Wigan mum’s school complaints will not be investigated
A Wigan mum’s complaints about the school admissions appeals system have been dropped by the local authority watchdog.
The Local Government Ombudsman has said it will not investigate a grievance filed by a parent who claimed that Wigan Council’s school admission appeal panel failed to “properly consider” her case.
The complainant, who is referred to as Miss A by the LGO, contacted the watchdog following failed attempts to get her son into a different secondary school to the one he was assigned.
Miss A applied for a school place for her son to transfer to secondary school in September 2019 however the council received more applications for her preferred school than it had places.
On these grounds, it applied its oversubscription policy and refused Miss A’s application.
Unhappy with the outcome, Miss A appealed the council’s decision both in writing and then she attended the appeal hearing to make her case in person.
A report published by the LGO said: “She set out why she felt her son should attend the school and the difficulties an adverse decision would cause. She provided a supporting statement from her son’s primary school.
“The school admission appeal panel refused Miss A’s appeal. She believes the panel failed to give sufficient weight to her grounds of appeal.”
The watchdog explains that the independent school admission appeals panels must “follow the law” when considering an appeal.
The panel must consider whether the admission arrangements comply with the law and whether they were properly applied to the case.
Panelists must also consider whether admitting another child would “prejudice the education of others”.
The report adds: “If the panel finds there would be prejudice the panel must then consider each appellant’s individual arguments.
“If the panel decides the appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school, it must uphold the appeal.”
In this case, the LGO said, notes taken of Miss A’s appeal hearing showed that the panel considered the points made in support of her appeal.
After deliberation, it was decided that the appeal did not outweigh the prejudice further admission would cause to the school.
The LGO said: “The weight the panel members chose to give to Miss A’s evidence was a matter for them, not the Ombudsman.
“Without evidence of fault the Ombudsman cannot criticise the panel’s decision or intervene to substitute an alternative view.”
The authority said that it did not believe it would find the council at any fault if it continued its investigation and refused to take the matter any further.
Every year countless parents in Wigan appeal the decision made by the schools admission board.
Anyone who is unhappy with the place that their child has been given can appeal through the council and have the decision looked at by a panel of people who are neither connected with the local authority nor with the school.
Parents and guardians usually have around six weeks to lodge an appeal following a decision letter.