What is the normal admission round?

The normal admission round begins in September and ends on the date that offers of places are issued in the academic year before admission or transfer. This is usually in years before reception, year 2 and year 6 for those authorities operating infant, junior and secondary schools. In other authorities it is reception, year 3 and year 7 for those authorities operating first, middle and secondary schools.

What is the admission criteria?

If a school is oversubscribed and therefore receives more applications than there are places available, the admitting authority will apply criteria to decide which applications are successful and those which are not successful.

What are admission policies for schools?

Admission policies are the same as oversubscription criteria or admission criteria. Please see admission criteria.

What is an oversubscription criterion?

An oversubscription criterion is the same as admission policies and admission criteria. Please see admission criteria.

Who is the admission authority?

The admission authority is the authority that determines which criteria will be used if there are more applications than places. For community schools the admitting authority is the Local Authority. This accounts for the vast majority of schools. For all other schools the Governing Body is the admitting authority. This includes Voluntary Aided Schools, Voluntary Controlled Schools, Foundation Schools, and Academies.

What is the published admission number?

The published admission number or PAN as it is commonly referred to is the number of pupils in each year group that the admission authority has agreed will be admitted without causing problems for the school.

What is the Net Capacity of the school?

This is the maximum number of pupils in the school that the admitting authority believes can be accommodated without causing problems for the school. Net capacity does not apply to Academies although often the net capacity is used to determine the planned capacity of the school included in the Funding Agreement between the Academy and the Education Funding Agency.

How is the Net Capacity worked out?

The Department for Education has devised a formula based on the size of classrooms and common areas that determines the maximum number of work places in the school. This figure is then multiplied by 90% to determine the minimum number of work places available. This provides a range of 10% with which the admitting authority usually determines the Net Capacity.

What is a community or maintained school?

A community school is one which is run by the Local Education Authority.

What is a Foundation School?

These were formerly referred to as Grant Maintained Schools. The Governing Body of the school is responsible for setting the admission criteria and also arranging admission appeals.

What is a Voluntary Aided School?

These schools are usually religious based with a religious ethos. The Governing Body set the admission criteria and arranges admission appeals. The admission criteria will usually require a level of religious commitment.

What is a Voluntary Controlled School?

These schools the Governing Body set their admission criteria but the Local Education Authority is responsible for arranging admission appeals.

What is the allocated school?

This is the school that the Local Authority has determined your child should attend if they are unable to meet any of your expressed preferences.

What is the home authority?

The home authority is the Local Authority within which your home is located. They have an obligation to find a school for you if none of your expressed preferences are allocated.

What is the balancing exercise?

This is the process where an appeal panel considers whether the issues you raise at an appeal outweigh the issues put forward by the admission authority.

Who is the clerk to the Appeal Panel?

This is the person appointed by the admission authority to ensure that the admission appeal is conducted properly and in accordance with the Code of Practice for School Admission Appeals. This person is also able to give independent advice to parents/guardians.

What is the School Admissions Code?

This is statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education for admission authorities.

What is the School Admission Appeals Code?

This is statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education to follow when arranging school admission appeals.

What is the Department for Education (DfE)?

The government department responsible for setting and implementing government policy in England.

Who is the clerk to the Appeal?

The clerk is the person appointed by the Admissions Authority to give advice to all parties to the appeal about procedures, the law and any matters arising out of the appeal process.

What is an excepted pupil?

These are pupils that are not counted when deciding if a class has exceeded 30 or a ratio of 30 to 1 for pupils aged 5, 6 and 7.

What is the governing body?

This is collectively the group of people elected or appointed to oversee the management and budget for the school.

What is the Independent Appeal Panel?

This is the group of people appointed by the Admissions Authority to hear appeals in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code. The Code provides that the Panel is made up of lay persons and people with experience of education and will comprise at least three persons. In most cases the Panel will comprise three people. If the Panel is three there must be at least one lay person and at least one person experienced in education.

What are infant class size appeals?

This is where the Admissions Authority refuses a school place because it would result in a class size of more than 30 for children aged 5, 6 and 7 or would result in a ratio of more than 30 children to 1 teacher.

What is Key Stage 1?

Children aged 5, 6 and 7 fall within this category.

What is the Local Authority?

This is the Council/Local Authority responsible for setting and determining local education policy and management. They also are responsible for all maintained schools.

What is maladministration?

This is where the approved and published procedures for admissions of pupils and the appeals process have not been followed and have caused injustice as a result.

Who is the National Assembly for Wales?

This is the national government for Wales that is responsible for establishing national policy on a range of issues including Codes of Practice on school admissions and appeal procedures.

What is the National Curriculum?

This is the education programme established by the government that each school is required to follow.

What is an Ofsted report?

This is a report produced by a team of school inspectors to assess how a school is performing against a range of predetermined targets. They are usually held about every four years.

What is oversubscription?

This occurs when the number of applications for school places exceeds the number available.

What is a plenary session?

This takes place when there are several appeals for one school. This is the part of the hearing where the Admissions Authority presents its case for prejudice before either a group or all parents/guardians that are appealing.

What is the preferred school?

This is the school that you would like your child to attend.

What is prejudice?

This is where the Admissions Authority refuses a place at a school because it believes that the admission of one more pupil would have an adverse effect on the efficient use of resources and/or the efficient education of the children already at the school.

What is the prospectus for the school?

This is the publication issued by the school that sets out the policies, principles and ethos of the school.

What are qualifying measures?

These are the measures that a school would have to take if it admitted more pupils than the published admission limit. This only applies in class size appeals.

How long will it be before my appeal is heard?

You will be given a minimum of 20 school days within which to lodge your appeal. After that the Code prescribes that appeals should normally be heard within 40 school days of either the receipt of the appeal in the case of individual appeals or the closing date in the case of multiple appeals.

How long before the decision of the appeal panel is received?

The Code prescribes that decisions must be issued within five working days of the appeal hearing. However, in the case of multiple appeals this will be within five working days of the last appeal hearing.

If my appeal is unsuccessful can I appeal again?

The Code prescribes that you are entitled to one appeal per academic year per school. Therefore the decision of the Appeal Panel applies to the whole of the next academic year for those children changing schools in September but the remainder of the academic year in all other cases. However, if there has been a material change of circumstances since the appeal you can apply again and if the Admissions Authority agree that there has been a material change of circumstances but still fail to offer a place, that would trigger an immediate appeal.

What is a material change of circumstances?

A material change of circumstances is not defined in the Code and therefore is subject to local interpretation. However, the Code does give some examples, which could include medical reasons, or the family has moved house. It also relates to changes to the school. If a school was planning to run nine classes and then runs ten classes, this could be regarded as a material change of circumstances.

What evidence will I need?

You can submit whatever evidence you want to support your appeal. However, Appeal Panels will always treat uncorroborated evidence with caution. It is always much better if supporting evidence is provided by a third party, preferably with a professional background, for example a doctor, social worker or teacher. You will need to demonstrate why the school that you have selected is the only school that is able to meet your child’s needs.

Are medical grounds persuasive?

Appeal Panels will always take medical issues seriously. However, the medical grounds do need to be exceptional. Many schools now are equipped and school staff trained to deal with many common conditions such as asthma and eczema so these would not normally be regarded as exceptional. You will need a letter of support from your GP or other medical professional otherwise it will be less persuasive. The Admissions Authority may refer the medical support to a community pediatrician to get a second opinion.

What are the powers of Appeal Panels?

For all appeals, except infant class size and grammar school appeals where pupils did not pass the entrance examination, Appeal Panels have absolute discretion. They will listen to the case put forward by the admissions authority and the parents and decide whether to allow the appeal or to dismiss the appeal.

What is the two-stage process in normal prejudice appeals?

Although it is generally referred to as the two stage process, in fact the Appeal Panel will look at three issues. First they will have to decide if the Admissions Authority correctly followed the published admission arrangements and were right not to offer a place at the school. Then they will have to decide if they are persuaded by the arguments of the Admissions Authority that an additional admission will cause prejudice (or problems) either to efficient education or use of resources. If they decide that it would they will then look at the persona issues raised and if the Panel decided that the personal reasons outweigh prejudice they will allow the appeal.

Are appeals to grammar schools any different?

The answer is yes, and no! If your child passed the entrance examination but was not offered a place because places were offered to pupils that met the criteria better, then the appeal process will be the same as for normal prejudice appeals. If, on the other hand your child did not pass the entrance examination, then the appeal will be different. In this case, you will have to demonstrate that your child is suitable for grammar school education. You can do this by providing evidence that your child would not struggle in a grammar school. Such evidence would include school reports and a reference from your child’s class or head teacher. In addition there may also be mitigating circumstances as to why your child did not perform on the day of the examination. They may have been feeling unwell or they may have been distracted either at the examination or at home. The Appeal Panel will have to decide if these issues were sufficient to affect the outcome of the examination.

What powers does an Appeal Panel have in class size appeals?

If the Panel accept that the Admission Authority will have to take qualifying measures, there are only two grounds on which an appeal can be successful. One is that the Admissions Authority made a mistake, which would otherwise have resulted in a place being offered. The second is that the decision was totally irrational based on the information that the Admissions Authority had when making the decision. There are however, a number of limited exceptions.

What are the eight exceptions for class size appeals?

  1. children admitted outside the normal admissions round with statements of special educational needs or Education, Health and Care Plans specifying a school;
  2. looked after children and previously looked after children admitted outside the normal admissions round;
  3. children admitted, after initial allocation of places, because of a procedural error made by the admission authority or local authority in the original application process;
  4. children admitted after an independent appeals panel upholds an appeal;
  5. children who move into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there is no other available school within reasonable distance;
  6. children of UK service personnel admitted outside the normal admissions round;
  7. children whose twin or sibling from a multiple birth is admitted otherwise than as an excepted pupil;
  8. children with special educational needs who are normally taught in a special educational needs unit47 attached to the school, or registered at a special school, who attend some infant classes within the mainstream school.

What is the effect of the exceptions for class size appeals?

If a class goes above 30 as a result one of the exceptions, the school will not have to take qualifying measures until the next academic year. Effectively these pupils are classes as being invisible for the purposes of the regulations.

Can the Admissions Authority produce substantial new information at the appeal?

No. All the information that the Admissions Authority wishes the Appeal Panel to take into account should be included in their statement that they should send to you at least 7 days before the hearing.

Is there a statutory time limit for the submission of information for the appeal?

No. There is no statutory time limit and you may submit information after lodging your appeal but before the hearing. The Admission Authority must provide all the information reasonably asked of it by you so that you are in a position to question the admission authority’s case. It is wise not to produce information on the day of the appeal otherwise you run the risk that the appeal may be adjourned.