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 Post subject: Academies - post appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:10 pm 
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Can anyone provide any advice on the procedure following an unsuccesful appeal.

The LGO states that they can look at cases where the decision letter did not give reasons for the decision and the panel did not act independently or fairly.

The EFA which deals with academy appeals doesn't state this. It simply says, "If, after the appeal, you are concerned the appeal did not comply with the Code or was set up incorrectly, and this affected the outcome of the appeal, you can complain to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) within six months of the date of the appeal hearing."

Is their criteria different? Does the EFA have a much narrower remit?

I have posted confidential information to the appeals postbox also which might help put the above in context. Any advice would be gratefully received.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:55 pm 
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DIY Mum3 wrote:
Can anyone provide any advice on the procedure following an unsuccesful appeal.

The LGO states that they can look at cases where the decision letter did not give reasons for the decision and the panel did not act independently or fairly.

The EFA which deals with academy appeals doesn't state this. It simply says, "If, after the appeal, you are concerned the appeal did not comply with the Code or was set up incorrectly, and this affected the outcome of the appeal, you can complain to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) within six months of the date of the appeal hearing."

Is their criteria different? Does the EFA have a much narrower remit?

I have posted confidential information to the appeals postbox also which might help put the above in context. Any advice would be gratefully received.

With the LGO they are NOT looking at the decision that the panel came to, but the process. If you dislike the decision but it was correctly made (ie - the code was followed) then they neither organisation will overturn that decision. Your only recourse would be to High Court.

If the panel made the decision correctly, but there was a minor problem, such as what they took into account not being stated in full in the letter from the clerk, then the decision would still stand, but the clerk and/or panel would get a slapped wrist & told to do it properly in future.

If the panel did not do things correctly - for instance, were given a list before the appeals from the school saying which appeals the panel must allow, or came up with their own test for the children - then that would be a different matter and they would be likely to order a re-hearing and/or compensation.

When the LGO say 'fairly', I interpret that as meaning that the panel treated both sides with equal fairness.

Some parents might wonder why an item that they gave great weight to was not mentioned in the letter. It could be that the panel just didn't find that an important bit of evidence, and there's only so many levels of detail the clerk can write on that letter. If it was found by the LGO that there was no mention of it in the clerks notes, then that would be a different matter. Don't forget that at least some of the panel are likely to have heard appeals before - or even if not, will have heard several appeals (if not up to 100) for this school. They'll probably have realised that the certificate saying your child has had a story / poem / picture selected for a national book of Y6 stories / poems / pictures has been submitted by many other parents, so whilst you may be inordinately proud of that, the panel don't treat it as particularly proving your child should have their appealed allowed.

The final sad fact is that your appeal may have been pretty strong, but that there were stronger appeals that were allowed. You can not be told what was in those appeals, and even if the notes were sent to the LGO, even they would not tell you, so you'd never know what your appeal was not upheld.

Sorry. Being a bit blunt. Late at night!


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:13 am 
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DIY Mum3 wrote:
The LGO states that they can look at cases where the decision letter did not give reasons for the decision and the panel did not act independently or fairly.
But the LGO goes on to say:
    The Ombudsman cannot overturn an appeal panel’s decision. But if we find that something has gone wrong in the way your application or appeal was dealt with that might have affected the decision [my underlining], we may:
      • ask the admissions authority to hold a fresh appeal with a different panel
      • ask the admissions authority to offer a place at the school you wanted. This only happens occasionally where, for example, it is clear that the published admission criteria have been applied wrongly and your child has been denied a place as a result, or
      • recommend that the admissions authority reviews its appeal procedures so that the problems you experienced don’t keep happening to other parents.

I agree with NancyB that what matters is the process (whether correct procedure was followed), and - critically - whether any failure could have affected the panel's decision (i.e. whether there has been an injustice).

I note from your email that the EFA was not mentioned. It would have been good practice for the decision letter to do so. Could you tell us whether the possibility of a referral to the EFA was mentioned elsewhere by the school in any papers or booklets they sent you?

With regard to reasons for the decision, the Code states:
    2.24 The panel must communicate the decision of each appeal, including the reasons for
    that decision, in writing to the appellant, the admission authority and the local authority. The
    clerk or chair must sign the decision letter and send it to the parties as soon as possible after
    the hearing but not later than five school days, unless there is good reason. In the case of
    applications outside the normal admissions round, the child must be admitted without
    unnecessary delay.

    2.25 The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible so that the parties
    can understand the basis on which the decision was made. The decision letter must contain
    a summary of relevant factors that were raised by the parties and considered by the panel. It
    must also give clear reasons for the panel’s decision, including how, and why, any issues of
    fact or law were decided by the panel during the hearing.

A failure to explain the panel's reasons would technically breach the requirements of the Code, but would not necessarily mean there has been an injustice.

There are two things we can do, if you would like to be reassured that every possibility has been exhausted.

First of all, could you send a copy of the decision letter to the Appeals Box for me to check the exact wording.

Secondly, could you try and get hold of a copy of the clerk's notes, which may reveal a bit more about how the panel arrived at their decision.
See D4 for how to do this:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/ombudsman#d4

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:42 pm 
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Thank you for the responses. Etienne, I will request the clerk's notes as you have suggested and will also email the decision letter to the appeals box as requested.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:33 am 
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NancyB wrote:
If the panel did not do things correctly - for instance, were given a list before the appeals from the school saying which appeals the panel must allow, or came up with their own test for the children - then that would be a different matter and they would be likely to order a re-hearing and/or compensation.

Do schools often give panels this kind of list and if so, in what circumstances? Thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:16 pm 
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I think heads would roll if a school were caught supplying a list of appeals to be upheld!

Regarding the second point, there was an infamous case in Lincolnshire where the panel chair appears to have devised his own (rather daft) questions to assess grammar school suitability:
viewtopic.php?t=3487&highlight=
(It shows what can go wrong when schools try to run their own appeals, and use panel members without the necessary expertise.)


Thanks for the decision letter, DIY Mum3. I'll wait to see if you can get hold of the clerk's notes before commenting.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:40 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Etienne wrote:

Regarding the second point, there was an infamous case in Lincolnshire where the panel chair appears to have devised his own (rather daft) questions to assess grammar school suitability:
viewtopic.php?t=3487&highlight=
(It shows what can go wrong when schools try to run their own appeals, and use panel members without the necessary expertise.)


This was the same panel who heard the appeal of another forum member. In her case the ombudsman made a public report:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/complaint-outcome ... -07c03329/

I thought I would post a little "follow-up". The school stopped appointing its own appeal panels and has used the Legal Services trained and appointed panels of Lincolnshire County Council ever since. On the very few occasions I have had direct experience of the school since that time I have been impressed by their caring attitude, particularly towards children in difficult circumstances. They appear to follow procedure very assiduously, including still going to appeal when they are over numbers in a year group (mid-year) even when they then indicate to the panel that they are not going to oppose the admission or offer any strong case for prejudice. This costs them financially each time and schools do now have the discretion to admit over PAN if they wish, but they have indicated that they feel it is fairer for all concerned to go through the appeals channel.

So complaints can have an effect that lasts long after the original resolution and benefits future families.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 6:55 pm 
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Etienne wrote:
I think heads would roll if a school were caught supplying a list of appeals to be upheld!

If a school thought that an injustice had been done to a child or children through their own maladministration, I think they could make a legitimate and fair case to the IAP, without breaking any rules. I'm not convinced they would do it, because of the precedent, but they certainly should!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:49 pm 
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Etienne wrote:
I think heads would roll if a school were caught supplying a list of appeals to be upheld!

I was using the worst case scenario :neli:


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:04 am 
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That indeed was my interpretation.
So far beyond the pale that heads would roll ...... :wink:

The second example was of particular interest as we've had some such cases on the forum.

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