The Education Funding Agency (EFA) - any experience?

(84 Posts)
PermaShattered Tue 02-Jul-13 13:40:21

Yesterday was a good time for MNHQ to pull a couple of certain threads ;)

Today I have submitted a detailed application form to the EFA - the academy equivalent to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) - to look into the circumstances of the Admissions Appeal for my daughter which was both conducted and decided in breach of the existing legal framework.

I have a simple question: does anyone have any experience yet of the EFA which is a new body?

For the avoidance of doubt:

1. This is a genuine request for help/advice/useful information - nothing else;
2. The phrase '3 day rule' anything associated with it is banned. Look, I know I can't 'ban' it really but please, this thread is not about the legal issues.

Thanks in advance for respecting that.

HabbaDabsLLB Wed 03-Jul-13 15:51:36

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PermaShattered Wed 03-Jul-13 16:03:46

The only question is whether the EFA will take a different view to the LGO. That's what will be very interesting to find out.

Incidentally, prh I thought it was someone else who had rehashed the legal issues not you. confused

FormaLurka Wed 03-Jul-13 17:03:51

Is this still going on? I didn't think that the subject had legs back in May. After all, DD got offer. 7 days later it was withdrawn. Mum appeals. Denied.

Bit of a non event given what else is being posted elsewhere on MN. I didn't think that it would reach 1000 posts but here we are with more sequels than Star Trek.

lougle Wed 03-Jul-13 17:23:43

This thread isn't about the grounds for appeals though, FormaLurker. This thread is a request for knowledge and/or experience of the EFA.

ljny Thu 11-Jul-13 23:05:39

Wishing you best of luck with the EFA, Perma.

Do you - or anyone else - know how long their process is likely to take?

pusspusslet Fri 12-Jul-13 19:03:37

Good luck, Perma! My fingers are crossed for you.

Fairdene Fri 12-Jul-13 19:09:52

The EFA should take no more than two months to give a response. After that there's judicial review + appeal + appeal. I don't know the time scale for that. Does anyone else? Are admissions cases ever taken to the HOL/ Supreme Court? Presumably there's no possibility ever to take them beyond?

prh47bridge Fri 12-Jul-13 23:37:09

I'm not aware of any cases going beyond judicial review. In theory one could go all the way to the ECHR but I can't imagine an admissions appeal raising the sort of issues that would justify going that far.

Fairdene Sat 13-Jul-13 09:27:16

When you say no case has gone beyond judicial review do you mean that no admissions case has gone to the CA as far as you know? I suppose the time factor makes it redundant. But how long does it take to get judicial review?

PermaShattered Mon 15-Jul-13 22:24:57

Just logged back on after a few days. The EFA website says 2 months. I've had a response today from the EFA today about how they're taking it forward/investigating so i'll keep you posted.

I've asked a specialist admissions law solicitor about the possibility of taking this on as a Judicial Review on a conditional fee agreement basis if the EFA refuses/another appeal fails). The main issue is that as JR can be very unpredictable it's whether you can secure insurance for it. And we couldn't fund JR privately.

It could, as prh says, go all the way to the ECHR but to be honest, i think that would only be if you had the backing of an organisation on the basis that there is a principle of major importance/public interest at stake. No person in their right mind would fund the cost of litigation on admissions law all the way. let's face it by the time it went to the European Courts, the child would probably be sitting GCSEs anyway!

Fairdene, JR is a relatively quick process. You have to apply for JR within a relatively short time period; and (unless it's heavily defended) it can take a matter of months. In theory.

PermaShattered Mon 15-Jul-13 22:26:32

..... it's quick but potentially expensive: if you win, no problem: loser pays the winner's costs. And the total costs could be £30k +.

Fairdene Mon 15-Jul-13 23:24:27

Thanks for that OP. £30k is brutal. Would it really be £30k? I've had a case recently resolved by the ECHR but it had only been there a relatively short time, nothing like five years, in fact not even one, so I don't think your child would actually be sitting GCSEs. I think the problem would be more that this might vey well not be regarded as a HR issue.

lougle Tue 16-Jul-13 06:25:27

Perma, have faith. I've observed two appeals in the last week and I outlined your case to each panel, including that the appeal was lost. Both panels were shocked and said 'the panel got that wrong'.

PermaShattered Tue 16-Jul-13 09:15:31

Fairdene, that's interesting - I thought it took an absolute age to reach the ECHR. I've heard the costs can be at least £30k but much depends on whether or not it's defended. This particular academy foundation has a mountain of cash and could afford to defend all the way if it was minded to - though it wouldn't be in its interests to.

I don't think it's a human rights issue at all - a child has a human right to education (not sure which article or its exact wording) but my DD isn't being denied that in any sense.

Just to reiterate, though, I'm pursuing this because I want to see the law applied properly and i want to see due process carried out - not the shambolic way the AP treated our appeal. My DD is now really excited about going to the '3rd choice school' which is utterly fabulous. If i wasn't a lawyer maybe I wouldn't take this further. But the lawyer in me says I must.

Lougle - that's comforting. And interesting!

prh47bridge Tue 16-Jul-13 10:40:20

It is article 2 of protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which means it hasn't been agreed by all the countries involved so is not a full part of the ECHR). It gives the right not to be denied an education but it does not guarantee any particular level or quality of education. It is possible that other articles may come into play in some circumstances (e.g. Article 14 - discrimination).

I sincerely hope that all this is academic and you won't need to get involved in any form of legal action. I am glad you are taking this further, though. We need clarity and we need to be sure that the rules for academies are the same as those for other types of school.

alreadytaken Tue 16-Jul-13 10:42:13

if you have insurance it is always worth checking to see if you have legal cover. We get the option on and include it but it may be automatically included on some policies. I believe ours would cover us against the other parties costs if we lost a case and that educational issues are covered. You may even find if you have car insurance and legal cover it goes beyond cars. The timescale for judicial review is very short. Good example of why even lawyers should consider paying for legal insurance.

If the EFA don't do things properly the next step not requiring insurance might be the Parliamentary Ombudsman www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-complaint/how-to-complain as the Department of Education is responsible for its agent the EFA.

Perma isn't there a Human Right to a fair hearing? From what I saw of your posts about the appeal hearing letter the process wasn't carried out properly. That doesn't mean the EFA have to award a place or even refer it back for a new hearing but they should at least say it wasn't handled properly.

prh47bridge Tue 16-Jul-13 12:50:50

I don't think the Parliamentary Ombudsman would get involved. The EFA is not listed as one of the bodies about which they will handle complaints and the DfE is probably too remote. No harm in asking, though.

There is a right to a fair trial if you are charged with a criminal offence. It would be a bit of a stretch to apply that to an admissions appeal!

alreadytaken Tue 16-Jul-13 13:19:31

DfE is still responsible for the activities of its agents and the Ombudsman has quite wide discretion. However if they declined to get involved you complain to the DofE about the actions of its agent and then if necessary complain to the Ombudsman about the DofE failing to oversee its agent. An academic discussion as I'd expect the EFA to act properly.

alreadytaken Tue 16-Jul-13 14:00:57

prh thinking about this I suspect the EFA wasn't in the Ombudsmans list when the EFA was set up because it didnt deal with the public. Now it does it probably ought to be part of the Ombudsman's remit for that part of its actions and it has been overlooked. Of course the only way to find out would be to ask.

Didn't realise the right to a fair trial was confined to criminal actions. However badly the appeal was carried out it wouldn't meet that definition smile.

Fairdene Tue 16-Jul-13 17:43:59

I think it's worth being cautious about getting into the mindset that if the EFA decides against ordering a fresh appeal, it 'isn't doing things properly'. It will need to explain itself and if it gives sound reasons for its decision then it will have acted properly. Of course it may decide for OP but in the event that it doesn't, it may not be acting improperly, that's all I'm saying.

lougle is it professional to discuss a case with appeal panel colleagues when you only know the outline of the case from one of the parties to the case and on the internet to boot? Maybe I'm being a bit prim smile

prh47bridge Tue 16-Jul-13 18:20:44

If the Parliamentary Ombudsman got involved at all they would only look at whether the correct process had been followed. They wouldn't interfere just because they thought the EFA had made the wrong decision. Judicial review, however, will overrule if they think the EFA has got it wrong.

Nothing wrong with Lougle discussing this admission appeal with colleagues. She doesn't know the OP's real life identity or anything else that would identify the case so no confidences are being broken. In most admission cases the case to refuse admission is pretty similar. And if, as here, maladministration is involved the case to refuse admission is completely irrelevant.

lougle Tue 16-Jul-13 19:58:19

Fairdene, in answer to your question:

1) I am confident that as I am many miles away from the OP, none of the people I discussed the case with would have any connection with the OP's area.

2) I was not discussing it with colleagues. I was discussing it as a panel member in training - my role is to learn about the process and the application of the legislation to appeals. This is my opportunity to understand why such an appeal may fail. I was prepared to hear sound reason. It happens that the answer I heard was 'shouldn't have happened.'

3)I'm not bound to confidentiality in relation to Perma's case. I wouldn't discuss a case which is confidential.

Fairdene Tue 16-Jul-13 23:07:43

That's fair lougle. I suppose I ws thinking that you haven't seen the papers ad have only heard one side orally, as it were. I can see that asking for an off the top of your colleagues heads type of response is fine.

I only skim read the original thread prh47 but isn't the whole point that maladministration on its own may not suffice to secure a place in a grammar school case. Nevertheless, I don't intend to get involved in the substance!

prh47bridge Wed 17-Jul-13 00:11:33

I don't want to start that argument again. I will just say that the Appeals Code is clear and the rules for dealing with cases of maladministration are the same regardless of whether or not the appeal is for a grammar school.

lougle Wed 17-Jul-13 07:17:24

Fairdene, I don't want to start the argument again either, but if you want to look further into it, the key is that there is a big difference between a situation where a mistake is made but no offer of a place is made (I.e. maladministration but the question remains as to whether the maladministration denied a child a place which otherwise would have been theirs) and a situation where a child has a place offered and subsequently removed (regardless of the reason, save fraudulent claim on the parents' part).

The complication is the change in the appeals code, which brings a little uncertainty, but that's all been hashed out on other threads.

My point to Perma was that I asked two separate panels their view and they were both shocked by the outcome and said 'the LGO would send that back'. In this case, of course, it's the EFA, but nonetheless, I was encouraged.

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