Leeds City Council have allocated secondary school places for thousands of primary pupils children across the city this week.
Of the 9,141 pupils entering year seven in September, 7,486 have been offered a place at their parents' first-choice school and 8,711 children will go to one of their five listed preference schools.
Leeds City Council has stressed that 90 per cent of the families who did not receive an offer for any of their five preferred schools had not included the nearest or a catchment area school among their choices. It is recommended that parents always include a school that they are within the catchment area for when completing the application form to reduce the risk of being allocated a school a long distance away from the family home.
Can I appeal against their decision?
If you have not been offered a place at the school you wanted you are entitled to appeal against the refusal.
Appeals are heard by panels which are independent of the council, schools and governing bodies. The panel follows the School Admission Appeals Code drawn up by the Department for Education with advice from the Local Government Ombudsman.
What criteria do appeals take into account?
- 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
- Whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question
The appeal panel must then decide whether the admission of additional pupils would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
Where the panel is satisfied that prejudice would be caused by a further admission, they must then balance the prejudice to the school against the parent/carer’s case for the child to be admitted. This second stage is called “the balancing of arguments”. Stage 2 of the appeal hearing provides you, as the parent/carer, the opportunity to outline the reasons why you feel your child should be admitted into the school. Following the hearing, the panel will consider both arguments and decided which argument outweighs the other.
How do I appeal?
Most appeals are arranged by the council's admissions team but some schools arrange their own appeals. Forms can be downloaded from the council website and can be returned to firstname.lastname@example.org
How long does an appeal take?
- Appeals against a decision for a transfer of school place, outside of starting primary or secondary school, can be submitted any time during the academic year. Appeals will be heard within 30 school days of the appeal request being received (where the in-year application has been processed and the right of appeal has been issued).
- You will receive a written invitation to the appeal and this will be 10 school days before your appeal is heard.
- A statement setting out the case for not offering your child a place at the school concerned is sent to you and the appeal panel at least one week before the appeal date.
- While waiting for an appeal, it is advised that you accept a place that you have been offered by contacting the school directly. This will ensure your child does not miss out on education and it will not affect your appeal. Your child will automatically be placed on the waiting list for any school you appeal for and can remain on the list if the appeal fails.
- Whatever your reason for appealing, you should provide in advance as much information in support of your appeal as you can. This might include particular personal circumstances including, for example, medical advice. The late introduction of evidence for your appeal may cause a delay as all parties need to read the new evidence.
What is the appeal hearing procedure?
- The appeal will be heard by an independent panel made up of three people in Leeds Civic Hall. At the hearing the panel will have copies of both the written submission prepared by us and the information which you have provided. A panel member should not normally hear your appeal if he or she knows you directly, is a governor of your preferred school or has been involved in your case previously.
- It is important, wherever possible, that you attend the hearing. You can also bring someone to help you make your case, such as a friend, relative or other adviser. It is possible for an appeal to be heard in your absence if you do not attend.
- A representative from the local authority will attend to explain the position. The headteacher (or another member of the senior leadership team) may attend to clarify any factual matters about the circumstances at the school. In the case of schools which are their own admitting authority (such as voluntary-aided schools, foundation schools, free schools or academies) the school may present their own case.
- A clerk is present at all times during the hearing. Their job is to make sure that the correct procedures are followed and that the appeal hearings are carried out fairly.
- Your appeal will be heard in private and the proceedings are confidential. The appeal hearing is a formal meeting and follows a set procedure but you will be guided through it.
- Once the hearing has taken place, the clerk will write to you as soon as possible to notify you of the result. The decision of the appeal panel is final and we and the school must keep to it.
- If you feel that the appeal panel or Leeds City Council has not followed proper procedures in the appeal hearing, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
School waiting lists
If you are not happy with the place you have been offered you can put your child on a waiting list for a different school without going through the formal appeal process.