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Complaining to ombudsman regarding appeal

(8 Posts)
Smelliottsmum Tue 12-Jun-18 13:39:08

Hi
We recently found out that my son’s high school appeal was unsuccessful. Obviously I am annoyed/upset etc etc as is my son.
However what I am most angry about is the fact that the format which we had been advised the appeal would take was completely different. As we were on holiday at the time and the council were not accommodating about deferring I had no choice but to send my mum to represent me.
I had spent hours going through the paperwork and devising questions and counter arguments. However my mum said at no point was she given any opportunity to question the panel and on entering the room they told her they didn’t want to hear about anything relating to the council as they’ve heard it all before. She said they just wanted her to tell them about my son. Which she did, and they also had several pieces of evidence. However I am just so angry that she wasn’t able to challenge them with any of my questions and therefore argue our case.
I am still awaiting the official rejection letter. I have contacted the ombudsman and am in the middle of completing their online request form for help.
My son is beside himself. Is there realistically anything to gain from going through yet even more stress? 😫
Thanks so much for any help/advice.

OP’s posts: |
PatriciaHolm Tue 12-Jun-18 14:58:10

Was the appeal part of a multiple grouped appeal?

What sometimes happens there is that the First stage - the stage hearing the admission authorities case - is heard first in front of all the parents, which is where questions about their general case for being full are heard and this is where questions related to that (not your son) should have been addressed. Did this happen? Is there any chance your Mum missed this bit? (it happens sometimes - this stage happens at say 10am and then parents/appealants are heard over the rest of the day, so sometimes people see their own 3pm appointment but don't realise they need to be there at 10am as well. My LA would call people at this point but arrangements differ)

If it wasn't a grouped appeal with a separate stage 1, then your Mum should have had the opportunity to hear the admissions authorities case in her hearing and then question them before going onto the case for your son. She wouldn't question the panel - they don't answer questions, they ask them. She should have been given the opportunity to question the admission authority about their case though in this scenario.

If she is sure she didn't miss anything and was not given the chance to question the admissions authority on their case, then yes appeal. That would be a clear contravention of the appeals code.

PatriciaHolm Tue 12-Jun-18 15:00:15

Sorry i don't mean appeal, i mean refer to the LGO (if a state maintained school) or the EFA (if an academy).

Smelliottsmum Tue 12-Jun-18 15:59:46

Hi, thanks for your reply, no it definitely wasn’t a grouper Appeal with an earlier hearing. The paperwork stated that the format would allow us to present our case and questions. However this was not the case and appeal panel just said they wanted her to tell them about my son. Even the summary at the end which I had written they tried to stop her from reading. Interestingly there were 22 appeals yet not one was allowed. Other people are saying similar things about the lack of adherence to the advised format.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 12-Jun-18 18:12:51

The appeal panel should not have prevented your mother questioning the admission authority. As PatriciaHolm says, that is a clear breach of the Appeals Code - paragraph 1.12 requires the chair to ensure that you have sufficient opportunity to state your case and ask questions. The panel may get fed up with hearing the same questions over and over, especially if there are a lot of appeals, but they just have to put up with it. In any case, your mother may have had the killer question they hadn't heard before that undermined the case to refuse admission. Trying to prevent her giving your summary at the end was also wrong and suggests the panel was not acting as a proper independent appeals panel.

Take this to the ESFA (the EFA has been renamed) if it is an academy or free school, the LGO if it is some other type of school. You have a good case for a fresh hearing with a different panel.

Smelliottsmum Tue 12-Jun-18 19:57:13

Thank you so much for your helpful reply. I feel I have grounds to complain to the LGO based on my mum’s experience.

OP’s posts: |
rose69 Tue 12-Jun-18 21:03:43

If you win your case with the LGO the outcome would probably be a new appeal. They cannot direct the council to place your ds.

prh47bridge Tue 12-Jun-18 21:15:26

They cannot direct the council to place your ds

They cannot direct anything. They only make recommendations, although it is unheard of for an LA to fail to follow LGO recommendations in a school admissions case. The LGO do occasionally recommend that the child is admitted without a further appeal. However, in this case I agree that the best the OP can hope for is a fresh hearing with a different panel.

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