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Last chance to appeal for secondary schools

For most of us the end of March marks the start of British summer time, but on a less welcome note it’s also the deadline for secondary school appeals. One of our expert educational consultants offers this filleted guide to the appeals process. It’s not too late but you’ll have to hurry …

If you are unhappy with the secondary school place your child has been given, time is of the essence to register an appeal. In most counties the deadline to submit your appeal is the end of March.

You have a legal right to appeal to any school named on your preference form. If you got none of the schools you named you can appeal to them all, and if you got a second or third choice, you have every right to appeal to those that you prefer. 

Appeal timetables vary year-to-year, so you could for example find the hearing for a third choice taking place first.  If you are successful in that one, you can cancel the appeals for your lower choice schools, but accept this place while you press on with pleas to your higher preferences.

Your offer paperwork will tell you how to lodge appeals for the schools you want. At this point you need only provide a brief account of your grounds for appeal, along with documentary evidence backing your claims.

Grounds for a successful appeal A successful appeal rests on proving that a school has applied its admissions procedures incorrectly (extremely rare), or on the basis that the harm done to your child by not getting a place there will be greater than that caused to all the other children by overcrowding. 

You need to provide specific arguments for the potential harm to your child if he/she does not get the place at the preferred school, confirmed by documentary evidence, such as a doctor’s letter, educational psychologist’s report, bus timetables if it’s an impossible journey, documented evidence of bullying etc. Get a letter from your child’s current head teacher explaining why your child needs to be at the school you want, and will not thrive at the one offered.

You should also visit the school you have been offered and find out what it can’t offer, that your preferred school can. But approach it with an open mind – don’t rely on neighbours’ opinions, as a new head or big investment may be turning the place around.  We know of several parents who have been pleasantly surprised by a school they had not previously considered.

Appeal hearings usually take place in May and June and this is your opportunity to put your arguments before a panel.  Hearings are stressful because there is so much riding on the outcome, but they are designed to be a lay process and you do not need a solicitor.  If you need further help our appeals advisors can talk you through the process and how to structure your case. Find out more: School Appeal Service

Even if your appeal is not successful, remember that there is a big shakeout between now and September when places become available as people decide to go private, move away, or win their own appeals. Just make sure you are on the schools’ waiting lists, as children can be offered freed-up places from these even in the last days of August.

Going up, going down

Going up

The next Laurence Olivier? The Royal Shakespeare Company is giving teenagers from financially disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to explore careers in acting or working backstage. The RSC Next Generation programme will see leading actors and directors giving advice, teaching and practical experience to young people with ambitions to tread the boards.

Entrepreneurial spirit Nick Wheeler, who founded the shirt brand Charles Tyrwhitt as an undergraduate because he thought shirts were too expensive, has been named as the next entrepreneur in residence at Milton Abbey School in Dorset. Top-notch designers like Anya Hindmarch, Cath Kidston and Johnnie Boden have fronted the scheme in the past and now it’s Wheeler’s turn to inspire the next generation.

Dads help break the glass ceiling This month saw the first national Dads4Daughters Day, when fathers across the UK were asked to pledge their commitment to greater equality in the workplace for current and future generations of daughters.

Going down

The girls who miss school every month Girls who can’t afford sanitary products are missing school. The charity Freedom4Girls highlighted the issue after a school in Leeds said some teenage girls were taking days off class every month because they didn’t have enough money to buy tampons and sanitary towels.

Mental wellbeing Growing up in today’s complex world can be challenging for children and young people. A survey of 11 to 16-year-olds for BBC School Report found that 70 per cent had experienced negative feelings in the last year – ranging from feeling upset and unhappy to feeling anxious, frightened or unsafe.

From school work to ‘real’ work Schools don’t understand the skills needed by today’s employers says new research. A study published by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity behind University Technical Colleges, has shown a 'disconnect'” between what young people learn at school and what employers require of them in the workplace.

Failed by Eton Old Etonian Bear Grylls told the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai that he wished his school had taught him ‘life skills’. Where were the lessons in tax, law, healthy eating and leadership skills, he sobbed (he didn’t really). How fellow alumni Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and David Cameron, along with entrepreneurs, lawyers and hedge fund managers too numerous to mention, struggled their way to the top we will never know.

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We occasionally appeal directly to our readers to help us shape the way we respond to developments in the world of education and to enable us to continue giving well-informed advice to parents.This month we would like your views on choosing your children's school and whether you care about who owns and runs the school.The survey shouldn’t take more than five minutes and everyone who completes it between now and the end of April will be entered into a prize draw for a £100 John Lewis gift voucher. www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/spring17pA

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