Fewer parents in Hartlepool win appeals against school admission decisions

Fewer parents win appeals after not being given first choice school. Picture PA Archive/PA Images
Fewer parents win appeals after not being given first choice school. Picture PA Archive/PA Images

There has been a big drop in the number of parents in Hartlepool winning appeals after their child was not offered a place at their preferred school.

Ahead of the 2017-18 academic year, parents submitted 35 appeals against the decision not to admit their child into their first choice school, Department for Education data shows.

In 20 of the cases, the parents were able to make their case in a hearing with an appeals panel, with five walking away with a win – a success rate of 25%.

This was a significant decrease from the 2016-17 academic year, when 64% of cases were decided in the parents’ favour.

However, the likelihood of Hartlepool’s parents winning their appeals is still higher than the national average, with parents across England winning their appeals in just 22% of cases last year.

The Local Government Association says councils in England are under “extreme pressure” because of rapidly rising pupil numbers.

A spokesman said: “Councils have an excellent track record of fulfilling their statutory duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them.

“But councils fear that they will no longer be able to meet the rising costs for the creation of spaces, nor find the space for new classes, if they aren’t given the money or powers to do so.

“Secondary school places are becoming increasingly squeezed, with more families facing growing uncertainty when trying to secure their child’s place.

“If we’re to meet the demand for school places then councils should be given back the powers to open new maintained schools and existing academy schools should expand where required.”

All academies, free schools and local authority-maintained schools have to follow the Government’s admissions code when deciding which pupils to allocate places to each year.

Parents submit appeals to the school’s admission authority, which could be the local authority or another governing body, depending on the type of school.

An independent appeal panel will then assess the case, and decide whether the school was right to turn down the application.

Last year, 95% of applicants in Hartlepool were offered a place at their first choice of school.

The rate of appeals has fallen slightly over the last year. In 2017-18 there were 1.5 appeals per 100 school admissions in, down from 2.8 in 2016-17.

Parents of secondary school-age pupils were more likely to be successful in their appeals than those of primary school pupils, with a success rate of 33% in 2017-18 compared to 13%.

The number of appeals in England has risen dramatically over the last five years, climbing from 50,550 in 2013-14 to 60,700 in 2017-18.

This equated to a rate of four appeals per every 100 admissions compared to 3.5 five years ago.

Academies, who act as their own admissions authority, were more likely to be the subject of appeals than schools maintained by local authorities.

Appeal panels were also more likely to decide in a parents’ favour with academies than they were with local authority-maintained schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Since 2016, the number of appeals against admissions has remained stable and our latest admission data shows that the vast majority of pupils secured a place at their first choice of school this year.

“This government has created 825,000 new school places since 2010 – the largest expansion since the 1970s.

“Alongside this we are spending £23 billion by 2021 to ensure every child regardless of their needs, background or circumstances has access to a good school place.”