There are considerable variations all over the country.
The last figures I looked at showed that the success rate for Birmingham maintained secondary school appeals was about half the national average.
Nationally, the success rate for own-admission authority school appeals has consistently
been lower than for maintained schools.
I do think there might be a particular problem with some own-admission authority schools that organise their own appeals (especially if entry is very competitive and they are heavily oversubscribed).
The number of available panel members that own-admission authority schools can call on is likely to be quite small. In this situation I imagine it could be quite easy for a particular 'culture' to develop. What I mean by that is - when more or less the same panel hears the vast majority of appeals, there is a risk that it could become 'case hardened' and set in its ways.
Does the school have a group hearing for stage 1? To my mind, it's never a good sign if they opt for individual stage ones - I think parents are in a much stronger position if they can question the school case as a group rather than individually.
Is there any mileage in the parents adopting a more inquisitorial approach towards the school's case? This site seems to advise against that. But is Birmingham an exception given that the vast, vast majority of oversubscription appeals lose?
Spartacus asks a valid question. I feel the advice we give is broadly speaking for the best in most instances, because (1) it shouldn't be difficult for a school to establish some sort of prejudice, (2) parents are usually better off focusing on their own case than worrying about the school's, and (3) a good panel really shouldn't have any difficulty in spotting weaknesses in the school case without the assistance of parents!
This begs the question - what is a good panel? It will, of course, be fair-minded and completely impartial, and ought to show an active interest in the proceedings. I wonder how effective procedures are in ensuring that those appointed to serve as panel members are truly independent? How often is membership changed? Ideally it should be as representative as possible of the local community.
If appeals are never or only rarely upheld, a different tactic at stage 1 might be needed - but you cannot by law challenge the panel's judgement as such, so you will still be dependent on a fair-minded and impartial panel to come to the 'right' conclusion.
I don't recall ever having seen a case for one of the own-admission authority schools being discussed here. If anyone would like to send a copy to the Appeals Box, I don't mind assessing the scope for a more inquisitorial approach .............
It would also be helpful to know exactly what questions the panel ask about the school case - this usually gives quite a good indication of how seriously they take their role and whether they know what they're doing!
Lastly, do we know whether anyone has tried asking for a copy of the clerk's notes under the Data Protection Act, and whether the schools concerned have co-operated? The clerk's notes can provide evidence whether or not the correct procedures have been followed.