Detailed guidance on school admission appeals

7. Procedures for school admissions appeal hearings

Conduct of the hearing and the order of proceedings

Conduct of the hearing: the conduct of proceedings generally will be at the discretion of the Panel – and as informal as possible. The order of proceedings will normally be set out as in the section below entitled ‘order of proceedings’, provided that:

  • the Panel shall have the power to vary the order whenever they consider it expedient so to do
  • there may be instances where all the appeals to be dealt with in a session or part of a session relate to preferences for the same school. If this is so, the Panel may ask the Admission Authority’s representative to begin the session by presenting evidence on the Authority’s admissions policy in the presence of all the parents present. The evidence will include reference to the allocations made.
  • If it is a secondary or primary appeal (not relating to the infant class size limit), the Admission Authority’s representative will explain why: the allocation of pupils to the preferred school in excess of the number of places determined by the Admission Authority will be prejudicial to the provision of efficient education or to the efficient use of resources.
  • If it is an infant class size law case, the Admission Authority’s representative will explain why: the allocation of pupils to the preferred school in excess of the number of places determined by the Admission Authority will be prejudicial to the provision of efficient education or to the efficient use of resources by reason of the relevant measures which would need to be taken in order to comply with the duty to limit infant class sizes to 30 pupils.
  • Each parent present will be given an opportunity to question the Admission Authority’s representative’s evidence. If the above procedure is adopted, the order of proceedings set out below will apply only to the evidence relating to a particular case.

Order of proceedings

  • Admission Authority’s representative to put the case for allocation, calling any witnesses that the Panel may permit.
  • Questioning of Admission Authority’s representative, and any witnesses called, by parents (or representatives) and Panel*.
  • Parents (or representatives) to put case, calling any witnesses that the Panel may permit.
  • Questioning of parents, and any witnesses called, by the Admission Authority’s representative and Panel.
  • Summing up by Admission Authority’s representative.
  • Summing up by parents (or representative).

*If it is a secondary or primary appeal (not an appeal where the rules on infant class size law apply), the hearing can end after this stage if prejudice is not proven and the parents told that the appeal has been upheld.

Other matters relating to the conduct of the hearing

  • A Panel may at any time adjourn the hearing or hearings for any reason, including to enable a parent to attend, to receive significant evidence, or because of the illness or absence of a member of the Panel.
  • A Panel will defer any decision upon an appeal relating to a parent’s preference for a particular school until it has considered all the appeals that it intends to consider, or so many of them as are practical, relating to the expression of a preference for the same school.
  • In accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code, hearings shall be in private, provided that where a Panel requests the Admission Authority’s representative to present general evidence in accordance with section D1 above all the parents present will attend together for the presentation of the general case.

Decisions of the Panel

  • The Panel shall either uphold or reject the appeal and must not uphold an appeal subject to any specific conditions.
  • In the event of disagreement between the members of the Panel, the appeal under consideration will be decided by a simple majority of the votes cast, with, in the case of an equality of votes, the Panel Chair having a second or casting vote.
  • The decision of the Panel and the grounds on which it is made will be communicated by the Clerk to the Panel to the parents and to the Admission Authority.
  • The decision of the Panel on an appeal is binding on the Admission Authority and on the Governors of schools at which the Panel determines that a place should be offered to the child in question.

Clerk to the Panel

  • Each Panel will have the services of a Clerk. If the Panel withdraws or invites the parties to do so when it wishes to consider its decisions, the Clerk must remain with the Panel for the purposes of offering advice as to procedure and law or of refreshing the Panel’s memory as to any matter of evidence or other issue raised.
  • The Clerk shall keep notes of the proceedings and shall record the attendances, voting, and all decisions made, and the grounds on which they are made, in such form as the Panel and Clerk may agree.

Other matters

  • Documents to be served or sent out in connection with school admission procedures may be sent by post or delivered to a parent addressed to them at the address given by the parent to the Admission Authority in the course of the admissions procedures.
  • The procedures set out in this document may be changed at any time upon notice being given to that effect to all Clerks to Panels.


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