- The following notes briefly describe the procedure that Appeal Panels will follow.
Before the Appeal
- Seven days before the hearing, the Local Authority ( LA ) will send you a statement summarising the Authority’s policy for allocating school places and their reasons for not giving your child a place at the school you have chosen. The Panel will also be sent a copy of the LA’s statement and a copy of your appeal form.
At the Appeal
- The Panel that hears your appeal will consist of three members, namely:
- One or two persons (not councillors) who have experience in education or who are familiar with local educational circumstances in Gateshead, or who are parents of registered pupil(s) at a school (not the school to which you are appealing);
- One or two lay members, (persons without personal experience in the management of a school or the provision of education in any school otherwise than in a voluntary capacity).
The Panel is impartial and acts independently of the LA. Its decisions are binding on all parties.
If you wish, you may arrange for a representative to put your case to the Panel. If you decide to be represented, would you please let me know before the hearing. Alternatively, you may wish to bring along a friend (who will not be asked to say anything) for support. Or you can come on your own. There will be no need for your child to attend. The appeal will be heard in private.
The Appeal Panels encourage parents to attend in person. However, you may choose not to attend and instead allow the appeal to be decided on the basis of written statements. In this case, the Panel will consider the reasons for your choice of school as set out in the Notice of Appeal form, which you have already submitted, together with any further information you supply me with before the date of the hearing. The Panel will also consider the LEA
's written statement. If you would prefer your appeal to be decided in this way, please let me know.
The hearing will be conducted in an informal manner and you will be given every opportunity to make your case. The order of proceedings will be as follows:
(1) An LA representative will explain the reasons for their decision not to admit your child to your preferred school. You and the Panel will have a chance to ask questions.
(2) You will be asked why you wish your child to attend the school you have named. You may add to the reasons you have already given in your notice of appeal. The Panel and the LA representative may ask you questions. If you intend to produce any written evidence (letters etc.) it would be helpful to let me have a copy before the hearing, so that copies can be given to the Panel. In particular, if you intend to produce medical or other specialist evidence in support of your appeal please make this clear when completing your Notice of Appeal form. Otherwise, the hearing may have to be adjourned to enable the LA to obtain their own specialist evidence.
(3) The LA representative will then sum up.
(4) Finally, you will have a chance to sum up.
The Decision Making Process
- In arriving at a decision, in private, the Panel must take into account statutory limits on infant class sizes, which are set out in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, and associated Regulations. LAs are under a duty to comply with parental preference unless admission would cause prejudice by reason of any “qualifying measures”, which would need to be taken to comply with the duty to limit infant class sizes. Qualifying measures are an obligation to employ an extra class teacher or build an extra classroom. As from September 2001, no infant class can contain more than 30 pupils. Infant classes are those in which the majority of pupils will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 years during the school year.
- These Regulations severely limit the scope of an Appeal Panel in considering appeals on behalf of infant class children. This category of appeal can only be upheld if an Appeal Panel is satisfied: -(i) that the initial decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority/governing body would make in the circumstances of the case; or
(ii) that the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented.
After the Appeal
- Normally, the Panel will not be able to give you an immediate decision, since they will probably have a number of appeals to decide all relating to the same school. You will be informed of the outcome of your appeal in writing and you will be advised when you can expect to receive this letter.
- The Panel’s decision is binding. However, you will still have the option to express a preference for any other school within the area of the Local Authority, provided there are vacancies
Roger M Kelly
Clerk to the Appeal Panels (Revised May 2005)