Guidance for parents and carers - infant age children

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 house 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 5 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 send it by post. 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 telephone on the number above to make sure we have received what you have sent.

 

Waiving your right to 10 school days’ notice

On your appeal form you’ll be asked whether or not you’re willing to waive your right to 10 school days’ notice.  If you waive your right to 10 school days’ notice we may be able to schedule your appeal earlier, particularly around school holidays.    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 Admissions round

For appeals within the 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 within 30 school days.

2020/21 Admissions round

For appeals for your child to start primary / infant school for the first time (Reception) or move up from an infant to a junior school (Year 3) you should return your appeal form by:

 

Offer date

Appeals lodged by

Appeals to be heard by

Primary

16 April 2020

18 May 2020

20 July 2020


Note:-
Appeals lodged after 18 May 2020 will, where possible, be heard by 20 July 2020. Where it isn’t possible to hear the appeal by 20 July 2020 it will be heard within 30 school days of the date of receipt.

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 within 30 school days.

 

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. 

 

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.

10 school days before the hearing (or later if you’ve waived your right to 10 school days’ notice) we’ll send you an appointment letter with the date, time and venue 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. 

Your appointment letter will also tell you which type of appeal yours will be heard as and will include a flowchart to show the procedure your appeal hearing will follow.  There are broadly two different types of appeals –

(1) Infant Class Size Prejudice/Future Infant Class Size Prejudice and

(2) Two Stage Appeals. 

This is very important, as if your appeal is to be heard as an Infant Class Size or Future Infant Class Size appeal it means there are limited grounds the panel can consider.  Further information on Infant Class Size/Future Infant Class Size appeals can be found at Appendix A (page 6).  Please make sure you read this information carefully before submitting your appeal.

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.  We don’t expect you to provide a written response to the Admission Authority’s case as you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions of their representative at the appeal hearing.   This information is often sent to you at the same time as your appointment letter, but it may be sent out a few days later.

If you wish to submit any extra written information this should be sent to us before your appeal hearing.  The appointment letter will give you information on how to do this and the deadlines for submitting it.

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

 

At the hearing

You’re responsible for presenting your case to the panel and we recommend you attend your appointment.  You may, if you wish, bring a friend or supporter with you to help you present your case.  Alternatively you may also choose to ask someone to attend on your behalf.

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

It’s your responsibility to arrive at your appointment on time and we recommend that you arrive 15 minutes early.  The Panel will wait for 10 minutes after your appointment time and then hear your appeal without you if you do not arrive.  Therefore if you’re running late, it is important that you contact the Education Appeals Team urgently.  Information on how to do this will be provided in the appointment letter.

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.

You will either have a single appointment time, or two times. 

  1. If you have a single appointment time your whole appeal will dealt with at that appointment.
  2. If you have two appointment times this is because we have a number of appeals for that school, and all of the parents appealing have been invited together to the first appointment to all hear the Admission Authority present their case. This is because the Admission Authority’s case is the same for everyone, meaning you will be able to hear all of the information raised through questioning by parents and the appeal panel.  The second appointment time is where you meet with the appeal panel, clerk and Admission Authority representative in private to tell the appeal panel why you want a place at the school for your child.  Any information that is specific to your case will only be discussed in your second appointment when other parents are not there.  The second appointment may be on a different day to the first appointment.

A flowchart which will be provided with your appointment letter will explain what will happen at your appointment(s).

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

*If you have two appointments, the first appointment may take longer than an hour.

 

Decision making

After your appeal has been heard, you and the Admission Authority representative will be asked to leave the room 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.

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 5 school days of the hearing wherever possible.  We don’t give decisions over the telephone or by email so please don’t call or email the office to find out the appeal panel’s decision.

If you haven’t received your decision letter two weeks after the appeal, 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/infant-class-size-appeals

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 - Democratic Services.pdf

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

 

APPENDIX A

Infant Class Size

The Law states that in infant classes there must be no more than 30 pupils per teacher.  If this applies to the school in either the academic year you are appealing for or in future infant academic years then your appeal will be dealt with as an Infant Class Size Appeal/Future Infant Class Size Appeal.  We’ll tell you if this applies in the letter we send you giving you information on your appeal hearing. 

In Infant Class Size appeal hearings the appeal panel is essentially reviewing the Admission Authority’s decision to refuse a place at the school in question.  (Based on the information the Authority had available at that time.)  The appeal panel doesn’t have the flexibility to say that your personal circumstances mean you should have a place at the school if this would take the number of children in the class to over 30.  This makes Infant Class Size appeals different to other school admission appeals. 

During the 2018/19 normal Admissions round  only 5% of Infant Class Size appeals were allowed (appeals to start Reception in September 2018 which were heard between 6th June and 31st August 2018 inclusive).

The grounds which an Appeal Panel can legally allow an infant class size appeal are limited to the following four grounds:-

  • Admitting additional children would not breach the infant class size limit (there are not 30 children per fully qualified teacher in the year group).
  • Your child would have been offered a place if the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 had been applied correctly (i.e. something unlawful in the arrangements meant your child didn’t get a place they would have got had the arrangements been lawful.)
  •  Your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been correctly and impartially applied in your case (i.e. there has been an error in how your application was processed which meant your child wasn’t given a place that they would have got had the arrangements been correctly applied.)
  • The decision was not one which a reasonable Authority would make in the circumstances of the case. The threshold for an unreasonable decision is very high and would be one that is perverse. (e. completely illogical or irrational, taking into account all the relevant facts of the case so that no Admission Authority looking at the case would have ever refused it.)

The Local Government Ombudsman has published a factsheet on complaints about Infant Class Size appeals which provides useful information to parents regarding the limitation of Infant Class Size appeals.  http://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint/fact-sheets/education/infant-class-size-appeals  In this factsheet, the Ombudsman states that “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.” 

You may refer to personal factors on your appeal form or at the hearing, and the appeal panel will take them into account when considering whether the decision to refuse your application was a reasonable one.  Further details on the reasonableness test can be found in paragraph 4.10 of the School Admissions Appeals Code.   

As the question of reasonableness relates to whether the decision made by the Admission Authority to refuse admission was unreasonable, the Panel will consider what information the Admission Authority had available to it at the time when it made the decision to refuse.

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