Finding the right school for your child can be a very stressful experience, therefore national offer day can cause anxiety for many parents. Admissions to school have become more and more competitive making it increasingly difficult to win appeals unless there are extenuating circumstances or if the process has been unfair and/or unlawful.
If you do not get your child into the school of your choice, our very own leading expert, Anita Chopra has some top tips to help:
- Do not panic. We can help you.
- It is important to place your child on the waiting list of your preferred school as soon as possible.
- Consider lodging an appeal. Before doing so, it would be advisable to seek assistance on the merits of an appeal.
- If you lodge an appeal, ensure that your Grounds of Appeal and supporting evidence are as detailed as possible.
- Consider accepting the school you have been offered so that your child is not without education.
- Although it can be daunting, familiarise yourself with the most recent School Admission Appeals Code prior to preparing your appeal and attending a hearing. It is important to know the law.
- Know that you can have (legal) representation at the appeal hearing should you require it.
- Familiarise yourself with your paperwork and be prepared!
Infant Class Size Appeals
Infant class size (children aged 5, 6 and 7) appeals are very difficult to succeed. This is because the law provides for the school to limit its class sizes to 30. This limit can only be increased in very limited and exceptional circumstances. If you have an infant class size appeal, it is important to seek legal advice as to the merits of your appeal.
In Year Appeals
These appeals can arise at any time throughout the school year because parents move area or children are unhappy in a school because of bullying, for example. If you seek to change your child’s school outside of the normal round of admission, you can still appeal if the choice of your school is full. In these circumstances, an appeal must be arranged within 30 school days from the appeal being lodged.
Secondary School Appeals
Secondary school appeals are different to primary school appeals; not least because they apply to children who are transferring from primary to secondary school but also because the Panel can take more factors into account when reaching their decision. It is less restricted than infant class size appeals.
The Panel must follow a two stage test. The Panel must determine whether the admission arrangements have been followed correctly. If so, they then decide whether to refuse admission because in allowing another child to attend an oversubscribed school, it would prejudice the efficient education of the other children.
The second stage is a balancing exercise. The Panel must weigh up the prejudice caused to the child in not receiving a place against the prejudice that might be caused to the efficient education of the children already in school.
Special Education Needs and the Education Health Care Plan
Appeals by parents whose children have Education Health and Care Plans should appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, Special Educational Needs and Disability and not to the school admission Panel. It is a completely different process.
In the event that your appeal is unsuccessful, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman in relation to any maladministration for state schools, and to the Secretary of State for Academies. The decision cannot be overturned; this can only be done by the Courts.
Our team will work closely with you to assist you in the preparation of your appeal. We can draft documents, assist in collating evidence and attend hearings however, it is important to manage your expectations before any appeal and thus advisable to seek advice.