Covid-19: School Admissions

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06 May, 2020

Faraz Naqvi

Despite the unprecedented situation with Covid 19 and lockdown, the Education sector, in some respects, appears to be making the most of the situation. A series of legislative provisions have been introduced since the UK was hit by the pandemic, especially in relation to offers for primary school places. This article will highlight the new changes which will be important for those within school management.

Despite many schools being subject to lockdown measures and some closed altogether, National Offer Day for primary school places went ahead as scheduled on 16 April 2020. Shortly following this deadline, new regulations came into force on 24 April 2020, which were seen to relax some of the current requirements in the School Admissions Appeals Code 2010.

In light of changes to legislation, The School Admissions (England) (Coronavirus) (Appeals Arrangements) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 apply to appeals lodged on or after 24 April 2020, or those lodged before 24 April 2020 where the appeal had not been fully determined by that date. The Regulations relax current requirements in the School Admissions Appeals Code 2010 until 31 January 2021.

In summary:

  • An appeal panel hearing can now take place in person, typically with agreement from the school and parents. Like other sectors (such as legal) the use of remote technology is being embraced (telephone or video-conferencing facilities) where all parties have access to do so and are able to make representations;
  • In the event a panel hearing cannot be held remotely, the appeal may be considered by way of a paper-based exercise and determined on written submissions alone;
  • Where one or more members of an appeal panel withdraws, the panel can continue to consider and determine the appeal as long as it consists of at least two remaining members; and
  • Appeals deadlines can be varied - admissions authorities are required to review their deadlines and set 'reasonable' new or revised deadlines, which must be at least 28 days from the date of notification of refusal.

The emphasis following the variations of legislation, is that the appeals process must be carried out in a timely manner, with a view to mitigating the potential for appealing families to be disadvantaged by the current public health protection measures and preventing term-time disruption for children whose appeals are upheld.

Schools and academies should consider ways as to how they might adapt their existing appeals process to ensure it remains fair and effective despite the current lockdown.

For more information contact Faraz Naqvi in our Business Dispute Resolution department via email or phone on 0333 207 1146. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Business Dispute Resolution department here

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