Friday 1st March is this year’s national offer day for secondary school admission applications when parents and pupils receive the decision on whether they have been successful in their choice of preferred secondary school.
It may bring celebration or despair to families dependent on whether their preference has been met.
If you do not get your preferred choice then there are steps that can be taken - Mike Pemberton, partner and head of the civil liberties & public law team at Stephensons 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:
- You have time – the first thing to remember is that there is time to consider your options.
- Check your deadline to appeal - Check on your admissions authority website to see what the deadline is to lodge an admissions appeal. It is usually 20 schools days but do check.
- Consider the school which has been offered – it is not the ideal, but a serious assessment should be made as to whether your child’s needs are met. Is travel to the school feasible, are any of your child’s friends going there? Is your child happy to be offered that school?
- Accept the offer to secure the place – you can withdraw this acceptance later if you do decide to appeal and are 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 – if you decide that you want to appeal, gather information together in order to provide the best chances of success (see the homework to be done below).
- Appeal in time – if you decide to appeal you need to ensure you meet the relevant deadline. Whilst it is still possible to appeal out of time, this may put you at a disadvantage. Practically, in time appeals may also be considered first and result in more places having been assigned which will make arguments over prejudice much harder.
- Do your homework! – you can do the following to assist in your appeal:
- Find 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.
- 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 2014, 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.
- Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing. If so it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible – it can get busy at this time of year!
Once an appeal is lodged, it must then be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline.
You are entitled to be represented at an appeal hearing by a friend or lawyer. Representation by a lawyer is becoming more widespread, although some local authorities still express surprise at this. Our education team can provide assistance with the appeals procedure and usually offer a fixed fee service tailored to your needs. This may include preparation for the hearing or arranging actual representation at the hearing itself. Fixed fee quotations are available.
Should you wish to speak to someone about an admission appeal then please contact us on 0175 321 6399.