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Yesterday was the awful school appeal day!

(100 Posts)
gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 11:45:32

My DGC's school appeals finally went ahead yesterday. My DDIL and I both feel like we were criminals in a court . They lasted from 11.15 until 3pm .

The panel of 3 plus 4 people from the LEA plus the head and secretary from the school, a note taker (all sitting on one side like a jury) and me and Daughter in law on the other. The most rudest and impermanent questions were fired from the LEA (promted by the head)and we had to sit and listen to our gorgeous, clever children being described as burdens on resources, statistics, parts of a percentage, a number over roll etc. but not once did they refer to them as children.

Half way through we were "allowed" a toilet break (I believe the panel were given sandwiches) and I said to DDIL "I feel like going back in and telling "her" to stuff her school right where the sun don't shine" .

Towards the end we were asked if we would like to make a brief conclusion and together with a few other bits I added "I am disgusted that not once have any of my grandchildren been referred to as a child or a person"

A truly a horrible experience. The LEA should be ashamed of themselves . Anyway apparently it takes a week or so for a decision although I hold no hope whatsoever of winning the appeal for any of the three children as I now believe it was cut and dry before hand and they were simply going through the motions.

grannyactivist Wed 12-Oct-16 11:49:25

Don't lose heart gillybob - I went through s very similar experience with one of my children and much to my surprise she did get a place at the school. Here's hoping for a good outcome.

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 11:53:59

Thank you grannyactivist. I honestly don't hold much hope for this one though.

I just can't understand why they have to be so nasty. My DDiL and I felt like a pair of criminals on trial.

NanaandGrampy Wed 12-Oct-16 12:05:20

That's an appalling situation Gillybob .

I was a school governor for may years when My girls were in school and I have never heard of an appeal that went like that.

I think I would feel if that's how they conduct appeals- what is the school like? I hope the outcome is what you hope and congratulations for standing up to the big bullies wink

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 12:33:30

It's a good enough school NanaandGrampy but it is not outstanding by any means. Ofsted report the same as children's existing school. Good.

I didn't sleep a wink last night thinking about what I wish we had said or what we should have said different, but to be honest I don't think it would have made any difference whatsoever. The head never cracked a smile once during the entire ordeal.

No matter what the outcome of this appeal, I feel very strongly that the system is systematically flawed and is in need of a giant shake up. Putting children, their parents and grandparents through this in the name of education is very wrong.

NanaandGrampy Wed 12-Oct-16 12:42:48

It makes you wish you'd had legal representation doesn't it? But why would you need it for something like that ?

I would just wonder how many LEAs operate like this? I know ours didn't but were we the only one?

That's just too horrible to contemplate. Keeping my fingers crossed for good news for you !

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 12:48:29

There were so many anomalies in their report that a "legal person" could have run rings around them. I gave it my best shot, but tend to get tongue twisted and struggle to find the right words, especially when I feel under so much pressure.

Somehow I got the impression that we were being almost laughed at (them being clear in the knowledge that no matter what we said or did their mind was already made up).

Luckygirl Wed 12-Oct-16 13:16:43

What a dreadful experience - give some of these minor characters a bit of power and they cannot resist flaunting it and using it inappropriately. It is, as you say, disgraceful that children are now numbers.

I can understand how you were going over it all and thinking what you might have said. I am dealing with a rather loud bullying man on the governing body of a local school and I always come away from meetings thinking of all the things I should have said. And it goes round and round in my head, as I am sure this is doing in yours.

I am sorry you are having to deal with all this and wish you well.

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 13:24:36

Thank you for you good luck wishes, Luckygirl, Nanaand Grampy and grannyactivist smile

Regardless of the outcome, I can't help but feel that we were bullied yesterday. My DDiL is quite a strong girl, although she is very quiet and doesn't have a lot to say. Towards the end of the ordeal I turned briefly to look at her and the tears were rolling down her cheeks.

When we left the panel were very polite, saying goodbye etc. but the members of the LEA, and the head did not once acknowledge us leaving the room. I am now left wondering was it even ethical that they should have been allowed to stay (however briefly) after we left?

Luckygirl Wed 12-Oct-16 14:30:14

When this is all over, there needs to be some feedback about the bullying. It is simply not acceptable to reduce a parent to tears - that is just using power to get a kick out of it - I find that totally out of order.

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 15:23:49

I do intend to write to the LEA as soon as DS and DDiL receive the refusal letter (I am that sure, Luckygirl).

My letter will not be bitter. I am simply going to express my disapproval in how the process is conducted. I don't know whether this was a typical school appeal or if our LEA is just nastier than most others. Either way it should not be like this.

harrigran Wed 12-Oct-16 15:46:55

I feel for you gilly, my mother had to do that for me when they decided I should go to a different school to all my classmates. My mother fought long and hard and I did eventually get to the school. Good luck but it does look as if they have already decided.

Jane10 Wed 12-Oct-16 16:59:47

Might it be simpler to move nearer the school they're already attending? Simplistic I know but maybe less stressful and less likely for them to attend a school that must be bursting at the seams judging by the refusal to admit them?

gettingonabit Wed 12-Oct-16 17:42:02

Whatever the basis of the appeal, that sounds like a truly horrendous experience. Who do these people think they are, exactly? The arrogance! I'd be spitting flames.

Good for you that you're taking it further. Hope you get an outcome you wantflowers.

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 17:45:33

They moved from the place near the school they are attending Jane10 for reasons that I will not discuss on an open forum . Enough to say their reasons were fully justified. The school is not bursting at the seams although it is a popular school with people from outside the area. Before they moved I contacted the three primaries close to their home and was confident that they would get into at least one of them. You are not allowed to actually apply until you have moved into the house you are applying from and when they did apply ( way back in April) they were refused. They have taken almost 6 months to get to appeal and I get the impression that nothing was going to make them change their mind and I feel that this appeal was a box ticking exercise . Added to this there is a secondary school within a few minutes of their house that fills up from the 3 feeder primaries . Have been told by admissions that DGD (year 6) has no chance getting in next year unless she makes it into a feeder. The secondary school close to her existing primary is even further away than her primary. We are all worried sick as she is tiny ( literally) and it will mean a very long 2-3 bus journey on her own.

Thank you harrigran it's a horrible thing to have to go through. They seem to forget that it's children they are dealing with .

suzied Wed 12-Oct-16 18:40:29

Primary class sizes have crept up over the term of the last 2 governments , who have systematically cut funding, encouraging schools to amalgamate and controlled by semi private companies, who make a profit out of taxpayers money. LEAs are not allowed to open new schools - it has to be free schools or one of these confederations. I expect the concern of the head of this school is accepting more, however close the child now lives to the school, since if "just one more " is squeezed in, they have no defence when the next parents come along. My teacher daughter's year 6 class has 32 children and they can hardly cram in any more chairs. She certainly couldn't cope with another child joining the class, and maybe another one, with no additional support or resources. Also the parents of the other children in the class would be the first to complain. I do feel incredibly sorry for the OP and her family, a very distressing situation, but I also feel the school is between a rock and a hard place here. I am sure they are not just lacking compassion for the sake of it.

gillybob Wed 12-Oct-16 19:12:33

Not 32 in any of their classes suzied and whilst I appreciate you speak as the mother of a teacher, I speak as the grandma of 3 lovely, bright children who have the right to attend a school within a reasonable distance of home . There are 3 of them after all ( schools that is) . The head of the school for which we appealed did not once refer to them as children . Just potential burdens on her budget which has got me very angry. She came across as not having a gentle, caring bone in her body . Am left wondering if I even want them in "her" school .

Penstemmon Wed 12-Oct-16 20:01:06

gillybob I really hope you get a good outcome from this horrible experience. There really is no need for them to be so awful, anyone can choose to act with sensitivity and understanding.

Penstemmon Wed 12-Oct-16 21:02:56

gillybob I understand both sides completely! As a former head and as a loving nana to a superkid who is not in the school of his parents' choice..and my other daughter is a teacher!

We were all disappointed , but not surprised, when DGS got a school that, whilst, close, was not the preferred choice. it is not the difficult situation that your family faces but I do appreciate the disappointment and huge frustration. Kids should be at schools they can get to easily.
It is difficult for a school, who will have little enough money as it is, to provide all it would like to the classes of kids it already has. To be honest schools have stretched their budgets as far as they will go. Added to this Local Authorities no longer have the money given to them be central government that they need to support schools and, at one time they may have had a bit of extra cash to help schools out who did take children 'over' numbers..but not any more.

However even if it is impossible to offer places to children we can all be humane and make difficult situations less difficult for everyone concerned. I makes me angry when panels do not guide both sides at an appeal well enough or to set the tone by using your DGCs names, being warm and smiley to put parents (& grandparents) more at ease.
I really hope they at least offer a place for your Y6 DGC so secondary school transfer works. flowers

daphnedill Wed 12-Oct-16 21:43:57

I'm sorry it turned out like that, gillybob. I felt the same way after my own unsuccessful appeal. The chair of the appeal panel was a bitch. She told me that it sounded as though I wanted my son to go to the school round the corner (literally) from where I lived for my own convenience. She commented that people should think about school transport when they decided to become parents.angry The only way you can win an appeal is if you have a sound legal case, which boils down to proving that the school can provide the child with something which no other school can. The appeal doesn't care about transport, inconvenience or compassionate reasons.

You're bound to feel angry, but you need to put a Plan B into effect when you're all ready.

Please remember that the LA has a statutory responsibility to provide transport to the nearest school with places, if the school is over two miles away for primary and three miles for secondary. It is worth thinking about that, when making secondary choices. You should also think about it for the younger ones. I know you've said in the past that you'd be nervous about young children in a taxi. However, in my experience, the contract taxi drivers are great with young children and take their responsibility very seriously. It would certainly save you a lot of hassle.

You should also sound out local opinion about the rank order of the choices for secondary. Find out what is likely to happen if the preferred school is full and whether you're guaranteed to get your second choice. That might not happen if the second school is full with people who have placed it first. On the other hand, you won't be able to go on a waiting list for the preferred school if you put it second.

gillybob Thu 13-Oct-16 09:59:27

We had similar comments made daphnedill with one of the ladies from the LEA accusing DDiL of "putting her lifestyle above her childrens education" . Nasty, bitch. If she only knew how wrong she was. It is quite clear that neither the school nor the LEA have an ounce of compassion between them. Infact they probably all hate children as they cannot even seem to say the word, preferring to refer to them as burdens, statistics, percentages and roll numbers.

There are three schools within walking distance of their home Penstemmon and we did not choose the best one to take to appeal we chose the one who originally said they had places and then said they did not. We also chose the one with the least children in each of the year groups.

Stansgran Thu 13-Oct-16 10:19:00

Maybe there is a reason for the school having a smaller roll than the others. Could there be a prospect of it cLosing down? I don't understand the reference to "lifestyle". I think that is a very odd thing to say.

daphnedill Thu 13-Oct-16 10:24:12

It's not about compassion. It's about the law - unfortunately. The school had the law on its side from the beginning, because it was full. Unless you have a very strong case, such as the child having some kind of special needs, that's it.

Contact the LA transport department. It has a legal responsibility to get the children to school. You might find that once it's worked out that it's going to cost a fortune in special arrangements (taxis) that places can be mysteriously found, if these are LA schools.

daphnedill Thu 13-Oct-16 10:25:58

I don't think it did have a smaller roll. Every school has a Published Admission Number (PAN), agreed with the LA, and it cannot be forced to go above that number.

daphnedill Thu 13-Oct-16 10:35:24


The 'lifestyle' comment is quite common, so I've heard.

The point is that transport is not the school's responsibility, but the LA's and it will provide transport, so that's not a problem from the school's point of view.

The law states that transport must be provided to the nearest school with places for s primary school child, if the school is more than two miles away and for a secondary school child, if the school is more than three miles away. There are a couple of exceptions, such as a child continuing at a school to do GCSEs.

There are many appeals, because transport arrangements are difficult, so I think the 'lifestyle' comment is the standard response.