Successful admission appeals may save parents from funding expensive independent school fees. Admission appeals can be particularly difficult. The key to success is thorough preparation, research into historic pupil numbers and covering all relevant legal points.
We have recently seen a rise in the number of school admissions appeals at primary and secondary school level, for all types of schools, including Academies, of which are set to increase with the planned changes in Government. This is partly due to the numerous changes in Education Law from September 2014 and the updated School Admissions Code which came into force on 19 December 2014 which should be read alongside the existing School Admissions Appeals Code 2012.
Unfortunately, if your child is not allocated a place at your chosen school we can advise and assist with all aspects of an appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. This will include initial consultation, drafting your Grounds of Appeal, advising on the legality of your chosen school’s admissions code, advising you on any supporting documents or evidence you may have and arranging for excellent Counsel to come along with you to the Hearing. We support you each step of the way to take the stress out of what can be a very challenging and emotional time.
What should you bear in mind when making an Admissions Appeal?
Children/Young persons with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or EHC Plan.
Failure to allocate a place to a child/young person who has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or EHC Plan will be brought in the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) in Darlington and NOT before an Independent Appeal Panel. While this is a different type of Appeal and process you will need to follow, we have significant expertise and can assist you with this type of Appeal if this is the case.
Infant Class Size Appeals.
While all Admissions Appeals are difficult to win, purely on the test of prejudice which must be applied, Infant Class Size Appeals notoriously so. Only children aged between 5-7 years will fall into this type of appeal as during this age group, schools are entitled to limit the number of children they admit to a maximum number of 30 pupils. While this limit can and will only be increased in extremely limited cases, much will centre around the facts of your individual case which we will discuss with you.
In-year Appeals and Secondary School Appeals.
If your child has moved from school to school or from one area to another for whatever reason, whether that may be a change in your job or own personal circumstances, if you have applied for a school place outside of the normal school ‘admissions’ stage and been refused on the basis that the School is ‘full’ this will grant you a right of appeal. This is an in-year Appeal.
Similarly, in the way that appeals for pupils who are due to transfer to Secondary School at the age of 11 run, the School Admission Appeals Code requires an Independent Appeal Panel to apply a two-stage test to these types of Appeals on the balance of prejudice to decide whether your child should have been allocated a place. This test does allow us some flexibility when we are drafting your Grounds for Appeal to allow us to form a two-pronged argument which you do not get in other types of Appeal. The Independent Appeals Panel must look at your case on the day of your Hearing with fresh eyes and weigh upon the evidence in front of them, the prejudice which may be caused to the school, its resources and the efficient education of children already enrolled in admitting another child against the prejudice caused to your child if they are not allocated a place at your chosen school.
The evidence you present to the Independent Appeals Panel is absolutely fundamental in balancing the test of prejudice and something we can advise you on to ensure you have the strongest possible case on the day.
An appeal after it has all gone wrong is too late.