Appeals

Appeals

When an appeal is for a Buckinghamshire Local Authority (LA) school (ie Community and Voluntary Controlled school), the Admission Authority is the County Council.  For Academies, Foundation and Voluntary-Aided (VA) schools, the Admission Authority is the Governing Body of that school.

Appeals for most Buckinghamshire schools are arranged by the Appeals Team, in Legal Services of Buckinghamshire County Council. Some appeals are arranged by the Oxford Diocese and some by the school themselves. Your allocation information will tell you which is relevant for your school. Please note appeals for Dr. Challoner's Grammar School and Dr. Challoner's High School are arranged by the schools themselves.

The Appeals Team will arrange for an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) to consider your appeal. Both the Appeals Team and the IAP are independent of the Admission Authorities.

You can request an appeal if your child has:

  • been refused grammar school testing
  • not been offered a place at your preferred primary, upper or grammar school

The panel will be made up of 3 people:

  • 1 eligible to be a Lay Member; that is someone without personal experience in the management or provision of education in any school (excluding experience as a school governor, or in any other voluntary capacity)
  • 1 who is eligible to be a non-lay member; that is someone with experience in education, are acquainted with educational conditions in the area of the authority or who is a parent of a registered school pupil.
  • the 3rd person will be from either of the above two categories.

Types of appeal

Appeal to test 

When the Admissions Authority decides to refuse testing, you can appeal against this decision. The panel will decide whether or not your child should be tested.

For further information, please read our Guide for parents appeals to test 2014 booklet.

Appeal for your preferred school (Admission Appeal)

If it was not possible to offer your child a place at your preferred primary, upper or grammar school, you can ask for an appeal. The panel will decide whether your child should be offered a place at your preferred school (despite it being full). The Admission Authority for that school must comply with the panel's decision. During a primary or secondary appeal, the panel must consider whether the individual circumstances of your case outweigh any 'prejudice' to the school, which might be caused by admitting any further child or children.

Please note some Voluntary-Aided schools, as well as some Academies, manage their own appeals and you will need to contact them direct for an appeal information pack. If the school you wish to appeal for is in another area, you should contact the local council.

Details of secondary schools who administer their own appeals and contact details for neighbouring councils:

Primary schools

Secondary Schools 

Primary appeals

These are appeals for entrance into primary schools in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 and also for entrance into Reception, year 1 and year 2 where the appeal is not governed by Infant Class Size Legislation (see below).

For all primary appeals, you must provide your reasons for expressing a preference for that specific school and why you believe your case outweighs the Admission Authority's case that admission of any additional child would cause prejudice to the school.

Please read our Guide to Buckinghamshire school admission appeals booklet

Infant class size appeal (ICS)

These are most of the appeals for admission into Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 at an infant or combined school.

Statutory limits on class sizes means apart from some very limited exceptions, infant classes of 5, 6 and 7 year olds may not contain more than 30 pupils with a single teacher.

Where the published admission number of a school allows for classes of 30 pupils, the Admission Authority will have refused admission on the grounds that to admit 1 more child would breach the infant class size limit.

Although you have a legal right to appeal under this criteria, there are very limited circumstances in which a panel can direct a child to be admitted to a school.

The panel can uphold an appeal on "class size prejudice" grounds only if they are satisfied that one of the following very limited grounds applies:

  • the admission of additional children would not breach the infant class size limit or;
  • your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had complied with the mandatory requirements in the School Admissions code and the School Standards & Framework Act 1998 ("SSFA") and/or
  • the decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case*

(*The courts have defined an unreasonable decision in this context as being one which is "perverse in the light of the admission arrangements".  The word 'perverse' has a stronger meaning in its legal sense.  It means "beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker".)

As the grounds for upholding an appeal of this type are very limited, the percentage success rate is minimal. Please be aware that your personal reasons for wanting the school, however strongly you feel, cannot be taken into account, unless any of the above circumstances apply.

Please note that a decision by the Admission Authority to refuse admission to your child, which subsequently makes it impossible for you to transport all your family to school on time or even impossible for you to continue working, is very unlikely to be confirmed as an unreasonable decision. The courts have confirmed this position.

Of all the Infant Class Size appeals heard last year, only 3 out of every 100 were successful. Parents are often distressed that their personal reasons were not considered due to the very limited criteria, please think carefully before submitting an appeal.

For more information please read our guide on appeals affected by infant class size legislation and a recent fact sheet published by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Secondary school appeals

1. Grammar schools (unqualified)

If your child has sat the Secondary Transfer Tests and did not achieve the qualifying score for a Buckinghamshire Grammar School, you can request a selection review.

The selection review procedure is administered by the Admissions & Transport Team of the LA, on behalf of Grammar Schools.  For more Information contact admissions@buckscc.gov.uk or 01296 383250.

If you are unsuccessful in a selection review, or if you did not participate in the selection review procedure and you still wish to pursue your preferred grammar school, you have the right to appeal before an IAP once you have received your school allocation. If you did participate in the review process, you should be aware that the IAP is restricted by the School Admission Appeals Code of Practice to consider only whether your child's review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way. If they find no evidence that this has been done, they will be able to go on to consider the academic ability and your argument for prejudice.

Please see our Guide to Buckinghamshire school admission appeals booklet for the evidence you should provide to the IAP for unqualified appeals.

Before attending an appeal please read the School admission appeals code.

2. Grammar schools (qualified) and Upper schools

If you have not been allocated your preferred school and it is either a Buckinghamshire Grammar School (and your child has qualified by way of Secondary Transfer Tests or through the selection review process), or it is a Buckinghamshire Upper School, you may submit an appeal for that school.

Please see our Guide to Buckinghamshire school admission appeals booklet.

All appeals

For all appeals (grammar, upper and primary), you must provide your reasons for expressing a preference for that specific school and why you believe your case outweighs the Admission Authority's case that admission of any additional child would cause prejudice to the school.

You are able to appeal against each decision refusing you a place at a school and you are entitled to lodge more than one appeal. A separate appeal form should be submitted for each school you wish to appeal for.

Please note: Appeals must be lodged 20 school days from the date you received notification that your application was unsuccessful (the notification date is the date on the letter advising you that a place was not available at your preferred school). 

Statistics

Appeal statistics for the academic year 2013/2014 as of 31/08/2013.

Appeal statistics
Appeal type  Number heard Number upheld % upheld in Buckinghamshire
To test 48 22 46%
Infant class size only 82 3 3%
Admission appeals:      
 Upper schools 97 32 33%
 Primary school 32 17 32%
 Qualified grammar appeals 154 53 33%

 Unqualified grammar appeals

  • appellants who had participated in the selection review process (and been unsuccessful)

  • appellants who had not participated in the selection review process

 

193

 

20

 

55
(qualified for a
specific school)
2
(qualified for a specific school)

 
 

Timetable for appeals 2014.

For more information call the Appeals Team on 01296 383384 or email appeals@buckscc.gov.uk

If you have a query about the admissions procedure, email admissions@buckscc.gov.uk or telephone 01296 383250