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Kent County Council (19 017 063)

Category : Education > School admissions

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 05 Feb 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s 11+ test review process. This is because the complainant has a right of appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel if his daughter is refused a place at the grammar school that he wants her to attend, and it is reasonable to expect him to use it.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr L, says that the Council’s 11+ test review process was unfair, and did not consider properly his daughter’s extenuating circumstances and additional school work provided for the review.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information and complaint provided by Mr L. I sent a draft decision to Mr L for his comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr L’s daughter sat the Council’s 11+ test.
  2. Mr L’s daughter was assessed as suitable for admission to a high school or all-ability school. This meant that Mr L’s daughter could not be offered a place by a grammar school in March 2020 based on her test results.
  3. The test results went before a Review Panel, which upheld the 11+ test result.
  4. Mr L complains that the review process was unfair as it did not consider properly his daughter’s extenuating circumstances and her additional school work that was provided for the review, showing her true ability. Mr L has asked the Ombudsman to consider the Council’s review process determining his daughter’s school-type suitability.
  5. The Ombudsman will not consider the complaint at present because Mr L will have a right of appeal to an independent appeal panel (IAP). Mr L needs to appeal to an IAP if his preferred school for his daughter is refused. This is a process of statutory appeal established by parliament. The IAP can consider whether the admissions process was fairly conducted, which includes any issues raised by Mr L regarding the 11+ test.
  6. If the IAP refuses the appeal, and Mr L feels it did not consider the matter properly and fully, he will have the right to bring a fresh complaint to the Ombudsman for assessment.

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Final decision

  1. I have decided that the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because the complainant will have a right of appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel against the refusal of his preferred school that he wants his daughter to attend, and it is reasonable to expect him to use it.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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