An appeal is a way of gaining a place at your preferred school by indicating that this is a more suitable or appropriate school than the one you have been allocated. You would generally only appeal if you are dissatisfied with the school that you have been allocated by the County Council.
The appeals process is structured in a particular way and it is important you follow the due process for appealing against your school allocation in order for it to have any chance of succeeding. It is not enough to say you are not happy with the school you have been given, there has to be a stronger argument to support your case.
The appeals process works in the same way for all Gloucestershire school places the same, regardless of whether you are applying for grammar or comprehensive school.
Why Would I Appeal?
You would usually only appeal if you are not satisfied with the school that you have ended up with on reallocation day at the end of March. You do not need to start appeal proceedings until this point. However, you may suspect that an appeal is going to be likely, if the school you were allocated at the beginning of March was not one you are satisfied with. In this case it might be worth putting together evidence for your case, in advance, to save extra work later.
When Can I Appeal?
You would usually appeal after Allocation Day at the beginning of March. All grammar schools in Gloucestershire are independent academies and you must send appeals directly to them. The window where you must send an appeals form is usually from the start to the end of April and appeals will be heard in May or June.
How Do I Appeal?
Once you have downloaded the appeals form for each of the schools that you wish to appeal for, you will need to complete them and send them back to each of the schools by the deadline.
You generally have a week or two after this deadline to submit any additional paperwork to support your appeal. This may be a letter from your headteacher, a note from a doctor or other health professional stating that your child was not well on the day of the test or the time leading up to the test, SATS and/or CATS results or a Mock Test report comparing their performance with others taking the test. High grades in Music examinations can also be summitted. It is important to focus this information and evidence so that it addresses the grounds of your appeal and is clearly relevant.
You can find the relevant forms, deadlines and further details on the appeals process on each of the Gloucestershire grammar school websites.
What Are the Grounds of Appeal?
If you are appealing for your child to be granted admission to a particular school you must ensure you focus this appeal in accordance with the grounds that are accepted for an appeal. Your appeal will not be successful if it is based on proximity to the school, travel arrangements, sibling links, potential contribution to school life (academically or sporting), dislike of other schools or potential upset or disappointment at not getting the school. Appeals will only be successful if they are based on either the allocation process not being correctly applied or that your child’s performance on the 11+ test was significantly affected by some factor.
It is rare that the allocation process has not been properly followed and it may be very difficult to obtain evidence to demonstrate this. The most likely grounds for a successful appeal is that the performance in the 11+ test was not typical of what your child would normally expect to achieve. This can also be difficult to demonstrate, so it’s crucial that you gather any evidence of sickness or family difficulties as soon as possible after the test. Examples of instances which are most likely to lead to a successful appeal are death of a close family member, break up of a close family relationship (especially mother and father) or significant physical illness on the day. This is not to say that other factors would not be successful and there is a small element of subjectivity depending on the people on the appeals panel.
Should I Attend the Appeals Panel Hearing?
We would always recommend that you attend the Appeals Panel meeting yourself if at all possible as you will be able to talk to the panel and this can give more weight to your appeal. You are allowed to take an ‘advocate’ with you which can be a member of your family, a friend or a professional advisor. This can help the process seem a little less intimidating and they may be able to talk on your behalf if you get tongue tied and are not sure what to say.
What Happens in the Appeals Panel Hearing?
The appeals panel consists of three members. One is lay (no connection with education), one non-lay (that has knowledge of education) and the third can be lay or non-lay. There will also be an independent Clerk that can advise the panel on legal aspects of the appeal. The school will have a Presenting Officer that will enter and leave the panel hearing with you.
After introductions the school and the parents each put their case and may be asked questions by the appeals panel. When this has been done, the school and then the parents sum up and the clerk will record the details.
After the Presenting Office and parent/carer(s) have left the panel will make their decision. You will hear the outcome in writing within 5 days of the hearing.
What if My Appeal Isn’t Successful?
If you are not successful with your appeal there is no right of appeal against this decision. The only recourse is if you believe the appeal hearing itself was not conducted properly. If your child achieved the qualifying standard but have not been allocated a grammar school place, you may still secure a place if you are on the waiting list.
You may need to accept that a grammar school place is not going to be a realistic possibility, but there might still be a chance of obtaining a place in future school years. More details on the appeals process and in-year admissions are available at the grammar school websites.
If you have any questions about appeals or the allocation process then get in touch with us - we are happy to help where we can!