Thanks for copying the letter.
The Code states:
Second stage: balancing the arguments
3.6 At this stage the panel must consider whether the appellant’s grounds for the child to be admitted outweigh any prejudice to the school. The panel must take into account the appellant’s reasons for expressing a preference for the particular school (e.g. why they want that school in particular ......[note the word must]
If transport/logistics was one of the arguments you wished to put forward, I fail to understand why this issue was considered to be completely outside the panel's remit.
As I understand it, your child achieved a qualifying score, but failed to get a place when the oversubscription criterion (ranking) was applied.
With reference to grammar schools, the Code states:
In addition to considering the issues set out in paragraphs 3.1 to 3.7 [I have quoted 3.6 above], an appeal panel may be asked to consider an appeal where the appellant believes that the child did not perform at their best on the day of the entrance test and, as a consequence, did not reach the required academic standard. [note the word 'may']
As I said before, I do not quite see how it could be a fair hearing if the issues to be considered were not made clear to you. According to the Code:
1.31 ....... Appellants are appealing over a matter that is very important to them. Admission authorities must give appellants appropriate guidance and information before the hearing to enable them to prepare their case for appeal ........
2.31 At the start of the hearing, the panel chair must:
.....b) explain the procedure clearly and simply, giving details of the issues which the panel will be addressing and in what order, including the two-stage process ....... [Code of Practice] - my bold print
Finally, the chair's question about your place on the waiting list looks like a breach of the Code.
There are certainly grounds for requesting the ombudsman to investigate - to find out what view he takes of these matters.