We look here at the changes to admissions appeals procedures being introduced by the DfE in response to Covid-19.
The DfE has announced that new regulations are expected to take effect on 24th April 2020 which will relax admissions appeals procedures until 31st January 2021. Currently, appeals panels must meet in person, which is not permitted by social distancing constraints. Appeals panels must also have a minimum 3 members (including a lay member and a member who has experience in education, is familiar with educational conditions in the local authority area or is a parent of a registered pupil at the school). However, Covid-19 may affect the availability of these panel members. Covid-19, social distancing measures and school closures may also affect the ability to meet current admissions appeals deadlines.
The new regulations will therefore:
- allow panel hearings to take place by telephone or video conference (where everyone can access the necessary equipment and the appellant can participate) or by a paper-based appeal (where the appellant fails or is unable to take part, it is impractical to offer an alternate date and everyone can make representations in writing);
- allow an appeals panel to have 2 members; and
- provide for revised deadlines to require at least 28 calendar days' written notice of a new appeal deadline, at least 14 calendar day's written notice of an appeal hearing and for decision letters to be sent within 7 calendar days of the hearing.
These regulations will apply to appeals that have not been concluded and to new appeals submitted before 31st January 2021.
The regulations will be followed by guidance to be introduced by the DfE over the coming months.
The DfE announcement on the new regulations and guidance can be found here.
It appears that the new regulations and guidance will bring a welcome adjustment to admissions appeals to take account of Covid-19. As always, though, the devil will be in the detail. We will therefore be producing a further update once the regulations have been finalised in order to help your school or academy manage your appeals procedures.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Graham Shaw or any other member of the Education team on 0113 244 6100.
You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys Education on Twitter here
The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.