We are fast approaching the somewhat anxious time of year when the allocation of secondary school places will be announced.
This will take place on 3rd March 2014 and is known as National Offer Day. (Reception places are expected to be announced on 16th April 2014).
With competition for some school places fierce and school reputations being at the forefront of many parents list of preferred schools, there is a possibility that your child will not have been successful. There may be a secondary choice which is acceptable and results in your child meeting their full potential, but in other cases the first piece of advice in the best tradition of ‘Dad’s Army’ is ‘DON’T PANIC’.
Take a breath and first of all speak to your child. How upset are they about not getting into the first choice school? Whilst you have priorities as parents, theirs is likely to include which school their friends are going to. Therefore consider any offers on your application form. It may be a good idea to preserve your position by accepting a placement which has been offered while you pursue other options.
- Make sure that your child’s name is on the waiting list for any schools you applied for but did not get a place – this way if there are changes to the admissions list e.g. another child elects to go elsewhere then your child’s application will be considered in turn. Ask the school or Admissions Authority where you are on the waiting list.
- Consider whether you should ask about vacancies at schools which were not on your application form, whilst they may also be oversubscribed some may not.
- Do you need to appeal? You have a right of appeal to the Admissions Authority against a refusal by a school of your choice. Here are some of the things you need to consider:
- The deadline for appealing – this has to be at least 20 school days from the date of the decision, but do check the deadline and make a note of it. You are likely to have some time to think about whether you wish to appeal and consider any other offers made, but do not leave it too late.
- What was the admissions policy of the school? Check the school website or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed. (see below regarding the relevant Admissions Authority)
- What is the Published Admission Number of the school?
- What is the oversubscription policy? Has it been applied correctly?
- You may also want to check the School Admissions code of Practice 2012, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.
- An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time seeking advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.
- Will you need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing? If so it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible.
- The admission authority for the school (usually the school itself or the Local Authority) must give you at least 10 school days notice before the hearing to confirm the date.
- Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal.
- At the hearing:
- An independent panel of usually three people will hear the case
- The admission authority will explain why they turned down your application.
- You’ll be able to give your own reasons why your child should be admitted.
- The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and are legal.
- If the criteria are legal and were properly followed, the panel must decide if they were followed fairly and thoroughly.
- If the criteria weren’t properly followed or are illegal, your appeal must be upheld.
- If your appeal has not already been upheld, the panel will decide if your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting another child.
- The panel will send you and the admission authority their decision within 5 school days.
By Mike Pemberton, Partner, education law team
Our education law team are able to assist and advise on issues of admission to schools and can be contacted on 0333 344 4772.
|Type of school||Admission authority||Complaints about arrangements||Responsible for appeal against place refusal|
|Academies||Academy trust||Schools adjudicator||Academy trust|
|Community schools foundation||Local authority||Schools adjudicator||Local authority|
|Foundation schools||Governing body||Schools adjudicator||Governing body|
|Voluntary aided schools||Governing body||Schools adjudicator||Governing body|
|Voluntary controlled schools||Local authority||Schools adjudicator||Local authority|