Fall in Blackburn with Darwen’s parents winning school admissions appeals

THE proportion of parents in Blackburn with Darwen winning an appeal against their child’s selected school dropped last year, figures show.

Department of Education data shows that in Blackburn with Darwen, parents brought 358 cases against their child’s school placement for the 2020-21 school year to an appeal hearing, with 52 successes – a rate 15% win.

The pass rate was down from the previous year, when it was 28%, and below the national average of 19%.

Parents face a lottery of postcodes for calls across England, figures show, with wide variation in success rates between local authorities.

In County Durham, in the northeast, the rate was 48%, while in London’s Kensington borough, only 3% of calls were won.

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

He said cases in urbanized 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, that could be due for logistical reasons.

But he added: “It may also be due to the training and advice given to independent panel members to whom they stand for their decisions.”

Schools follow the government’s admissions code when deciding which students to allocate places to each year.

When a parent is dissatisfied with an award, such as not meeting their first place preference, an appeal can be submitted to the school’s admissions authority.

This can go to an independent appeal committee which then assesses whether the school was correct in denying the request.

In Blackburn with Darwen, 83% of student applicants were offered a place in a top school last year.

The number of appeals heard was 7.2% of all admissions, up from 4.6% the previous year.

Among the results, parents of high school students were more likely to win than those of elementary students, with a pass rate of 17% versus 9%.

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

The DfE said measures have been put in place to allow parents to appeal during the pandemic.

These included authorizing appeal hearings by telephone or videoconference, or being decided on the basis of written submissions.

The Local Government Association said it could not comment on specific appeal hearings.

But a spokesperson said: “Every child should have a fair chance to get into their parents’ favorite school and boards and schools are working extremely hard to try to ensure that as many students as possible see themselves. assign their first preference. ”

An education ministry said that with an increase in the number of schools rated “good” or “excellent” by Ofsted inspectors since 2010, parents could be “confident that their child will get the education of high quality it deserves “.

A spokesperson added: “School admissions appeal boards are independent bodies and make decisions on an individual basis, without the admissions authority being involved in the decision.

“The number of calls heard in each area varies widely, so the number of calls accepted cannot be compared meaningfully, as the volume can affect the success rate of calls.”

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