National offer day can be a day of elation or catastrophe when parents and pupils receive the decision on whether they have been successful in their choice of preferred secondary school.
But what if the worst happens? Our Mike Pemberton, head of civil liberties and public law specialises in education law and can assist with admissions appeals. He offers the following advice:
The first thing to remember is that you have some time to consider your options.
The relevant admissions authority must publish an appeals timetable on their website by the 28th February each year and reference should be made to this to confirm the timescale for appeals which 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 29th March 2017 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 need to consider and research:
- 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 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 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.
Should you wish to speak to someone about an admission appeal then please contact us on 0175 321 6399.