What happens at the hearing?
The hearing will be in private. Notes will be made by the clerk, but they are not available to anyone else unless there is a complaint to the Ombudsman, who can ask to see them.
The chairman will ask the school representative or admissions officer to make their case first. You will be able to ask questions about the school's case when they have finished.
If there are many appeals for the same school, a grouped appeal may be organised. You and the other parents would all be present to hear the school's case.
Once the school's case has been presented, and the parents and panel have asked questions, the panel will hear from the parents individually. You will make your case confidentially, just to the panel and the school's representative or admissions officer. The appeals clerk will be present taking notes.
At the appropriate point the chairman will ask you to make your case. This is your opportunity to explain to the appeal panel why your child should have a place at the school. It may be worthwhile to make notes before the hearing to enable you to remember all the things you want to say.
The school or admission officer, and then the panel, will ask you questions. You can expect the panel to have read your case and any supporting evidence. There is no facility for making PowerPoint presentations or showing DVDs.
Once the panel has heard your case and asked you questions, you will leave the hearing. If there are other appeals for the same school the other parents will have the opportunity to present their case for their child, as you have done.
The decision will be sent in a letter
Once you have left the hearing there is no reason to stay any longer. The decision will be communicated to you by letter, which will be sent to you within five school days of the hearing. The decision will not be given to you by telephone, even if you ring the appeals clerk.
How does the panel make the decision?
The panel makes the decision in private, after it has heard all of the cases for that school on that day, with just the three panel members and the hearing clerk present.
The panel members consider all the evidence and the answers given to questions, and discuss their views. The hearing clerk guides them as to the requirements of the law, and records their decision.
There are very specific and restricted grounds which can lead to an appeal on infant class size grounds being upheld.
Infant class size appeals
Infant classes are those where the children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 during the school year.
The law provides that no infant class should have more than 30 children in it. If an infant class exceeds this number, the school will have to set up another class and employ another teacher.
When the panel considers an appeal involving infant class sizes they can only uphold the appeal in the following circumstances:
- if the admissions arrangements had not been applied correctly and this is the only reason the child was not admitted to the school
- if no reasonable admission authority could have made the decision not to admit the child (i.e. the decision was perverse in the light of the admission arrangements)
In all other cases, the appeal must be dismissed.