More parents in Portsmouth are winning appeal to get their children into preferred school, figures show

THE proportion of parents in Portsmouth winning an appeal over their child's selected school rose last year, figures reveal.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 12:29 pm
Updated Monday, 30th August 2021, 12:31 pm

Department for Education data shows in Portsmouth, parents took 43 cases against their child’s school placement for the 2020-21 academic year to an appeal hearing, with 11 successful – a win rate of 26 per cent.

The success rate was up from the year before, when it was 25 per cent and higher than the national average of 19 per cent.

In Hampshire, parents took 415 cases against their child’s school placement for the 2020-21 academic year to an appeal hearing, with 109 successful – also a success rate of 26 per cent.

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School children during a Year 5 class at a primary school. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The success rate was down from the year before, when it was 27 per cent.

The news comes as thousands of children are due to return to school this week following the summer break.

Parents are facing a postcode lottery for appeals across England, the figures show, with wide variation in success rates between local authorities.

In the north east’s County Durham, the rate was 48 per cent, while in the London borough of Kensington, just three per cent of appeals were won.

Matt Richards, founder of law firm schoolappeals.com, said the urban landscape of an area could be a factor in the variation in success rates.

He said cases in urbanised areas of London were more likely to feature parents simply wanting their child to be placed in a better school, but in rural areas with schools more than five miles apart, it could be down to logistical reasons.

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But he added: ‘It can also be down to the training and advice given to independent panel members which they stick to for their decisions.’

Schools follow the government's admission code when deciding which pupils to allocate places to each year.

When a parent is unhappy about an allocation, such as not achieving their first-place preference, an appeal can be submitted to the school's admissions authority.

That can go to an independent appeal panel which then assesses whether the school was right to turn down the application.

In Portsmouth, 89 per cent of pupil applicants were offered a first-choice school place last year.

The number of appeals heard equated to 0.7 per cent of all admissions, down from 1.2 per cent the previous year.

Of the appeal outcomes, parents of primary school-age pupils were more likely to win than those of secondary school pupils, with a success rate of 39 per cent compared to 16 per cent.

In Hampshire, 92 per cent of pupils were offered a first-choice school place last year.

The number of appeals was one per cent of all admissions, down from 1.1 per cent the previous year.

In Hampshire parents of secondary school-age pupils were more likely to win than those of primary school pupils, with a success rate of 35% compared to 15%.

Across England, the number of appeals heard fell sharply last year, from 48,100 in 2019-20 to 41,100 in 2020-21.

A Department for Education said with an increase in schools found to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted inspectors since 2010, parents could be ‘confident their child will get the high-quality education they deserve’.

A spokesman added: ‘School admissions appeal panels are independent bodies and make decisions on an individual basis, without admission authority involvement in the decision.

‘The number of appeals heard in each area varies widely, so the number of successful appeals cannot be meaningfully compared as the volume can impact the success rate of appeals.’

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