So sorry to hear your news.
In answer to your question, I think it depends how the appeals were organised .......
For a school that is oversubscribed do the panel members have to be the same?
I ask this question as we were first given a date of 30th May for which we could not attend, we were then given 14th June 2007. However, the panel members were different for each date.
For an appeal just against non-qualification, I see no need for the same panel to be involved as the case can be decided entirely on its own merits (should the child be deemed qualified or not?).
For an appeal against oversubscription, if you were part of a batch of appeals, all being heard around the same time (for example, starting late May and finishing mid-June), then I think the panel should be the same, because it may be necessary to compare the strength of different cases.
However, if there were two separate batches of appeals, one in May (at the end of which decisions were made), and a completely separate batch in June (at the end of which a second round of decisions were made), then the panel could be different.
The code of practice says:
4.68 Appeal panels will often have to handle appeals from a number of parents who all wish their children to be admitted to a popular school. In these circumstances, it is advisable to arrange appeal timetables so that one appeal panel comprising all the same members considers all the appeals.
4.69 Where multiple appeals for the same school are being heard, decisions should not be made on individual cases until all parents have been involved in both stages of the process, or an injustice could result. Note-taking by the clerk to the panel will be important in these circumstances. However, appeal panels will need to take
account of circumstances where a parent asks to be heard later than the time arranged. If the gap is significant, it might not be reasonable to hold up decisions for the majority.
4.70 If there are exceptional circumstances, and more than one panel has to consider appeals for the same school, each panel must make its own decisions absolutely independently, since decisions can only be taken by members who hear the appeals and only on the basis of the evidence put forward in the appeal hearing in the presence of both parties.
Procedures for dealing with multiple appeals
4.71 The following approach to multiple appeals may be used:
First, the panel should assess whether admitting all the pupils would cause prejudice to efficient education or the efficient use of resources (‘prejudice’), and whether the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented. If the panel finds that admission of the appellants would not cause such prejudice, then their appeals should be upheld.
Second, if the panel decides that admission of additional children would result in prejudice, it should consider, for each individual case, whether the parent’s grounds for their child to be admitted to the school outweigh such prejudice. This involves no comparison between appellants’ cases.
However, if there are several cases which outweigh the prejudice to the school and merit admission, but the panel determine that the school could not cope with that number of successful appeals, the panel should then compare cases and decide which of them to uphold.
4.72 Appeal panels should deal with multiple appeals in one of two ways:
Grouped appeals: where the admission authority’s case in respect of a school is heard once for the first stage of the appeal.
In this scenario, the admission authority presents its general case (the factual stage) in the presence of all or groups of parents (and any representatives) who may question the case. If the panel concludes that prejudice exists, it will be necessary to move to the second stage. At this stage, the appeals of the individual parents should be heard without the presence of the others, including consideration of whether the admission arrangements were properly applied. No decisions should be taken until all the appeals have been heard.
Individual appeals: where the admission authority presents its case, followed by the individual parents’ cases, as in the order of the hearing set out in paragraph 4.48. In these circumstances, the panel will hear the admission authority’s case repeatedly. If there are large numbers of appeals, it may be better to hold grouped appeals.