Guidance for parents and carers

Guidance for parents and carers

COVID-19 UPDATE: MAY 2020

(Not Infant Age or Sixth Form appeals)

 

These guidance notes explain how to appeal against a decision made to refuse your child a place at a school you had applied for. 

This appeals process is run by the Education Appeals Team within Democratic Services who are a separate team to, and independent of, Admissions.

 

How to appeal

You have a right of appeal for a place at any school for which your child has been refused a place by the Admission Authority.

We provide admission appeals for all Nottinghamshire County Council community schools, plus some academies, voluntary aided, foundation and free schools.  If we don’t provide appeals for the school you wish to appeal for, please contact the school directly to find out how to submit an appeal.  If you’re unsure what type of school you want to appeal for, please call 0300 500 80 80 for advice.

You can either appeal online, or by post (printed appeal forms can be requested from 0300 500 80 80).

 

What to include with your appeal form

Please complete your appeal form carefully making sure all contact information included is correct as we will use this information to tell you when your appeal hearing is and what the appeal panel’s decision is.  If you move home during the appeal process, remember to let us know, as well as Admissions, as we are independent of them.  You can let both teams know your new contact details by calling 0300 500 80 80. 

You need to make sure that you include all of your reasons for wanting a place at the school and explain your reasons as fully as possible in the ‘reasons for appeal’ section of the form.  The information you include here is very important as this information will be sent to the appeal panel, clerk and presenting officer from the Admission Authority in advance of the hearing and is part of your case to the appeal panel. 

Please remember that you are appealing for a place at the school you have been refused, rather than appealing against the place you have been offered. 

You should attach copies of any written supporting information which you would like the appeal panel to consider at your appeal hearing.  If you haven’t already given this information to Admissions, you should also send it to them to consider as part of your application, as we will not share the information with them until later in the process.  You can also choose to send information to us at a later date, up to 10 days before your appeal hearing.

Please note there is a 10MB limit to any attachment sent online or by email. If you send more than this limit we will not get your information and will not know that you have tried to send it to us. If you need to send more than 10MB please either split it across more than one email or contact us to discuss an alternative way it can be submitted. Regardless of how you have sent the information to us we will acknowledge that we have received it so if you don't hear from us within three working days please call us the number in your appointment letter or 0300 500 80 80 to make sure we have received what you have sent.

Please ensure your submission and any supporting evidence does not give any personal information about someone else who is not relevant to your appeal. For example, the details of a landlord on a tenancy agreement.  If you have any doubt about the details of someone else being provided with your appeal, please contact us for advice. The Council is committed to protecting your privacy and ensuring all personal information is kept confidential and safe. For more details see our general and service specific privacy notices at: https://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/global-content/privacy

Waiving your right to 14 days’ notice

On your appeal form you’ll be asked whether or not you’re willing to waive your right to 14 days’ notice.  If you waive your right to 14 days’ notice, we may be able to schedule your appeal earlier.  We’ll normally only opt to do this where we feel it to be in your best interests.  This relates to how early we have to tell you when your appeal hearing is along with who will hear your case. 

Deadlines for lodging your appeal

2019/20 Academic Year – In-Year Transfers

For appeals within the current 2019/20 academic year (for your child to move from one school to another between September 2019 – August 2020), please return your form within four weeks of the date of your refusal of the school place, wherever possible.  Once we receive your appeal we will hear it as soon as practicably possible.

2020/21 Admissions round

For appeals for your child to move up from an infant to a junior school (year 3) or from a primary / junior to a secondary school (year 7) you should return your appeal form by

 

 

Offer date Appeals lodged by Appeals to be heard by
Primary 16 April 2020 18 May 2020 As soon as practicably possible and ideally before the start of the new school year
Secondary 2 March 2020 30 March 2020 As soon as practicably possible and ideally before the start of the new school year

 

Note:- Appeals lodged after the ‘ appeals lodged by’ date will still be heard as soon as practicably possible.

 

2020/21 Academic Year – In-Year Transfers

For appeals within the 2020/21 academic year (for your child to move from one school to another between September 2020 – August 2021), please return your form within four weeks of the date of your refusal of the school place, wherever possible.  Once we receive your appeal we will hear it as soon as practicably possible.

 

Receiving your appeal

If you’re appealing online, you’ll receive an email confirming we’ve received your appeal form.  Please make sure that you fully submit your form and get to the thank you page.  If you don’t receive an acknowledgement email, please contact 0300 500 80 80 to check that we have received your form.

If you are appealing via the post, we will send you an acknowledgement letter once we’ve received and logged your appeal.  If you’ve not received an acknowledgement letter after 2 weeks, please contact 0300 500 80 80 to check we have received your appeal form.    Please note this process is taking longer than usual due to additional processes being required during this period.

 

The Appeals process

Having received, logged and acknowledged your appeal, we’ll make arrangements for your appeal to be heard by a panel of three independent members.  In arranging your appeal we will, wherever possible take account of your availability provided on the appeal form, however due to the volume of appeals we receive it may not always be possible to do this. After receiving our acknowledgement email / letter it may be a while before you hear from us again whilst we get on with making arrangements for your appeal hearing.

It is unlikely that we will be able to hold face-to-face hearings safely in the current Coronavirus period, even if some of the existing lockdown restrictions are relaxed. The current arrangements (to comply with The School Admissions (England) (Coronavirus) (Appeals Arrangements) (Amendment) Regulations 2020) allow for virtual hearings and therefore we currently aim to hold appeal hearings by telephone wherever possible.  However, if there are reasons why you cannot participate in a telephone hearing, the panel may agree to your case being dealt with using the written information you have provided.  We will contact you to discuss this further.  If the panel does agree to your case being dealt with using the written information provided you will be sent guidance on how this process will work.

 

Virtual telephone hearing

At least 14 days before the hearing (or possibly later if you’ve waived your right to 14 days’ notice) we’ll send you an appointment letter with the date and time for your appointment with the appeal panel, along with the names of the panel members who will be hearing your appeal.    If you think you have a connection with any of them, please let us know as soon as possible.  The letter will also contain the telephone number you have provided for us to call you on (including a second number where possible), please make sure these telephone numbers are correct and let us know if you would like us to call you on a different telephone number.

Your appointment letter will also include a flowchart to show the procedure your appeal will follow at the hearing. 

Before the hearing we will also send you the paperwork relating to your case, including all of the written information we have received from you and all of the written information the Admission Authority have submitted to us.  This information is often sent to you at the same time as your appointment letter, but it may be sent a few days later.

If you wish to submit any extra written information this can be sent to us up to 10 days before your appeal hearing. Please send your information to us by email if you can but please note there is a 10MB limit. If you send more than this limit we will not get your information and will not know that you have tried to send it to us. If you need to send more than 10MB please either split it across more than one email or contact us regarding how else to provide it. Regardless of how you have sent the information to us we will acknowledge that we have received it so if you don't hear from us within three working days please call us on the telephone number in the appointment letter or on 0300 500 80 80 to make sure we have received what you have sent.

If you have any special requirements such as an interpreter, please let us know as soon as possible by calling 0300 500 80 80 so we can arrange this for you.

We will send you a text reminder, a few days before your appointment. 

At the hearing

You’re responsible for presenting your case to the panel and we recommend you join the virtual telephone hearing to do this.  You may, if you wish, include a friend or supporter in your hearing to help you present your case.  Alternatively, you may also choose to ask someone to participate on your behalf, please let us know if you wish to do this.

If you choose not to join your virtual telephone hearing, your case will be heard based on the written information you have provided.

We will attempt to call you a few minutes before your hearing is due to start so that we have all parties on the call ready to begin.  Please note that we may be running behind schedule if earlier appeals have taken longer than expected.

If we are unable to contact you for your hearing, or you have told us you do not wish to join it, the panel may hear your appeal without you based on the written information you have provided.  If you are having technical difficulties joining the call, please let us as soon as possible using the contact information provided in the text reminder, so the panel can consider how to continue with your appeal.

Your appeal will be heard by three panel members who are all volunteers and are independent of you and the Admission Authority/School.  There will also be a clerk present who is there to provide legal advice to the appeal panel, take confidential notes of the hearing for the appeal panel’s use only and to take a record of the decision they make. 

The Admission Authority will send a representative to present their case and answer questions and may also bring a witness to give evidence about the school.

Your virtual telephone hearing will include a facilitator from the Education Appeals Team who will be responsible for bringing and keeping all parties in the virtual hearing.  If a participant drops out of the call during the hearing, the facilitator will ask for the hearing to be paused to enable the participant to be brought back into the call.

If a party drops out of a call and the facilitator is unable to get them back into the hearing, your hearing may be postponed to a later time or date. 

You will have a single appointment time to present your case to the panel. If we have received a number of appeals for the same year group at a school, we will group the appeals together and the same appeal panel will consider all of the cases (group hearing).  This is because the reason places couldn’t be offered to the children is the same, so the panel needs to consider all of the appeals together.  Each case will have its own appointment time with the panel, but the panel will not make its decisions on the cases until it has heard them all.  The panel may be holding appeals as both telephone and paper-based hearings within the group hearing. 

A flowchart provided with your appointment letter will explain what will happen at your appointment.

Appeal hearings usually take no more than an hour. However if you need longer this will be allowed.  This may mean that the appeal hearings are running late so we ask that you understand that we will call you as soon as we can and you will not be limited in your time even if your appeal starts late.

 

Decision making

After your appeal has been heard, you and the Admission Authority representative will be asked to leave the call and the appeal panel will make its decision in private.  Decisions are taken by simple majority.  The decision is binding upon the Admission Authority if your appeal is upheld.

For group hearings the appeal panel will only make its final decision on your appeal after all of the cases in the group hearing have been heard.  The clerk, at the appeal hearing, will tell you when all of the decisions are due to be made which could be a number of days after your hearing has taken place.

You will be sent the decision by letter which will set out the decision and the reasons for it.  This will be posted out within 7 days of the panel making its decision wherever possible.  We do not give decisions over the telephone or by email so please don’t call or email the office to find out the panel’s decision.

If you haven’t received your decision letter two weeks after the decision was due to be made, please contact the Education Appeals Team.

 

What if i'm not happy with the outcome of my appeal?

If you feel your appeal hearing wasn’t conducted properly you can submit a complaint to either the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (for maintained and Voluntary Aided schools) or the Education and Skills Funding Agency (for free schools, academies, university technical colleges and studio schools).  Please be aware that these bodies can only examine how your appeal or application was processed, this is not a further right of appeal if you are unhappy with the panel’s decision.

Details about how to make a complaint about the way your appeal was conducted can be found at: www.gov.uk/schools-admissions/appealing-a-schools-decision.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has the following factsheets which provide some general information about the most common types of complaints which you may find useful:-

http://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint/fact-sheets/education/school-admissions

If anyone concerned with the appeal (you as the parent/carer, or the Admission Authority) believes that the decision of the Appeal Panel was legally in error, they can seek to challenge the decision of the appeal panel by means of what is known as judicial review.  If you wish to consider this course of action you should take independent legal advice.

 

 

Further information

Democratic Services Team

If you would like any further information about the process please email education.appeals@nottscc.gov.uk or call 0300 500 80 80.

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

ACE is an independent education advice centre which provides information on the education system - http://www.ace-ed.org.uk/advice-about-education-for-parents

Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Coram Children’s Legal Centre provides free, independent advice on all areas of child, family and education law http://childlawadvice.org.uk

County Council Admissions Team

If you want to find out about where places are available at alternative schools you need to speak to Admissions on 0300 500 80 80 or email admissions.ed@nottscc.gov.uk

Useful Links:

Making a school admission appeal:
http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/education/school-admissions/making-a-school-admission-appeal

Determined admission arrangements and list of schools who are their own admission authority:

http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/education/school-admissions/determined-admission-arrangements

List of academies, voluntary aided, foundation and free schools we clerk: academies, voluntary aided, foundation and free schools.

Appealing a schools decision (Government guidance):

https://www.gov.uk/schools-admissions/appealing-a-schools-decision

School Admissions Code:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-admissions-code--2

School Admission Appeals Code:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-admissions-appeals-code

Guidance on the changes to the admission appeals regulations during the coronavirus outbreak:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-admissions-appeals-code/changes-to-the-school-admission-appeals-code-regulations-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

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