It's the time of year when parents and children receive information on their high school placements. While some will have got the school the hoped for, others may not be quite so lucky.
In my role as MP I have no power over how schools allocate their student placements. I am afraid there is a process which needs to be followed. However if your child has not received the school placement they wanted there are a few action points to consider.
Firstly - consider accepting the place which has been offered, to be sure your child has a school to attend in September. However you can call the preferred school and ask to be placed on their waiting list. You can do this even if you are going through the appeals process. It is also worth keeping in mind that your child can be on more than one individual school's waiting list and you can appeal to different schools.
Secondly - Contact Staffordshire County Council or the preferred school itself for an appeals form. This will allow you to formally challenge the decision. State your reasons for appealing clearly and focus on practical rather than emotional reasons wherever possible. 'I don't like the school my child was given' will not change many minds.
Consider issues like how they will get to and from school, why this particular school is appealing, whether the school offers something the others do not, any SEN needs and why it would be detrimental to your child for the school to go where they have been offered.
Thirdly - Ensure you receive confirmation that your appeal has been accepted. This happens around a week after submitting. You will then be notified as to when your appeals panel hearing is due to take place. If you choose to attend the hearing (advised) bring along any supporting documents on the day.
At the hearing.... The hearing is done in front of a panel of up to 5 people. You can bring some notes along with you to focus your mind when speaking, you can also bring a representative if you wish. Panels are not long and you will have the opportunity to ask questions yourself.
The panel will consider whether the admissions criteria was applied correctly, whether the school is still oversubscribed and whether any further admissions would be prejudicial. The panel will also consider why your child should be considered for the placement over others who may also have wanted the placement. Usually responses are provided in the post within the week.
If at this point the appeal does not fall in your favour, you can still liaise with the school directly should any waiting list placements become available.
Sometimes additional placements become available within the first few weeks of term as students drop out, move schools or decide this was the wrong choice for them.
On the chance that you feel that the appeal panel did not follow procedure, you can make a formal complaint to the Council escalating to the Local Government Ombudsman if necessary.
I hope this helps for those appealing for a high school placement - good luck!