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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 10:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7020
There has in the past been mention of headteachers being instructed by their particular LA not to provide support for parents going to appeal.

I have since come across the following ruling by the ombudsman:

Mr and Mrs X complained about the way their appeal against the refusal of a place for their son in a secondary school was handled.

Evidence from headteachers

1. Mr and Mrs X submitted a letter of support from their son's primary school headteacher as part of their appeal. The letter was returned to them and they were told that the council's policy was that such letters should not be written by headteachers and could not be considered by the appeals panel.

2. Mr and Mrs X said this was unfair and it prejudiced their appeal. They also said they were not told beforehand about the policy.

3. The council agreed to offer a fresh appeal since it accepted that Mr and Mrs X had not been told about the policy.

The Ombudsman's view

4. The Ombudsman was pleased to note the settlement of the complaint by a fresh appeal. However, he was concerned about the council's policy and invited the council to reconsider it.

5. The Ombudsman said that in principle it seemed to him that an appeal panel should not be deprived of any information which parents wished to submit to support their appeal, including any comments from their child’s current school. Also, the policy was probably difficult to enforce strictly and might disadvantage some children whose headteacher acted in accordance with the council’s policy, whereas other children were given support because their headteacher thought this was appropriate notwithstanding the policy. Also, the Ombudsman could not see how the restriction could apply to the headteachers of voluntary aided and foundation primary schools, so that the parents of their children might have a letter whereas the children from community schools would not. That would be unfair.

The council’s response

6. The council agreed to change its guidance to headteachers, so that in future parents could submit supporting letters from their child’s primary headteacher in connection with an appeal.


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