In light of the on-going coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing rules introduced by the government many parents who were unsuccessful in securing their preferred school for their child will find themselves wondering what will happen with their school admission appeals.
If gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, how will hearings where at least six people (parents, a representative from the school and the appeal panel) need to be present in a small room go ahead?
The government has now published a set of regulations which came into force on 24 April 2020, and makes amendments to the ordinary way in which school admission appeals (for both primary and secondary schools) are dealt with in England.
The full set of regulations can be found here.
In summary, however, the regulations say that where it is not reasonably practicable for an admission authority to deal with an admission appeal in the normal way because of the coronavirus pandemic:
- Appeal panels can be made up of two members, rather than the usual three members;
- Appeal hearings can be held remotely (whether via telephone or some other video-link technology such as Skype or Zoom) as long as parties are able to fully present their case;
- Where it is not possible to hold hearings remotely, appeal panels may make their decision on the appeal based on the written information submitted by parties;
- Admission authorities must provide parties with at least 14 days’ written notice of an appeal hearing;
- Appeal panels must send decision letters to parties within 7 days of the hearing, or the date when they reach a decision on the appeal.
- All appeals must be heard and determined by an appeal panel as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Many admission authorities have so far said that they are “postponing” appeal hearings whilst they wait for further guidance from the Department for Education. Given the introduction of these regulations, there should now be a greater emphasis on admission authorities making alternative arrangements for hearings to be dealt with remotely. This will hopefully allow school admission appeals to progress in good time before the new school year in September 2020.
If you are unhappy with the school your child has been offered and want to appeal or have questions about the appeal process please contact Cartwright King here.
Cartwright King has lawyers in most areas of law, and the current information we are sharing is written by education lawyer Philip Pearson of Cartwright King.
If you have any further queries around the above topic or otherwise, contact the firm here.