Will Limiting School Admissions Complaints Make the Process Quicker?


Both primary and secondary school applications are now in. Whilst parents now eagerly await the results of whether their child has got into their preferred school, England's school adjudicator is making moves to limit the numbers of complaints made by pressure groups to ease up the system.

School admissions can be confusing

What's Wrong With The Current System?

A report by the chief schools adjudicator Elizabeth Passmore recently said that the current admissions system is "unnecessarily complex" and "unfair", and that this is the case in particular for academies or faith schools which are their own admissions authorities.

Margaret Tulloch of Comprehensive Future, a group campaigning for fair secondary school admissions raised her concerns with the report:

"She is right to raise concerns about own-admission authority schools failing to meet the requirement of the code and about so-called fair banding… These problems will only increase as more schools become academies."

What Will be Gained by Limiting Complaints?

Elizabeth Passmore has since said that the government should now think about limiting the numbers of complaints they are able to receive from pressure groups. She has said that they only increase her workload, and that her offices costs rose from £815,000 to £1,113,000 in the last year.

The move to avoid complaints rather than address the root of the problem has been criticised by Andrew Copson Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association:

"Instead of moving to enforce the law, the government has responded by planning to make it harder to identify future violations of it. This is an affront to both democracy and the rule of law."

Samantha Hale, solicitor specialising in education and community care comments:

"The admission that the current system is unfair and isn't working is concerning, especially in light of subsequent attempts to limit complaints. Whilst it may make sure parent's own complaints are at the forefront, but could result in less light being shed and changes being made to resolve problems."

"My advice to parents who have concerns about a decision on results day would be to look into appealing the decision."

What If My Child Doesn't Get a Place?

You'll hear the results of your child's place on the 16th April if it's a primary school, or the 1st March for a secondary school; in both cases, you will be sent a letter confirming the decision.

You can appeal if:

  • You think the admission rules weren't properly followed,
  • The admissions criteria isn't in line with the School Admissions Code, or
  • Your child's place was unreasonably refused.

If your child is aged between 5 -7, the class size restrictions of 30 children per class can limit your grounds for appeal and chances of success; only in exceptional cases will the limit be exceeded.

How Can Simpson Millar Help?

Not having the right place for your child to start the new school year can be an incredibly stressful and uncertain time for parents.

Our Education Law team are experts in supporting parents with all aspects of the admissions appeals process. We can advise on whether you're able to make an appeal and will support you every step of the way.

We offer affordable fixed fee payment packages which give you clarity and peace of mind over costs, and you can also download our free guide to the admissions and appeals process which may help in answering your questions.

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