Primary school admissions appeals – Challenging your child’s school place
The impact that a child’s school can have on their education cannot be understated. The right school, the right teacher and the right environment can make all the difference in allowing your child to thrive and flourish in their education. That is why it is so important to get the right school for your child and why it can be so disappointing if your child was not admitted into the school you asked for.
Earlier this week on national offer day you likely received notification from your local authority as to exactly which school your child will be attending. If you did not get the school you wanted or you want to challenge the decision, you should also be informed of the appeals procedure. It is very important to note that you typically have 20 school days from when you receive the decision to lodge the appeal. For the majority of admissions appeals, this deadline will run from national offer day.
If you are not happy with the primary school that your child has been offered a place in, then you should look to submit an appeal through the Admissions Appeals process. If you would like assistance with this, then our education lawyers will be more than happy to help. Our education department has a team of admissions appeals solicitors who would be best placed to assist you with appealing your child’s offer.
Parental preference, oversubscription and appeals
Each parent has the right of parental preference to choose which school their child will attend. However, this parental preference does not exist if compliance with the preference would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources. This means that a school can refuse your child’s placement if they are full or over capacity.
The admissions appeals procedure is governed by the admissions appeal code, which is statutory guidance which dictates how schools and local authorities should govern the appeal proceedings. Speaking generally, the appeals code provides 2 tests which appeals panels should consider in order to uphold the decision.
The first of these is to examine whether the school and the local authority have followed the admissions process properly or whether there has been a procedural error. If there has and the admission of the child would not prejudice the education or use of resources, then the appeal must be upheld.
If the first test fails then the panel must then proceed to the second test. This has the panel balancing the potential prejudice to the School versus the Applicants argument for the prejudice their child will face if not admitted. There is no limited list of grounds, and as such anything can be considered by the panel. The applicant will succeed here if they can establish that the impact on their child not attending will be greater than the impact on efficient education or use of resources if they do.
After your appeal has been lodged and your arguments and evidence submitted, the appeal must be heard by an independent appeals panel within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal. You can take support in the form of friends to the hearing should you wish, or you can instruct legal professionals to act on your behalf.
Infant Class Size
However, there is a specific point that parents should keep in mind when considering a primary school appeal. There is a limit on the size of an infant class (a class in which the majority of children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 during the school year) to 30 pupils per school teacher. Only in very limited circumstances can admission over the limit be permitted.
Infant class size appeals differ from other school admission appeals because the panel is limited on the circumstances in which an appeal can be upheld. To uphold an appeal where the infant class size limit has been reached, a panel must establish that the decision to refuse admission was as a result of an error and / or was unreasonable. They can also be admitted if they are considered an “Excepted pupil”, of which there are limited categories available (for example, children with ECHPs, looked after children or twins where 1 child has been admitted to the school).
Put simply, admissions appeals involving infant class size can be much harder than a standard admissions appeal. To challenge the decision the argument must be heavily based on the law and the admissions code, interpreting the two to argue why the decision should not be upheld. With this in mind, you may want to consider instructing a specialised education law solicitor to help with your primary school admissions appeal.
How we can help
It cannot be understated the impact that the right school can have on your child’s education. If you or someone you know would like help appealing the admission decision of a local authority, please feel free to get in touch. Our education law solicitors are specialists in our field with years of experience and we can help you to get the best possible outcome for your case.
If you would like to discuss your matter further, please feel free to contact us on 0333 202 7175. Alternatively send us an enquiry through our website and one of our admissions appeals lawyers will contact you later that same day to discuss your matter further. Please note we do not have a legal aid contract and so unfortunately will not be able to act in legal aid cases.