Introduction to Appeals 2023
Making decisions about your child’s education can be a worrying time. Not getting a place for your child at the school which is your 1st preference can leave you feeling uncertain about what you should do next.
The purpose of this page is to explain to you the rights you have on the admission of your children to our school. You should, however, seek your own independent advice regarding the particular circumstances of your case.
It also explains the procedure for school admission appeal hearings. As a free school we run this process slightly differently to other schools, but we wish to stress to parents that this is a fair system.
You have the right to say which school you would prefer your child to go to, but this does not mean that you have the right to have your child admitted to that school.
The organisation responsible for making decisions about whether your child can have a place at a school is called the admissions authority. As a free school St. Jérôme Church of England Bilingual School is its own admissions authority.
How to appeal for a school place
You must make your appeal in writing, to the school’s address:- Saint Jérôme Church of England Bilingual School, 120-138 Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2DJ. You must do this by 14 May 2023.
Details to be included in your appeal:-
- Explain why you are not satisfied with the decision;
- Say why you think your child should have been given a place;
- If you think that the admission authority have overlooked something, tell them about this
- If your circumstances have changed since you originally applied and the admission authority are not aware of this, include details and, if appropriate, evidence of this; and
- any medical evidence if appropriate.
What happens next?
You will receive an acknowledgement from Saint Jérôme Church of England Bilingual School and a date of the Appeal Hearing and its location. These may be in one letter or two.
The appeal may be held at Saint Jérôme Church of England Bilingual School, Harrow Civic Centre or at another venue.
Appeals are timetabled and every effort is made to keep to your appointed time. Please be aware however that there is, occasionally, some delay if previous appeals have taken longer than expected to be heard.
Who sits on the Appeals Panel?
In all cases the admissions authority is responsible for setting up an Appeals Panel. The Appeals Panel will have at least three members who must be independent of the admissions authority and have taken no part in making the original decision on a place for your child. At least one of the members must have no personal experience of managing a school or providing education in any school (this does not including panel members with experience as a school governor or in any other voluntary role). The other members must have relevant experience in education or is a parent of a registered pupil at a school (other than the one for which you are appealing).
If you think that any member of the panel hearing your appeal is biased (an example would be where you know a person on the panel), you should tell the clerk at the start of the hearing.
Attendance at the appeal hearing
Your appeal can be heard without you being there. However, we strongly recommend that you should go if you can. You will probably find the thought of going to a hearing a daunting one. Although it is a legal procedure, the appeal panel will try to make the hearing as informal as possible. You can be legally represented, or take a friend with you or someone who can speak on your behalf, such as an interpreter or signer.
If you do not attend and do not request an alternative date or time, then the Panel will hear your appeal in your absence, taking into account any written material you have submitted.
You will receive at least ten working/school days’ notice of your appeal date.
Who else will be at the appeal hearing?
As well as yourself and anyone you decide to take with you, there will be:
The independent appeals panel (3-5 members) to decide the case;
The Clerk to the hearing to give legal advice to the panel, to make sure the correct procedure is followed and to take the minutes of the hearing; and Witnesses called by you or the school
Procedure at appeal hearing
The Clerk will introduce him/herself to you and the people representing the admissions authority, before the hearing starts. The panel will also be introduced.
The Chair will then explain the procedure to you. This is likely to be the following:
- Welcome and introduction (Chair)
- Explanation of how the hearing will be conducted (the procedure) (Chair)
- Admissions Authority case
- Questions from parent
- Questions from members of the panel
- Parent’s case
- Questions from Admissions Authority representative
- Questions from members of the panel
- Summing up by Admissions Authority
- Summing up by parent
The clerk will tell you what you should do next and when you can expect to receive a decision.
The basis for the decision
Infant Year Groups (Reception, Years 1 & 2): The 30 class size rule:
You need to be aware that there are statutory limits in force for infant class sizes (Reception, Years 1 and 2) and that, subject to certain very limited exceptions, these statutory limits mean that no infant class containing 5, 6 and 7 year olds may contain more than 30 pupils with a single qualified teacher. This is known as “the thirty class size rule”.
After considering all the representations made to them at the Hearing, the Panel will decide:
1. Whether or not the maximum permitted class size of 30 would already have been reached by the time your child started at the school.
2. Whether or not, therefore, to allow your child into the school would breach the statutory class size limits for infant classes.
In cases such as this, an Appeals Panel can uphold your Appeal and offer a place to your child only where it is satisfied that:
- the decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admissions authority would have made in the circumstances of the case, or
- that your child would have been offered a place if the admissions arrangements had been properly implemented.
If, after having given careful consideration to all the information at its disposal, the Panel is satisfied that admission arrangements have been properly implemented in your case and that the Admissions Authority has acted reasonably in the circumstances of the case, the Panel has no option but to dismiss your appeal.
When hearing a number of appeals, the Appeals Panel will reach a decision after hearing all the Appeals relating to our school. This procedure is adopted so that parents whose appeals are heard later rather than sooner do not feel that their case has been prejudiced by appeals already heard.
The Appeals Panel’s decision is notified to parents and to the admissions authority in writing as soon as possible. In order to avoid parents having to wait until they have received the written decision the Clerk will normally telephone you on the same day to let you know the outcome. A formal letter is then sent to you within 5 working days.
What happens after the appeal?
As already set out above, when the Panel has come to a decision, the clerk to the hearing will telephone you and write to you to let you know the outcome. If you have been unsuccessful, the letter will explain why the Appeals Panel did not give your child a place at the school. You will receive this letter within five school.working days of the hearing wherever possible.
If your appeal is unsuccessful
The admissions authority will only look at one application for a school in an academic year, unless there has been a significant change in circumstances. This can be medical reasons, which have arisen since the time of the original application, or the first application was turned down because of the class size, but the year group has moved to Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and above). This is because infant-class-size legislation would no longer apply.
If there has been no significant change in circumstances, the admissions authority does not have to look at your application again, so you have no right of appeal.
Further action you can take with your appeal
The Appeals Panel’s decision is binding and there is no further Right of Appeal. However, there are other possible courses of action available, which parents may wish to consider as appropriate:-
Complain to the Secretary of State for Education that the admissions authority has acted unreasonably.
Initiate proceedings in the High Court for Judicial Review, if you consider that the hearing has not been conducted properly.
Complain to the Commissioner for Local Administration (The Local Government Ombudsman) if you feel that there has been maladministration.
Complain to the Council on Tribunals on general procedural matters.