The schools admission and appeals process is often a fight, and a legal one at that. As a result, things get said that aren't necessarily fair and, more importantly, things are not said that, if lawyers weren't lurking in the wings, would have been said. It is a sad reflection on modern life but, if we banned lawyers, I feel we would have far more tea and cake and far fewer strong words in our dealings with other people.
Most importantly thought, we pursued our appeals and all three village children won. As a result of this we've learnt a huge amount about the process and we've made good friends along the way.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to all those people, especially my fellow villagers, who have rallied around the 3 families involved and given us their support and friendship.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself embroiled in the school appeals process all I can say is this:
- Find out who else is affected and group together. As a group you can give each other support and gather and share information. You may also be lucky enough to meet some very nice people.
- Don't be afraid of using the Freedom of Information Act.
- Try to involve your local politician and local counsellor. They might not be able to do much, or even anything, but often it creates a bit of 'noise', and that can often work in your favour.
- Don't be put off by the appeals process itself. This is your only chance to state your case so it's always worth a try. Yes it is a legal process but, if ours was anything to go by, the panel itself is made up of lovely, ordinary, people who really will listen to you, which can often be cathartic in itself.
- Sadly, most appeals fail so don't build up your hopes too high, just do your best - reading out a prepared statement generally works best but leave some pauses in it so you can elaborate 'on-the-fly' if needs be. The worst that can happen is that you walk away knowing that you tried your hardest.
- Remember, that the biggest impact on your child's education is you. It can be heartbreaking to not get into the school of your choice but 99% of teachers are wonderful people doing a very hard job, often in less than ideal situations. If you support and encourage your child in his or her education and support your school as much as you can, the odds are that your child will do well, regardless of what OFSTED might suggest.
Best of luck