1 March is National Offer Day
– in previous years around 20 per cent
of parents across the UK have not got an offer
for the school
they wanted. And this year
is unlikely to be any better.
So what do you do
if your child has not been allocated a place
in the reception or secondary school
of your choice? Solicitor Laura Berman
has the following advice if you are disappointed
with the outcome of your application
and you wish to appeal
What else can you do?
- It is advisable, in most cases, to choose one and only one school to appeal to. You need to decide on your preferred school and think about the reasons you have for appealing to that school. In doing so you need to consider the admissions criteria for the school and the reason why your child has been refused a place there.
- Lodge your intention to appeal within the deadline set by the school.
- Panels like to see well researched and rational parents who are rejecting the school offered for valid and evidenced reasons. Think about why your child has been refused a place. Consider the aspects like distance, faith, whether the school is single sex or mixed, any medical considerations, the school's strengths, trauma (your child’s emotional state), bullying, childcare issues and friends (will most of your child’s friends be attending this school?)
- You will receive the school’s case at least seven working days before the hearing. It must refer to the accommodation of the school, its class sizes and its net capacity.
- By picking holes in the prejudice case you can strengthen your case. Find out the numbers in all their current year groups. If some years are over the admission number you can argue that the school has done it before without causing prejudice. If an oversubscribed school is performing well you can argue how well they cope with increased numbers and therefore against prejudice. You can also check whether any recent or planned building work may free up space.
- The appeal is a two-stage process. First, the panel will consider the school’s "prejudice" case. The school will need to show that the admission of one more child will prejudice the efficient education of other children or the efficient use of resources. If the school succeeds in showing prejudice then the panel will go on to conduct a balancing exercise between the strength of the school’s prejudice case and the parents’ personal reasons for appealing.
- The law limits infant class sizes to 30 children for every teacher. For this reason success rates for these appeals are low. In this type of appeal the school needs to show that it will have to take "qualifying measures" to accommodate an extra child such as employing another teacher or finding more space. If the panel accept this then there are only two grounds on which an infant class size appeal can be successful. Did the admissions authority follow its own criteria? Was the decision one that a reasonable admission authority would make in the circumstances?
- Appeals are heard by a panel of three people independent of the school in question with at least one lay member and at least one member with experience of education.
- You should get the result within five working days.
- Ask to be put on the school’s waiting list.
- Collect evidence. A letter from your child’s teacher or head teacher to support your appeal will help. Ask them to say what your child is good at and to be specific about what how they would benefit from attending the school you are appealing to.
is an associate solicitor and heads up Fisher Meredith’s
(Public and Social Welfare Law) Department
. Laura has extensive
experience working on school admission appeals
both at primary
level and has helped many parents
appeal against the decisions
of local authorities
and successfully get their children
of their choice.
For more information
/ 020 7091 2700