Monday 01 March 2021 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. Natalie Tolley in our education law team is sharing the anxious wait, but has the following tips for parents:
As I myself wait in anticipation and hope that my son will get his first choice of high school for September I am very mindful that offer day may bring disappointment and worry.
If you do not get your preferred choice then you may be able to appeal against the decision.
- The first thing to remember is that you have some time to consider your options
- Check your deadline to appeal - The relevant admissions authority must publish an appeals timetable on their website by the 28th February each year, so check this to see what the deadline is to lodge an admissions appeal. It must be at least 20 school days from the national offer day
- Some admissions authorities may have provided for a longer period in which to make an appeal but 20 school days is the minimum (which takes us roughly to the 26th March this year)
- Consider the school which has been offered and whether it meets your child’s needs. Sometimes a second choice school is entirely appropriate, albeit not the ideal
- 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
- If you are appealing, then you need to get some information together in order to provide the best chances of success. You also need to ensure you meet the relevant deadline. Whilst it is still possible to appeal out of time, this may cause a delay in the case being considered by the appeal panel. 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
You will also need to do some homework!
- Who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal:
Type of school
Who is the admission authority?
Who is responsible for arranging an admission appeal?
Voluntary aided schools
Voluntary controlled schools
- 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 and our education law team can provide assistance should you require it. This may be preparation for the hearing or actual representation at the hearing itself. Fixed fee quotations are available for both advice and representation.