last updated August 2016
Each Year I receive a number of enquiries about oversubscription appeals following the normal application process for primary and secondary schools.These are where the school (it may be non-selective or grammar) is full. I advise 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 the first round of reallocations takes place. 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 at these peak times, and so I am able to respond more quickly. Please feel free to contact me if you wish clarification on this.
You will find data on 2016 appeals here.
To make an appeal for a Kent school you should download an appeal form here.
- You will find the most recent appeal statistics for both Kent and Medway via the appropriate link.
- There is a new Code of Practice for School Appeals, issued by government, which took effect in 2012. Some key issues are set out at Code.
- If your child is not allocated their first preference school in March, you may be able to secure a place at a school higher in your list through appeal or via the waiting list and you can follow both processes at the same time.
- First piece of advice is – don’t panic. You will not get an earlier appeal or a better hearing by sending in your case early. If you are not ready, make sure you record your appeal by the closing date, using such words as “I am appealing for….... I will send in my detailed case when it is ready”. This enables you to take advice or plan your appeal without additional pressure (it is already stressful enough!). If yours is one of the few academies that organises early appeals, you can still send in your case when you are notified of the date, without penalty. Appeal dates for each school are published on the school website by February 28th (secondary).
- Appeals are always possible for non selective schools when the number of pupils applying for a school is larger than the approved number of admissions.
- Kent admission rules allow parents to apply to any school not on their original list after the first Allocation of vacant spaces in April using the In Year Admission process. Use this to the full, as at the least you are placed on a waiting list and then have rights of appeal. Some children who did not originally apply for a school and who now apply after first Allocation will be offered places ahead of others on the waiting list. The situation in Medway is more confused and confusing.
- You will be asked to submit a case and appear personally at the Panel hearing. The best grounds for appeal are where families can show that the admission of another pupil will not damage the education of those already admitted, where another child has been wrongly selected ahead of their own, or that the admission policy has been interpreted wrongly. Some Foundation & VA schools are keen to admit additional pupils, and in such cases the appeal is much easier, if you have a reasonable case, or your child appears to ‘fit’ the school ethos. you will find information on this in my Individual School pages for Kent and Medway.
- Each oversubscribed school has its own character and approach to appeals for additional pupils.
- Grammar school oversubscription appeals can be very complex, as appellants may have children who have passed the eleven plus, others will not have, and the appeal panel has to balance competing claims.
- I can advise on the expected appeal pattern for each school, and the best strategy to achieve success.
- Remember, at the end of the day, if the school is genuinely full there may be no way to secure admission.
Kent County Council operates what a called Group Appeals for many of its Appeal hearings, where schools are oversubscribed. Schools where this process is being used include Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys and Simon Langton Grammar School for Girls. The Admission Code for School Appeals recommends that where a school is oversubscribed, appeals should be divided into two stages. Where this happens, the first part is called the group stage, where all parents appealing are invited to a meeting at the start of proceedings. At this meeting, all the issues relating to oversubscription are debated between parents and the Admission Authority Presenting Officer in front of the Appeal Panel. No matters relating to individuals are considered. This enables the Appeal Panel to determine before hearing individual appeals how many children, if any, can be admitted before prejudice applies (see section on appeals). The second stage is the individual appeal where each parent puts the case for their individual child. In the second stage there is no discussion of oversubscription issues. The Panel then has to decide which children should be offered places, possibly accepting that for some, there will be prejudice, but their individual circumstances outweigh this. I have some experience of the system, as Medway Council has used it for many years with, in my view, mixed success. Many parents are inhibited at the Group meeting and find it difficult to put forward their points. At some meetings the meeting rapidly degenerated into an unpleasant verbal battle (I don't see this happening at the Kent appeals); at others very few parents turned up,few views were expressed and the meeting fizzled out (more likely). My advice is go to the meeting, at the very least you will see the Appeal Panel members in advance. Don't be afraid to speak out if you believe the school is capable of admitting extra children although this can be come quite a technical argument and school cases for not admitting additional children can be quite intimidating. You won't affect your individual chances by making the case that more children in general can be admitted. In Medway where Appeal Panel members were used to the process, they engaged in quite vigorous and challenging questioning of the Admission Authority. One would expect that KCC panellists will have been trained to carry out similar rigorous questioning. However, where there is no Group Appeal, questioning on prejudice is required to take place in every appeal and can be quite perfunctory and formulaic, so there does need to be a change of approach. One of the strongest arguments year on year comes from looking at the numbers in older year groups. If the school can manage these, then why shouldn't it manage the same number again.