Secondary School Appeals - Important
I am now close to my capacity for supporting secondary school appeals. I regret that I will need to take a deposit of Â£80 (deducted from the final fee so no net cost) for any further clients so that I can estimate more clearly the numbers I shall be working with. If you wish to go ahead please provide as much detailed information about your situation as possible before making payment, and then I can confirm if I am able to support you and the fee involved. This does not apply to those who have already engaged me through a telephone consultation or to whom I have confirmed by email that I am prepared to support you. Shortly, I anticiapte I shall be unable to accept any more clients, except those appealing to the Chatham Grammar Schools who have suddenly, and through no fault of their own, found the alternative route of the Chatham Tests cancelled.
I am still available for in year appeals, and admissions advice.
I shall be arranging secondary appeal consultations from Mid February.See Can I help You for details. I have now supported over 600 successful secondary appeals in Kent and Medway providing me with a wealth of local experience.
Parents have the right to appeal against any decision not to offer a school place, and that decision must be in writing and contain information on how to appeal. There is no time limit on when an appeal can be lodged, although it is normally best to meet the official closing dates, otherwise parents may find the schools to be full before their appeal is heard.
I am receiving a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals.These are where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full. I am advising some parents to put in a holding appeal (simply writing "I am appealing for a place for my child (name) at (name) school. A more detailed letter will follow" on the form, which means you do not need to submit full details by deadline day). You can then leave submitting a detailed letter until after 4th April when the first round of reallocations takes place in Kent (Medway 21st March). I am happy to delay taking on clients until that time, when you will know whether an appeal will be necessary. Also the pressure on myself is less, and so I am able to turn around an appeal letter more quickly. Please feel free to contact me if you wish clarification on this.
It is important that you notify the school (or the LEA in the case of Community Schools) that you are appealing, so that you are in the lists. It is best to wait until you are ready with all your supporting evidence and then send it in together. It is good practice to get it there at least ten days before the appeals start for your school, so that papers can be distributed. Few appeals are heard before May. No Appeal Panel will discriminate against you if you deliver after 22nd March, although administrators often find it convenient and may hassle you.
This right includes appeals against a decision not to be offered a place at sixth form, although the student themselves can also appeal in such cases.
In Kent and Medway, appeals are heard before an Independent Appeal Panel comprising three panellists (except at Simon Langton Boys Grammar that normally uses five panellists). These are independent of the school and the Local Authority. All panellists are required to have been trained (or retrained) in the past two years. An Appeal Panel has to have at least one Advisory Member and one Lay Member. An Advisory Member has experience in education, or is acquainted with educational conditions in the area, or is the parent of a registered child at a school. A Lay Member does not have personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school, but may be a school governor or have other voluntary experience. As you can see, appeal panellists do not initially have to have great knowledge of the education system, but soon acquire expertise in the role and in the different situations they may be faced with. All are volunteers and in my experience the great majority carry out an effective job.
Chances of success at appeal vary widely; last year the number of successful appeals at individual Kent grammar schools varied from 2 to 33, and for non selective schools from 2 to 38. These figures suggest that whilst Panels are trained to follow a mandatory Code of Practice, they may adapt their decision to local circumstances, such as the pressure on places.
For non selective and primary schools, appeals are against a decision not to admit the child because the school is full.
For grammar schools, there are three main types of appeal:
1) Against a decision that the child has been found non selective, although there are still places in the school;
2) Against a decision that the child has been found non-selective and the school is full;
3) Against a decision that the child has been found selective but the school is full.
You will find more information on each category on the appropriate page of this website.
Appeal Panels can be organised in a variety of ways. All community schools in Kent and Medway will use Panels selected and trained by the Local Authority, but independent of the Education Department. The LA also provides clerks to administer the process and will manage all paperwork.
Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools in Kent may also use the services of Local Authority Panels, but have two alternative choices:
- There are several Independent Appeal Panel Administrators operating in the area who offer services to a number of schools. These will recruit their own appeal Panel members and provide Independent Clerks. This route is followed by all such schools in Medway.
- A few schools use their own independent clerk to organise appeals and may recruit their own Independent panellists.
In my experience, Panels organised by the Local Authorities orIndependent Panel Administrators are most independent.
Each Panel administrator should provide comprehensive documentation setting out the appeal process, so that parents know what procedure is to be followed.
Medway Community Schools that are oversubscribed operate a group appeal. This is also applied to Sir Joseph Williamson's. At a group appeal, all appealing parents are invited, to hear the Admission Authority case for not admitting additional pupils in the presence of the Independent Appeal Panel, and to ask questions. The Appeal Panel can then make a decision on how many additional children should be admitted (if any), so that individual appeals can focus on the parental case, without the issues of fullness being considered further at every appeal.
I believe this is an effective way of managing oversubscription appeals, but can produce fireworks or a difficult meeting that requires good chairmanship, as often happens at The Math. Kent schools do not use Group Appeals, each appeal hearing evidence on both the fullness of the school and the case for the individual child.
The services I provide in supporting appeals are detailed here on this website, and will take local variations fully into consideration.