Yr 7 High School Admissions Team Cock up - Help/Advice Needed - Gutted

(16 Posts)
RockinHippy Wed 05-Mar-14 13:53:47

I posted this in chat as I wasn't sure where to put it & Ive been redirected here - so apologies for the double posting, but any suggestions on how best to deal with this appreciated...

We were given the impression that DD has strong medical grounds for securing a year 7 place in our first choice school - we chose all 3 schools based mainly on pastoral care, but first choice also ticked all the other boxes as regards the specialist areas etc - checked with SA team & included medical evidence etc as recommended by them - all 3 schools are within a mile & a half of us, a 4th school is too & others are within 5 miles.

DD has just been offered a place at a school over 5.3 miles away, one that is bottom of EVERYONE'S list as its reputation is so bad

Amongst other things, due to HMS/EDS DD has spent a large chunk of the last 3 years on crutches, we've just had to take her out of her primary school as they just weren't coping with her health problems well at all as regards SATs & she has been made worryingly fragile as a result - we are waiting on the paperwork to go through for another Primary & Ive been forced to home school until then.

I have just spoken with the school admissions team & there has been a massive cock up -

I tried to fill the forms in online - their website didn't like our MAC computer, only allowed 1 school choice, instead of 3, wouldn't allow me to attach medical letters etc & wouldn't even accept DDs name correctly - so I rang at the time & they sent out paper firms which I filled in, attached supporting evidence & mailed in good time - AND I have proof of postage.

They have used the online, incomplete form as her application. & have it seems ignored the paper forms all together

Someone promised to ring me back early this morning, nothing so far

Looks like we will have to appeal - which in itself is as bad as it gets right now as I'm meant to be going into hospital soon for surgery with long recovery - I will have to cancel in order to be well enough to fight this for DD

DD is heartbroken, the offered school is unsuitable in every way thinkable - I have already rejected the offer

In these circumstances is there anything else I can do to avoid the appeal process & get DD into our chosen school or at least one of the others

I know we have good grounds for appeal, but the appeal itself is going to really F* me up

TIA

prh47bridge Wed 05-Mar-14 14:25:27

They should give your daughter the place she should have got had there been no mistake without requiring an appeal. You can kick up a fuss and try to insist that they do so, especially given your condition. Unfortunately many LAs insist that all such cases go to appeal so they can blame the appeal panel for the school going over PAN. Given the information you have posted it should be easy to win an appeal.

tiggytape Wed 05-Mar-14 16:49:50

You need to find out if the medical evidence you supplied would have been enough to definitely qualify your DD for a medical place had it been taken into account. Some people apply on medical grounds but it is decided they do not fit the criteria. For example, if the school you want has no stairs then that might be something that directly links to your DD's needs since she is sometimes on crutches. However a medical condition in its own right doesn't guarantee a choice of schools - it has to be a medical condition that creates a specific need that only that school can meet or best meet.

If you have evidence or have been told that her medical reason does qualify her to be in the priority category for this school and if they received the paperwork but just ignored it then as prh says, you would have a strong case to insist they offer her a place with no appeal to remedy the admissions error that cost her a place. They may however ask you to go to appeal in which case you'd have to present the information you'd said here with proof about the mistake and then you should win.

RockinHippy Wed 05-Mar-14 17:22:30

Thank you both

Seems they are now denying there's been a mistake at all & Im just not sure what i camdo about that, bar appeal - though there clearly has been a mistake- based on -

online applications get email replies - postal applications get postal offers - we got an email offer of a highly unsuitable school

The online form wouldn't accept DDs Christian name - something akin to LittleRockin Hippy & only accepted " Little" - the email offer was in the name of "Little" Hippy

The online form would only accept ONE school name, not the 3 choices everyone has - when I spoke to the woman this morning, she agreed that she couldn't see our other school choices & could only find "Little Hippy" not LittleRockin Hippy

I've since had a response of my rejecting the offered school - even though it tells you not to expect a reply within 2 weeks hmm

A very nice, apologetic note tagged onto the thank for for my rejection email

All of a sudden referring to LittleRockin Hippy & mentioning all 3 schools we listed -

I rang & spoke to him & seems I got the guy who wrote the email, he insists DDs medical evidence was rejected, but could not say why - I checked with SA before sending it all off that I had enough & they said it all sounded fine

& I also just found out via FIS that we shot ourselves in the foot by listing any school outside our catchment area as once you do that the SA have carte Blanche to offer you any school outside our catchment area - anywhere - hence the offer of a bad school 5.3+ miles away when we have so many closer schools - but we only have 2 schools in our catchment area & I was warned against repeating school names or leaving blank, so WTAF angry

Looks like I have no choice but to go to appeal & cancel my surgery angry I hate our LEA right now, the whole system stinks sad

RockinHippy Wed 05-Mar-14 17:56:44

Thinking on it further - how do I go about forcing the SA to offer her the place based on the paper forms - as in, who do I direct my complaint emails to - who is in charge of that, as in job title obviously.

I spoke to so many people, DDs school nurses, HT, SA themselves, all said the evidence I was submitting was correct & that she would get a place - its our nearest school for starters - DD suffers a lot with exhaustion, so a shorter school day if nothing else makes it the best school for her medically, along with the lay out being very simple to get around & more-

Its one of only 2 in our catchment area - the other is just as close, but doesn't deal well with bullying - CAF papers I also submitted confirmed DD has been a target of ongoing bullying & that it affected her health badly - I wrote in the notes that was the reason we didn't list he 2nd closest school, as we personally know families who have removed their kids from there because of how badly bullying is dealt with there

I'm still gobsmacked we didnt get our first choice offer, in the circumstances its a joke sad

tiggytape Wed 05-Mar-14 18:01:44

Rockin - that all sounds very stressful and I am sorry you're having such a terrible time of it.

In terms of appeal, whether or not they have rejected your medical reasons doesn't matter. You can still use them and you can still win at appeal. The key is to approach it in 2 ways: 1. To demonstrate the effects and severity of the medical condition and 2. To demonstrate that the school you want best meets those needs eg layout, stairs, location, extra support etc.

You haven't shot yourself in the foot by applying further away. If you cannot be offered the schools you ask for, the LA has to offer you the nearest one that still has vacancies. For many people this is one miles away as you have found. This is standard procedure where a child doesn't get any of their original preferences.

Please don't feel the need to cancel your surgery. The appeal process is daunting but you will already have much of the paperwork you need and the actual hearing itself will allow you to attend with a friend or with any help you need.

tiggytape Wed 05-Mar-14 18:07:21

Thinking on it further - how do I go about forcing the SA to offer her the place based on the paper forms - as in, who do I direct my complaint emails to - who is in charge of that, as in job title obviously.

I am afraid the complaints process is the appeal process. Appeals deal with cases where the parents feel their application has been incorrectly dealt with.
Basically there are two parts of an appeal:
Stage 1 deals with problems in the admissions process itself and also addresses whether the school is too full to take any more pupils.
Stage 2 deals with the parents reasons for wanting the school.

In your case you'd have things to raise at Stage 1 and Stage 2. Mostly this will all be on the same day but sometimes Stage 1 might be a group hearing if lots of people are appealing.

To address the bullying issue, when you appeal you need to appeal for one school not against another. So you should highlight the good pastoral care at the school you want and your daughter's extra need for this based on illness and bullying. You should not tell the panel that you've heard 3rd hand that the other school is rubbish with bullying issues because this doesn't explain to them why you want the school you are asking for in particular as opposed to any other school.

PanelChair Wed 05-Mar-14 20:35:12

I am afraid the complaints process is the appeal process.

I'm not so sure. As prh47bridge said, mistakes that have cost a child their school place ought to be rectified without going to appeal. I would follow the "kicking up a fuss" route first.

Find your local councillor - the information should be on your council's website - and enlist their help. Circumstantial evidence indicates that your paper form was overlooked but the LEA now seems to be suggesting that it was considered, but the medical evidence wasn't considered adequate. These applications go to something called (in our LEA anyway) the MedSoc panel. You could ask your councillor to obtain the minutes of the MedSoc panel. That should shed some light on what actually happened and whether your application was considered there (and, cricually, when).

PanelChair Wed 05-Mar-14 20:37:24

... But you may need to submit appeal papers too, just to comply with the deadlines. You can always withdraw the appeal if you manage to resolve things through a formal complaint/intervention by your councillor.

RandomMess Wed 05-Mar-14 20:45:45

What a mess, I would be so angry

tiggytape Wed 05-Mar-14 21:58:19

Oh yes - I definitely didn't mean you shouldn't complain and try to get it rectified if you can but, assuming they won't budge, the appeal route is the one you'd need to go down. And it is important to start that now because there is a disadvantage to missing the appeal deadline in that you'd be be heard later than other cases and therefore potentially have a harder time at Stage 1 if the school is even more full than it was before the first round of appeals.
Don't wait on the outcome of kicking up a fuss before at least submitting the appeal form and outline of your case.

Hedgehog80 Wed 05-Mar-14 22:03:45

My dcs have eds. I had to appeal (lost and then went on to a judicial review) to get dd1 a place at a suitable primary school after medical letters were ignored and she was placed in a completely unsuitable school.

Complain bitterly and see of they can place your dd in the school you wanted without having to go to appeal.

Good luck

cory Sat 08-Mar-14 10:59:52

another dd with EDS; we got through on appeal

we did also add a letter from the doctor to the effect that dd could not cope with both travelling and doing a full day at school

wishing you best of luck thanks

RockinHippy Sat 08-Mar-14 12:31:49

Thank you, all of you & good to hear the positive outcomes of appeal too

Since posting this, I've found out an o,d friend, another MAC user had almost exactly the same problem a few years ago, though her daughter doesn't have the medical problems, but they still used the online, partially completed & wrong application that she couldn't fill in properly too, they ignored her paper forms too -

She has been great for advice & confirmed that locally, the complaints process IS the appeal process hmm which is totally rubbish, but I suppose I'm also in a difficult situation as far as kicking up too much if a stink with the SA team - we are in the process of trying to transfer DD to another local Primary school & its the same office & people dealing with it that are handling that - annoying as it is, seems for the sake of hoping to get her the promised start next term, I have to play it very carefullyangry - friend had MP help & won her appeal with far less than we have smile

I had to take her out of her primary school end of last term, for several reasons, but all adding up to her becoming more & more demoralised, stressed & scarily depressed, in part because they weren't dealing as well as could be expected with her EDS & SATs & her massive perfectionist streak meant she took too much notice of undermining, bullying teaching methods of a new teacher.

So right now I am a reluctant home schooler - reluctant as my own health has taken a down turn (EDS etc too) & right now I feel I'm letting her down badly - though that said I think she is enjoying the break & bar a virus, Ive seen a big improvement in her health this last few weeks - ie the raging eczema on her arms & legs has miraculously gone smile

Anyway, sorry I'm rambling ( strong pain killers)

I have now turned down the unsuitable school, made sure she is on list for our preferred school & have contacted our MP - who has got back to me surprisingly quickly & is looking into the process for us now.

I realise we do have an excellent case too & can get or already have good supporting evidence -

Really relieved that an up coming appointment with one of the countries top specialists in EDS/Joint Hypermobility, Autonomic Nervous system stuff & POTs is weeks before the appeal deadline & as we had to go private as the NHS clinic was suspended, we have a long appointment, joining all the dots of her health problems under one doctor & can get any letters we need from her quickly too smile

& our GP will confirm the large number of justified A&E visits & long stints on crutches, plus how badly the anxiety issues have affected her over bullying etc - I also have a lot of that already on CAF papers & medical letters submitted with the paper firms & ignored, but can add even better evidence fir the appeal.

SA are really covering their backs & denying its a mistake, though its very obvious it is, based on the emails Ive had - & not least because we live in a city & they must be dealing with thousands & thousands of kids & MANY disgruntled parents & appeals - yet every time I call - they know EXACTLY who I am & DDs name & details without my having to say a word - hmm

As for cancelling surgery, unfortunately I would have no choice, as I will be in hospital for a long while & bed bound at home for quite some time afterwards (major abdominal surgery) - not sure how long, but I have other health problems that complicate things, could mean I stay in hospital longer & will slow recovery down

Though seems that decision has probably been taken out of my hands as since posting I have herniated to lower back discs, so GP reckons they will probably need to postpone until this heals anyway

Never rains but pours :-/

Thank you all for yor advice & support, I will be using a lot of it in my appeal smile

RockinHippy Sat 08-Mar-14 12:35:11

Two

nennypops Sat 08-Mar-14 23:34:55

It could be an idea to get your friend to write something confirming that this is not a new problem.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now