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School admission appeals

Delays to appeals due to coronavirus

Revised arrangements for school admission appeals 2020

Despite the current situation, parents continue to have the right of appeal to any school which has refused their child a place.

The Department for Education has made regulatory changes that came into force on 24 April 2020. The new legislation will be in force until 31 January 2021.

The new regulations state:

  • There is no requirement that appeal panels must be held in person. These can take place by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal, where all parties can make representation in writing.
  • The panel, made up of three members, can continue and conclude with two panel members if necessary.
  • A clerk must still be present at the appeal hearing to provide legal support and guidance to the panel and make an accurate account of proceedings.

There can be two stages to an appeal hearing. The first stage is for the admissions authority to prove to the panel the case for refusing admission. This stage will be paper-based where all parties will have opportunity to raise questions to the admissions authority and all responses will be shared. If the panel is satisfied that the admission arrangements did comply with admissions law and that they were correctly and impartially applied to the child and it finds that the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources the appeal will progress to stage two.

Stage two will proceed according to the parent/carers preferred option of telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal.

How to appeal

If you are refused a place at any school you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel. If it is for an in-year application you will need to notify the admissions team.

You will then receive an appeal form for you to complete with the reasons for the appeal. Once the form is received an appeal hearing must be held within 40 school days from the deadline for lodging appeals, or within 30 school days for an in-year admission application.

Before the hearing

Parents will be told ten school days in advance when and where the appeal will be heard. Within a reasonable time in advance of the appeal parents will be sent a written summary of the case for refusing their child a place. Parents are encouraged to attend the appeal in person. The appeal will be heard in private and if parents wish they may bring a friend, relative or representative. It is for the parent to decide if they would like to bring their child to the hearing. If parents do not attend the appeal hearing, a written appeal case will still be considered by the panel.

The appeal hearing

At the hearing there will be three panel members who make the decision and a clerk who will record the proceedings and advise on law and procedure. The panel members are volunteers and are independent of the school and the local authority.

The school will also be represented by a Presenting Officer who will give the reasons for not meeting the preference. Parents will be given the opportunity to explain to the panel the reasons why they wish for their child to attend the school.

The panel will firstly decide whether the admission authority has shown why it cannot admit more children and if so, will go on to consider all the points parents have made. The panel’s decision is based on balancing the needs of the child against the effect of admitting another child.

After the hearing

Wherever possible parents will be told the decision by email by the next working day and a letter will be sent within seven days explaining the decision and reasons for it.

Decisions of an appeal panel are binding on both the parents and the school. There is no further right of appeal in the same academic year unless there is a significant change in circumstances. This would include a new medical problem or a house move, where this was not known about and considered at the original appeal hearing.

The Local Government Ombudsman can investigate complaints of maladministration. Parents will be given further details about this if the appeal is unsuccessful. Parents should complain to the Ombudsman within twelve months of when they first knew about the matter they wished to complain about.

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