Hertfordshire school admission appeals – Top 10 Tips
PUBLISHED: 11:16 04 March 2011 | UPDATED: 13:50 06 March 2017
St Albans based law firm SA Law and its specialist Education Law team is helping parents in the Hertfordshire area who are upset about the school their child has been allocated to.
St Albans based law firm SA Law and its specialist Education Law team is helping parents in the Hertfordshire area who are upset about the school their child has been allocated to. Allocation of school places started to be announced on March 1 and will continue until April 4.
The firm is keen to let parents know what they can and can’t do about these decisions if they are unhappy. There is a good reason for a call to action - for 2009/2010, nationally 33.3% of secondary school appeals and 25% of primary appeals succeeded.
Here SA Law offer a Top Tips guide to help any parents thinking of making an appeal or keen to know more about their rights.
- Be realistic. More appeals fail than succeed. This is particularly the case if you are seeking a place in an infant class. However, you have nothing to lose by appealing and the following tips should assist you in maximising the prospect of your appeal being one of the successful ones.
- Find out who the admission authority is for your preferred school. If the school is a community or voluntary controlled school, this will be the local authority. If the school is a foundation or voluntary aided school or an academy, this will be the governing body of that school. It is the admission authority that arranges the appeal and will be your opponent in the appeal process.
- Be clear of the admission criteria that apply to your preferred school in the event of an oversubscription of places. These are set by the admissions authority and should be available on the school’s website and in their prospectus.
- Understand why your child was not offered a place by reference to the admissions criteria. Was it because you live too far away? Was it because you did not fulfil the religious requirements for a faith school? Did your child fail to reach the required standard (for example, for a grammar school where the prospective pupils ability is tested) or fail to display sufficient aptitude (in the case of a specialist college)?
- Was an error made in applying the admission criteria to your child’s application? If so, contact the admissions authority as this may result in your child being offered a place without the need to make an appeal. Document this as well in your appeal form.
- Don’t deal with the appeal in isolation. Remember to put your child’s name down on the Continuing Interest list for your preferred school(s). A surprising number of places can become available in this way – for example, if other parents decide to elect for independent education or move out of the area. Remember as well that you can appeal for a place at more than one of the schools that you specified on your application form and at which you were not allocated a place.
- Know the test that the Appeal Panel will apply when they consider your appeal. The test is different depending on whether you are appealing against the refusal of an infant class place (ie Reception, Year 1 or Year 2) or a place in subsequent school years. Contact us on [add link] to obtain a free copy of our Guide to School Admissions Appeals which details what these appeal criteria are. Different criteria apply if your child has a statement of Special Educational Needs.
- The appeal process consists of submitting a written appeal form or letter of appeal, followed by the opportunity to attend an oral hearing before the Appeal Panel. Make sure that you deal with all of the points that the Appeal Panel will consider. Focus on the school that you want and your child. Do not waste time criticising the school that you have been offered. For non-infant class appeals, the Appeal Panel will essentially need to weigh up the school’s position that it cannot take any more pupils against your case that your child really needs a place at that school.
- Gather as much data as you can about the school. Could it accommodate an extra pupil without compromising its efficient provision of education and resources? What is its Published Admission Number? Has it exceeded this in previous years? Is the site big enough to accommodate an additional classroom or could the current logistics of the school be rearranged to allow more students to attend? The Appeal Panel is unlikely to know the school in any detail so you will need to give them as much information about the layout and its statistics as you can.
- Remember that the Appeal Panel do not know your child either. You will need to tell them about him or her and why, in your view, only your preferred school meet their needs. For example, if your child was bullied at primary school and none of the perpetrators of the bullying will be going on to your preferred school but will be going to the school that you have been offered, this is the type of factor that you should draw to the attention of the Appeal Panel to show that the prejudice to your child of not having a place outweighs the prejudice to the school of admitting an extra pupil. Back up any such points with evidence such as a letter from the head of your child’s primary school or a letter from your GP.
We wish you the very best of luck with your appeal. If you would like our further assistance, we are able to review your appeal forms and provide representation at the appeal hearing. Contact Clare Mackay by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 01727 798092 for further details.
SA Law is offering a FREE practical guide to School Admission Appeals. Request a guide by clicking here.