If you are anything like my wife and I, who are going through the primary school admission process for the first time with our eldest child, the wait to find out if the application for our preferred school has been successful is agonising but, thankfully, almost over.
Notifications of the places offered will be made on 16 April 2018 (from 12 June 2018 for applications received after the deadline of 15 January 2018) and applicants are able to log on from midnight to learn the local authority’s decision. Automated emails will also be sent out with the relevant information together with letters offering a school place if 2nd, 3rd or 4th preferences are allocated.
For some, the school selection and admission process is extremely easy and first choice preferences are accommodated without issue. However, for others the process can involve numerous school visits and applications to schools that are vastly over-subscribed. The implications for failing to get a first choice preference, or a preferred school at all, can be significant.
So what happens if on 16 April 2018 you find out that your preferred choice has been unsuccessful? Or what if you have not been offered a place at any of your preferred schools?
What Can You Do?
Firstly, if your child is not offered a place at any of your preferred schools, an alternative place will be offered at the nearest school to the home address with a place available. Milton Keynes Council, my local authority, suggests visiting the school if you have not already done so and finding out more information about the school.
If you are unhappy with the admission authority’s decision, you can request that your child is placed on the waiting list for schools where you have been unsuccessful or if any other schools have places available, you can make a late application. In addition to these steps, you can lodge an appeal against the decision to an Independent Appeal Panel.
The Appeal Process
The appeal process can be complicated and difficult to navigate and whilst support is available for parents and guardians, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the various deadlines, document preparation and the hearing itself.
So here is a very brief summary of what you may need to know:
- Parents have an ability to express preferences but there is no absolute right to choose a particular school;
- You should consider carefully the reasons why your application has been unsuccessful. If the decision relates to infant class size then there are limited grounds upon which an Independent Appeal Panel can review the admission authority’s decision, and it may not be possible for your personal circumstances and reasons for wanting the school to be taken into account;
- You can appeal for a school place as soon as you have been told by the admission authority that the school place you have applied for has been refused, but appeals must be received by the Education Appeals Team within 20 school days of the notification date – i.e. if you were refused a school place on 16 April 2018, your appeal form should be received by 2pm on 14 May 2018;
- You can only appeal for a school place which you have listed as a preferred school when you made your application, for a school place but you can make more than one appeal. Separate appeal forms will need to be completed and lodged; and
- According to Milton Keynes Council, in 2017, 38% of all admission appeals heard in Milton Keynes were successful and only 5% of appeals for Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 were successful.
The information set out above is a useful starting point if you are considering appealing in due course. There is a wealth of information online but, again, this can be difficult to comprehend fully as the process is quite legalistic. Parents considering an appeal should act quickly, obtain sufficient information so that they can make an informed decision about appealing (or any other options available to them) and then proceed accordingly.
The Regulatory team at Woodfines are able to offer specialist advice and assistance at all stages of this process, including initial advice, assistance with document preparation and representation at the Appeal hearing itself.
Myself and the rest of the team sincerely hope that everyone will be successful and secure their preferred school choices, but the reality is that there will be many disappointed parents on 16 April 2018 and we are stood by to assist with compassion but also practical and professional advice.
For more information contact a member of the team on 01908 202150, or email Nathan Taylor-Allkins at firstname.lastname@example.org