Make an appeal

Appeals made during the academic year (In-Year) will be heard within 30 school days of receipt.

If your appeal is for any of the Dixons Academies (apart from Dixons Marchbank Academy or Dixons Manningham Academy), Bingley Grammar School, Tong Leadership Academy, Laisterdyke Leadership Academy, St Anne’s Catholic Primary School, St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School (Clayton), St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School (Keighley), St John The Evangelist Catholic Primary School or St Walburga’s Catholic Primary School, then you need to contact the school direct to request an appeal form.

Should I appeal?

Before you can lodge an appeal, you will have received a letter explaining why it was not possible to offer your child a place at your preferred school(s). Depending on the type of appeal, this will be because your child did not rank as high within the admissions criteria as those who had been offered places or the year group was full at the time of your application.

Before any appeal takes place, the relevant year group will be full and no places are ‘reserved’ for children who are successful at appeal. Therefore the independent appeals panel are looking for exceptional reasons why your child should be given a place at the school. Any upheld appeal will result in the year group being over the recommended limit which could have health and safety implications and a harmful effect on the teaching and learning of all pupils in the year group.

As a guide, one in five appeals for Key Stage 2, 3 or 4 are successful. For Key Stage 1, because of the law on infant class sizes, only one in nine are successful. Further information on the grounds that can be considered for these appeals are shown below.  So before you decide to appeal, consider other options such as placing your child on the waiting list and visit the school your child has been offered (which is usually one of the schools you applied for).

What should I put in my appeal?

When considering each appeal, the panel look for exceptional reasons why a child should attend a particular school you have applied for. It is important to put on the form all your reasons for wanting the particular school you have chosen.

Please ensure that you attach to the appeal form any written evidence that will support your appeal, such as letters from a hospital consultant/paediatrician, social services, utility/council tax bill, solicitor’s letter or rental agreement. If for any reason this is not possible, you must provide such documents by the deadline date which you will be notified of by the Clerk to the Appeals Panel. It is your responsibility to provide written information beforehand in support of your appeal. Any evidence submitted on the day of the appeal may not be considered. The panel cannot take into consideration any documents submitted after the appeal has been heard.

Are all appeals the same?

  1. Appeals for primary/secondary schools during the normal admissions round are known as ‘block or multiple appeals’ because usually a number of parents are appealing for Reception or Year 7 at one particular school.
  2. Appeals for all other year groups or for mid year transfers, are known as ‘transfer appeals’ as they could occur at any time during the school year.
  3. Appeals against a refusal to admit a child into reception/Year 1 and Year 2

For block or multiple appeals, parents are given a deadline by which the appeal form should be returned.  All appeals for one particular school and same year group are scheduled together, where possible, on the same day, however, on occasions they can take place over several days.  The panel will hear every appeal for a particular school, provided it has been submitted by the deadline, but no decisions are made until all cases for that school have been heard. 

A similar arrangement is made for transfer appeals in that no decision is made until all the appeals for a particular school, on that day, have been heard.

Any block appeals received after the deadline will be treated as transfer appeals and in those circumstances no guarantee can be given that all appeals for a particular school will be heard on the same day(s).

The law limits the size of an infant class to 30 pupils per class. Only in very limited circumstances can admission over this number be permitted. If your child has been refused a place in a Reception/Year 1/Year 2 class because of the legal limit on infant class sizes, then the appeals procedure will be different.

The representative from the Local Authority or school governors will state that a place has not been offered because the admission of an additional child would breach the infant class size limit and there are no measures it could take to avoid this without prejudicing the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.  In this type of appeal, the panel can only consider the following limited grounds:

  1. whether the admission of an additional child would breach the infant class size limit
  2. whether the admission arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Standards and Framework Act 1998
  3. whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the individual’s case
  4. whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admissions authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

If the answer to any of the above considerations is no, the panel may uphold the appeal.

In multiple or block appeals, where a number of children would have been offered a place under any of the above considerations, and to admit that number would have a serious impact on efficient education or resources, the panel must then compare each appellant’s case and decide which, if any, to uphold.

Many parents appeal under point 4 as above, however due to the strict legal reasons these cases are very hard to win the overwhelming majority of parents are unsuccessful because their case is not based on the legal reasons that can be taken into account. 

Parents often believe that the panel should uphold their appeal because the decision to refuse a place was ‘unreasonable’, however the threshold for unreasonableness is extremely high in infant class size appeals.

In order to find that the admission authority’s decision to refuse admission was unreasonable, the panel need to be satisfied that the decision was "perverse in the light of the admission arrangements, it was beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision make" or "so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it". A decision that makes it impossible for you to transport all your family to school on time or even impossible for you to continue working, is very unlikely to be ‘perverse’. The courts have established this.

As you can see, the threshold for finding ‘unreasonableness’ is extremely high and we advise parents and carers to consider this before submitting an appeal.

What happens when I have submitted my appeal form?

Step 1

Your completed form and any supporting documents will be sent to the Clerk to the Independent Appeals Panel who will arrange your appeal to be heard within 30 school days of receipt. For appeals made in the normal admissions round, appeals will be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals. If you would like us to acknowledge the receipt of your appeal form, you can send us a stamped addressed envelope with your form.

Step 2

No later than 10 school days before the hearing, the clerk will send you a letter giving you the date, time and place of the appeal hearing together with names of the panel members.  The letter will also include a deadline date for the submission of any further evidence that you did not send with your appeal form. Any evidence that you wish to submit after this date may not be considered at the appeal hearing.

Step 3

Around seven days before the hearing, you will then receive a statement from the Local Authority or school governors summarising how places at the school were allocated and giving the reasons why your child was not allocated to the school of your preference. The statement will also explain why the admission of an additional child will cause “prejudice to the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources”.  If the Local Authority or school governors are refusing to allocate a place to your child because of the statutory limit on the size of infant classes, this will also be explained. 

The Appeals Panel meets during term time to consider appeals.  Normally no meetings are arranged in school holidays

Who will be at the appeal?

You should try to attend the hearing if at all possible. The appeals panel will get a better idea of your case if they can meet you and ask you questions. Alternatively, you may send someone to represent you if you are unable to attend or you may wish to bring someone to the hearing to help you.

If you choose not to attend the hearing, the panel will make a decision on the basis of the written evidence you have provided and the statement given at the hearing by the Local Authority officer or school representative giving the reasons why your child was not allocated to the school.

Giving your evidence

The appeal hearing follows a set procedure. You may feel the meeting is very structured, as the Chair will be strict on who can speak and when questions can be asked. The Chair will always conduct the meeting in a friendly way and guide you through the whole meeting. You will always have the opportunity to say everything you wish, ask any questions and sum up your case. All the people at the appeal hearing will treat your appeal in the strictest confidence.

The following people will be in the room:

  1. A panel of three people, including lay persons, that is people without personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school (other than as a governor or in a voluntary capacity), and people with educational experience in the Bradford Local Authority area such as governors, teachers or parents. These people are acting independently of the Local Authority or school governors and have no connection with the school for which you are appealing or the school that your child has been allocated. These are the people who will make the decision about your appeal.
  2. A clerk from Legal and Democratic Services who is there to assist on procedure, to advise the panel and to take notes of the proceedings.
  3. A representative from the Local Authority or school governors to explain why a place at your preferred school has not been allocated to your child. The representative may be accompanied by the headteacher of the school or his/her representative to answer questions.

The Local Authority or school governor representative will start first and present the reasons for not allocating a place for your child. For voluntary-aided, foundation schools or academies, a school representative will present the case.  You may then ask him/her questions and you may challenge any statement he/she makes, for example the maximum number of children to be admitted to the school or the effect on the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources if any more children were admitted to the school.

You will then be able to give the reasons for wanting your child to go to your preferred school and if you are accompanied by a relative or friend, they may also help you. The panel and Local Authority or school representative will then ask questions about these reasons.

How does the panel make a decision?  

In making their decision, the panel follows a two stage process (this does not apply to appeals for Reception, Year I or Year 2 appeals, unless stated).

Firstly they have to decide whether the Local Authority or school governors’ admission arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code or the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and if they were correctly applied in your child’s case. If it is clear your child would have been offered a place had the admission arrangements been properly followed or did not contravene the mandatory provisions in the School Admissions Code or the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, the panel must uphold the appeal, except where a significant number of children are affected and their admission would cause serious problems.

The panel then have to decide whether the admission authority has made out the case that no more children can be admitted to the school as this would cause 'prejudice to the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources'. These are the actual words used in the legislation that covers schools admissions and appeals.

  1. If the answer is no, the admission authority has not demonstrated that prejudice would be caused, in the case of a single appeal, the panel will uphold your appeal. This means that the panel agrees that your child should have a place. In the case of block appeals for the same school, the panel will decide whether all the appellants’ children could be admitted without prejudice to the school. If the panel determines that the school could not cope with that number of successful appeals, the panel will compare all the appeal cases and decide which of them to uphold on the basis of the admission criteria and the individual circumstances of each appeal.
  2. If the answer is yes, the Local Authority or school governors have made out the case, no places are allocated at this stage. The panel then moves to the second stage of the process. They will examine each parent's case to decide whether the reasons put forward are sufficient to outweigh the degree of prejudice caused to the school. If the panel agrees that the parent's case is sufficiently strong and outweighs the Local Authority or school governors’ case, they will uphold, that is agree, with the appeal for a place.

The panel makes a decision on your appeal in private, which means no parents, Local Authority representative or school governor will be present. The clerk will be present but has no involvement in the decision making process. He/she will be there purely to assist the panel on matters of evidence or procedure and to record the decision.

How do I find out about the decision?

You should receive a letter from the clerk informing you of the result of your appeal and the reasons for that decision, within seven days of the appeal hearing. The school or Local Authority will also receive the decision at the same time. No information will be given over the telephone or to callers at the office.

If my appeal is refused can I appeal again?

If you are unsuccessful in the appeal, a second appeal will not be considered for that academic year unless there has been a significant change in your circumstances, for example, if you move house. If a second appeal is granted, it will be scheduled to be heard within 30 school days. 

If you are granted a second appeal against a decision not to admit your child into a Reception/Year 1/Year 2 class, then the Appeals Panel is still restricted in that it can only overturn the decision on the limited grounds set out above.

Complaints about appeals

Appellants may complain about how an appeal was carried out, but you cannot complain about the decision itself. An appeals panel decision can only be overturned by the courts where the appellant or admission authority is successful in applying for a judicial review. Complaints about maintained schools should be made to the Local Government Ombudsman in respect of Academies and free schools complaints should be made to the Secretary of State.

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