5. Decision-making process
If there are multiple appeals for the same school, the Appeal Panel will not make any decisions until all the appeals for that school have been heard.
This sometimes takes several days, and therefore it may seem that there is a long delay between attending your appeal and being notified of the outcome.
Normal prejudice appeals
Panels must follow the two-stage process before arriving at a decision and will firstly:
(a) Consider whether the school’s published admission arrangements complied with the relevant law, and were correctly applied in the child’s case, and decides whether prejudice would arise were the child to be admitted.
If this is proved, the Panel then moves on to the second stage:
(b) Using their discretion, the Panel balances the degree of prejudice to the school against the case for the child to be admitted to the school.
Infant class size prejudice appeals
There is a legal limit of 30 children per teacher in an infant class and this limits the powers of the appeal panel hearing your appeal. They can only consider:
- If the school’s admission arrangements (the admission rules) comply with the law
- Whether a mistake has been made with your child’s application
- If admitting further children would breach the infant class limit of 30 pupils per teacher
- If the decision to refuse your child a place at the school was unreasonable.
Unreasonable in relation to an appeal, is used in the legal sense and means that the decision to refuse your child a place at the school was perverse or illogical in light of the rules.
Is there a further appeal?
The decision of the Independent Appeals Panel is final and binding upon the admission authority and you.
You cannot appeal twice for a place at the same school in the same school year unless the admission authority accepts that your first appeal was not conducted properly or that there have been significant changes in your circumstances.
If you feel that your appeal hearing (not for an Academy) was not managed properly you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman, but the LGO is only able to recommend that your appeal is heard again before a new panel, and cannot overturn the decision.
The Secretary of State for Education cannot review or change decisions of Independent Appeal Panels, but can consider whether the admission authority has correctly constituted the Appeal Panel, and whether it has acted reasonably in exercising the functions in respect of the appeal process (complaints in respect of Academies must be referred here).
If you think that the appeal panel’s decision was unlawful or not a decision which a reasonable panel could have reached and you wish to challenge it, the only way of doing so is to apply to the High Court for a
judicial review. This must be done as soon as possible and in any event within three months of the date of the panel’s decision.