Mike Pemberton, partner and head of the civil liberties & public law team at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, specialises in education law and has provided assistance and representation to parents and children who have been unsuccessful in the past. He offers the following advice:
Thursday 16 April is this year’s National Offer Day for primary school admission applications when parents and pupils receive the decision on whether they have been successful in their choice of preferred infant school.
For some, this will be a day of celebration, but other parents will be devastated by the news that their preferred school is oversubscribed and they haven’t been successful.
If you do not get your preferred choice then you may be able to appeal against the decision.
Considering your options
It is important not to panic, if you did not secure the school you hoped for your son or daughter, there may well be more merits in other options than you first realise. Before you start to worry, my advice is to:
Check the deadline to appeal: Take a look on the local admissions authority website to see what the final date is to lodge an admissions appeal. This is usually 20 schools’ days.
Consider the second option: The school that has been offered may not the best in the area, but does it meet your child’s educational needs? Is travelling to the school feasible? Are any of your child’s friends going there? Is your son or daughter happy to be offered a place there?
Accept the offer to secure a place: Go ahead and say yes to this offer. You can withdraw this acceptance later if you do decide to appeal and you’re successful, but make sure you do accept a school in the interim. If you do not, then you may be left with no place in September.
Gather information: Obtain information about your preferred school and consider whether there is a need to obtain evidence of any issues you wish to rely on e.g. a medical report.
Appeal in time: If you decide to appeal you need to ensure you meet the relevant deadline. While it is still possible to appeal out of time, this may put you at a disadvantage. Practically, in time appeals are considered first and result in more places been assigned.
Do your homework
If you make the choice to appeal the decision, I would advise looking into the following first:
- The admissions policy of the school. Check the school’s website or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed.
- The published admission number of the school – Remember in the case of Infant admissions, there is a maximum class size of thirty pupils unless an exemption applies
- The oversubscription policy. Has it been applied correctly?
- The School Admissions Code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.
Appealing the decision
An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time and consider whether you will need representation at the appeal hearing. I’d advise you speak to a specialist lawyer about your case for peace of mind.
Once an appeal is lodged, it must then be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline. As a parent you are entitled to be represented at an appeal hearing by a friend or lawyer. Representation by a lawyer is becoming increasingly widespread. A lawyer will help you understand the appeals procedure, assist you in preparing for the hearing and arrange representation at the hearing itself.
Securing a primary school place, you and your child are both happy with, academically and socially, is the first important educational step that contributes to their lifelong development.
Should you wish to speak to someone about a primary school admission appeal then please contact us on 0161 696 6229 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.