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Tuesday, 05 May 2020 20:02

Coronavirus and School Appeals in Kent and Medway: Part Five


Update on Kent Appeals 13th May, here.

Letter from Kent Primary Head on Consequences of Schools Re-Opening here

Some issues relating to the Emergency Regulations for School Appeals are now resolving, but the large majority of Local Authorities appear still to be struggling to come to a view. My previous article concluded that these proposals are unworkable in most cases, especially where there are large numbers of appeals or grammar school appeals. This is now the fifth article exploring the situation as it has developed, looking at how it has been interpreted, the previous four all containing considerable detail, along with advice for appellants. I propose to update it as I receive more information, the dates of the latest update being recorded at the top of the article. 

I continue with my view that the Government emergency regulations appear to be solely for the benefit of bureaucrats and show little interest in the challenges faced by families, panellists, clerks or schools. A parallel set of rules published by the Welsh Office was in complete contrast to this and placed families first, but the relevant section appears to have mysteriously vanished, see below!  

There are three approaches allowed for hearing remote appeals. These are: video conference, telephone conference, and written submission of cases and evidence. There is no indication that these different types of hearing can be mixed for a single school’s appeals, but no specific ban, and I have already been told of several schools that are planning to go this way.

In my previous article, written nearly two weeks ago, I described a ‘chink of light’ in an omission by the regulations to be prescriptive about the written submission process. I was delighted to learn yesterday that KCC has just sent out appeal invitations to grammar school appellants using this to the full. I don't know yet if it will be applied to non-selective schools, but anticipate this. Some Kent appeals for other types of school are being heard by audio-conferencing, with clerks establishing whether appellants can manage this. If not there is a fall back to a written submission hearing. 

Further details on all these matters below, including some Local Authorities which have now made decisions (please feel free to add to these).

Please note that although this article appears to be taking on a general view of the situation the website exists primarily to provide news, comment and information for Kent and Medway families. As the site appears at the time of writing to be the only public forum nationally discussing these matters, I would be most grateful to receive details of different practices being adopted. A survey I carried out using Google today reveals a large number of Authorities stating ‘We have been monitoring government guidance as to the impact of the Coronavirus’ but which appear still to be considering which way to go. You will find below, pages relating to Kent, Other Admission Authorities and the Welsh conundrum. Please note that I am not a lawyer, and opinions expressed do not carry legal authority in this or any previous article. 

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Last modified on Monday, 25 May 2020 15:37


  • Comment Link Sunday, 10 May 2020 17:24 posted by Cynical John

    There is surely so much doubt about the legal interpretation of these regulations that whatever the final version, the education lawyers will win big. Whatever version is selected by schools, many families who lose their appeals will consider the verdict unfair as it will not be seen to be independent, fair or transparent as required. By these criteria, Peter, your preference for the written submission fails comprehensively. PETER: Sadly, you have a good point. The bottom line is that none of the three models meets these criteria which each rely on trust to a certain extent. However, the alternative appears to scrap the appeal process completely this year, which is worse for everyone.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 09 May 2020 06:06 posted by Ben Freed

    In other words, it is all a great mess and we are left wondering if we will ever get a fair hearing.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 07 May 2020 06:10 posted by Jan Yardley

    You appear satisfied with the KCC model. Can you see it being widely accepted. PETER: I believe that for many schools with large numbers of appeals or which are grammar schools, it is the only way forward. We will only know for certain when there are examples in practice.

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