Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the appeal panel members?

The panel will be made up of three to five independent panel members. These people are trained volunteers who are independent of Heckmondwike Grammar School. At least one member will have some experience of education (normally as a teacher, governor or parent) and at least one member will have never been paid to work in education. One of the Panel Members will chair the appeal.

Who will be at the appeal hearing?

The appeal panel (three to five members) will be present; they will listen to your case and the case for the school. The panel will make their decisions later in private with a Clerk to advise them. The Clerk is independent of the Admission Authority but is appointed by the Governing Body. The Clerk is responsible for making sure that the correct procedures are followed and that the appeal hearing is fair. The Clerk does not take part in the decision making process. The school will send a presenting officer to explain their case and to answer any questions that you or the panel have.

You should attend the appeal if at all possible, you can attend with a friend or relative to support you or you can ask someone to go to the appeal on your behalf. Remember that if you do not attend or send someone to the appeal the panel will make their decision based on the written evidence you sent in and information is given (in writing and at the hearing) by the presenting officer from the school. Legal representation is rarely needed; if you would like to bring a legal representative please let the Clerk know immediately. Please do not bring your child or any other child to the appeal.

What will the procedure be?

The appeal panel will normally follow this order:

  1. The presenting officer will be invited to explain their case (that is, why they have not been able to offer your child a place).
  2. You and the panel can ask questions about the presenting officer’s case.
  3. You will be invited to explain your case (that is, why you are appealing and why you would like your child to go to this school).
  4. The presenting officer and panel will ask you questions about your case.
  5. The presenting officer will sum up their case (they cannot mention any new evidence or points).
  6. You will sum up your case (you cannot mention any new evidence or points).

Will my appeal be heard in private?

Yes the appeal will be held in private

How will the panel make their decision?

The panel will make their decisions after they have heard all of the appeals for the school. No parents will be present and the presenting officer, or anyone else from the school, will not be present when they make their decision. The Clerk will be present to record the decision and provide legal advice.  The panel will either uphold your appeal (and you will be able to send your child to the school) or they will dismiss the appeal (and you will not be offered a place at the school).

The panel will make its decision in two stages:

The Factual Stage

  • Did the admission authority apply the published admission arrangements correctly?

Would admitting more pupils be likely to cause prejudice (damage) to the school’s ability to provide an efficient education or use its resources effectively?

If the panel decides that the admission arrangements were not applied correctly or that it would not be damaging to allow your child to attend the school they will uphold your appeal and you will be able to send your child to the school. If there is more than one appeal for the same school the panel will also have to consider what the impact would be if they upheld all of the appeals.

The Balancing Stage

If the panel decides that admitting your child would cause difficulties for the school they will then consider whether the case you presented for your child to attend the school is so strong that the school should admit your child, despite these problems.

Telling you the result of your appeal

The Clerk will write a letter to you within 5 working days after the decision is made explaining the result and how the panel made their decisions. The Clerk will not tell you the result over the telephone, in person or by fax or email.

What happens if I am not happy with the result?

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is the government agency responsible for investigating complaints about academy panels. EFA can only investigate complaints about panels that did not follow the procedures set out in the School Admission Appeals Code 2012 (the ‘Appeals Code’).

Below sets out the types of complaints parents / legal guardians can raise with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) about academy independent admission appeal panels.

Examples include:

  • the panel didn’t take relevant information into account in reaching its decision, or it took irrelevant information into account
  • the admission appeal decision letter you received following the panel hearing did not give clear reasons for the decision
  • you were not given an opportunity to state your case without unreasonable interruption
    the panel wasn’t set up or run in accordance with the Appeals Code

Where the EFA find something went wrong which could have affected the panel’s decision, they may:

  • recommend that the academy reviews its appeal procedures so that the problems you experienced don’t happen to others
  • ask the academy to hold a fresh appeal with a different panel

The EFA can’t overturn the panel’s decision. A panel is independent and their decision can only be challenged in court through a judicial review. You should seek independent legal advice in relation to this.

The EFA can’t arrange panels. You should contact the Academy direct to request an admission appeal.

Making a complaint to the EFA about a panel: details of how to make a complaint can be found in the admission appeals section of GOV.UK