School Admissions

School Admissions

All parents want the very best education for their children and all want the school which best meets their child’s needs. However, obtaining a place at the best school for a child is not always easy.

Watkins Solicitors has a long and successful track record in representing parents at admission appeal hearings, having done so for fourteen years in cases throughout England and Wales.

We can assist parents with appeals to Independent Admissions Appeal Panels for all types of state schools, including Local Authority schools, Academies, Foundation, Voluntary Aided, Voluntary Controlled, Faith and Selective Schools. We assist parents in drafting an Appeal Statement as well as attending Appeal Panel hearings.

These appeals are notoriously difficult to win, although much will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. Due to Class Size Regulations – limiting classes to that of 30 – it can be enormously difficult to be successful at an Infant Class Size Appeal. If a child is refused a place on infant class size prejudice grounds, the Panel can only offer the child a place if:

  1. The child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented
  2. The child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had not been contrary to mandatory provisions in the School’s Admissions Code and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998
  3. The decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable Admission Authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

If you have an infant class size admission case and you require assistance, we are happy to have an initial telephone discussion with you where we can advise on the merits of the case.

Junior and Secondary School Appeals

The Panel must follow the two stage test;

  1. The first stage is establishing whether the school’s published Admission Arrangements are lawful and whether the arrangements were correctly applied in the individual case.  If the Admission Arrangements were correctly applied, the Panel will need to consider whether “prejudice” would arise if the child was admitted.  In many areas, the first stage will be held together with all other parents who are appealing for a place at the particular school. Individual circumstances should not be mentioned at the first stage of the appeal hearing. The Local Authority may try to suggest that the school is “full”. This, however, is not the test. The test is whether there will be “prejudice” if further pupils were admitted.
  2. The second stage of the appeal hearing is occasionally held at a different time and date to the first stage. This is where the Panel must carry out a “balancing exercise”, balancing the degree of prejudice to the school against the parents’ case for the child being admitted to the preferred school.

We can assist you in preparing for the first and second stage of the appeal. In the event of an unsuccessful appeal, a parent can consider making a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman for mal-administration but this must be done within 12 months of the date of the decision letter.  Alternatively, High Court Judicial Review Proceedings may be considered.   This must be done within three months of the date of the decision letter, and if possible sooner.

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