Detailed guidance on school admission appeals

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Apply for your child’s primary school place: If your child was born between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016, then they are due to start primary school in September 2020. Don’t miss the deadline on 15 January 2020.

6. Secondary and primary appeals

This page will help you understand the law if you are appealing for a secondary or primary school (other than those primary/infant schools where the rules on infant class size apply). It will help you decide what points and information to include in your appeal.

How will the Panel consider my appeal?

The Panel must follow the two-stage process as set out below for all appeals (other than those against decisions made on the grounds of infant class size prejudice):

First stage – examining the decision to refuse admission

The panel must consider the following matters in relation to each child that is the subject of an appeal:

  • whether the admission arrangements (including the area’s co-ordinated admission arrangements) complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, and
  • whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question.

The panel must then decide whether the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.

Consideration of prejudice:

Whilst the panel must take into account the school’s published admission number, the admission authority must be able to demonstrate prejudice over and above the fact that the published admission number has already been reached. The panel must not reassess the capacity of the school, but must consider the impact on the school of admitting additional children. In reaching a decision as to whether or not there would be prejudice the panel may consider the following factors:

  • what effect an additional admission would have on the school in the current and following academic years as the year group moves through the school
  • whether any changes have been made to the school’s physical accommodation or organisation since an admission number was originally set for the relevant year group
  • the impact of the locally agreed Fair Access Protocol
  • the impact on the organisation and size of classes, the availability of teaching staff, and the effect on children already at the school.

Second stage balancing the arguments

At this stage the Panel exercises its discretion, balancing the degree of prejudice to the school against the parent’s case for the child being admitted to the preferred school, before arriving at a decision. In considering all the evidence before it, the Panel must take into account the appellant’s reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what that school can offer the child that the allocated or other schools cannot. If the panel considers that the appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school it must uphold the appeal.

In multiple appeals (where there is more than one appeal for the same school and year group), the panel must not compare the individual cases when deciding whether an appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school. However, where the panel finds there are more cases which outweigh prejudice than the school can admit, it must then compare the cases and uphold those with the strongest case for admission. Where a certain number of children could be admitted without causing prejudice, the panel must uphold the appeals of at least that number of children.


Considering making an appeal?

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