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CRGS Failed Appeal
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Author:  Etienne [ Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

I agree that they don't seem to have addressed (or even understood) the main issue.

They insist that the panel must follow para. 3.8 of SAAC .......
Quote:
3.8 The panel must balance the prejudice to the school against the appellant’s case for the child to be admitted to the school. It must take into account the appellant’s reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what that school can offer the child that the allocated or other schools cannot. If the panel considers that the appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school it must uphold the appeal.

..... but this is superseded by para. 3.5:
Quote:
3.5 The panel must uphold the appeal at the first stage where:
a) it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or had not been correctly and impartially applied, and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied

There is clearly no need whatsoever to balance the prejudice if 3.5(a) applies - unless the number of children involved would be excessive (para. 3.6).

Their response to this is that the panel’s decision letter states the panel were satisfied that the admissions arrangements for the school comply with admissions law and that they had been correctly and impartially applied.

But para. 3.2 makes clear that the admission arrangements must be considered in relation to each child:
Quote:
3.2 The panel must consider the following matters in relation to each child that is the
subject of an appeal:
a) whether the admission arrangements (including the area’s co-ordinated admission arrangements) complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998; and
b) whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question.


Where is the evidence that the panel considered properly whether the admission arrangements were correctly applied in your particular case? What reasons were given for their decision?
Quote:
2.25 The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible ......


There is a problem with the Code in that the admission arrangements seem to be entirely a matter for stage one, which takes no account of a group hearing where it would not be appropriate for individual appellants to have to discuss their private case in the presence of other parents.
Having said that, the clerk's notes appear to show that no decision on the admission arrangements was taken at the end of stage one, and certainly no one objected to your raising your concerns about the admission arrangements at stage two.

Author:  No justice [ Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

Many thanks for your reply. I will ask them again to consider the main point raised.

Author:  No justice [ Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

Aha. I have a result on at least the inaccuracy of the clerks notes. Still a bit confusing. Please may I send you the documents. I have to agree the complaint summary by 8 November.
Many thanks.

Author:  Etienne [ Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

Quote:
Please may I send you the documents. I have to agree the complaint summary by 8 November.

Yes, please go ahead.

Author:  Etienne [ Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

If you're satisfied with the first part, I suggest you agree points 1(a) - (e).

With regard to the second part, I suggest you refute that you are challenging the panel's decision, so that there is no implication that you are accepting what follows points 1(a) - (e).
As far as I can see, the issue you have raised is solely procedural.
It is not enough that the decision letter states that the admission arrangements were correctly applied. What was this decision based on? How did the panel arrive at its decision in this particular case?
Para. 2.25 of SAAC states: "The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible ...... "
Is the ESFA able to point to anything that explains the decision? What is the evidence in the clerk's notes to show that the panel observed para. 3.2 "..... whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question"?
Para. 3.2 makes clear that a generic decision is not sufficient. It clearly states "The panel must consider the following matters in relation to each child that is the subject of an appeal ....."

If they insist on their interpretation, I see only two possibilities:

  • a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman via your MP - but as far as I'm aware they will not look at the merits of the ESFA decision. I think they will only consider whether the ESFA correctly followed its published complaints procedure.
  • a judicial review - but this could prove very expensive.

Author:  No justice [ Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

I have received a reply, they are not upholding my complaint. I have a 9 page letter which I can email you if you would like to see it. The Clerk's further answers are rubbish, just reiterating what has already been said. She has confirmed she quoted the English result incorrectly as 58 when it was 48. The Clerk says the desk move did take place during the interval - the students are not obliged to leave their seats but are given the option of visiting the toilet inbetween the papers; the only students who leave the exam room during the interval are those who take this opportunity to visit the toilet. Actually they are allowed to leave the room for snacks and a drink too. How did the desk move take place during the interval? Did the desk follow him out of the room? He was shown to a desk on return from the interval and placed at the wrong desk, again, which has been confirmed by CRGS! The investigator has 3 times in the conclusion recommended the academy trust review training for clerks of future hearings to ensure clarity in their note taking. The last two points of my complaint were answered with, 'the clerks notes satisfactorily record the panel did consider the points raised'.

I will be raising this with my local MP after the election. I would welcome any additional comments from you. May I send you a copy of the reply referred to above.

Many thanks

Author:  Etienne [ Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

Thanks. I'd be interested to see the 9 page letter.

Author:  Etienne [ Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

I am left feeling that the ESFA require absolute proof of maladministration, whereas I would have thought the test that ought to be applied is the 'balance of probability'.

I recall a case on here a few years ago when, without the parent's knowledge, the panel had in its possession a copy of the CAF form. According to the clerk's notes, during their discussion after the hearing, the panel "noted" that the school being appealed for was not the first preference.
The parent quite rightly complained because (a) it was a breach of the Code that all parties were not sent the same case papers for the appeal, and (b) the panel never raised the issue of preferences during the hearing, so the parent was not aware that it was potentially an issue, and was not given any opportunity to offer what was a perfectly reasonable explanation.
The ESFA rejected the complaint because "there was no evidence to suggest the panel based their decision on preferences."
Common sense suggests that, if the panel "noted" during their decision making that another school was first preference, then, on the balance of probability, this was information they were taking into account in arriving at their decision.
I feel sure that, if the ombudsman had been dealing with this case, it would have been upheld.
Perhaps the ESFA needed a confession in the clerk's notes such as: "We have obtained this information in breach of the Code, and it has most definitely influenced our decision"? :?

In your case I see that the ESFA accepts that there is no evidence that the letter of support from the primary school was considered, and yet they do accept a later assurance from the clerk that it was considered!
As the clerk is criticised in points (a), (b) and (c) of the ESFA decision, and the academy is advised to review the training it provides for clerks, I wonder why the clerk's assurance was so readily accepted.
Isn't it curious that months later the clerk can recall one specific bit of evidence from all the appeals that were heard?

We also have the impression that, when it's the appellant who puts forward an argument that cannot be corroborated by the clerk's notes, the argument is often dismissed because there is no evidence in the clerk's notes to support it.
A level playing field?

The clerk's defence that the panel would have noted what was stated by the Head Teacher, but "ultimately it is the test result which determines whether a place is offered at the school and not ability in the classroom on a day to day basis" is extraordinary. What then is the point of an appeal? Where does the clerk get this idea from? Might it be a reflection of the mindset of the panel rather than the clerk's own understanding of appeals?
The ESFA rightly point to the need for better training, and draw attention to para. 3.13 of the Code
      Quote:
      .... evidence to demonstrate that the child is of the required academic standards, for example, school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT results or a letter of support from their current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability
but they conclude that as the clerk does not contribute to the decision making of the panel, there isn't any evidence that this has influenced the decision. Here again they seem to be requiring absolute proof.
In their decision making I doubt that any panel members (either on the guidance of the clerk, or of their own volition) would be foolish enough to state for the record "Ability in the classroom on a day to day basis is not a relevant consideration."

With regard to the admission arrangements, they still have not addressed the point - how did the panel arrive at its decision in this particular case?
Para. 2.25 of SAAC states: "The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible ...... "
Is anyone able to point to anything that explains the decision? What is the evidence in the clerk's notes to show that the panel observed para. 3.2 "..... whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question"?
The ESFA seems to take no account of para. 3.2 which makes clear that a generic decision is not sufficient. It clearly states "The panel must consider the following matters in relation to each child that is the subject of an appeal ....."

I'd be very interested to hear if there's anything further your MP can do.

Author:  No justice [ Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Michelle no justice

I have met with my MP and whilst he was very sympathetic to our situation, he felt on balance the best he could do was write to the Grammar School and question them on the handling of the exam, but he had no expectation of anything changing.

Sadly, after fighting this for 15 months, I have to admit I can't get any further with it. Too many holes in the system. It shouldn't have happened, there should have been recourse, we should have won our appeal.

Stuffed up, by CRGS's inability to produce a seating plan that was correct, or to remember that in was incorrect for exam 2.

I do appreciate your help over the time.

Michelle

Author:  abraham [ Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CRGS Failed Appeal

I feel your pain, Michelle - we are in a similar situation, and still no resolution after months of battling on. I just wanted to let you know that there is one more step after the ESFA - the PHSO. There are 2 stages to go through with the ESFA first (assuming you've already gone through both of these?) after their initial investigation into your DC's IAP - Stage 1 and Stage 2 complaints. If they do not uphold your complaint at Stage 2, you can then go to the PHSO (Parliamentary Health and Service Ombudsman) - but you have to go via your MP (you complete all the paperwork - they just sign it). However, it does take ages (we referred our first IAP/ESFA investigation to the PHSO back in September - it's only just being investigated now). I haven't had much experience of the PHSO yet, but it seems quite different to the ESFA process - they will actually make an appointment to ring you and discuss your complaint in full, and they seem quite thorough (so far . . .) Also, the ESFA say in their reports that they will not re-open investigations, but they can if they choose to - we had a new investigation opened following the Stage 2 complaint of our DC's first IAP, and they have just this week opened a new investigation following the Stage 1 complaint of the second (for an IAP that took place in June 2019!) It is all ridiculously time consuming, and I'm not entirely sure I would recommend the process to anyone in hindsight. However, I'm a bit too obsessive about these things for my own good - if you're at all like me though, you might like to know you can (but not necessarily should!) keep going until the PHSO bit is concluded. Of course, if the PHSO agree that the ESFA have made mistakes, then you are just back to the ESFA again for a fresh investigation - so not necessarily, even then, back to the school for a fresh IAP . . . Having now spent far too many hours researching all of this, I think chances of success are way higher if you are on the LEA/Ombudsman route than if you are on the Academy/ESFA/PHSO route. All best for the future - I suspect all of our DC's will actually get places through in-year testing (if they are going for it) quicker than any of this other stuff is resolved anyway (but it keeps us busy in the meantime :wink: )

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