In the current climate of school admissions to both Primary and Secondary schools, we have seen an increase in our casework. This is partially owing to the number of changes that happen on a yearly basis to this particular area of Education Law and to the School Admission and School Admission Appeals Codes and associated Regulations. Parents should not panic, they should seek assistance straight away.
We assist parents with appeals to Independent Admissions Appeal Panel hearings for all types of schools including Academies. This will arise if you fail to get your child into the school of your choice. Whilst parents have the right to express a preference, their preference will not always prevail. We advise and assist with all aspects relating to appeals including drafting Grounds of Appeal, advising on supporting documentation and arranging representation at the hearing.
Expert Advice for Appeals
Infant Class Size Appeals
Generally these appeals are notoriously difficult to win and much will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. These appeals relate to children who are aged 5 - 7 years old (reception, years 1 and 2). Schools are entitled to limit the number of children they admit in infant classes to a maximum of 30. This number can and will only be increased in exceptional circumstances.
Children can move from school to school or area to area with their parents for a number of reasons. If a parent applies for a school place for their child which is outside of the normal round of admissions and their child is refused a place because the school is full, the parent will have a right of appeal. These appeals are classed as ‘in-year appeals’.
Secondary School Appeals
These appeals relate to pupils who are due to transfer to Secondary school at the age of 11. These appeals give the parent a little more flexibility as far as the arguments they can put forward are concerned. If the school can prove that it is full and the admissions arrangements have been correctly applied to each case, the Panel will have to weigh up the prejudice that might be caused to the school, its resources and the efficient education of the children already enrolled in admitting another child against the prejudice that would be caused to the child in the event that they are unsuccessful in gaining a place.
Children with Statements of Special Educational Needs
Any appeal against the refusal to admit a child who has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan to a particular school would be brought in the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and not an Admission Appeal Panel. This is a different process and one that focuses on your child's educational needs rather than on what prejudice would be caused if the child was not admitted to the parental choice of school.
In the event of an unsuccessful appeal, a parent can consider a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) for maintained schools or the Secretary of State for Academies. Complaints can be made on the basis of maladministration of the conduct of the Panel or an application for Judicial Review on procedural grounds if the Panel did not conduct the appeal lawfully. This does not include the parent simply disagreeing with the Panel’s decision.
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