Anxious parents waiting to hear if their three and four year olds have secured a place at their preferred primary school are being given advice on steps to take if they don’t get their first choice.
With national offer day for primary school places fast approaching (Tuesday 19 April), leading national law firm Stephensons is advising parents who are unhappy with their allocated place that they may be able to appeal.
Mike Pemberton, Partner and head of the civil liberties & public law team at Stephensons, specialises in education law. Below he provides advice for those who haven’t got their first choice.
Mike comments: “When you consider that the initial allocation is going to have an effect on the next seven years of your child’s life as they develop through Key Stage 1 and 2, it is not surprising that national offer day can be stressful. The main thing though, is not to panic. Parents’ starting point should be to firstly look closely at the school your child has been given a place for – there may well be more merits in that option than you first realise.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the law in respect of reception and infant classes means there can only be 30 children per qualified teacher unless there are exceptional circumstances. A successful appeal is one of these and comes under section 4 of the school admissions appeal code, but it can make any appeal for a reception class more complicated.
If, after that you still want to pursue your first choice, there is a nine-step plan you should follow:
Find out who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal, this could be the academy trust, local authorities or governing body.
Check the admissions policy of the school – refer to the school or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed.
Find out the published admission number of the school. Keep in mind that the law in respect of reception and infant classes means there can only be 30 children per qualified teacher unless there are exceptional circumstances. A successful appeal is one of these and comes under section 4 of the school admissions appeal code, but it does make an appeal for a reception class that more complicated.
Look at the school’s 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.
Gather evidence supporting any medical, social or other exceptional circumstances you wish to rely upon.
An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time. Whilst it is possible to appeal out of this time, this may cause delays and practically, in-time appeals may be considered first and result in more places. Also allow time to seek advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.
Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing. As a parent you’re entitled to be represented at an appeal by a friend or lawyer. If you decide on legal representation, 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 be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline.
For further information on the appeal process for primary schools, see: School admission appeals