Support and guidance for schools during COVID-19 (Admissions and Appeals)

 

Support and guidance for schools during COVID-19 (Admissions and Appeals)

 

Purpose

To help admission authorities and those involved with school admission appeals towards understanding their roles and responsibilities.

Advice

Admission appeals

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, admission authorities (local authorities, academy trusts or school governing bodies, depending on the type of school) may not be able to carry out admission appeals in the usual way. This is because appeal panels must be held in person, which might break the current restrictions on social gathering. There might also be difficulties in finding enough independent panel members which might impact on meeting certain appeal deadlines.

However, parents must continue to have the right to appeal to any school which has refused their child a place. They must continue to be supported and should not be disadvantaged by measures in place to protect public health.

As we anticipated,  the new regulations temporarily amend the 2012 Appeals Regulations. The aim is to:

  • give admission authorities as much flexibility as possible to manage appeals in a way that best suits local circumstances
  • ensure families appealing an admission decision this year are supported and are not disadvantaged by the measures in place to protect public health

The accompanying DfE guidance on changes to the admission appeals regulations is non-statutory and is aimed at supporting all of those who have a duty to act in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code.

New regulations, will:

  • disapply the requirement that appeals panels must be held in person and instead give flexibility for panel hearings to take place either in person, by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal where all parties can make representations in writing
  • relax the rules regarding what happens if one of the 3 panel members withdraws (temporarily or permanently) to make it permissible for the panel to continue with and conclude the appeal as a panel of 2
  • amend the deadlines relating to appeals for the time that the new regulations are in force

It’s important to note that the DfE will not remove any of the usual clerking duties for admission appeals. Clerks carry out a key role in relation to appeal hearings and provide advice on admissions law as well as keeping an accurate record of proceedings.

Further DfE guidance about the new regulations will be published in the coming months. This will provide further support to admission authorities and local authorities about carrying out admission appeals.

Please see admission appeals for schools places (DfE guidance) for more information and/or the main MKC School Admissions webpage

Last Updated: 15 January 2021