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How To Challenge School Admission Decisions

How To Challenge School Admission Decisions

We all want our children to receive the best education – at the school that’s right for them. In large parts of London and the South East pressure for school places is intense. This can lead to frustration with some school admission decisions. You do have a right of appeal – but usually you will have only 20 days to exercise it.

The Law

The rules on appeals against adverse admission decisions for all maintained schools in England, including academies was updated by the School Admissions Appeals Code 2012. This shortened framework was designed to simplify the whole appeals process (it is half as long as its predecessor). However because there is less detail than before on the type of evidence and supporting documents schools and parents must produce some parents can be unsure about what precisely they need to do.

This perhaps explains why in recent years our education law team has seen a spike in the number of parents who consult us about challenging school admission decisions.

Act Quickly If You Disagree With Decision

If you are going to challenge a decision, it is crucial to act quickly. This means:

  • Establishing the relevant admissions authority – this is likely to be the Academy Trust or Local Authority
  • Familiarising yourself with the authority’s appeal timetable and ensuring you meet any deadlines for submitting paperwork

When To Seek Advice

Nationwide only a fraction of appeals succeed each year. There is little point in putting yourself through the stress and expense of an appeal if ultimately you have little chance of success.

You will have at least 20 school days to prepare your written appeal. This document will be key to the ultimate decision of the independent appeal panel. You can submit further paperwork at a later date. But because of the tight appeals schedule and the number of cases a particular panel may be dealing with, arguments you submit later may not be given the same weight as your original letter of appeal.

A lot depends on your written appeal. If you think you need legal advice, the best time to get it is before you submit paperwork to the independent appeal panel.

The Appeal Hearing

In addition to helping you prepare the paperwork for your appeal we can also represent you at the hearing. It’s a two-stage process that involves the panel looking firstly at:

  • Whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied. If they were, the panel must then decide whether the admission of additional children would “prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources”.

If your case is upheld at this first stage the panel must then:

  • Balance the prejudice to the school against your case for the child to be admitted to the school.

At this point the panel must examine your reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what that school can offer the child that the allocated or other schools cannot.

If the panel considers your case outweighs the prejudice to the school it must uphold the appeal.

Contact Us For preliminary Advice

If you want to challenge a school admission decision we can give you an early indication of your chances of success before you and your child embark on what could be a stressful experience. To discuss appeals or any other aspect of education law, please contact us online or by phone on 020 3468 0924.

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