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London School Admission Appeals: Advice and Guidance
In the majority of cases, parents have a right to choose where their children go to school, unless they have been excluded twice or need to follow the procedure for special needs.
Your London Local Authority has a duty to fulfil your parental preference for where your children attend school, apart from in circumstances where doing so would prejudice the standard of education received by other children.
What are Acceptable Grounds for Making a School Admission Appeal in London?
School admission appeals are governed by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. It is the responsibility of the Local Authority to ascertain whether this prejudice exists. Unfortunately, it is fairly common for them to only follow general procedure, rather than look at the unique circumstances of each case. In other words, they will look at the permitted admission number for each class, known as the ‘Published Admissions Number’ (PAN). If this exceeds the available places then oversubscription criteria will be applied, so dictating the order of allocation of places.
Of course, there may be particular reasons why you wish your child to attend a certain school. Perhaps they have special needs that only this school can meet; or maybe you need them to be close to where you live or work in case of emergency due to medical reasons. In such situations, general procedure is not going to be good enough and so you may need to seek advice on London school admissions appeal processes from London school admission appeals solicitors who specialise in this area of education law.
Any parent can appeal a school admission decision they are not happy with. The letter you receive notifying you of the allocated school will set out how to make the appeal, and by what date.
Can I Make an Infant Class Size Appeal?
Class sizes are limited to 30 in Reception and Years 1 and 2, so it is common for applications to be denied if this quota has already been reached.
If you are not satisfied with the school that has been allocated for your child in Years 1 or 2 then you can make an appeal if they would have been offered a place where circumstances were different and the class was not already full.
How do I make a London School Admission Appeal?
Many parents in London are seeking information on how to appeal school admission decisions. The first step is an appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel. This comprises three independent people.
You will be advised by the Admission Authority as to why your application was not successful, and then be given the opportunity to put forward your own reasoning as to why you wish your child to attend a particular school. It is worth noting that school admissions appeals will be reinforced when accompanied by supporting information, such as a doctor’s letter or reports from other professionals.
It is down to the Appeals Panel to review whether the admission criteria of the school were followed properly and comply with the School Admissions Appeals Code. If not, then your appeal will be upheld.
If the appeal is not upheld then it is down to the panel to decide whether the case for your child gaining admission outweighs that of the school for not admitting another child.
In such cases, a London school admission appeals solicitor would advise you to put forward the argument that admitting another child will not prejudice the efficient education of other children. If the panel decides that it would, then the appeal will fail. On the other hand, if the panel decides it would not prejudice other children’s education, then you can bring in extenuating factors to help advance an argument that the child would be prejudiced ‘more than any prejudice caused to the other pupils’ if they were not able to attend the school.
It is all a matter of good balance and this demonstrates how beneficial it is to engage expert assistance from a specialist London education law solicitor who deals on a daily basis with admission appeals.
The panel will revert with their decision within five days. The decision is binding and cannot be overturned other than by a Court, and then only when legal procedure has been breached. Whilst the process can be the subject of complaint, the decision cannot. Should you wish to proceed with a complaint, it should be directed to the Local Government Ombudsman for Local Authority maintained schools, or the Education Funding Agency for all other schools.
Will my London School Admission Appeal be Successful?
School admission appeals in London have a good chance of success if it can be proved that the admission criteria were not followed to the letter in line with the School Admissions Appeal Code. Additionally, if there is evidence that the refusal of a place at your preferred London school was unreasonable, then it is likely your appeal will be upheld.
Infant class size appeals on the other hand can be more of a challenge, as the criteria for success is significantly lower.
Engaging a London school admission appeals solicitor will boost your chances of success. Knowing the application procedures in-depth, they will quickly be able to ascertain whether everything has been correctly followed, and can use any evidence they find to the contrary to galvanise your case.
What Timescale is Involved in a London School Admission Appeal?
A minimum of 10 school days’ notice must be provided to parents by the Admission Authority (your London Local Authority or the school) ahead of the appeals hearing date. Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the appeal deadline.
It will take a maximum of 5 school days to hear back from the Appeals Panel. If anything has changed that might affect the original decision then it may be possible to lodge another appeal and this will increase the time required.
16th April is the date on which parents discover which London primary school their child has been allocated to. For secondary schools, the key date is 1st March. There is clearly not much time therefore to pursue an appeal before term starts, so it is essential to move quickly in lodging an appeal if required.
How can HCB Solicitors Assist with my London School Admissions Appeal?
A successful appeal will usually result if it can be proved that admission criteria were not legally sound, or that the refusal was not reasonable. This is something that the London school admission appeal solicitors at HCB are adept at demonstrating. Even in complex infant class size appeals we have gained an exceptional track record of success.
Whether you are looking for representation at a hearing, or need guidance through the complaints procedure, our City based experts have the experience and knowledge to make all the difference to your school admissions appeal so that you can achieve the right outcome for your child.
For the advice you need to secure the best possible education for your child, call HCB’s specialists today.