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Coronavirus (COVID-19): School admissions and appeals for school places

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. When appeals will restart
  3. The appeals panel
  4. Remote appeal hearings
  5. Appeals decided on written submissions
  6. What happens after the hearing
  7. Withdrawing your appeal

Overview

New regulations and guidance from the Government and the Department for Education (DfE) have been issued about how admission appeals will take place this year.

The new regulations give admission authorities, Councils and admission appeal panels more flexibility about how appeals can be heard during the coronavirus outbreak.

The new regulations do not change how an appeal panel must decide your appeal.

When will appeals restart?

Appeals for most schools in South Tyneside restarted by Thursday 18 June 2020. 

If you have submitted an appeal form, you will be contacted shortly. 

We do not manage admission appeals for Whitburn CE Academy. All enquiries about appeals for Year 7 at Whitburn CE Academy should be sent to the school.

The appeals panel

The Independent Appeals Panel decide the outcome of your appeal and the panel has 3 independent members. Find out more about the appeals panel.

In line with the new regulations and government guidance, if a panel member needs to leave part way through the appeals process and it isn't possible for the full panel to be re-formed due to the occurrence or spread of coronavirus, they can continue with only two members.

The chair will have the casting vote. A new chair may need to be appointed from the remaining 2 members by the Independent Clerk if the chair was the member of the panel who had to withdraw.

The panel will still have an Independent Clerk with legal knowledge to advise them during the hearing and the decision process and to take notes. The Independent Clerk will send out the decision letters within 7 calendar days of the decision being made, where possible.

If there is multiple or grouped appeals for the same school, the appeal panel's decision will not be made until all the appeals for the same school scheduled at that time have been heard.

Remote appeal hearings

Until further notice all admission appeal hearings:

  • will take place by video conference or telephone
  • or will be based on written submissions

Video conference gives parents and admission authorities the best possible chance to put forward their appeal cases to a panel and is the preferred method unless there is a reason why a video conference cannot take place.

How remote hearings will work

All hearings will take place using Zoom and we will give you guidance on how to use this.

Before the meeting:

  • we will contact you either by email or post
  • you will be asked to confirm that you can attend and have the right technology needed to attend
  • we will hold a briefing meeting a few days before the appeal on Zoom, where the clerk will explain the process and answer any questions. You can also check that your technology is working correctly. You do not have to attend this briefing if you don't want to

To make sure all hearings are conducted fairly, the appeal panel will decide whether everyone involved in the hearing can take part fully in a remote hearing. If they decide that a hearing cannot take place remotely, a decision on your appeal will be made based on your written submission.

The appeal hearing will be private and recordings are not allowed, but you can still be represented or accompanied by friend. The appeal panel will also need to consider any requests for reasonable adjustments to be made eg if you need an interpreter.

How long will my appeal hearing last?

Your appeal will last around 20 to 30 minutes.

Several appeals will take place on the same day and some may take longer or shorter than planned, so it may not always be possible to keep to the exact time slot you have been given.

If we are running ahead or behind schedule, we will contact you.

What you will need to attend a remote hearing

You will need:

  • a device that has a camera and microphone (eg computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone)
  • access to Zoom video conferencing which is available on all devices listed above

If you do not have access to these please let us know when we can contact you to make alternative arrangements.

If your device does not have a camera, you can still join the hearing and you will still be able to see everyone who is attending the hearing.

Accessing the meeting on Zoom

Before the meeting please download the Zoom application if you are using a smartphone or tablet. This can be downloaded on the app store on Apple and Android devices.

If you are using a computer or laptop you can access Zoom through your web browser or through the link that we send you. You can also download the Zoom application on to your computer or laptop if you want to.

You will get an invitation to join the Zoom meeting by email, to the email address that you provided. Please check your email regularly and check that it has not been sent to your junk or spam folder.

If you did not provide an email address, you will receive a letter with the Zoom meeting invite details.

You do not need to create an account to use Zoom.

What happens if there is a technical problem during the hearing?

If you lose connection, you can re-join the hearing at any time using the same meeting details and the panel will wait for you to re-join before continuing.

If you are unable to re-join the hearing will usually be rescheduled, but the panel have the right to decide the outcome of the appeal based on the written information submitted before the appeal.

Appeals decided on written submissions

If you have asked for the outcome of your appeal to be based on your written submission, or if the panel has stated that an appeal should be considered in this way, the clerk will provide panel members with the cases and any additional evidence submitted.

They will hold a meeting through Zoom to consider the written submissions and the presenting officer representing the admission authority will present their case to the panel, but will be asked to leave after they have finished responding to any questions the panel may have.

The hearing will continue and the panel and the clerk will consider all the information before making a decision.

After the appeal hearing

You will be contacted in writing within 7 calendar days (wherever possible) with the panel's decision.

Withdrawing your appeal

If you want to withdraw your appeal, please let us know in writing. 

Please email school.admissions@southtyneside.gov.uk with the following information:

  • Child's name
  • Child's date of birth
  • Name of the school that you were appealing for

If you want to withdraw your appeal, please let us know as soon as possible.

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