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Hertfordshire County Council

Appeal panels decide whether to accept or reject your appeal, based on the evidence presented to them before and during the hearing.

The panel's decision is final. If they accept your appeal, the school must offer your child a place. If it rejects your appeal, you can't appeal again. The decision can't be reversed or reviewed.

Who's on the panel?

Appeal panels are made up of 3 people, with at least one:

  • lay person – someone without personal experience of managing a school or the provision of education in any school (except as a school governor or volunteer)
  • person who has experience in education, who is acquainted with educational conditions in the local authority area or who is a parent of children currently at school.

A Clerk is also present to ensure the appeal is conducted fairly. The Clerk does not have any say in the decision. They're there to:

  • explain the process and answer your questions at the hearing – they're an independent source of advice on admissions and appeals law
  • make sure the relevant facts are presented and recorded
  • provide assistance and information to all parties before and during the hearing
  • record the proceedings, decision and reasons
  • let parents know when to expect the decision.

What appeal panels can't do


A panel can't:

  • enter into a debate with either party on issues raised
  • specify any conditions if it accepts your appeal
  • hear complaints or objections on wider aspects of local admission policies and practice
  • reassess the capacity of the school 
  • order the admission authority to change your position on the school's continuing interest list
  • allocate a place at a school other than the one you appealed for.  

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabilities

If you think your child has been refused a school place because of their disability, you have a right to appeal.

Appeal panels will consider whether your child has been refused admission because of their disability.

If your child has a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), we can't arrange your appeal. You need to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Contact the Special Needs Officer dealing with your case.

 

The appeals hearing

You'll be invited to the hearing to present your case in person.

Appeals hearings last 20-30 minutes.

You decide how to organise your presentation to the appeal panel.

If you don't want to attend the hearing, the panel will consider your appeal based on the written evidence you provided with your appeal form. This also happens if you don't arrive on time.

Bringing other people to the hearing

You can send a friend or solicitor to speak on your behalf, or they can attend in your absence to represent you. You can also call witnesses.

Whatever you decide, let us know on your appeal form.

You can't bring a representative of the school you're appealing for. Equally, the panel can't accept letters of support from representatives of the school.

Bringing your child

It's your decision whether your child comes to the hearing as a witness. However, the panel may decide that they need to leave the hearing once they've given their evidence. As such, you'll need to bring an appropriate adult to look after them afterwards.

Please don't bring other children – there aren't any childcare facilities.

The 2 types of appeal

All panels check to make sure admission arrangements have been correctly and legally applied. Beyond that they can follow one of two processes:

1. Infant class size appeals

This applies to Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 where class sizes are limited to a maximum of 30 pupils.

Infant class size appeals – read more

Infant class size appeals differ from other school admission appeals because the panel is limited on the circumstances in which an appeal can be upheld.

The panel can only review the decision to refuse admission. Therefore it can only consider information that was available to the admission authority at the time the decision was made.

The panel can't consider personal circumstances for a place in your preferred school.

When considering the decision to refuse admission, the panel must take into account:

  • whether the admission of an additional child would breach the infant class size limit of 30 in the current year or future years
  • whether the admission arrangements comply with admissions law
  • whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in your child’s case
  • whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.


To uphold an appeal, a panel must establish that the decision to refuse admission was as a result of an error and / or was unreasonable.

1.  Error – where the admissions authority has made an error in applying its admissions criteria (for example, where your home to school distance has not been calculated correctly), which has resulted in your child being wrongly denied a place. It's not enough to simply identify an error .

2.  Unreasonable – the panel would need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the child was so illogical in light of admission rules that no sensible person could have arrived at it.

 

2. Two-stage process appeals

This applies to all other year groups, not subject to infant class size legislation.

Two-stage process appeals – read more

Stage 1 – Establishing the facts

The appeal panel must establish:

  • whether the admission arrangements have been correctly applied and comply with admissions law
  • whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in your child’s case
  • whether to admit additional children would cause "prejudice to efficient education or the efficient use of resources".


The panel will uphold an appeal at this stage where:

a) it's clear that your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly applied or had complied with the mandatory requirements

or

b) it finds that the admission of additional children would not prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.

However, when hearing multiple appeals for the same school and year group and:

  • there are a number of children who would have been offered a place
  • to admit that number would seriously prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources

the panel must proceed to the second stage of the appeal.

The panel can't reassess the organisation or capacity of the school but should consider the impact of admitting additional children in terms of:

  • organisation and size of classes
  • availability of teaching staff
  • the effect it would have on a school in the current and following academic years.

If the panel is satisfied that the admission authority representative has made its case, the panel will move to stage 2 of the appeal.


Stage 2 – balancing the arguments

The appeal panel must consider whether the grounds for your child to be admitted to your preferred school outweigh any ‘prejudice’ that would be caused to the school by a further admission.

The panel will balance:

  • the consequences for the school and other children by a further admission

versus

  • the weight of the parent's case.


At this stage the panel will take into account your specific circumstances and your reasons for expressing a preference for the particular school.  Each appeal is considered on its own merits.

The panel can't take into account the position of your child on any continuing interest list.

When dealing with multiple appeals, if the panel finds that there are more cases that outweigh prejudice than the school can admit, it must compare cases and uphold those with the strongest case for admission.

 

Panels make sure decisions comply with the School Admissions Appeals Code and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

 

Preparing for your hearing

You are responsible for:

  • presenting your case
  • deciding what you want to say
  • what written information you want the panel to have.   


Evidence the panel might need

  • Medical or social – if your case is based on medical or social reasons, you should provide written evidence from a doctor, medical practitioner or other professional to support this. 
  • Moved house – if your case is based on a house move, provide written evidence such as an exchange of contracts or a tenancy agreement. We advise you not to appeal until you have exchanged contracts.  


Additional evidence

If you want to submit any supporting evidence after lodging your appeal, you need to get that to us at least 7 working days before your hearing (not counting the day of postage or the hearing date).

If you've got a short document (like a doctor’s letter which wasn't previously available), we'll accept that up to 4 working days before your hearing. 

Any additional evidence received after this deadline may not be circulated.

The panel may not accept any additional information taken to the hearing.

Send further evidence to:
school.appeals@hertfordshire.gov.uk

or

The Appeals Team (CHO120)
County Hall, Hertford, SG13 8DF

 

The admission authority's evidence

A copy of the admission authority’s policy and statement will be posted to you at least 7 working days before the appeal (unless you've been requested to agree shorter timescales).

The statement will summarise why it hasn't been possible to offer a place, which will be either that:

  • to admit another child would have prejudice on educational provision and resources within the school
  • the addition of another pupil would exceed the infant class size limit of 30
  • a higher preference school has been offered to your child.

We will also send you a copy of any other document being used by the admission authority as part of its case. All documents that you and the admission authority have sent to the Appeals Team will be passed to the panel and Clerk before the hearing. 

A representative of the admission authority will put forward the school’s case to the panel. We'll let you know if they decide to call a school representative as a witness.

When you'll hear the decision

Don't call us for the decision. We can't give you the outcome of your appeal over the phone.

We will write to you.


If your appeal is heard during the autumn or spring term, we'll normally inform you of the result within 5 working days of your hearing. 

During the summer term, decisions can take much longer because many appeal hearings take place then. Schools may have several days of appeals hearings. We'll write to you within a few days of the decision being made, notifying you of the outcome. We'll follow this up around 2 weeks later with the reasons for the panel’s decision.

When you can't appeal

Sometimes you don't have the right to appeal a decision.

  • If your child has been permanently excluded from 2 or more schools, you'll lose your right to appeal for a school you want for your child.
  • If you have already had an appeal for the same school and academic year.