. If they were inclined to take it into account they wouldn't need to re-do all the allocations but they would have to look at how many people shortening that distance affects and decide their next step.


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