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Admission Appeals Panel

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 64

									 ADMISSIONS APPEALS


BUTTERFIELD CONSULTANCY LTD




                              1
ADMISSION CRITERIA


•   Are they clear, fair and objective?
•   Are they in plain English and commonly used
    community languages?
•   Do they set out clearly the timescales?




                                                  2
ADMISSION CRITERIA


•   Are the criteria free from doubt and easily
    understood?
•   Are they objective and based on known facts?
•   Are they procedurally fair and equitable for all
    groups of children?




                                                       3
ADMISSION CRITERIA


•   Do they enable parent’s preferences for the
    schools of their choice to be met to the maximum
    extent possible?
•   Provide parents or carers with easy access to
    helpful admissions information




                                                       4
ADMISSION CRITERIA


•   Are “Looked after children” number one?
•   Distance, Siblings, Travelling Arrangements –
    are they defined?




                                                    5
ADMISSION CRITERIA

•    Are parents able to give details of religious
    and philosophical convictions?
•    Catchment areas – you can have them as
    long as they are not arbitrary – do they
    consider population, bus routes, walking
    distance?




                                                     6
ADMISSION CRITERIA


•   No interviewing
•   Schools cannot say they will only accept children
    whose parents have put their school as the first
    preference




                                                        7
CAN THERE BE A CHALLENGE TO
ADMISSION CRITERIA
The criteria could be challenged before the
AdmissionAppeal Panel or by way of Judicial Review.
  • If challenged before the Panel the members should
    consider the possible interpretations and adopt the
    interpretation that produces the most sensible result.
  • It is only where there is established of self evident
    unlawfulness that an Appeal Panel should adjourn
    and let the parents raise the matter in the High
    Court.



                                                             8
PARENTAL PREFERENCES



Parents must be able to express a preference as to the
school they would like their child to attend.
    •   Be able to give reasons for that preference.
    •   Be able to set out any religious or philosophical
        convictions they would like taken into account.




                                                            9
PARENTAL PREFERENCES


•   The Admission Authority must comply with the
    parents preference unless places have been
    allocated up to the published admission number and
    the Authority can show that admitting the child would
    prejudice the provision of efficient education or
    efficient use of resources.




                                                            10
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995


•   The provisions of the 1995 Act apply to admission
    arrangements
•   A disabled person is discriminated against if, for a
    reason which relates to their disability they are
    treated less favourably than people who are not
    disabled and it cannot be shown that the treatment is
    justified.




                                                            11
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995


•   At the moment schools do not have to remove or
    alter a physical feature.
•    Schools must publish information on admission
    arrangements for disabled pupils, access
    arrangements for such pupils, the steps being taken
    to treat disabled pupils as fairly as other pupils and
    plans for increasing the accessibility of the school.




                                                             12
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995



•   When hearing an appeal the Panel should consider
    whether there has been discrimination

•   Where cases are brought on the basis of disability
    they must consider whether the pupil is disabled
    and whether or not there has been discrimination.




                                                         13
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995


•   The onus is on parents to show the Authority was aware of
    the disability and have treated the child differently from pupils
    who were not disabled. If the parent proves this the Panel
    should then consider whether or not the Authority has looked
    at making reasonable adjustments so that the child could be
    admitted to the school.
•   If the child is disabled, has been treated differently from the
    pupils who are not disabled and the school has not
    considered making reasonable adjustments the Disability
    Rights Commission indicates the appeal should be allowed.


                                                                        14
 DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995


Examples of what might be taken into account in
considering whether a proposed adjustment is reasonable
include:
      a) The need to maintain academic, musical,
         sporting and other standards
      b) Money available
      c) Cost




                                                          15
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 1995


    d) The availability of provision through special
       educational needs law
    e) The practicalities of making a particular
       adjustment
    f) The health and safety of the disabled pupil
       and others
    g) The interests of other pupils




                                                       16
BEGINNING THE APPEAL


• The Admission Authority must make arrangements for
  parents to appeal.
• The parents should be told in writing why the
  application was unsuccessful.
• The parents should give reasons for wishing to appeal.
• No set timescale to return the appeal form but a date
  should be given by which it must be returned.




                                                          17
BEGINNING THE APPEAL

• At least 14 days notice must be given of the date for
  the appeal.
• The appeal should normally be held within 30 school
  days of an appeal being made or, for appeals made
  during the normal admissions ground, within 30 school
  days of the specified closing date for receipt of
  appeals.
• At least 7 days (5 working days) before the hearing the
  Admission Authority should supply the clerk with the
  necessary documents.

                                                          18
APPEAL PANELS


• Must consist of 3 or 5 members.
• Must consist of at least “one education expert” and “
  one lay member.”
• Appeal Panel Members must be “appointed”




                                                          19
SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975


 •   Admission authorities must not discriminate between
     boys and girls in the way they admit children to a
     school except where the school in question is a single
     sex school




                                                              20
RACE RELATIONS ACT 1976 & 2000


 •   Admission authorities cannot discriminate
     against applicants on the basis of race, colour,
     nationality or national or ethnic origin
 •   Public bodies, including schools have a duty to
     promote racial equality




                                                        21
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 2005

 Schools and local authorities have a duty when
 carrying out their functions to have regard to the
 need to
       a) promote equality of opportunity for
       disabled people
       b) eliminate unlawful discrimination
       c) eliminate disability related harrassment




                                                      22
DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT 2005


 d) promote positive attitudes towards disabled
     people
 e) encourage disabled peoples’ participation in
     public life
 f) take account of disabled people’s disabilities
     even where that involves more favourable
     treatment



                                                     23
EQUALITY ACT 2006

 It is unlawful for schools to discriminate against a
 person on the grounds of that person’s religion
 or belief in the following ways:
       a) In the terms on which it offers to admit
          him/her as a pupil;
       b) By refusing to accept an application to
          admit him/her as a pupil; or




                                                    24
EQUALITY ACT 2006

 c)        Where he/she is a pupil of the establishment:

      i.     In the way in which it affords him/her access to
             any benefit, facility or service;
      ii.    By refusing him/her access to a benefit, facility or
             service;
      iii.   By excluding him/her from the establishment; or
      iv.    By subjecting him/her to any other detriment



                                                                    25
APPEAL PANELS


• Complaint 01/C/015721- parent complained all panel
  members were white males. The ombudsman said
  ideally attempts should be made to ensure the panel
  reflects the makeup of the local community but failure
  to do so was not maladministration.




                                                           26
APPEAL PANELS

Complaint 05/B/3822
The ombudsman found that it was maladministration for a
gentleman who was a governor of a school that the
children of 7 appellants currently attended to sit on an
appeal panel involving those parents.




                                                           27
INFANT CLASS APPEALS


• Classes containing children, the majority of whom
  are aged 5, 6 or 7 must not exceed more than 30
  pupils for each qualified teacher.
• There is a duty on authorities and governing
  bodies to comply with this limit.




                                                      28
INFANT CLASS APPEALS

 • Once a class size of 30 has been reached a
   child can be refused a place on the grounds
   that “qualifying measures” would be required to
   keep to the statutory limit i.e. provide more
   accommodation or increase the number of
   teachers.




                                                 29
INFANT CLASS APPEALS

The Admission Authority must show:
a) 30 places have been allocated
b) They have been allocated in accordance with the
   admission arrangements
c) It is, therefore, necessary to take “qualifying
   measures”




                                                     30
INFANT CLASS APPEALS


Parents sometimes raise the question of whether or
not there is money available for another teacher
and/or another classroom




                                                     31
INFANT CLASS APPEALS


If this point is raised the question is whether or not
the school has any spare money available not the
authority




                                                         32
INFANT CLASS

The Appeal Panel can allow an appeal if satisfied:
a) The decision to refuse admission was not one
   which a reasonable Admission Authority would
   have made in the circumstances of the case
   (Ground A) or
b) The child would have been offered a place if the
   schools admission arrangements had been
   properly implemented (Ground B)


                                                      33
INFANT CLASS

• To allow an appeal under Ground B the Panel
  must be satisfied that the Authority did not allocate
  places in accordance with the admission
  arrangements and that the child would have got a
  place if places had been allocated properly.
• When considering an appeal under Ground B the
  Panel can only consider information available to
  the Admission Authority when it made its decision
  together with material the Authority would have
  been aware of if it had acted reasonably.

                                                      34
INFANT CLASS


The courts have held that in considering Ground A:
• In considering Ground A the Panel can receive any
  new information the parents wish to put forward even
  though the Authority was not aware of it at the time the
  application was considered.
• However, this evidence, to enable the Panel to allow
  an appeal on Ground A must be persuasive.




                                                         35
INFANT CLASS


 However, the draft School Admissions Appeal
 Code indicates that appeal panels can only take
 into account information that was available to the
 admission authority when they considered the
 application.




                                                      36
INFANT CLASS

• When considering an appeal in respect of Infant
  Classes the Panel should consider any future
  prejudice which would be caused by admission of an
  additional child i.e. the effect on the school in future
  years of admitting the child e.g. the cost of engaging
  another teacher.




                                                             37
INFANT CLASS


 •   If a panel was to interfere with the decision to
     refuse a place at the preferred school you must find
     that the authority in making its decision was or
     would, in the light of all the evidence now available,
     be perverse.




                                                              38
INFANT CLASS


 •   The panel must be satisfied that no reasonable
     authority could have made or would make the
     decision under appeal.




                                                      39
THE TWO STAGE PROCESS


•    Stage one – the onus is on the Council to make out a
    case against admission on the grounds that one of the
    statutory reasons for refusing to accede to parental
    preference applies. If the Authority does not show that
    this is the case the appeal must be allowed.
•    Stage two – the Panel must balance the reasons for
    refusing admission against the reasons given by the
    parents for wanting their child to attend the school. An
    appeal can only be allowed where the parent’s
    reasons, on balance, prevail.

                                                               40
MULTIPLE APPEALS


If the Authority presents it’s case on more than one
occasion, the case must always be the same. The
Authority cannot produce new evidence or expand upon
it’s case as the appeals proceed.




                                                       41
MULTIPLE APPEALS

   Where an appeal panel are dealing with several
   appeals in respect of the same school three options
   are possible at the first stage:-
1) The Panel can agree that no appeals can be allowed
   without creating prejudice and move to the second
   stage; or
2) Agree that all appeals can be allowed without creating
   prejudice; or
3) Agree that some more children can be admitted to the
   school before prejudice would be created

                                                          42
MULTIPLE APPEALS

If the Panel decides admission of additional children
would result in prejudice, it should consider, for each
individual case, whether the parents grounds for the child
to be admitted to the school outweigh the prejudice. This
involves no comparison between appellant’s cases.
If there are several cases which outweigh the prejudice to
the school and merit admission, but the Panel determined
that the school could not cope with that number of
successful appeals, the Panel should compare cases and
decide which of them to uphold.


                                                             43
MULTIPLE APPEALS


If a Panel decides further children could be admitted
without prejudice to the school, it must determine how
many could be admitted and allow appeals up to that
number.
In considering which appeals to allow, the Panel may
have some regard to the admission criteria but also to
other factors in the individual parent’s cases so that any
compelling reasons for admission which the parents
present can be taken into account.


                                                             44
PREJUDICE – WHAT IS IT?


• To show prejudice is more than the numbers
  game.
• The information presented to the panel must show
  how the conclusion was reached that prejudice
  would be caused by admitting another child.




                                                 45
PREJUDICE – WHAT IS IT?

• Prejudice can include size of classrooms, size of
  playgrounds, cloakroom accommodation, number
  of toilets, number of computers, the way classes
  are organised, staffing levels, health and safety,
  the number of children with special educational
  needs, the number of children who are wheelchair
  users.




                                                       46
PREJUDICE – WHAT IS IT?
• Parent’s case – medical reasons, social reasons,
  proximity to the school, travelling,delivery of
  children to school, collection of children from
  school.
•    A factor the Panel should take into account is
    whether or not the child has been offered a place
    at another school – this can be particularly
    relevant if there is a discussion about travelling to
    and from school


                                                            47
REASONS FOR DECISIONS


• Panels must give reasons for their decision
• It seems a standard form letter is not sufficient as it
  does not tell the reader anything about the particular
  facts and circumstances of the appeal.
• It is important parents who appeal know why their
  appeal was unsuccessful.




                                                            48
REASONS FOR DECISIONS


• The letter should explain in full why the Panel decided
  the individual circumstances of the parents case were
  considered sufficient or insufficient to outweigh the
  prejudice arguments of the Admission Authority (Code
  of Practice – paragraph 4.83 [England] 4.84 [Wales])




                                                            49
REASONS FOR DECISIONS


The letter should be the letter of the Panel
written either by the Chairman or the Clerk and
approved by the Chairman and the remainder
of the Panel.




                                                  50
THE ROLE OF THE CHAIR
•   Welcome the parties
•   Introduce the Panel members and the clerk
•   Introduce the presenting officer for the Authority
•   Explain the procedure
•   The limited scope of an infant class size appeal
•   Explain the two stage procedure
•   Explain the Panel is independent
•   Explain the decision is binding on the Admission
    Authority
                                                         51
THE ROLE OF THE CLERK

• Outline the basic procedure to the parents and deal
  with any questions they may have
• Ensure the relevant facts from both parties are
  presented and recorded
• Order the business
• Be an independent source of advice on procedure, the
  Codes of Practice and the law on admissions
• Record the proceedings, decisions and reasons
• Notify all parties of the decision

                                                         52
ROLE OF THE CLERK


• The Clerk should keep brief notes
• These do not have to be verbatim
• The Clerk should keep notes of the hearing
  until at least the admission process for the
  year is complete



                                                 53
ROLE OF THE PANEL

• Be independent and impartial
• Be informal
• Make a decision on the evidence heard
• Hear and carefully note the evidence
• Establish the material facts
• Ascertain any relevant law
• Reach a decision with reasons
                                          54
ROLE OF THE PANEL

Have all the parties:
•   Understood the nature of the proceedings?
•   Said everything they want to say?
•   Been treated courteously and made to feel at
    ease?
•   Feel the Panel has been listening to and
    understood the points made?
•   Be clear as to when they are to be informed of the
    decision?
                                                     55
TRAINING

• Members of Panels and Clerks must be given
  training before they take part in any hearings
• Panel members should be given regular
  updates on legislation, guidance, court
  decisions and ombudsman’s reports
• Authorities must keep records of when Panel
  members attend training



                                                   56
RULES OF NATURAL JUSTICE
   The Panel must comply with the rules of natural
   justice:-
1) The parties must have all the papers
2) The parties must be given an opportunity to put their
   case
3) No person who has an involvement in the matter
   should be involved in the decision making process
4) Essential that no outsider could consider there was
   any unfairness or bias on the part of anyone involved
   in making the decision

                                                           57
RULES OF NATURAL JUSTICE
   Possible problem areas
1) Talking to one of the parties in the absence of the
   other
2) One of the parties being alone with the Panel
3) Asking inappropriate questions e.g. “What is wrong
   with the school offered by the Authority – my grandson
   goes there”
4) Body language
5) Falling asleep?
6) Do you know anyone?
                                                         58
HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998

• It does apply to Appeal Panels
• Panels have to act in a way which is
  compatible with Convention rights




                                         59
HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998
Article 2 of Protocol 1

•   Under this article no person shall be denied the right to
    education. Authorities must respect the right of parents to
    ensure education and teaching is in conformity with their
    own religious and philosophical convictions.
•   However this is not an absolute right – it does not create a
    right to education in any particular institution or in any
    particular manner.
•   As long as a child is provided with suitable and adequate
    education there is no infringement of Article 2 of Protocol 1


                                                              60
HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998

Article 8
•   Article 8 gives a right to family life.

•   The Courts have held that children of the same family
    attending different schools is a breach of Article 8.

•   However, Article 8 is not an absolute duty.

•    If children of the same family have to attend different
    schools and as a result one of them may arrive late
    this is a factor for the Panel to take into account.

                                                               61
HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998

Article 8

• However, it is not to be regarded as a necessarily
  determinative factor.

• It is a factor to be considered by the Panel and they
  will decide how much importance to attach to it.

• It is for the Panel to decide, having regard to the issue
  of lateness for school and the other circumstances of
  the case if it was perverse to refuse admission


                                                              62
PROPORTIONALITY


• All decisions have to be proportionate
• This is the fair balance between the protection
  of individual rights and the interests of the
  community at large




                                                    63
PROPORTIONALITY
To decide whether or not a decision is proportionate it is
necessary to consider:-
  1) Whether relevant and sufficient reasons have been
     given for the decision
  2) Whether there was a less restrictive alternative
  3) Whether there has been some measure of procedural
     fairness
  4) Whether safeguards against abuse exist
  5) The task of the Panel is to balance the needs of the child
     and of the school and decide which outweighs the other.

                                                              64

								
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