PARENTS

Primary School National Offer Day: Information On Appeals Process For Parents

The majority of offer letters will be sent on Monday 18 April.

15/04/2016 12:44 | Updated 18 April 2016

Parents around the UK eagerly wait to find out what primary school their child has got into in the run up to national offer day.

There are around 600,000 families awaiting the offer letter, but as many as 80,000 children will miss out on a place, according to ITV News

This means many families won't get their first choice and may have to travel further than they'd hoped for their child to attend school every day. 

The official day for councils to send parents confirmation for primary school places is Saturday 16 April 2016.

However, the Government states: "If this date falls on a weekend, confirmations are sent the next working day".

If you applied online for the primary school place, you will be emailed the outcome of your application on Monday 18 April.

If you applied on a paper form, you will be sent your outcome letter by first class post on 18 April. 

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See your local council’s website for more information as some dates may vary.

I'm happy with my chosen school, what do I do next?

If parents or carers are happy with their child's chosen school, they must respond to the offer, in line with the instructions on the offer letter, by Tuesday 3 May 2016.

Local authorities will inform schools of the offers that have been accepted by Tuesday 17 May 2016. 

What if I didn't get my child's first choice school?

If your child wasn't given your first preference school, you will be sent an additional notification letter.

The letter will provide detailed information about the outcome of your application and how you can appeal this, in line with your local authority. 

In reception, Year 1 and Year 2, the class size is limited to 30. Your application therefore may have been turned down if all the classes in that school already have 30 children.

Your appeal is likely to be more successful if:

- The admission arrangements haven’t been properly followed.

- The admission criteria aren’t legal according to the school admissions appeal code.

- The decision to refuse your child a place wasn’t reasonable.

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Kelly Reeve, senior legal consultant at Coram Children’s Legal Centre, who works with parents to appeal school places, said there are a few options if you haven't been given a school you're happy with.

"You can either accept the school place you have been given or apply for other schools with places available (you can get a list from the local authority)," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"This does not affect your right to appeal the decision of your preferred school, or to have your child on a waiting list for other schools.

"You can also wait for the letter giving you the 'reason for refusal' – this will determine the grounds of appeal."

Reeve advised parents to firstly check if their child can be placed on the waiting list for their preferred schools and to check how often this will be reviewed.

"Collect information from the preferred school about their admissions arrangements for the appeal," she added.

"Try to find out the 'Published Admissions Number', 'Net Capacity Assessment', staff capacity, the actual number of pupils in each age group, information about the size of the classrooms and communal areas through your authority. 

"Then follow the instructions you receive from the admissions authority about how to lodge the appeal."

Information on the appeals process from Kelly Reeve:

- The appeal will be heard between 20 and 40 days of notification of the decision to refuse a place.

- The appeal process usually runs as follows: the admission authority will put forward its case, you and panel can then ask questions, you put forward your case and the admission authority and panel can ask questions, both parties can then sum up their arguments.

- The panel will consider the lawfulness of the admission arrangements, whether any mistakes have been made and whether it was legally unreasonable to refuse your child a place. Panels will compare cases when deciding whether to grant a place.

- It is possible that the admission authority may hear multiple parents’ appeals at once.

- Once the panel has made their decision, there is no further right of appeal. 

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What happens if the appeal is not a success?

If parents are worried that the appeal process will not be successful or they don't want to appeal, Katie Roden from Ready For School said there are steps parents can take to make themselves feel more comfortable.

"It can initially be disappointing for a parent not to get a place at the school they wanted, but there are steps they can take to make sure their child gets the best start whichever school they join," she told HuffPost UK.

"The more confident and happy a child is when starting school, the more parents can ensure they get the most out of the move up.

"There are lots of easy ways at home parents can help. One of the best ways is role play."

Roden said this will enable children to get used to the routine of a school.

"Set up a school corner at home and use teddy as the pupil and child as the teacher," she said.

"Make sure you include break time and home time as well as lessons so they get the hang of the school day.

"Having them practise making new friends by arranging play dates can also make the first few days less unsettling.

"Remember not to worry too much as your child can pick up on that. Reception is mainly play-based learning and so there is lots of time for fun, making new friends and adjusting to a new routine.

"You will be pleasantly surprised at just how well your child settles in – although it might take their parents a little longer to get used to it."

For more information on the primary school admission process visit the Government's website.

More detailed information specific to your area can be found on your local council's website. Find schools online by entering your postcode here.

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