You will be sent a document outlining the reasons why your child did not get a place at the school of your choice – essentially, that other children were higher up the priority list according to the school’s admission criteria.
This will also outline the harm which the school says will be caused to the other children if further pupils are admitted beyond the admission numbers. These might be presented as complicated equations regarding bodies per square metre moving through narrow corridors, or regarding lack of adequate space in the canteen, or insufficient desks, sports equipment, and so on. Do your research on this, but don’t get too hung up on it. Remember that any weakness you demonstrate in the school’s case will benefit all the pupils appealing, and most of your energy should go into establishing the overwhelming grounds in your own case.
Check what the school is saying against its website. On one occasion, a school said its lack of sports facilities prevented it admitting extra pupils; at the same time, it was boasting on its website about building work starting on impressive new facilities.
You can ask your local authority for numbers of pupils admitted over PAN (planned admission number) each year for the last three to five years. Compare these against Ofsted/examination results. If you see a year where 15 extra pupils were admitted, but the school gained an outstanding Ofsted and record GCSE results in that year, that’s evidence that the other pupils’ education was not harmed.
Write out and rehearse your case. You will be too emotional to do it off the cuff on the day. And cut it to the bone. One appeals advisor told us that the biggest mistake parents make is boring the panel with irrelevant detail.
You will be given the names of the panel members, and you must advise immediately if you know any of them. If you are appealing to several schools and you find someone is hearing more than one of your appeals, you can ask for this person to be changed; the organisers will usually try to do so, although this is not always possible.
Some special needs are easy to spot, others are only determined once a child has experienced considerable difficulties, frustrations or social and emotional problems.
Over the years, diagnosis of and provision for SEN have improved, but both can still be a minefield.
Identifying different kinds of special educational needs
Few children fit a condition perfectly – if they do, we tend to say they are a ‘classic’ case. Most will not be straightforward: perhaps a dyslexic with dyspraxia and a touch of ADD, or a child with ASD who also has Down’s syndrome.
Just as special needs are hard to…
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Counties such as Kent or Buckinghamshire are ‘selective authorities’ and most families will have at least one grammar school close to where they live. Elsewhere, for example in Reading or Kingston-on-Thames, there are just one or two grammar schools and competition for places at these is ferocious.
How to find a state grammar school
Grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston,…
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