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Monday, 11 September 2017 02:21

Complaints about Academy and Free School Apppeals

I am regularly asked regarding possible complaints about Admission Appeals to academies and Free Schools, and respond that it is rare such complaints succeed.

I now have the data for academies and Free Schools for the past two years, and this underlines how difficult it is. Across Kent and Medway there were 53 complaints to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) in the two years, and not one was successful, although two found maladministration without injustice, i.e. the panel made mistakes but these made no difference to the outcome.

Nationally there were 461 complaints, possible injustice was found in 20 of these, and 36 were found to have maladministration with no injustice.

Further details and comment below.

The following table gives a breakdown of the data.   

Complaints to the EFA about Academy
and Free School Appeals
  National  Kent Medway
   15-16 16-17 15-16 16-17  15-16  16-17
 Total
Complaints
 227  234  25  21  3 4
 Possible
Injustice
 14  6  o  o  0  0
Maladministration
without Injustice
 21  15  0  1  1  0
No
Maladministration
 133  164

 25

 18  2

3

Decision
Outstanding
 0  33   0  2  0  1

Please note that the data in the FOI outcome I received from the EFA contained a few errors, which I have asked to be corrected. I will update this article when they are received, but am confident they will make little difference to the overall picture described here.

I recently published a parallel article about Complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) here, which shows a similar pattern of lack of success for Admission Appeal complaints, although this has declined from a few years back, when the LGO considered most complaints before the rapid expansion in academy numbers, and higher proportions were successful. 

The main differences between the two are firstly that the LGO is an independent organisation, using specialist officers, who have the skills to explore issues in detail, as exemplified by my recent complaint about Maidstone Girls’ Grammar School (publication awaited, eight months after the complaint was filed). This is because their investigators are also deployed at other times of the year on complaints about different matters.

By contrast the EFA uses officers otherwise engaged on different academy duties, who follow a template, which becomes far more mechanistic with little interaction with parents after they have filed the complaint. The advantage of this is that investigations are completed more quickly in general. This can mean that officers whose normal duties are supporting academies are used in judgment on the academies and the appeal panels they have selected.

The two Kent schools where the Investigation considered there was Maladministration without Injustice were High Halstow in Medway and Highworth Grammar in Kent, which along with Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School had five complaints, the most for any schools. Unlike with the LGO, there is no further information forthcoming about the maladministration. If injustice were established, the normal outcome is for a fresh appeal to take place in front of a new Panel.   

Last modified on Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:08

1 comment

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 13 September 2017 09:23 posted by Angry and Frustrated Parent

    Thank you for explaining why I never stood a chance. We spent many hours putting together what we though a strong case about academy and Appeal Panel clearly in cahoots and were devastated that we didn't even get any feed back. It is as if the EFA is part of the conspiracy. Thank you for exposing this. .PETER: Sadly, no one else appears interested in this conflict of interest. I only hope that others read the article before going down this fruitless route. Still, somewhere in the country there were 6 out of 234 successes. Clearly the EFA is closer to their targets than the previous year when there were a whole 14!

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