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School appeals - how do they work re appeal hearing?

(23 Posts)
BattyBarbara Wed 19-Mar-14 19:53:48

We've got to appeal to get DD2 into our preferred school, and I hope I've put together a good case which I know I have to submit before the end of the month.

But I'm confused as to how the hearing works; it says it takes two stages, firstly whether the admission arrangements were correctly applied and then if they have been, whether the detriment to your child of not going to that school would be greater than the prejudice to the other children.

Have I understood this correctly? And if so, are the two parts considered separately? So, if part of my appeal is that I feel we should have been offered a place first time round, will they just consider it and then (hopefully) offer us a place - or is the two part thing misleading and it's all one appeal meeting?

Sorry confused

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 19-Mar-14 22:33:37

As I understand it, it is considered separately, but all in one meeting. If more than one of you is appealing for the same school, part 1 is considered altogether.

Then, assuming that they decide the admission process was carried out correctly, each apellant is allowed to make their case as to why the school should offer them a place.

PanelChair Wed 19-Mar-14 22:56:10

Not all authorities consider all part one arguments together. In one borough where I heard appeals, all the parents with appeals for the same school were in the room together for the part one consideration, but my own borough does not do this and each appeal is heard separately.

Either way, the panel has a two-fold decision to make.

MillyMollyMama Thu 20-Mar-14 01:13:09

On appeal panels where I live, you could appeal on the grounds that the published policy of school admission has been incorrectly applied. In this case you would be saying the admission process was flawed and you would need to prove it. Eg, distance from school issues.

Most people appeal on the grounds that they actually prefer the school they are appealing for. At every single appeals committee I went to, this was the reason given by parents. The school or LA will try to say that admitting another child means they are prejudicing the education of the other children already offered places at the school. For example, by saying their science labs only have seating for 30, not 31. You need to persuade the committee that the curriculum, ethos, specialisms, etc are the best fit for your child and that they regularly have larger numbers than their PAN attending the school (if they do, of course).

BattyBarbara Thu 20-Mar-14 08:25:12

Thanks everyone. So it's likely to be just one meeting then, not a series?

Without giving to much away and outing myself, although we applied on time we then has to change our choices for reasons outside of our control, and were therefore considered with the late applications and didn't get a place, so I'm hoping they'll find in our favour in part 1. Of course the second part also applies, and so I've put together a case for that too.

BattyBarbara Thu 20-Mar-14 08:26:09

*had not has

PanelChair Thu 20-Mar-14 09:00:09

It is possible that you might persuade the panel that the decision to treat you as a late applicant was unreasonable. What does your LEA's admissions booklet say about the circumstances (if any) in which late applications will be treated as in time? However, as you say, it is best to prepare some arguments for part two - for why this is the best school for your child - to strengthen your case.

tiggytape Thu 20-Mar-14 09:00:39

Batty. All appeals in all areas have the same format:
Stage 1 considers if any error in admissions deprived the child of a place and also listens to the school's case that they are full. Parents can chip away at this case eg if the school has gone over numbers in the past with no problems
Stage 2 is the parents' reasons for wanting that particular school.

For logistical reasons, stage 1 is sometimes a group meeting with all parents who are appealing attend and all listen to the school / question the school at the same time. This is especially the case for very popular grammar schools for example. More children pass the test than can be offered a place so they get lots of appeals - maybe upwards of 30 appeals every year. By doing stage 1 all together, it saves time.

Stage 2 of any appeal is always heard in private with just the panel. No other parents attend that part. So the most you would be looking at is 2 separate dates. The more usual process involves 1 date where stage 1 and 2 all happen in the same meeting.

tiggytape Thu 20-Mar-14 09:04:32

Batty - just saw your extra post.
It is not unreasonable for a council to treat you as a late applicant if you submitted your form on time but then went back later and ammended it.

It depends on the precise date you made the changes to the original form. If it was before October 31st then they should not treat you as a late applicant. If it was before February, you will have to look at the LA booklet as PanelChair says and find out if they have a "late with good reason" date. You can then assess whether you met that extra deadline or not.
If it was a very late change or later than your LA allows then they are right to treat you as a late applicant which means you get dealt with after everyone else has their place. However since you sound surprised about this I am wondering if the LA advised you badly about this and if so whether you have any of that advice in writing?

prh47bridge Thu 20-Mar-14 09:54:34

Just to add a little to Tiggy's comments...

There are two ways an appeal can be heard. Firstly there could be a single hearing to deal with all aspects of your case. This will start with the LA's (or school's) representative presenting the case to refuse admission, following which you and the panel can question them. Technically that is stage 1. Stage 2 involves you presenting your case and facing questions. In practice no-one will object if you raise questions about the admission arrangements in stage 2. It is very unlikely the appeal panel would stop the hearing after stage 1 to decide whether or not to proceed to stage 2.

The alternative approach is that there is one meeting to cover stage 1 which will be attended by all the parents appealing for places at that school. There will then be a separate hearing for each family to cover stage 2. If this approach is taken the division between the two stages is more rigid. If you wish to raise questions about the administration of the admission arrangements, a mistake that has affected your child, capacity of the school to handle additional pupils, etc. you MUST raise those in the first meeting.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 20-Mar-14 10:05:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PanelChair Thu 20-Mar-14 10:05:39

Yes, the two boroughs where I have heard appeals do things differently - one has a joint meeting for all part ones, the other doesn't.

admission Thu 20-Mar-14 21:38:15

I would also make the point that the original post said that the first stage is whether or not the admission arrangements were correctly applied. That is correct but over and above this the school has also to show that there are good reasons for the school not being able to admit further pupils to the school. The panel can decide at the end of part one that the school simply have not made a good enough case to not admit the pupils who are appealing. OK this only happens in a small minority of cases but it is important because the strength of the school's case in part 1 sets the bar that the pupil's individual cases have to exceed in terms of level of prejudice. So the lower the level of prejudice at stage 1 the more likely that there will be pupil's individual cases that will exceed the level of prejudice to the school.
If the appeal is individual in part 1 then the panel has to ask the same questions of the school each time the case is presented. That becomes very boring and repetitive and why in most areas around me that the part 1 includes all the appellants, so everybody hears all the case and all the questions asked and answered.

PanelChair Thu 20-Mar-14 21:44:15

I don't disagree, admission, but my experience of a grouped Part One hearing with lots of parents in the room was that it was unruly (in the sense of everyone trying to talk at once) and difficult to marshall. I think I prefer the repetition of individual hearings!

BattyBarbara Thu 20-Mar-14 22:32:15

Thank you smile

eddiemairswife Thu 20-Mar-14 23:23:34

Where I live it would be like the Tower of Babel if we had grouped Part One hearings; we are seeing increasing need of interpreters -Slovakian, Lithuanian, Kurdish and more.

admission Fri 21-Mar-14 11:14:08

I don't disagree that the more appellants there are the more difficult it can be to keep control of the appeal but over the last few years I have not had too much problem, including one classic with 34 appellants.
I do have to agree that as soon as you get a need for an interpreter that this complicates the situation immensely and at that point it may well be better to have individual cases.

BattyBarbara Fri 21-Mar-14 22:06:00

So, another question. Once the closing date has passed, can I ask them how many have appealed, for example as a Freedom of Information Act request? I know there's only 8 on the waiting list but the PAN's only 120 so the fewer the better!

PanelChair Sat 22-Mar-14 08:17:42

There's no harm in asking - I doubt you'd have to make a FOI request - but the number of other appeals doesn't really help you. Even if (for argument's sake) there's only one appeal, the panel isn't obliged to allow it, unless the test if the prejudice to the child being greater than the prejudice to the school is met.

The one instance in which the number of appeals might have some bearing on your chances of success is when there are lots of appeals and the panel is minded to allow several of them. Then, the panel had to reach a view on how many additional pupils the school can reasonably accommodate and, if necessary, rank the individual appeals accordingly.

BattyBarbara Sat 22-Mar-14 08:40:22

That's what I'm thinking PanelChair - I know four years ago they took three extras on appeal, so a precedent has been set. If there's only eight on the waiting list and they didn't all appeal, our chances look better, although I've been told we've got a strong case so hopefully we'll be ok.

PanelChair Sat 22-Mar-14 08:52:44

No, each appeal is decided on its own merits, so the fact that three appeals were allowed in a previous year makes no difference to your chances, except to the extent that if those appeals took the year group above PAN you can then argue that the school has demonstrably coped with additional pupils in the past and could do so again.

PanelChair Sat 22-Mar-14 08:54:17

There is not really such a thing as precedent in admission appeals.

BattyBarbara Sat 22-Mar-14 09:01:04

sad

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