Forgotten children - Education Committee Report
Erin Smart | 25.07.2018
11.09.2017 Erin Smart
Parents have a right to express a preference in respect of the school they wish to educate their children. Places are offered to children based on the policies of the school, and/or Local Authority. These should, however, be in line with the guidance – namely that admissions policies must be reasonable and non-discriminatory.
Reasonable criteria can be used to meet local circumstances as long as they are practical or educational. For example; siblings, distances, religion, health concerns, SEN, aptitude, ability etc. they must, however, be objective. Many parents find themselves unable to secure a placement for their first choice in school and, in some cases, they may therefore choose to appeal.
A recent report published by the Department for Education has found that the number of admission appeals has dropped by 2.3% in 2016 – 2017. There was also a drop of 2.5% of cases that actually went to a panel hearing.
It is interesting to note that a fifth of those cases that did go to a panel hearing, were decided in the parents’ favour.
When appealing there are some practical considerations that may apply and it can be helpful to be aware of these. Firstly, in order to gather information, it is important to go to a number of sources, for example: visit the school; look at the prospectus; consider the school’s inspection reports; browse the website; speak to other parents; ask a teacher at your child’s current school; look in the local press; consider league tables; and look at the Schools Admission Code.
When appealing you should consider the following:
Reasonableness of the admissions policy;
Proper application of the admissions policy;
The admissions criteria;
Number of pupils on roll at the school;
The attendance and absenteeism record of the school;
Number of exclusions at the school;
Number of children at the school with SEN;
Number of children with English as an additional language;
Physical characteristics of the school;
Catchment area; and
Specific reasons that your child should attend this school.
Appeal deadlines should be at least 20 days from the date of the decision and you should have 10 days notice of any hearing including a reasonable deadline to provide any further information. Once the panel has heard the appeal, the decision should be with you within 5 days.
The authority for maintained schools lies with the Local Authority; whilst academies authority lies with the academy trust; and free schools are their own authority. All of these types of schools, however, must admit a child where the school is named in Section I of a child’s Education Health and Care Plan.