What to expect at a school multiple appeal hearing

A multiple appeal hearing is held when there are a large number of appeals to be heard for a particular school, in the same school year. 

All the appellants are invited to hear the admission authority’s case for one school year, at the same time. 

The appeals panel will hear the admission authority’s case and then make the first part of their decision (Stage 1).

For children in reception, year 1 and year 2, the panel considers whether:

  • the admission arrangements are lawful,
  • they were correctly and impartially applied, 
  • the decision to refuse admission was reasonable,
  • the admission of a further child or children would breach infant class size limit.

For children in key state 2 and above, the panel considers whether:

  • the  admission arrangements are lawful,
  • they were correctly and impartially applied, 
  • the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

They would then go on to hear the presentations for each child individually.

 

Why multiple appeal hearings are held

The multiple appeal hearing allows all the appellants to hear the admission authority’s case at the same time rather than it being repeated in every single individual hearing. 

Holding a multiple appeal hearing cuts down on the time taken by the admission authority at the individual appeal hearings, and allows more time for the appellants. 

It also enables each appellant to hear all the questions asked by other parents in respect of the admission authority’s case, and the admission authority’s answers to those questions.

 

What you can expect at the multiple appeal hearing

  • A member of the appeals team may be in the waiting area to meet appellants.  They will ask you to sign in. If they are not there please make yourself comfortable and someone will be out to speak to you in due course, as there are possibly other appeals scheduled before yours.
  • The multiple appeal hearing is expected to last around 1-1.5 hours, but can take longer.  Please ensure you arrive on time and are able to stay for the full hearing.
  • The clerk will briefly explain how the appeals procedure works when everyone has arrived, and answer any questions.
  • The chair of the panel will introduce all the panel members.
  • At the start of the multiple appeal hearing, the chair will outline the procedure for the multiple appeal hearing and your later individual appeal hearing.
  • The representative of the admission authority (the presenting officer) will then present the case for the school.  This should include an explanation of how the allocations process was carried out, the oversubscription criteria, places allocated in each category and how distance was measured as well as referencing infant class size legislation and how this impacts on the school.  There will also be information about the school’s physical capacity and resources and all the things the school wants to say to explain why they believe the admission of further children will cause prejudice to efficient education and/or use of resources in the school.
  • The panel and all the appellants will then be able to ask any questions they wish regarding the school’s case.  Details of your individual case should not be raised or discussed in this part of the hearing.
  • The panel will retire to consider the school’s case and make their decision.
  • The panel will come back to inform the meeting of their decision on the multiple appeal hearing.

 

The parent's role

Your role is to ask the admission authority’s presenting officer any questions or issues you may have about the allocation process or any other part of the school’s case for any further information you feel you need.

You will also hear the questions asked by other parents and the panel members, which may answer questions which you had.

You must ensure that you ask all the necessary questions at the group hearing as you will normally not be able to ask questions about the school’s case at your individual hearing.  If you cannot attend in person you may write to the clerk with any questions you would like to be put to the school’s representative at the multiple appeal hearing.  If you wish to do so, please ensure that your letter arrives at least 1 working day before the date of the multiple appeal hearing.

 

What isn't discussed

Individual children’s circumstances will not be discussed at the multiple appeal hearing.  The multiple appeal hearing is for the school’s case, and questions that are general to all.  Individual circumstances can be discussed at your private individual appeal hearing later.

 

What happens at the end?

When the panel hears school appeals they go through a 2- stage process.

At the end of the multiple appeal hearing the panel will retire to consider the information they have heard and to decide whether the school has made its case (stage 1). 

For children in reception, year 1 and year 2, this means they will decide whether:

  • the admission of an additional child or additional children would breach the infant class size limit,
  • the school’s admission arrangements are lawful, 
  • the arrangements were correctly and impartially applied, and 
  • the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

For children in key stage 2 and above, this means they will decide whether:

  • the school's admission arrangements are lawful,
  • the arrangements were correctly and impartially applied, and
  • the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

 

What the panel’s decision at stage 1 means for your child

Your child may get admitted to the school at stage 1, or you may have to go on to your individual appointment. 

 

What happens next?

You will already have been informed of the time for your individual appeal hearing.  Please make sure you arrive in plenty of time for your appeal. 

Each appeal is allocated around 20 minutes but also bear in mind that some appeals can take longer than others, so you may have to wait.  We do try to keep to the timetable as much as possible.

 

At your individual hearing

At the individual hearing the presenting officer will not go over the school’s case again, other than to provide the specific individual detail about your child for example, where they were ranked within the oversubscription criteria, the distance from home to school etc. 

You need to talk to the panel about your reasons why you think your child needs to go to that school.  The panel and the admission authority may ask questions of you.

 

Decisions at stage 2

Reception, year 1 and year 2:

When making decisions at stage 2 the panel will compare each appellant’s case for their child to be admitted and decide which, if any, to uphold.  They will also look at the specifics of your case and review whether they felt the decision to refuse admission was reasonable.

Where the school could admit a certain number of children without breaching infant class size limit (or without needing to take measures to avoid breaching it that would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources) - the panel must uphold the appeals of at least that number of children.

Key stage 2 children and above:

When making decisions at stage 2 the panel will compare each appellant’s case for their child to be admitted and decide which, if any, to uphold.  They will also look at the specifics of your case and review whether they feel your case outweighs that of the school.

Where the school could admit a certain number of children without causing prejudice the panel must uphold the appeals of at least that number of children.

 

Other things to be aware of:

  • The clerk is with the panel at all times to make sure the panel act legally.
  • The clerk will be taking notes throughout the appeal, these notes are not formal minutes, they are brief points of all the issues raised.
  • The clerk does not take part in the decision making process.
  • The panel’s decision is binding on both you and the admission authority for the school.
  • You can usually find out the outcome of the decision (an upheld or refused response only) by phone the following day, and a more detailed decision letter will follow in around 5 working days.
  • You can only have one appeal per school year, for each individual school, unless there is a significant change of circumstances (such as a house move).  There is no limit however to the number of different schools that you can appeal for in one year.
  • You should ensure that you accept a school place for your child so that they will not miss out on education.  Accepting a place at one school does not prevent you from applying to and appealing for any other school which you would prefer your child to attend.
     

 

Need more information?

Contact the Appeals Clerk by phone on 0191 277 7427 or by email to schoolappeals@newcastle.gov.uk

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