It is very difficult to win an appeal for a school place in reception, year 1 or year 2 because infant class size legislation limits the size of these classes to a maximum of 30 pupils per class with one class teacher. The admission authority has to comply with the law.
Once the admission number for a school is reached, the admission authority are unable to admit any further children if to do so will breach the statutory class size limit of 30 either in the current year or in future years. If the admission authority admits even one extra pupil into a class of 30, it is required to employ an extra teacher to comply with the class size legislation.
The School Admissions Appeals Code limits the circumstances in which an Appeal Panel can uphold an appeal where a child is refused admission because of infant class size legislation. You need to be aware that the success rate for appeals for reception, year 1 and year 2 is therefore extremely low.
The Appeal Panel will review the decision not to offer your child a place at the school. By law the appeal can only be successful if one or more of the following circumstances apply. These are the only grounds that the Appeals Panel can take into consideration when making a decision on the case:
- If the admission of the child does not increase the class size limit to over 30
- If the admission arrangements do not comply with the law
- If the admission arrangements were incorrectly applied
- If the decision to refuse admission was completely perverse and outrageous in light of the admission arrangements
If you are considering an appeal for these year groups you need to consider carefully whether your case falls within these grounds. Circumstances such as childcare, transport or having children at other schools can not be taken into consideration by the Panel unless they are directly related to those grounds.
If your appeal is for a school place in the September reception class, please note that any information that was not submitted before the closing date for applications for school places can not be taken into consideration by the Appeals Panel unless it is directly related to the above grounds.
Appeals for places in a reception class for September 2012 must be submitted by 17 May 2012 to enable them to be heard before the start of the school holiday period.
Exceptions to the class size legislation are only possible in extremely limited circumstances defined in law, for example when a child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs that names a specific school.
If you are considering an appeal for a place in a reception, Year 1 or Year 2 class it is very important that you read the below guidance relating to appeals for these year groups.
The appeals process
If the Admission Authority are unable to offer a place for your child at your preferred school, you are advised to contact the Families Information Service on 0191 278 7878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss alternative school places.
You have the right to appeal against the decision to refuse a school place. If you wish to submit an appeal, complete and return the appeal form to the School Admissions Team, Room 213, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8PU.
Please note that if your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, different arrangements apply. Please contact the Special Educational Needs Section or phone 0191 277 4650 for further information.
Your appeal will be heard by an independent Appeals Panel. The Clerk to the Panel will contact you with the date and time of the hearing and provide further guidance on the appeals process. If the date or time of the hearing is inconvenient then you should contact the Clerk immediately. You will be given at least 10 school days notice of the date (unless you agree to a shorter notice period).
You will be invited to attend the Appeals Panel in person to present your case. A representative from the Admission Authority will also be invited to attend to present their case to the Panel. You may bring a friend or a legal representative. It is not essential that you attend. The Panel can decide your appeal on the basis of the information you have provided on the appeal form.
Before the hearing you will be sent a copy of the Admission Authority written statement that will include the reasons for the decision to refuse a place at the school. This will be the case that the Admission Authority will present to the Appeals Panel.
The order of the hearing is usually as follows:
- The Chair will introduce the Panel and explain the procedure
- The Admission Authority will present their case to the Panel
- Questions to the Admission Authority from parent(s) and the Panel
- The parent will present their case to the Panel (or if you have chosen not to attend, the Panel will consider the information provided on the Appeal form)
- Questions to the parent from the Admission Authority and the Panel
- Summing up by the Admission Authority
- Summing up by the parent (this means a summary of the main points made)
The Clerk to the Panel will inform you and the Admission Authority of the decision of the Appeals Panel, and their reasons for this. The decision of an Appeals Panel is binding on the Admission Authority.
- If the Panel decides that your child should be admitted, the Admission Authority must make a place available at the school.
- If you feel that an appeal hearing has not been properly conducted, you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.
- If your appeal is unsuccessful, a second appeal for the same school year group is only allowed if there is a significant change in circumstances (eg change of address).