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Bradford Council in bid to cut school admission appeals
More parents in Bradford object to the school chosen for their child than in any other local authority in the country.
More than 2,600 parents – one in ten – were so unhappy with the school place offered to their child last year that they lodged an appeal.
Bradford Council’s Children’s Services has now completed a three-month review into the problem.
Parents who have a child about to start at primary or secondary school have a right to state up to five preferences for a state-funded school. Every parent who is refused admission to their preferred schools has the right to appeal to an independent panel.
In Bradford, most of these appeals are organised by the Council’s legal team and are held at City Hall.
In the 2011/12 school year, parents lodged 2,603 appeals, nearly 12 per cent of all applications. Of these appeals, four out of every five (78.4 per cent) were rejected by the independent panel.
Although there were fewer appeals than in 2010/11, when 2,992 were lodged, Bradford still has the highest rate in the country.
A report into the issue, suggesting ways in which the number of appeals could be reduced, has been drawn up by Kath Tunstall, strategic director of children’s services at Bradford Council.
Her report states that in 2011/12, it took 166 days for the panel to hear the appeals.
It says: “The appeals process is resource-heavy for everyone involved: parents, staff in Admissions and Committee Secretariat Teams, schools who are their own admissions authority and Independent Appeals Panel members.”
The report also says the number of secondary school appeals halved in a year, from 520 in 2011 to 253 last year. This drop was as a result of work done by the Admissions Team last year, according to the report.
This included giving more help to primary schools where a high number of parents were not submitting school applications on time, emphasising the low success rate of appeals and speaking to parents to get them to think more positively about the school they had been allocated.
The report suggests encouraging parents to request realistic preferences by telling them which are their nearest schools, which schools are oversubscribed and the likelihood of an appeal being successful.
The report is going before the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 5.