Appeal Panels must follow a two stage decision making process for all appeals.
First stage - examination of the decision to refuse admission
The Appeal Panel must consider the following in relation to your child:
a) whether the admission arrangements (including the area's co-ordinated admission arrangements) complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998; and
b) whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in your case.
The Appeal Panel must then decide whether the admission of an additional child would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
The Appeal Panel must uphold your appeal at the first stage where:
a) it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admission law or had not been correctly and impartially applied, and your child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied; or
b) it finds the admission of additional children would not prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources.
However, if the Appeal Panel is hearing multiple appeals for the same school and it finds that a number of children would have been offered a place, and to admit that number would seriously prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources at the school, the Appeal Panel must proceed to the second stage.
The Appeal Panel must proceed to the second stage where:
- it finds that the admission arrangements did comply with admissions law and that they were correctly and impartially applied to your child; or
- it finds that the admission arrangements did not comply with admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied but that, if they had complied and had been correctly and impartially applied, your child would not have been offered a place; or
- it finds that the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
When deciding whether prejudice would be caused to the school with the admission of an additional child, the Appeal Panel must take into account the school's published admission number. The Admission Authority must demonstrate in its written and verbal submissions during the appeal hearing that prejudice would arise over and above the fact that the published admission number has already been reached.
In reaching a decision as to whether or not there would be prejudice to the school the Appeal Panel may consider a number of factors for example:
- what effect the admission of an additional child would have on the school in the year group and following academic years as the year group moves through the school;
- whether any changes have been made to the school's physical accommodation or organisation;
- the impact on the organisation and size of classes;
- the amount of teaching space available at the school;
- the availability of teaching staff and additional support and intervention provided to children.
If the Appeal Panel has not found any grounds to allow your appeal at the first stage, it must move onto the second stage, which involves balancing the arguments.
Second Stage - balancing the arguments
Even if the Appeal Panel accepts the Admission Authority's case that prejudice would occur if an additional child where to be admitted, the Appeal Panel can still decide to admit your child to the school if it feels that the case you put forward outweighs any prejudice to the school. If the Appeal Panel believes that there are strong and compelling reasons for your child to get a place at the school, it can direct the Admission Authority to give your child an additional place at the school.
The Appeal Panel must balance the prejudice to the school against your case for your child to be admitted to the school. It must take into account your reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what you feel the school can offer your child that the allocated or other schools cannot. Therefore it is important that you explain fully in your appeal your reasons for wanting your child to go to the school. You will only get one chance to do this, so you must tell the Appeal Panel everything during the appeal hearing and ensure that you have submitted any documents you wish to use to support your case in advance of your appeal hearing by the stated evidence deadline.
If the Appeal Panel is hearing more than one appeal for the same year group at the same school (multiple appeals) it must balance the arguments for each appeal on an individual basis. However, if the Appeal Panel finds that there are more appeals that outweigh the prejudice to the school than the school could cope with, it must compare the cases and only allow those appeals with the strongest case for admission.
The Appeal Panel may decide after hearing your appeal that your case does not outweigh the prejudice to the school. If this is the case the Appeal Panel must refuse your appeal.