1,000 Yorkshire parents win appeals on school places

RISING NUMBERS of parents are lodging appeals after their children were denied places at a chosen school, with tens of thousands submitted last year.

Picture: PA

New figures show 54,600 cases were lodged for consideration in 2014/15, across England - up eight per cent on the year before.

More than a fifth of those heard by a panel were decided in favour of parents.

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There were 7,122 appeals against the refusal of places submitted across Yorkshire in the last academic year - up from 5,800 a year earlier.

Of these 7,122 appeals last year 4,858 were heard by a panel and 1,153 were successful. In 2013/14 4,080 appeals were heard by a panel of which 1,050 were succesful. There were more primary appeals heard by a panel in Yorkshire in 2014/15 compared with 12 months earlier. Last year 3,127 appeals against primary place decisions were heard and 628 were successful.

A year earlier there had been fewer appeals but more successful ones. In 2013/14 there were 2,760 appeals against primary school decisions in Yorkshire of which 665 were successful.

This means that around one-in five Yorkshire parents who had their case heard by a panel in 2014/15 was successful compared with around one in four parents in 2013/14.

At secondary level there were 1,731 appeals heard from Yorkshire parents last year of which 525 were approved.

A year earlier there had been 1,320 cases heard by panels of which 385 were successful.The Department for Education (DfE) insisted that the proportion of appeals heard and upheld is stable amid increasing demand for places, and shows the system is working well.

Many areas of England, particularly major towns and cities, are facing an intense squeeze on places - particularly at primary school level - in part due to a rising birth rate.A breakdown of the latest government statistics show that of the appeals submitted over entry to England’s state schools last year, more were concerned with primary school places than secondary.

In total, there were 32,160 appeals over infant and primary schools, while 22,440 related to secondaries.

There was also an increase in cases heard, with 40,014 cases overall taken in front of an appeals panel - up from 36,967 in 2013/14.

Nationally more than 9,000 were decided in favour of parents, up marginally from 22.7 per cent the year before.

A DfE spokesman said: “The fact that the proportion of appeals heard and upheld remains stable in the face of rising demand for school places shows the admissions system is working well.”

All parents have the right to appeal if a school they applied to refuses their child a place.

The current system allows parents to argue that schools broke official admissions rules or that there are “compelling” extra reasons why their son or daughter deserves a place.

Matt Richards, senior partner at schoolappeals.com, said: “With increased awareness through social and traditional media, coupled with improved and accessible guidance and professional support available to parents, those that are unhappy with the school offered to them are challenging the decision. Chances of success for those that prepare properly are reasonable and an appeal is always well worth considering.”

Figures published earlier this year showed that fewer youngsters got their first choice of secondary school this year, with around one in six missing out.

Overall, 84.2 per cent of 11-year-olds got their top preference, according to DfE figures, meaning that around 15.8 per cent did not.

Last year, 85.2 per cent got their first pick.

The figures also showed that 87.8 per cent of children were offered their first choice of primary school, compared to 87.7 per cent in 2014.