Appealing on medical grounds but I didn't mention this in original application - have I blown it?

(20 Posts)
ImASecretTwigletNibbler Thu 13-Mar-14 11:53:06

I think I have been REALLY stupid. When applying for our preferred secondary school we had medical reasons for wanting this school (or rather social/emotional reasons, which I think count as medical?) Anyway, when we initially sent in our application I didn't mention the medical grounds on the form (someone advised me not to & I stupidly went along with that without checking). Although medical grounds isn't on the admission criteria for this school, they do say they will consider applications on these grounds.

So, fast-forward to now - we've been refused a place at this school and are appealing on medical grounds. But will the fact that I didn't mention this in the initial application have ruined my chances at the appeal? Could the panel say "well you should have said this earlier and it's too late now" ?

Am aghast at my stupidity sad

tiggytape Thu 13-Mar-14 12:04:51

No it won't ruin your chances. The panel may question why it wasn't raised earlier but, if you were badly advised or if you expected to get an offer so didn't think to mention it, then the appeal panel will understand.

You are correct that social and emotional issues can make a case as much as medical ones but you also have to make sure you explain your child's needs and, more importantly, why only this school and no other can meet them or best meet them.
Having a social or medical issue alone isn't reason for getting a particular school place. There has to be a logical link between the child's needs and how the school is best placed to meet them.

If your case is based mainly on meeting your child's needs, some sort of professional evidence is also helpful eg a professional involved with your child who will support your view that this school is the best one for your child.

PanelChair Thu 13-Mar-14 12:08:25

The panel may well ask why you didn't mention the social/emotional issues earlier, so you need to think about how you will respond to that. Even so, the panel has to consider all the evidence you put before it, so they can't simply dismiss your appeal because you didn't mention this when you first applied. As mentioned before on one of your other threads, I think, the panel has to weigh up the prejudice to your child in not attending the school against the prejudice to the school and the children already in it of admitting an extra pupil.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Thu 13-Mar-14 12:29:25

Thanks both of you, that is reassuring. Tiggy, I have a letter from a professional, so fingers crossed!

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Thu 13-Mar-14 12:29:52

If only I had mentioned it earlier, it may not have come to this sad

PanelChair Thu 13-Mar-14 13:58:53

Don't fret about it. The admissions criterion around social/medical need is strictly applied (at least it is in my LEA) so you might well have needed to take it before an appeal panel anyway.

If there's a moral here at all, it's don't listen to well-meaning friends who lack the specialised knowledge to advise.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Thu 13-Mar-14 18:01:48

PanelChair, the thing is that the person who gave me that advice works in admissions!! (albeit in a different county - friend of the family).

There isn't any point in contacting the admissions authority about this now, is there? Am wondering if they might re-consider the application with this new information or will I just have to wait until the appeals round anyway?

prh47bridge Thu 13-Mar-14 18:07:34

The admissions authority won't reconsider the original decision at this stage but it might push you up the waiting list. I have to say the description you've given of their position on medical grounds isn't very clear - no category but they will consider applications. There should be a clear description of what priority, if any, they will give on medical grounds.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Thu 13-Mar-14 18:14:16

Their admissions policy has "Any Other Applications as Criterion 4 and "In the case of exceptional medical circumstances the governors will consider other applications" as Criterion 5.

PanelChair Thu 13-Mar-14 19:17:18

I see no prospect of them reconsidering the application because you relied on duff advice. If that advice had come from your LEA, things might be different.

givemeaclue Fri 14-Mar-14 15:19:15

Is it medical though, or is it social/ emotional? Do they attach the same weight to both?

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Fri 14-Mar-14 16:28:35

I was led to understand that social reasons (it's a psychological thing) are medical reasons but I dunno...

PanelChair Fri 14-Mar-14 16:40:01

I think most people would accept, simply on a common sense definition, that 'medical' encompassed mental health as well as physical health and so psychological well being would be included.

MillyMollyMama Sun 16-Mar-14 00:44:09

Not sure if social and emotional are necessarily medical. For example if you live outside the catchment area for your choice of primary and secondary school , but have been able to attend the primary due to lower numbers there, parents argue that their child, socially, needs to be with their friends at the secondary school, but that has no space and offers places strictly on catchment criteria . The child is split from friends. Parents often state "staying with friends" as a reason for appeal reason but it is social, not medical reason. Often medical refers to a particular specialism the school has, eg providing for hearing loss children, children with a speech problem. It is where a school is a best fit for the child's documented medical condition. You should appeal OP, but word your appeal in educational terms as much as medical ones.

prh47bridge Sun 16-Mar-14 08:56:48

The OP says it is psychological which would normally be accepted as medical.

"Staying with friends" is, as you say, not usually a good reason for appeal. However, if it can be shown that the child has a far greater need to stay with friends than other children, e.g. due to a psychological condition, that would potentially be grounds for a successful appeal. Indeed, that would potentially be successful regardless of whether the admission criteria include a category for medical needs.

PanelChair Sun 16-Mar-14 09:04:32

Exactly, prh47bridge. There is a world of difference between having a general wish to stay with friends (which isn't the basis of a winning appeal) and having a psychological condition, confirmed by a health care professional, which means that the child needs to remain with friends (which might be).

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sun 16-Mar-14 10:26:12

That's exactly our situ, prh and PanelChair - DD has separation anxiety (confirmed by GP and counsellor) so has a far greater need to stay with friends than other children. Oh heck, I am probably outing myself here smile

My latest 'wide awake at 2am and obsessing about it' question is this. I can definitely prove that DD will suffer prejudice by not being admitted, that's cut and dried. But at this stage I don't know if I can prove that the school won't suffer if she is admitted. It may be that I'm able to later (am in the process of sorting all this out now) but if I can't, is there still a chance I could win? I'm unsure whether an appellant HAS to prove that there is no prejudice to the school to stand a chance of success at appeal. Would a panel be allowed to uphold an appeal at the balancing stage, even if there is evidence to say that the school will suffer?

prh47bridge Sun 16-Mar-14 10:30:29

You don't have to prove that the school won't suffer. You simply have to show that your daughter's needs outweigh any problems the school will face.

It certainly helps if you can show that they have been over PAN previously as that suggests they can go over PAN again. But it is possible to win an appeal without that.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sun 16-Mar-14 11:06:52

Fabulous, thank you! I might as well just have "thank you prh" set as an automatic sig on my posts because that's how 99% of my posts end up at the moment smile

tiggytape Sun 16-Mar-14 11:25:06

Parents often state "staying with friends" as a reason for appeal reason but it is social, not medical reason.

Most children want to stay with their friends - that is true. Some children however have diagnosed conditions related to anxiety that mean they will really suffer if separated from their friends. Or they may have something else that makes them very vulnerable and in greater need of peer support eg the recent loss of a parent that means they really need to stay with friends who are suporting them and getting them through.

Parents can win an appeal by proving a child has a need that is best met by a particular school. It doesn't need doesn't to be a physical complaint or disability. It can be a social or emotional reason too as long as it is diagnosed or proven in some way (else of course all parents would say their child is anxious about going to school alone).

And as prh says, if the needs of the child are such that the panel agree the child will suffer by not getting a place, this can outweigh the school's case and they can win at appeal even if the school can also prove some disadvantage of having to take one more child. The panel know that both sides have (probably) good reasons for wanting a place / not wanting to admit more children but they then decide who will be most harmed by the case going against them and then that side should win.

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