Supporting Families

Displaying items by tag: Appeal Panels

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:58

Independent Appeal Panels: KOS Sept 2010

Amongst the less publicised voluntary roles in the county is that of the Independent Appeal panellist. The overwhelming number of appeals are for school admissions with some being for school exclusions. Last year KCC organised 2672 admission appeal hearings for all types of school with one, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys, attracting 100 appeals all heard by the same Panel of three volunteers. Many other admission appeals were heard by Panels organised by individual schools or independent organisations  who specialise in this service.

So who is an appeal panellist?  For admissions, at least one of the three has to have experience in education which can be as a current parent of a child at school, or having knowledge of educational conditions in the area but is often represented by a retired teacher.  Again, at least one is a lay member, without personal experience in the management or provision of  education in a school (although governors are permissible!).  In all cases, panel members must not have a connection with the school in question which might raise doubts about their impartiality.

All panellists must be trained every two years on the regulations and procedures relating to appeals that typically takes a day.  Some training equips panellists to hear appeals for all types of school, other approaches focus on particular types of school, of which there are many in Kent!

I appear before some panels and have reports back on many other hearings. From my experience I consider that the vast majority of panellists are carrying out what can be a very difficult role judging between the needs of the school and those of the child. However, those panellists I talk to generally find this a satisfying role except where they anguish over difficult decisions for, however strong the case, there are occasions when there simply isn’t room for a school to take in another child.

Many parents emerge from an appeal and even if they lose are content that they have had a fair hearing. That is the measure of success for a panellist who has given up his or her time to ensure the system can operate, for without volunteers there would be no appeals. If you are interested in volunteering, I am sure KCC would be very happy to hear from you, telephone 01622 694358.

However to all panellists who may feel your work is not appreciated it is, and thank you on behalf of parents throughout the county.

Published in Newspaper Articles