Late Grammar School offer: over the moon but stressed/flummoxed

(1000 Posts)
PermaShattered Mon 29-Apr-13 19:35:12

What a 3 days we've had - any insightful comments welcome. In short:

1. Our daughter was offered 3rd choice (her 11+ score was about 30 down on passmark);
2. 3rd school is outstanding but we appealed to 2nd choice school as was our preference;
3. Last Friday took calls from our local Ed admissions authority saying why appealed when have offer from grammar school?
4. Said we hadn't. She made further calls to other relevant admissions authority and came back and told us we definitely have an offer and it would be in post next day (Saturday just gone);
5. It duly arrived, and we posted our acceptance same day (they should have got it today) - verbal acceptance of place given by phone on Friday;
6. On Friday the Authority also withdrew both our place at 3rd choice school and our appeal to 2nd choice school;
7. Today i take a call from a friend whose daughter got substantially higher score than my DD - and she is 188 on waiting list;
8. I call our admissions auth to check they received our acceptance (they said still in posttray but will be dealt with this afternoon);
9. I query whether there could possibly an error and i'm told categorically 'no'. And if there was, we have a written offer, accepted it and they can't take it off our daughter;
10. Finally, my other DS is that grammar school.

I'm perplexed. What could be a possible explanation?

HabbaDabbaDoo Fri 21-Jun-13 11:27:03

Focusing on just the advice being sought and not getting judgy pants about the poster asking for advice. Hmmm. It will never catch on here on MN.

Yellowtip Fri 21-Jun-13 11:30:31

forheavenssakes I'm afraid it's absolutely about selective v non-selective if you read what Perma has related of the AP decision. No getting away from it at the moment, however emotional you want to get about dashed hopes/ ruined lives etc. etc.

FormaLurka Fri 21-Jun-13 11:32:47

LaVolcan - As a I said, I am not offering an opinion on the legal aspects or whether the GS offer should stand - there are enough people throwing in their hats on that one.

I made the Oxbridge reference because my mum thought I was OXbridge material even though I wasn't.

FormaLurka Fri 21-Jun-13 11:36:03

"I'm shocked that someone would have the audacity to consider themselves in a position to judge whether a child they have never met has the aptitude for a selective school!"

I'm confused. Haven't you just described the admissions people?

Yellowtip Fri 21-Jun-13 11:37:11

gazzalw there's no floodgates issue at all. If upheld then the decision would have very limited and specific impact on mistakes made in the context of grammars and possibly even narrower than that: where a mistake is made and the child in question is very significantly below the test mark thought to indicate that a grammar education is suitable. That's not a turning point at all, it's simply a refusal to extend the current law relating to non selectives to selectives. No expert on this thread has produced any case law relating to this, they've merely insisted they're correct. Again and again. Well so far they're not.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 11:38:15

Yellowtip - the Appeal Panel may have decided that it's only about selective/non selective, but don't forget that the mess has also cost her the second choice where selection wasn't an issue. She might not have got her second choice, but it might have been worth a try. Now it's not; her daughter has been messed about too much.

AlienAttack Fri 21-Jun-13 11:46:00

. The council did not stop Perma from making an appeal for her 2nd choice school. In one of her posts, Perma says she herself cancelled the appeal for that school. I still think Perma's DD should have had this appeal upheld on the basis that too much time had elapsed before the offer was withdrawn but I don't think it is fair to say that this mistake also cost her a place at her 2nd choice school.

lougle Fri 21-Jun-13 11:46:53

No, FormaLurker, because those admissions people have all the evidence before them and (should) apply criteria. Very different to someone deciding that a child isn't grammar material based on the fact that they didn't score as highly as others on a test when they still passed.

Yellowtip Fri 21-Jun-13 11:46:55

I've said from the outset that Perma should without question be put back in the position she would have been in in relation to school number two at the time the mistake was first made. That should be do-able.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 11:54:44

FormaLurka I see this as being entirely about the legal aspects. FYI I had a friend who had a firm offer from a Redbrick University, who then decided to rescind the offer. He was very bitter about it all. He could have taken them to court if he had been so minded, but decided to cut his losses.

Yellowtip No expert on this thread has produced any case law relating to this, they've merely insisted they're correct. Again and again. Well so far they're not. To my reading it seems that no-one can say yes or no to this one.

I hope Perma and her husband have the stomach to take it further, because it's worth having the situation clarified. If at the same time, they decide the effort isn't worthwhile, and that it won't benefit them, then I would fully understand their position.

tiggytape Fri 21-Jun-13 11:58:51

It isn't do-able Yellowtip
At least not if the second choice school have held now their appeals which is almost certain.

If even one of those appeals has been successful, this reduces the chances Perma can win because it increases the prejudice a school would suffer by taking one more pupil. In effect the school already at PAN will now be above PAN as a result of successful appeals so it has even greater grounds to claim it is too full and any late appeal is harder to win than any that happened on time.

Winning a 'normal' (non maladministration) appeal is about balance of prejudice. The prejudice to the school of being forced to accept one more pupil versus the prejudice to the pupil of not getting a place at a school they are suited to. In such an appeal being unfairly treated by another school in another authority will not count - the things that count are demonstrating a child is in need of a place or suited only to that school. There is no place in appeals for a place to be won as consolation for a place wrongfully taken away and there is no way a late appeal can ever be treated as if the earlier ones hadn’t happened assuming any of them succeeded.

FormaLurka Fri 21-Jun-13 11:59:57

lougle - each year faceless public servants look at your DCs 11+ results and from that alone decide whether they are 'GS material'. Presumably you are happy with these people's audacity and its just mine that you object to.

And it is perhaps worth pointing out that you and other MNetters don't know the DD either. Yet that doesn't seem to stop people from pronouncing that she is 'obviously' GS material.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 12:06:38

In effect the school already at PAN will now be above PAN as a result of successful appeals so it has even greater grounds to claim it is too full and any late appeal is harder to win than any that happened on time.

Would it be correct to assume that the only way she could win here would be for them to admit that there had been maladministration, which would force them to take Perma's DD above PAN? If they were to admit that though, they would then have to admit that there was maladministration for the first school.

tiggytape Fri 21-Jun-13 12:08:24

It would benefit everyone to have it clarified again. The LGO is full of decisions regarding some absolutely outrageous behaviour by appeals panels, councils and admissions bodies. Things that never should have happened plus councils and schools basically making it up as they go along. Some of them are just staggering whilst others are more technical.

I don't blame Perma for thinking that if she takes this further it will be without her DD's knowledge. And I wouldn't blame her if she walked away from the whole mess and let someone else be the latest test case instead. It is a huge stress to have to deal with but it would be great if it was challenged even if she has no intention of taking up a place when reinstated.

There was a lady here last year who did exactly that - had her place taken away by a council who fought her at every stage. She got legal advice and involved the LGO and won her case (well the LGO spoke to the council and the council then backed down) but in the end, she didn't take the place when it was reinstated to her. She figured she had a school she was happy with and had ensured the council wouldn't do the same to somebody else because the LGO pursued the council even after her case was resolved.

tiggytape Fri 21-Jun-13 12:12:46

LaVolcan - but there was no maladministration regarding school number 2 so Perma could not argue that.

Perma's appeal with school number 2 would be a prejudice one since that school have done nothing wrong when dealing with her application. They turned her down (quite rightly based on distance) and followed the letter of the Code all the way through. The fact another school has messed around and the Code has been breached reagrding her application to other schools has no bearing on her dealings with school number 2.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 12:20:22

Tiggytape I was thinking more in terms of the LA cancelling the appeal back in April, when this sorry saga started. That would be where the maladministration came in; the appeal was cancelled wrongly, so if Perma were to appeal now it is only late because of the mess made. Perhaps that wasn't the case; didn't the authority reinstate the 2nd place appeal when the 1st choice was cancelled - presumably with the original date?

A bit irrelevant now, I was just musing really.

tiggytape Fri 21-Jun-13 12:28:44

Yes LaVolcan you are right - that would be one avenue OP could explore. It would depend on the timing. Some appeals are held much earlier than others

insanityscratching Fri 21-Jun-13 13:24:34

Could you investigate whether Judicial Review would be done in dd's name and therefore subject to Legal Aid (presuming she isn't wealthy in her own right)? As when we were forced to get leave for JR against our LA it was done through Legal Aid in ds's name. Could pm you the education law firm and barrister we used if wanted.

AlienAttack Fri 21-Jun-13 13:24:48

The LA reinstated the appeal to the 2nd choice school as soon as the mistake re. GS was realised. In her post of 2/5/13, Perma says

"Yes, original appeal to 2nd choice reinstated but I've asked that local authority (yet another one can you believe) to delay the appeal which was due to be next Tuesday (day after BH) as it's too soon now on top of all this."

I think it is a long shot to claim that maladministration impacted on that appeal since it seems to suggest it was Perma's choice to delay. (And I'm not commenting on rights or wrongs of her decision to delay, just that the LA had grounds to say it was her decision).

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 13:39:42

Yes, original appeal to 2nd choice reinstated and presumably with the original date.

No, in that case I can't see that it would be maladministration - only in the case where the appeal had been cancelled by the LA and stayed cancelled.

On the other had, if they had not messed her around so much she would have had a couple of weeks longer to prepare for the 2nd choice school appeal so I would still contend that there was an element of maladministration. (Not that it matters now. I just wish someone could be seen to be accountable for this mess. It's stressful enough going up to Secondary School without all that.)

PermaShattered Fri 21-Jun-13 13:44:52

I'm going to make something crystal clear to forma and hubba and anyone else who think I'm hellbent on getting my DD into grammar school.

IF THIS HAD INVOLVED OUR 2ND CHOICE SCHOOL WHICH IS A NON-GRAMMAR SCHOOL WE WOULD BE APPEALING ON EXACTLY THE SAME BASIS

The fact that it's a GS is incidental - it just muddies the waters because of the selective nature of admissions.

forma comment about her GS ability has been covered to death in this thread.

The issue of deserving a place has come up yet again. This isn't about any child deserving a place. This is about fairness. You could say hundreds of GS entrants deserve a place because they are academically capable of doing well at GS. But capacity issues means a fair selection criteria needs to be implemented meaning that hundreds don't get a place. In our case, it's about fairness. We were told she had a place. Then it was withdrawn.

It's this last issue that's a real sticking point. I agree with much of Yellowtip's reasoning but without intending to be patronizing to anyone I'll point out as follows:

Legislation is supported (for want of a better word) by Codes and Guidance which must be adhered to when applying legislation.

Where there are grey areas (in this instance, when can an offer be withdrawn) the Code is silent. This is where case law steps in, and decisions of the regulator bodies such as the LGO. And this is where I struggle a little in our case. I don't think there is precedent for a child under the cutoff point who is appealing to have a GS offer reinstated who originally had a place at a non-GS.

However, and this is the critical point I think, the crucial issue is not the nature of the school but the length of time the child has had to 'get used to the idea' to use the judge's language. It's having that reasonable expectation of a place and acting on it. Seven days is too long. And so, the fact that it's a GS is irrelevant as the law stands at present.

Looking to the future, the LGO equivalent (EFA) should apply the law as is stands - it has no choice as it is bound by the law and existing Codes of Practice and Guidance. However, (and this is particularly for Yellowtip's benefit, it can take the view that the panel's decision was reasonable in the circumstances even though wrong in law, and the EFA could - and probably would - then recommend to the Secretary of State for Education/Education Minister etc - that the existing Codes need amending.

In the meantime, the law takes precedent even though you might think the outcome is not reasonable/fair/just.

I haven't even read all the latest posts yet!!!

I meant to say how Little Perma was/is. She was utterly devastated, nearly had a panic attack when i told her. She was heartbroken. But she's brighter this morning, though when she woke up she said: "It isn't a nightmare is it?"

PermaShattered Fri 21-Jun-13 13:51:06

Meant to say this to as I want to put paid to concerns about dragging it on for my DD etc etc.

We will pursue this completely without her knowledge. As far as we and she/our family etc know, she is going to 3rd choice school and pulling - again - the appeal for 2nd school for her sake.

If the panel's decision is upheld then we continue as we are and she won't know we took that course of action. Nothing will change for her.

If the decision is overturned (if they can do that?)/fresh appeal held (she won't know about that either if we can help it) and we lose - same as above.

But if we win, we will then have to decide if it's in her best interests for her to go to that GS having started at another school (assuming it will be sometime before a final result). If our DD decides that she wants to stay where she is, then that really would be great as it means she's happy and doing well. And we would then be happy. But if she wanted to move schools then she would have that option.

Most importantly, if we win it means children and families who are in our position in future will have more certainty. I would not want any family and more importantly any 11 yr old child to go through what my DD is going through right now.

PermaShattered Fri 21-Jun-13 13:52:19

PS don't think i've come across Grammar School Appeals code/guidance - what have I missed??

Reading rest of posts now....

tiggytape Fri 21-Jun-13 13:57:55

Oh Perma - I really feel for her. The Year 7 admissions process when it goes well with no blips is still an absolute nightmare for many parents (lack of choice, friends split up, shrinking catchments, children sent to schools miles from home) so goodness knows how awful it must be for her.

And you are quite right - if it was the second choice school who had messed you around like this, you'd have been objecting on exactly the same grounds - that a non qualifying child was offered a place and that place was withdrawn beyond the timescale limit for correcting errors.
The nature or status of a school has so far never exempted it from obeying the law as it stands in the rulings made to date.
LGOs have never ruled on the basis that one school is more desirable than another (although in most cases parents who take it to LGO are fighting to keep a place at a very popular school that they wouldn't otherwise have got into) - the key point has always been timing. Same day offers being withdrawn is allowed. 3 days however is too long because of the expectation and disappointment involved after that amount of time.

PermaShattered Fri 21-Jun-13 14:00:34

Perma was quite happy to accept the fact that her DD wasn't 'GS material lifeline good grief! Forma

This isn't about getting a grammar school place by hook or by crook. This is about getting a fair outcome in a very unjust set of situations brought about by two incompetent local authorities! As said earlier, we'd be doing the same if it was our 2nd choice school!

Furthermore:

1. I didn't even know you could appeal for a place if your child didn't get in first time around just because the score didn't reflect true ability! Unless ill etc.

2. I've never ever accepted or said anywhere that DD isn't GS material. Don't put words in my mouth. She is GS material as are thousands of other children who will not go to GS.

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