How to submit an appeal? We were refused a place in Orleans Park

(48 Posts)
HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 10:34:46

Hi! Hoping for any helpful insights and tips - we moved to the UK two months ago, and DD (age 14) was not given a place in Orleans Park, despite the fact that we live really close (which was actually on purpose, to make sure she goes to this school). The authorities put her in RPA instead. What shall we do? Is there an appeal process? We definitely don't want to keep her at RPA. I am getting desperate here ... Thanks!

prh47bridge Fri 13-Sep-13 11:10:54

I'm afraid living close to a school doesn't guarantee you will get a place. You can appeal. The letter telling you that you hadn't got a place at Orleans Park should have explained that you have the right to appeal and told you how to go about appealing. If you are unclear contact your council and they will explain.

In order to win an appeal you will need better reasons than living close to the school and not liking RPA. You will need to show that your daughter is in some way being disadvantaged by not being admitted to OP and that this outweighs the problems the school will face through having to cope with an additional pupil. You can't use Ofsted reports or league tables to suggest that OP is a better school. You need to find things OP can offer your daughter that are missing from RPA and which would be of particular benefit to her. If, for example, your daughter is very musical and OP has a lot more extra-curricular musical activities than RPA that is worth bringing up.

tiggytape Fri 13-Sep-13 11:21:15

As prh says living close to Orleans won't help.
All of their Year 9 and Year 10 places were allocated long ago and a full school is not allowed to offer places to new children even if those children live right on the doorstep - only schools with vacancies are allowed to take new children which is why you have been allocated RPA.

To appeal you need to submit and appeals form and you will be invited to attend a hearing.
You will need to explain to an appeals panel why Orleans is the best school for your child - distance doesn't really come into that unless there is a medical reason that your child cannot travel. As prh says, you need to look at what Orleans offers that would be especially beneficial for your child. Ofsted and league tables don't count as they aren't personal to your child - it is more things like the GCSE options they offer - perhaps they offer the same languages that she has already studied or opportunities in things she is good at?

The other things you can do are to make sure you are on the Orlean's waiting list in case someone leaves and creates a vacancy and also ask to go on the waiting lists of any other schools in the area that you would prefer to RPA. You can also choose to appeal for more than one school if you wish.

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 11:27:37

Thanks, it is very helpful! Will look at things Orleans offers asap. My daughter is, in fact, very musical, and she is a dancer as well.

So living close by is not helpful? Even though it takes her an hour in the morning to get to RPA, and all the kids in the neighbourhood go to Orleans?

I guess I will appeal for Orleans and for Waldegrave ...

My daughter is getting really depressed ... The whole attitude towards children at RPA is very unpleasant, we are in a complete shock. Plus, they have severe discipline problems - as my daughter said, she cannot even hear the teacher in the class, because the other kids are making so much noise.

Anything else we might do to help transfer her? I will try any crazy ideas at this point.

tiggytape Fri 13-Sep-13 11:38:29

As your daughter is 14, she is entering school in Year 10 (or Year 9 possibly if she turned 14 in the last 2 weeks). As such the classes in most schools are full up with people who lived near the school in Year 7 and applied for a place when their child was 11.

Schools don't save places for people who move to the area later on so if you move, and the local schools are full, you have to attend one further away.

An hour is about the most you'd reasonably expect a child to travel. You can mention it appeal but it won't be enough on its own to win since many children in and around London face similar journey times.

Waldegrave is similar to Orleans - oversubscribed, very popular and likely to be full in most year groups. Again though, you can appeal and see if you can gain a place that way. Also ask to go on the waiting list.

As a final point, try not to criticise RPA at the appeal. At an appeal you are appealing for the school you want not against the one you have. You have to focus on why Orleans / Waldegrave is suitable not why RPA is unsuitable.
Appeals take a while - after you submit the forms it can take 30 school days to have the hearing (so upto 6 weeks). As such, it would be worth doing what you can to make things better for your DD at RPA in the meantime. Even if she wins at appeal, she will have many more weeks there so if disruption is a problem then let her tutor know. Year 10 is an important year and if things are bad, she won't be the only one who feels annoyed and let down.

jennycoast Fri 13-Sep-13 11:40:34

It's really easy. Go to the RBRUT website, you'll find a democratic services contact. you'll find it on this page Email them and say you'd like to appeal for the place. They'll then either post out, or e-mail the form you need to fill in. Though prh's advice is good, it may not help you in this particular instance, because Orleans is a computing and languages specialist, so music and dance aren't so relevant (and worse than that, they might try to make you consider Hampton, which is a performing arts specialist - though one that won't be offering A level Music interestingly).

I've no idea about the success rate for appeals at Orleans, but have been through the process, and found out later that the success rate for Waldegrave in recent years is zero. There is nothing to stop you going on the waiting list though, turn over at Waldegrave is next to zero, but I think Orleans slightly higher. Do you know where you are on the waiting list at Orleans? The in year admissions person at the council will be able to tell you that. Do call her, she is very lovely. You'll find her number here

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 11:50:16

Yes, I received the appeal pack from the democratic services this morning.

The zero appeal success rate for Waldegrave is discouraging. We are on its waiting list, as well as on the Orleans' one.

I am in contact with Fiona McCarthy from the in year admissions team - sadly, nobody is answering the phone there lately (the voice message is saying that they are busy sorting out vacancies and admissions), but at least she replies by e-mail. Is there a different person who actually answers the phone?

Fiona McCarthy notified me that we are #4 on the waiting list for Orleans, which doesn't look promising at all. I doubt four kids left during the summer - this year was full at the end of the summer term.

Not sure what we could've done differently ... The youngest kids actually got into a lovely school - they are in St. Mary's, and are very happy there. But our daughter is completely miserable at RPA sad

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 11:54:40

tiggytape - thanks, these tips are very helpful! I have to think how I can phrase my appeal without criticising RPA, though ...

We also joined a waiting list for Teddington School - we are looking to buy a house there anyway, and it is definitely better than RPA. Still oversubscribed, though ...

jennycoast Fri 13-Sep-13 11:57:08

It's a long time since I got a person on the phone there! I think one of them may be off sick, so it's all got a bit chaotic.

You never know, even with 4 on the list, they may turn them down when offered. There were places in some year groups at Teddington last week, no idea about Y10 specifically though. Have you considered there? Brilliant results this year, and a gorgeous new building. It may be worth asking. Obviously you are a little bit away from it, but it's a quick bus journey.

The very best of luck. We were in a very similar position.

Elibean Fri 13-Sep-13 12:04:11

In phrasing your appeal...it might help to bear in mind that it is just your daughter's experience of her particular year group at RPA that you are not happy with. Rather than criticizing the whole school, iyswim.

It might come across better, and it is also probably more true. I do know a lot of Y7 and Y8 parents with children at RPA, and they are extremely happy with it - there is quite a difference between the younger years, and the older ones, I think.

Elibean Fri 13-Sep-13 12:05:04

And I would focus on the hour of travel to and from school - which sounds hard, as well as coming in to a new country, a new home and a new school in which none of her local friends can be found.

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 12:05:08

jennycoast - Places in Teddington last week? I will send another e-mail to the admissions team right away - I actually requested to be put on the waiting list for Teddington yesterday, but since it is all via e-mails, one can never be sure that the message indeed comes across.

We would absolutely go to Teddington. In fact, we are looking into buying a house there right now, so it might be the best solution in the long term.

The admissions team might put me on the black list eventually, I am emailing them three times a day smile

Thanks, we really do need luck right now ...

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 12:07:10

Elibean - thanks! I am writing your suggestions down for the appeal. I agree, it seems that there is such a difference between the younger and the older years, it is unbelievable. When I am reading about the positive experiences at RPA on this forum, it is like I am reading about a different school.

Elibean Fri 13-Sep-13 12:17:37

Well, there's bound to be some difference - it became an Academy only (eek, I've forgotten, 2, 3 years ago?) and an awful lot changed then. Discipline, teaching, intake, lots.

It takes time to make changes. But I've been to look at it (have a dd in Y5 at local primary) and actually found it very friendly, and didn't see anything adverse. dd spent a day there for Y4 kids (admittedly with most of the actual pupils out on day trips) and had a great time, coming home very excited about psychology, philosophy, and maths grin

Have you tried going in and chatting to your dd's form tutor? Just in the meantime?

keepsmiling12345 Fri 13-Sep-13 13:15:25

OP, you come across as very "entitled" in your posts which, as someone living in the same borough, has really put my back up. So you moved here 2months ago, rented deliberately near a good secondary school and now are aghast that a full school won't let your DD join? You don't seem to demonstrate any thought for those people who have lived in the area longer and may also wish their DC to attend Orleans park, you are happy to bump them further down the waiting list. Richmond admissions lay things out very clearly. You applied in-year, your nearest school doesn't have a place (but you're on the waiting list) and the lea have allocated A place at another school. What more do you think the LEA should do?
I also have friends with DC at RPA and don't recognise your blanket and extreme criticism about "the whole attitude to children being very unpleasant". Your best option if you really dislike RPA is probably to move to a different borough...

prh47bridge Fri 13-Sep-13 13:20:57

I have to think how I can phrase my appeal without criticising RPA, though ...

I know that can be difficult but it is important. As Tiggytape says, you are appealing FOR Orleans, not AGAINST RPA. And although the appeal panel is independent of the LA and Orleans, you don't know if any of them have links with RPA. It may be that one of the panel will have a relative attending or teaching at RPA, for example. It is ok to highlight differences between the school where they are relevant but make sure you are talking about why this means Orleans is right for your daughter, not why RPA is wrong.

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 13:41:23

AlienAttack - I am sorry if I come across as entitled, this was not my intention at all. We actually talked with Fiona McCarthy (from the admissions team) before renting here, and she told us that there shouldn't be a problem with a place in Year 10 in Orleans Park. This was last year, and this is the reason we rented here.

Let me withdraw the blanket criticism - what I meant to say is that my daughter was treated in a very unpleasant way from the first moment. I recognise that it might be that we are just out of luck in this particular year, and also that the fact that she is new may play a very significant role. Perhaps your friends have children in younger years? I heard that the situation is much better in years 7 and 8.

I managed to talk with the admissions team on the phone - we are on the waiting lists for the preferred schools (and not bumping anybody), and we might indeed consider applying in another borough - as the admissions team recommended as well. Since the travel to RPA takes DD an hour right now, she might just as well attend a school in another borough, it won't be a huge difference in travel time.

I apologise if I offended you.

I might be too emotional right now - it is very hard to see DD crying and being depressed all the time.

tiggytape Fri 13-Sep-13 13:53:30

In fairness to Hannah, the system can look crazy from the outside.

People in London are hardened to the fact that lots of families don't get the school they want or any local school at all. To someone moving here from abroad, or even elsewhere in the UK, it probably seems nuts that the council can send you miles across town when you live nextdoor to a huge high school.

In some places (America, Australia, even Scotland) it is pretty much automatic that you can go to a school near home if you want to so possibly it isn't being entitled to expect this so much as being baffled how a school with room for well over 1000 children doesn't have any spare places for a newcomer.

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 14:07:55

Yes, exactly - thanks tiggytape! Where we come from, your child is automatically enrolled in a school near home. If you want a specialist school, you can, of course, choose a different one. But it is a given that you will have a place in your local school (and if you change your mind later, you can always return to your local school). There are limits on the sizes of classes, but if you are over the limit, the school will open a new class. They just don't have the option to turn you down, and this goes for all ages, not just the school entry age.

This is why I was so surprised to find out that it is not the case here.

Back to looking at our options ... Some of the schools in another borough are actually closer to us than RPA, might be worth a try ...

tiggytape Fri 13-Sep-13 14:11:34

Hannah - that's a good idea. Appeals can be won but there is no guarantee - the more waiting lists you join in the meantime, the better the chances of getting a new school place soon.

Good luck with it.

jennycoast Fri 13-Sep-13 15:54:11

I've heard great things about the Green School in Isleworth Hannah, if you don't mind a church school. I've no idea how full the lists are there though.

charliescatmother23 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:35:38

Wow! Eldest daughter in Yr 10 (first year of Academy status) at RPA - loving it and flourishing. Have absolutely no comprehension of "being treated in an unpleasant way" is this the teachers or pupils? Teachers are fantastic.

charliescatmother23 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:36:57

ps maybe child is finding it hard to settle in new country?

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 18:10:21

Absolutely, settling in a new country is a huge part of this. She suddenly needs to choose subjects to study for GCSE, and she needs to do it right away (we were given about 5 minutes to choose), and she was warned that she cannot change her mind a week later. And there is the uniform - the closest we ever came to having a uniform before was a logo-ed t-shirt. I actually like the concept of uniforms, but DD has hard time switching from t-shirts and jeans to a jacket and a tie.

But it also seems like none of the teachers have any idea who she is, or even that she came from abroad, and nobody asked her anything or offered her help. I had another chat with the head of her year, hope it will help things somewhat. Of course, now DD is angry at me for talking with the head of her year, because DD has the philosophy of never showing her sadness or distress, except at home (this, I think, is actually quite in line with the British approach to life).

And then there is also a difference between the school programmes here and abroad ... and the language ... sigh ... I am foreseeing long hours spent helping her with the homework ...

charliescatmother23 - it is so great to hear that your daughter is in Year 10 in RPA as well and loves it! Perhaps it will be ok after all? (even though these hour-long travels to and from school are problematic).

HannahCh Fri 13-Sep-13 18:11:35

Oh, and I will look at Green School as well, thanks jennycoast!

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