School Admission Appeals
Independent Appeal Panel
What are Schools Appeals Panels?
Schools Appeals Panels are set up to hear and determine admission and exclusion appeals that relate to schools within the Borough of Southend-on-Sea.
Some of the schools in the Borough are so popular that parents cannot always get their child a place at their preferred school and they may decide to lodge an appeal. When this happens an independent appeals panel is arranged to hear the appeal. Occasionally a panel will also have to meet to consider an appeal by a parent against a school’s decision to permanently exclude a child.
Schools Appeals Panels are tribunals which must be independent of local authorities and of governing bodies. Panels are clerked and advised independently of the Council and their decisions are final and binding on all parties to appeals.
We are currently seeking applications from people who are interested in becoming panel members
Who May Serve on the Panels?
In Southend, we have a pool of independent members and use three members to sit on our appeals panels.
Each panel must have at least one lay member. This is someone without any experience of education and who has not been involved professionally in running or teaching in an educational establishment. This does not stop someone who is (or has been) involved with a school in a voluntary capacity from being a lay member.
Each Panel must have at least one education member who either:-
- Has experience in education (such as a teacher, active or retired); or
- Has knowledge of educational conditions in the local area – e.g. a social worker or an experienced school governor; or
- Is a parent of a registered pupil at a school
The Panel must have at least one member from each of the following categories:-
- A person who is, or has been, a head teacher within the last five years
- A person eligible as a lay member of an admissions panel (see above)
- A person who is, or has been, a governor of a school (He/she must have served as a governor for at least 12 months within the last six years) and, is not, and has not been a teacher or head teacher.
We will use the information supplied on the application form to determine which type of appeal you can hear and which category of member you fall into.
Who May Not Serve on the Panels?
The following may not serve on any panels:-
- Councillor of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
- An employee of the local authority (unless you are employed as a Headteacher or teacher)
- Any person who has, or has had, a connection with the local authority such that doubt may be raised about their ability to act impartially
From time to time there may be instances when panel members cannot take part in a particular appeal hearing. For example, if you are a Governor at the school in question, or if your child attends the particular school, or if you know the appellant or their family, you should not hear appeals for that school. This is to ensure that the Panel can act, and can be seen to act, fairly and impartially at all times.
What Qualities are Expected of Panel Members?
Panel members will hear confidential information about pupils and parents, making discretion and integrity important qualities.
Panel members must approach each appeal with independence and impartiality. They must be good listeners and be seen to be listening by asking questions and be interested in hearing both sides of the argument. They should be able to separate relevant and irrelevant facts, and come to a reasoned decision.
Full training on the procedures and guidance for hearing appeals (admission and exclusion) must be provided by the local authority (Note: this training has to take place before you can sit on your first appeal panel).
What Time Commitment is Expected of Members?
The majority of appeal hearings for school places are held between April and July, although hearings do take place at other times of the year as necessary.
Appeals take place during working hours. Each admission appeal generally takes around 30 minutes. Usually a morning or afternoon is set aside to hear a number of appeals. Sometimes the commitment is for a full day. Exclusion appeals generally last around 3 hours.
You should be able to attend appeals at short notice, although normally plenty of notice will be given. Papers to be read before the appeal hearing are despatched about 7 days beforehand.
Are Expenses Paid
Reasonable travelling expenses are paid and full details will be supplied on request.
If you wish to appeal against a refusal for a school place please see our School Admission Appeals Page.
Page last updated: 17/03/2017