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Displaying items by tag: kent school appeals

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 00:00

Oversubscription Appeals

Last updated April 2020, but still a work in progress, as other areas need more attention. 

You will find a page on the possible effects on school appeals of the Coronavirus here.

You will find data for 2019 Appeals in Kent and Medway here

 Each year I used to receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals following the normal application process for primary and secondary schools (having now retired from offering individual advice).These are where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full. I advised many parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until after the first round of reallocations takes place. 

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. I regret that I have now retired from offering individual advice. 

You will find data on 2019 appeals here. 

To make an appeal for a Kent school you should download an appeal form here

  • The latest Code of Practice for School Appeals, issued by government, took effect in 2012. Some key issues are set out at Code.
  • If your child is not allocated their first preference school in March, you may be able to secure a place at a school higher in your list through appeal or via the waiting list and you can follow both processes at the same time.
  • First piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!). If yours is one of the few academies that organises early appeals, you can still send in your case when you are notified of the date, without penalty. Appeal dates for each school are published on the school website, theoretically by February 28th (secondary). 
  • Appeals are always possible for both grammar non selective schools when the number of pupils applying for a school is larger than the approved number of admissions.
  • Kent admission rules allow parents to apply to any school not on their original list after the first Allocation of vacant spaces in April using the In Year Admission process. Use this to the full, as at the least you are placed on a waiting list and then have rights of appeal. Some children who did not originally apply for a school and who now apply after first Allocation will be offered places ahead of others on the waiting list. The situation in Medway is more confused and confusing. 
  • You will be asked to submit a case and appear personally at the Panel hearing. 

Remember that the Appeal Panel will wish to give you a maximum of half an hour at the hearing in a busy day for them. A key task is to make it easy for panellists to absorb your case. So your written submission to the appeal panel should never be more than about a page and a half long. How it is written - typed, pen, bullet points, in full is irrelevant. Focus on the main points and, whilst providing written evidence such as school reports, and headteacher's letter of support (both essential otherwise the Panel will wonder why) there is no need to go into too much detail -leave the panel something to ask questions about.

The rules say that you will need to show that that the admission of one or more additional pupils will not damage the education of those already admitted, or if not that your child has a special case that trumps this. Secondly that your child is one of those who should be included amongst those to be admitted. Do not spend too much, if any, time on the first as panellists will themselves challenge the school over its capacity. If there is a group meeting (see below) then this point will be fully resolved  at the meeting and you have no need to address it. 

Instead, focus on why your child should be one of those who should be included amongst those to be admitted. 

You should visit the relevant Individual Schools page for Kent here, and Medway here on this site to see the size of the task, as these pages give data on success outcomes in previous years. There is no general recipe for success as Panels are given no guidance on what to look for. As a result, different Panels would often come to different conclusions, some favouring the multi talented pupil, others cases of Special Need, and other difficulties that argue the child needs to be in a particular school. I have talked to panellists who are  wary about giving a school  too many children who pose problems for them. I have read too many advice pages that come up with a particular recipe for success. Apart from the general points set out below, it does not exist, and each case will be considered on its own merits to fit the panel's sense of what is right for the child and the school. In my extensive experience this can vary widely across different schools in Kent. All you can do is your best!

Your case should contain the following:

(1) what is it about the school that attracts you, and give a mention to something that caught your child's imagination on your visit. It is important to show you you have visited the school in this way, and not by quoting the prospectus which will not convince an experienced panel.

(2) what is it about your child that s/he needs to be there

(3) relevant special circumstances - the key word is 'relevant'. Flippantly, grandparents and pets have a habit of dying or becoming seriously ill, requiring the child to need security, or many variations on that theme. Members of appeal panels have heard it all before. Relevant also covers Special Needs of different types, but where possible you need to explain why THAT school is necessary or at least the most suitable 

(4) Why the school you have been offered is unsuitable/less suitable for your child. Try not to denigrate the other school - panellists tend not to like this - but focus instead on factors such as transport issues and lack of facilities appropriate for your child.  

It should also be accompanied by a recent school Report and if possible a positive reference from your child's headteacher, although many will rightly find it difficult to make a case for a child and a particular school to fit together, 

If the case is one where another child has been wrongly selected ahead of your  own, or that the admission policy has been interpreted wrongly, you have a very strong case for success, and other factors become secondary. 

  •  Some Foundation & VA schools are keen to admit additional pupils, and in such cases the appeal is much easier, if you have a reasonable case, or your child appears to ‘fit’ the school ethos. you will find information on this in my Individual School pages for Kent and Medway
  • Each oversubscribed school has its own character and approach to appeals for additional pupils.
  • Grammar school oversubscription appeals can be very complex, as appellants may have children who have passed the eleven plus, others will not have, and the appeal panel has to balance competing claims.
  • Remember, at the end of the day, if the school is genuinely full there may be no way to secure admission.
Group Appeals
Many schools in Kent and Medway operate what a called Group Appeals for many of their Appeal hearings, where schools are oversubscribed.  The Admission Code for School Appeals recommends that where a school is oversubscribed, appeals should be divided into two stages. Where this happens, the first part is called the group stage, where all parents appealing are invited to a meeting at the start of proceedings. At this meeting, all the issues relating to oversubscription are debated between parents and the Admission Authority Presenting Officer in front of the Appeal Panel. No matters relating to individuals are  considered. This enables the Appeal Panel to determine before hearing individual appeals how many children, if any, can be admitted before prejudice applies (see section on appeals).  The second stage is the individual appeal where each parent puts the case for their individual child. In the second stage there is no discussion of oversubscription issues. The Panel then has to decide which children should be offered places, possibly accepting that for some, there will be prejudice, but their individual circumstances outweigh this. Many parents are inhibited by the Group meeting and find it difficult to put forward their points. Occasionally  the meeting rapidly degenerated into an unpleasant verbal battle; at others very few parents turn up, few views are expressed and the meeting fizzles out (more likely). My advice is go to the meeting, at the very least you will see the Appeal Panel members in advance. Don't be afraid to speak out if you believe the school is capable of admitting extra children although this can be come quite a technical argument and school cases for not admitting additional children can be quite intimidating.  You won't affect your individual chances by making the case that more children in general can be admitted. However, where there is no Group Appeal, questioning on prejudice is required to take place in every appeal and can be quite perfunctory and formulaic, so there does need to be a  change of approach.   One of the strongest arguments year on year comes from looking at the numbers in older year groups. If the school can manage these, then why shouldn't it manage the same number again. 
Thursday, 16 September 2010 00:00

Can I help you?

I am afraid I have now retired from providing advice to individual families. See article here. I continue to welcome information about issues in schools or the Kent and Medway Local Education Authorities. All communications are confidential, unless you authorise me otherwise.

In process of rewriting. 

Basic Information

You may wish to  first visit the Education website or telephone the Department for factual advice, as below.

Kent County Council: Education Website, here. School Admissions (and other education departments), telephone: 03000 41 21 21.

Email: kent.admissions@kent.gov.uk

Medway Council: Education Website here. Telephone: 01634 306 000.

Email: customer.relations@medway.gov.uk

Enquirers find the Kent County Council Schools website and Admissions Department especially helpful. Many parents find that Medway Council is not helpful, nor correct in its advice, which can vary from family to family. 

Both departments should be able to provide you with any factual information you need to assist you to make a decision, but are not allowed to offer you opinion, nor compare different options.

If your child is currently at school, you should also talk to their headteacher, who is likely to have a good knowledge of local schools and more importantly, should know your child.  

Published in What I Offer