Kent County Council (19 003 186)

Category : Education > School admissions

Decision : Not upheld

Decision date : 19 Sep 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mrs Y complained the Council’s admissions appeal panel failed to properly consider her child’s appeal for a place at a local grammar school. The Ombudsman has stopped this investigation, as the Council has now offered a place to Mrs Y’s child and no further action by the Ombudsman is needed.

The complaint

  1. Mrs Y complained the Council’s admissions appeal panel failed to properly consider her child’s appeal for a place at a local grammar school. She said this meant the Council did not offer her child a place at the school.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if:
  • we believe the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement; or
  • we believe it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome; or
  • we are satisfied with the actions a council has taken or proposes to take. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6) and (7), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I spoke to Mrs Y by telephone to understand the complaint. I wrote to Mrs Y and the Council with my draft decision and gave them an opportunity to comment. I considered the comments received before making this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs Y applied for a place for her child, X, at the school. The school’s published admission number (PAN) is 165. Where the school is oversubscribed it gives preference to children who pass the Kent Test. If the school is oversubscribed by children who meet that criteria it applies additional admissions criteria. The school was oversubscribed as it received more than 165 applications.
  2. X did not pass the Kent Test. Mrs Y said this was due to a variety of issues. These related to X’s special educational needs, the family situation and the way the test was run.
  3. X’s junior school appealed the result of the test, suggesting the score was out of character for X. However, the head teacher’s appeal panel did not uphold the appeal. The Council offered X a place at a different school.
  4. Mrs Y was unhappy with the assigned school, and felt the test score was out of character for X. She appealed to the Council, explaining mitigating factors which she felt had affected X’s performance in the test.
  5. The appeal panel considered X’s case and decided not to offer X a place.
  6. Mrs Y then complained to the Ombudsman, asking for a fresh appeal. Before starting my investigation, the Council offered Mrs Y a place for X to attend the school.
  7. Mrs Y came to the Ombudsman, seeking a fresh appeal for X, which she hoped would lead the Council to offering a place at the preferred school. The Council offered X a place at the school after the panel placed X on a waiting list.
  8. Any remaining injustice is not significant enough to justify the cost of the Ombudsman’s involvement and it is unlikely any further investigation would lead to a different outcome. As the Ombudsman would be unable to add to the outcome already provided, I have stopped investigating this complaint.

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Final decision

  1. I have stopped investigating this complaint. The Council has taken action which has resolved the outstanding issue by offering Mrs Y’s child a place at the preferred school. No further action by the Ombudsman is needed.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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