When informing a parent of their unsuccessful admissions application, a letter will be sent which includes the reason why admission was refused; information about the right to appeal; the deadline for lodging an appeal and the contact details for making an appeal. Parents will be informed in the letter that, if they wish to appeal, they must make the appeal in writing. Grounds for appeal are not limited.
Constitution of appeals panels
The trust board will establish an independent appeal panel to hear appeals. The appeals panel will act in accordance with all relevant legislation and guidance. The judicial function of the appeals panel will be transparent, accessible, independent and impartial, and will operate in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
A clerk will be appointed to the appeals panel who is independent of the school and the education functions of the LA.
The appeals panel will comprise a chair and at least two other panel members. The panel will also include at least one lay person and a person who has experience in education. The chair of the appeals panel is responsible for the conduct of the hearing, including introducing parties, explaining individual roles and how the hearing will be conducted, and ensuring that parties have sufficient opportunity to state their case and ask questions.
Panel members will be independent from the school and will remain independent for the duration of their service. The clerk is responsible for assigning members of the appeals panel; however, they will not assign the following disqualified persons:
- A member of the LA in whose area the school is located
- A member or former member of the trust board of the school
- An employee of the LA or the trust board of the school, other than a teacher or TA
- Any person who has, or at any time has had, any connection with the trust board, school or LA who may not act impartially
- Any person who has not attended training required by the trust board arranging the appeals panel
There will be three members of the panel available at all times during the appeals process. If any member has to temporarily withdraw, the hearing will be postponed until the panel member returns. If the panel member is unable to return, they will be replaced, and the appeals will be reheard.
Appropriate training will be given, funded by the trust board, to all panel members and clerks before they take part in a panel hearing. As a minimum, this training will include:
- The law relating to admissions.
- The panel’s duties under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.
- Procedural fairness and natural justice.
- The roles of specific panel members, e.g., the chair.
Members of the appeals panel will receive travel and subsistence allowances where applicable and will be compensated for any loss of earnings or expenses.
The appeals panel must not have a vested interest in the outcome of the hearing.
The trust board will indemnify the members of the appeals panel against any legal costs and expenses they incur in connection with any decision taken in good faith whist acting as a member of the appeals panel.
The trust board will publish an appeals timetable on their website by 28 February each year. The timetable will comply with section three of the ‘School Admission Appeals Code’. Appeals will be lodged and heard for the normal admissions round within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals.
For late applications, appeals will be heard between 30-40 school days of the appeal being lodged.
For in year admissions, appeals will be heard within 30 days of the appeal being lodged.
The trust board will provide appellants with written notification of the date and all final arrangements of the appeal hearing, including a deadline for the submission of any further evidence that was not sent in the original appeal. The trust board will comply with any request for information to help parents prepare their case for the appeals hearing.
All evidence relating to the appeal hearing will be passed on to the clerk, including the admission process, reasons for the decision and how the admission would cause prejudice to the education provision of the school. The clerk will send all the papers required for the hearing to both parties and the members of the panel seven days before the hearing.
The presenting officer will be responsible for relaying to the attendees the decision not to admit the child, and answer questions where necessary.
Appellants may attend in person or be represented by another individual. Where appellants cannot attend, a decision will be made based on the written evidence.
Appeal hearings must be private and held in an accessible location. The order of the appeals will be:
- Case for the trust board.
- Questioning by the appellant(s) and panel.
- Case for the appellant(s).
- Questioning by the trust board and panel.
- Summing up by the trust board.
- Summing up by the appellant(s).
Multiple appeals will be heard, either individually or in groups, by the same appeals panel where appropriate. Notes of the hearing will be made and kept securely by the trust board for a minimum of two years. These notes are, in most cases, exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 2018.