CEM 11 Plus

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) Admissions Blunder and Grammar School Place Withdrawal.


Prior to offer day on 1st March, 2013, the admissions website stated: "If you reside outside the relevant priority circle for the school you are applying for and your child achieves the qualifying score in the selection test, they will not be offered in the first round of offers and may be placed onto the waiting list (depending on their score)."

Admissions staff also provided the same advice prior to the deadline for applications.

This information was clearly not true for the 2013 cohort as offers outside the priority circle were made at Lawrence Sheriff School (LSS) and Rugby High School (RHS) during the first round under category 5, as the school's admission policies permitted. This has been acknowledged as an error, by Admissions, and has now been removed from the Admissions' website. At LSS alone, 17 offers were made to boys outside the priority areas; with most parents surprised they received first round offers.

What is notable is that out-of-area children would not receive Warwickshire admissions booklets and would reply upon the admissions' website, and expect the information to be accurate. They would be unlikely to specifically inspect a school's actual policy.

This incorrect statement and incorrect advice given by admissions may have influenced parents to move inside the priority area (which is permitted within the rules) in order to gain a place, when this would not have been required.
 

READ THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN'S REPORT BY CLICKING HERE

     View Proof of LGO's error here - child would have been offered.

During December, 2012, an 11+ admissions officer stated in an email..."If you already own the property and will rent it out for 6 months from January, then we would require a copy of the 30 day eviction notice you give to your tenants when that is sent to them in May/June. We may then ask for further evidence to show that the family are living in the property during July/August, when the bills will no longer be in the tenants name, but the home owners. If evidence cannot be provided because the family are not residing in the property by the beginning of September, then consideration will be given by the Local Authority and the school where a place has been offered based on the evidence provided previously of the new address, and the place may be withdrawn. This would only happen though if a place would not have originally been offered based on the child's old address (or the one from which they never moved)."

"As long as your evidence shows that you will be residing in the property 'after the start of the Autumn term' (September 2013) then that would satisfy us as a Local Authority. There is no further limitation on how long you have to live at the address once the child has started at the school."

In essence the advice was one need not move if they would have been offered a place in round 1 from an existing address.

When put to the Council, they appear not to want to honour this advice and claimed Lawrence Sheriff School would have to decide what to do. They allowed the situation to drag on for over 4-months without a conclusion. It is astonishing there has been no official procedure in place to address such issues and yet the Council has provided advice over the past few years.

The Council accepted all documents relating to a change of address and never asked for further data. After 4.5 months the School rejected them. WCC finally advised the school not to withdraw the place. The School ignored the advice, withdrew the place, and refused to allow an appeal.

It has been suggested that WCC have failed in their claimed statutory duty under the Education Act 1996, Section 13A to promote high standards and in ensuring fair access. They should have filed legal action against LSS to ensure the school place was reinstated. WCC did nothing and ignored the advice they provided prior to application. Even when LSS has taken over 3-months to reconsider a new application, WCC refused to intervene. There is a clear issue of maladministration by WCC.

There appears to be some other issue going on in this matter, with an innocent child stuck in the middle. The Council watched the Lawrence Sheriff School withdraw a child's place after 4.5 months without any credible evidence, leaving a child without a school place. Even though the Council's own legal advice to the School was they should not withdraw the place, they did not stand up to the School and side with the parents and offer to pay legal costs to the parents to fund legal action against the school.

The Local Government Ombudsman has found fault with Warwickshire County Council.

READ THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN'S REPORT BY CLICKING HERE

Note the Report contains a number of errors:

a) WCC confirmed the child would have been offered a place from the old address, contrary to the LGO statement.
b) WCC confirmed on their own website and by email offers would not be made to out of area children on national offer day.
c) The LGO were provided with a copy of the results letters from WCC that stated offers would not normally be made to out of area children on national offer day.


When a new application was made in July 2014, the parent waited for over 7 months and did not receive a response. It transpires the school decided to reject the new application on the basis they did not believe a move would take place (which took place). They considered the new address, even though they were not entitled to do so as the Feb 6th deadline for address changes had passed.

Any website wishing to publish this story or interested in this article may contact this site at cemelevenplus@gmail.com for further information. Permission to copy this article is provided and copyright restrictions are waived for websites. Newspapers are advised to contact the site due to agreed newspaper stories being published shortly in conjunction with coverage of legal action launched by Warwickshire County Council.

Warwickshire County Council admit to removing questions from a test after being taken so correct answers were not awarded marks. Click here to view the evidence.

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