Rise in school appeal victories for Wigan parents

Parents in Wigan are celebrating more schools appeal victories
Parents in Wigan are celebrating more schools appeal victories

There has been a big rise in the number of parents in Wigan winning appeals after their child was not offered a place at their preferred school.

Ahead of the 2017-18 academic year, parents submitted 296 appeals against the decision not to admit their child into their first choice school, Department for Education data shows.

In 224 of the cases, the parents were able to make their case in a hearing with an appeals panel, with 97 walking away with a win - a success rate of 43 per cent.

This was a significant jump from the 2016-17 academic year, when 34 per cent of cases were decided in the parents’ favour.

The Local Government Association says more families across England are facing growing uncertainty when trying to secure a school place for their child.

A spokesman said: “No child should be without a place, but councils fear that they will no longer be able to meet the rising costs for the creation of spaces, nor find the space for new classes, if they aren’t given the money or powers to do so.

“If we’re to meet the demand for school places then councils should be given back the powers to open new maintained schools and existing academy schools should expand where required.

All academies, free schools and local authority-maintained schools have to follow the Government’s admissions code when deciding which pupils to allocate places to each year.

Parents submit appeals to the school’s admission authority, which could be the local authority or another governing body depending on the type of school.

An independent appeal panel will then assess the case and decide whether the school was right to turn down the application.

Last year, 94 per cent of applicants in Wigan were offered a place at their first choice of school.

Parents of secondary school-age pupils were more likely to be successful in appeals than those of primary school pupils, with a success rate of 84 per cent in 2017-18 compared to 15 per cent.

The number of appeals in England has risen dramatically over the last five years, climbing from 50,550 in 2013-14 to 60,700 in 2017-18.

Academies, who act as their own admissions authority, were more likely to be the subject of appeals than schools maintained by local authorities.

Appeal panels were also more likely to decide in a parents’ favour with academies than they were with local authority-maintained schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Since 2016, the number of appeals against admissions has remained stable and our latest admission data shows that the vast majority of pupils secured a place at their first choice of school this year.

“This government has created 825,000 new school places since 2010 – the largest expansion since the 1970s. Alongside this we are spending £23bn by 2021 to ensure every child regardless of their needs, background or circumstances has access to a good school place.”

Alan Lindsay, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “We understand how important it is to give children the best start in life and we have many exceptional educational settings to support them.

“According to Ofsted inspection outcomes, 95 per cent of our primary schools are currently rated good or outstanding and 89 per cent of all schools and settings overall.

“We are really pleased that last year, 94 per cent of young people in Wigan borough were offered a place at their first choice of school, and we will continue to support families and our young people to achieve this wherever possible.”