Appeals

If you apply for a place in a state-funded school and a place has been refused, you have the right to appeal against the decision of the admission authority for the school – Bishop Wordsworth’s Academy Trust is the admission authority.

 

Your right to appeal

If you wish to appeal the entrance test you must have applied to the Local Authority for, and been refused, a school place.  Therefore, if your son/daughter has failed the entrance test you must still apply to the Local Authority for a place if you wish to appeal.  The right to appeal is given under Section 94 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. These notes apply to the appeals for admissions to years 7 to 13 at Bishop Wordsworth’s School.

What is an appeal panel?

The panel that will hear your appeal is independent of the School, the Academy Trust and the Local Authority.  It consists of three volunteers who have received relevant training. The Panel is served by a Clerk who can offer the Panel legal or procedural advice.  The hearings are conducted in accordance with the law following a procedure set out in the School Admissions Appeals Code, issued by the Department for Education in 2012.  The panel makes every effort to ensure the proceedings are as informal as possible and you have the opportunity to explain the reasons for your appeal in your own way and to ask the questions you want to ask.

The names of the Panel members are published on the letter of invitation to the hearings.  If you know a panel member, you must inform the Clerk immediately so that panel member can be replaced.

Appeal timings and deadlines

11+ Appeals

There is a set timescale for appeals for the normal 11+ intake into Year 7.  This timescale is published on the admissions section of our website by the end of February each year.

Other Appeals- Post 11+ and Sixth Form. 

The appeal will be heard within 40 school days of the you submitting your appeal.

Before the appeal

About ten school days before the appeal hearing, the Clerk to the panel will write/email to you to say where and when it will be heard.  If there are a lot of appeals, Part 1 and Part 2 of the hearings may be held on different days.

This letter/email will include a statement from us setting out the reasons why we could not offer your son/ daughter a place here.  You will also receive a copy of your own submission so that everyone is clear on the information the Panel will consider.  You should read all documents and bring them with you to the hearing.  Because you have a copy of our statement in advance, you will be able to consider whether there are any questions you would like to ask the Presenting Officer (the School’s representative).

If there is anything else you would like to submit for consideration by the Panel, you must send any additional papers by the additional documents’ deadline (which will be in the Clerk’s letter/email but usually about 5 days before the hearing).  Evidence submitted after this deadline will not be considered at the appeal.  

The panel will be told what scores your son/daughter achieved in the test.

Appeal process

Panels must follow the two-Part decision making process for all appeals.

If many appeals are to be heard, Part1 will normally be heard with other parents.  Otherwise, Part 1 and Part 2 will both be heard in private for each appeal.  Part 1 usually takes about 2 hours and is concerned with legality and ‘Resources’.)

What happens at Part 1?

The Panel will ask our presenting officer to present our reasons for refusing to admit another pupil.  Our resons will be that our admissions arrangements have been lawfully set and applied fairly and that, as a selective grammar school, we do not have to fill vacancies if a pupil is not of the required academic standard to benefit from a grammar school education.  The Appeals Code also allows the School to argue that we cannot admit more than our Published Admission Number (PAN) because this would prejudice the provision of efficient education or use of resources.

After the Presenting Officer has presented the case, the Panel may ask questions and then the Chair will invite parents to ask questions.  

At the end of Part 1, the Panel will adjourn and consider whether the case has been made that the pupil has been refused lawfully.  Parents are welcome to remain to hear the Panel’s findings from the Clerk.  The Panel will only uphold your appeal at Part 1 only if at least one of the following applies:

  • our admission arrangements were unlawful and your child would have been offered a place if they had been lawful.
  • the school’s admission arrangements were not applied properly in your child’s case and your child would have been offered a place if they had been properly applied
  • admitting another child at the school would not prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.

What happens at Part 2?

Part 2 is held in private with no other parents present and will take about 40 minutes.  Bear in mind that the Panel are looking for quality of argument rather than quantity but you should cover anything that you feel is relevant.  The Panel will invite you to present your case, based on the submission you made.  Your role is to persuade the panel that your son/daughter would suffer greater prejudice by not being admitted than the School would face by admitting another pupil.  The threshold for this is high.  Once you have presented your case, the Panel may ask questions of you and so may the Presenting Officer.  This is to confirm facts so that the Panel can reach the correct decision.

What sort of evidence should I present?

You will need to present strong and compelling evidence to the panel to demonstrate that your son/daughter is of the ability to benefit from a grammar school education.  If your son/daughter reached the pass mark (or, for the Sixth Form, attained the required GCSE grades) you will be making a:

‘Resources Appeal’.  The School will have to convince the Panel that increasing the numbers above the Published Admissions Number (PAN) to include an extra pupil will detrimentally affect the education and resources offered to the other pupils in the year group.  You will have to persuade the panel that either the oversubscription criteria (at Annex E to the School’s Admissions Policy) were not correctly applied, or that special reasons mean that your son’s/daughter’s needs are greater than the detrimental effect his/ her entry will have on their year group.  Note that the PAN is set for the maximum number of pupils that classrooms can hold.

If your son/daughter did not reach the pass mark, your appeal will be a:

‘Selection Appeal’.  Your evidence will have to convince the Panel of the high academic ability of your son/daughter and why they did not achieve the pass mark.  You will need to show, with documentary evidence, mitigating circumstances for their not securing a higher mark. See next section.

Lower than expected mark – mitigating circumstances

You will need to provide strong and compelling extenuating circumstances which are sufficient to explain the shortfall in marks, but note that:

  • Documentary evidence from an appropriate person outside the family who can substantiate how your son/daughter was affected will carry more “weight” than a statement from a parent on the appeal form.
  • The recent death of a family member who lived in the same household, would carry more “weight” than a distant relative who lived in Scotland and died some months ago.
  • Minor events – such as a poor night’s sleep - are unlikely to attract much weight.

All evidence must be corroborated.  Evidence must be submitted with your appeal unless this is unavoidable.  Additional evidence must be submitted to the Clerk anytime up until the additional documents’ deadline.

Am I wasting my time appealing?

No, appeals for places at grammar schools can be successful.  However, you must present a strong case, backed by compelling and corroborative evidence which clearly demonstrates that your son/daughter has the same academic ability as those who have already been offered a place.  Additionally, the Panel must also be persuaded that the admission of your son/daughter will not prejudice efficient education and use of resources on their year group.

How to present your case

How you do this is entirely up to you.  But useful advice is to: be on time. be prepared, be positive.  You may bring a friend to support your case.  The Panel will want to hear what you have to say and will consider everything but consider how you would feel as a panel member if you reeled off copious facts and figures.  Be focused and to the point.  After questions, you will be invited to have the last word.

Who are the panel members?

The three members of the panel are volunteers; they have received relevant training and are totally independent of us and the LA. Some have direct experience in education, others are known as lay members. The panel has the services of a Clerk who is more than just a note-taker, he or she can offer the panel legal or procedural advice. The names of the panel members are published on the letter of invitation to the hearings. In the unlikely event that you know a panel member, you must inform the Clerk immediately so that another panel member can be made available.

How will the panel make their decision?

During their deliberation, the panel will consider your case against section 3.13 of the current Appeals Code. This School does not apply a review process of a pupil’s academic ability, so the panel must only uphold the appeal if it is satisfied:

  • that there is evidence to demonstrate that your son/daughter is of the required academic ability; and
  • where applicable, that your case outweighs the School’s Resources case.  The Panel may not devise its own methods to assess suitability for a grammar school place unrelated to the evidence provided for the hearing.  

If the Panel accepts our case, it will exercise discretion, using sections 3.8 to 3.10 of the Appeals Code, to balance the degree of prejudice to the School against your case.  

If there are multiple appeals, the Panel must not compare individual cases when deciding whether your case outweighs the prejudice to the School.  However, where the Panel finds there are more cases which outweigh prejudice than it believes the School can admit, it will then compare the cases and uphold those with the strongest case for admission.  

During the deliberation, only the Panel members vote and make decisions.  The Clerk remains to record and advise on the law.  Our Presenting Officer is not present during this process.

When will I hear the result?

Normally the decision of the appeal, with the Panel’s reasons, will be sent to you and to us in writing by the Clerk within five school days of all the appeals being heard.  The Panel’s decision is binding on us and on you.

What happens if I decide not to attend the hearing?

The Panel will consider the appeal on the basis of the written information submitted by you.  Your appeal is considered in the same way as all other appeals and some parents prefer not to attend.  If you do not attend the Part 1 hearing, you may still attend your Part 2 hearing.  Whether or not you attend Part 1, matters relating to Part 1 cannot be discussed at Part 2.

Can I appeal against this decision?

No.  But if you think that the appeal has not been conducted according to the Appeals Code, you can complain to the Education Funding Agency.  They act for the Secretary of State and cannot review or overturn the Panel’s findings and decision.  However, if they consider that you have been disadvantaged by the appeal process they will direct that there be another hearing of the appeal with a different Panel and Clerk.

Where can I get further information and advice?

The Appeals Code allows for the Clerk to give you independent generic advice regarding the appeal process.  If this web page is not clear you may email her.  She is:

Mrs Caroline Cave
Clerk to the Appeals Panel
Email: admissions.appeals@bishopwordsworths.org.uk

 

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