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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44942
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello. We chose a secondary school for my daughter based on

Customer Question

Hello. We chose a secondary school for my daughter based on a few different points, one of the important ones being that it was a language specialist academy & she would have the opportunity to learn Spanish as a language for GCSE - we were informed at open day and every step of the way that we would be give the choice at the end of year 8. However, 100 children were allocated Spanish and my daughter was one of 46 who was not - they have advised me that it was a random selection and we were given a choice, but it couldn't be accommodated. Do I have any legal grounds as I intend to take this to the governors and further if need be, as we feel very passionate about my daughter learning Spanish as her second language as we spend a lot of time in the holidays at our holiday home in Spain and we have a lot of Spanish friends, so this life skill is extremely important to us. I have spoken to the head of languages and academy principal and both said they can't move her as everyone else would want to be moved too.

Many thanks Kind regards XXXXX XXXXX

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is this an independent school?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

No it is an academy. The Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy.

Ben Jones :

were you ever specifically told that if she chose to do Spanish there would be a guaranteed place for her?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

Yes at the opening day (before we chose the school), we were verbally told that they would study French, German and Spanish and then at the end of year 7 they would choose from one of the languages and would continue to study this until GCSE. I stated this to the principal and he said - you have had a choice, but we just can't accomodate it.

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

I said it's not a choice if the option isn't available, but he disagreed,

Ben Jones :

was anything provided in writing in that respect?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

Language choice poster on website
Full Size Image
http://www.trfwia.org.uk/images/ridings/mfl/languages%20-parental%20poster%202010%20open%20eve.pdf?phpMyAdmin=408f0b382238737849cd77a35d9e3e4b

Ben Jones :

what year is she in now?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

year 7 going into year 8

Ben Jones :

Ok what concerns me here is that it does not appear a guarantee of a choice was actually given. The brochure says that students can make a 'preference' for a language - that is not a guarantee, it means that she would have told the school what she would prefer to study and that choice would have then been considered by the school and allocated if possible. It is a bit of a play on words because different people may interpret this statement in different ways but from a neutral point of view I would interpret this as not providing a guarantee that the student's preference would be granted.

Of course this is just about what I have seen in writing and as I was not privy to the exact conversations that were had in relation to this, there could have been something else said which could have implied some sort of a guarantee.

In any event, this does not prevent you from taking this further to ask the academy to consider their position and also to get a neutral opinion of the Department of Education. The academy will be required by law to have a specific complaints procedure which you can follow.

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

I have a copy of the complaints procedure and am currently writing as per stage 2 (hence why I need some more advice), the verbal conversation I had with the language teacher was that they would choose a subject at the end of year 7 and at no time did they state it was just a preference and it may not be available.

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

We were verbally told they would choose a language and be given the opportunity to study it - no mention of preference during open day - language teachers made it sound like it was a definite.

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

Could it be classed as discrimination that 100 children have been given the opportunity and my daughter hasn't?

Ben Jones :

I suppose others are in the same position as her?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

yes, 46 in total, but I am focussing on my daughter in this instance, whilst I have put a case forward for them all.

Ben Jones :

this will not be discrimination, especially as others are in the same position as her. For discrimination to apply the school's decision must be based on discriminatory grounds, such as gender, age, race, religion, a disability, etc. I see no evidence that the reasons for the school's decision are linked to a discriminatory ground

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

ability?

Ben Jones :

no, this is not included

Ben Jones :

these are the protected characteristics that discrimination covers:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/4

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

do you have any legal grounds that I haven't already covered? the verbal conversation?

Ben Jones :

Verbal promises can b as legally binding as written ones but the difficult there is that it is your word against the other persons'.

Ben Jones :

so when you bring this up, it is for the party that is examining this claim to make up their own mind as to who they wish to believe and how much weight to attach to their evidence

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

JACUSTOMER-dyauvm6r- :

well you have reiterated what I already knew from looking on line, so I don't think I need to clarify anything else - thank you for your time.

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome and best of luck with resolving this issue

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