Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 15 Jul 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint that the Council’s Schools Admissions Appeal Panel failed to provide her child with a place at her preferred school. It is unlikely the Ombudsman would find fault which caused her to lose out on a school place.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, says the Council’s Schools Admissions Appeal Panel did not properly consider her appeal for a place for her child, Z, at School Y.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word fault to refer to these. We cannot question whether a school admissions appeals panel’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider if there was fault in the way the decision was reached. If we find fault, which calls into question the panel’s decision, we may ask for a new appeal hearing. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)
- 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:
- it is unlikely we would find fault, or
- the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by the Mrs X and the Council, which included the appeal papers.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Mrs X had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.
- Mrs X applied on time for her child, Z, to have a place at School Y from September 2021 in year seven.
- There were more applicants than places. The Council applied the published admissions scheme to decide who should get the places. The last place went to a child in the same admissions criteria as Mrs X but closer to the school. The Council offered Z a place at School D, which is Mrs X’s second preference.
- Mrs X appealed for a place at School Y. She said:
- Z’s health issues meant this school was right for them;
- She really liked School Y;
- There is easy safe transport from the School Y to Z’s drop off and pick up points.
The appeal panel’s and our role
- Independent appeal panels must follow the law when considering an appeal. The panel must consider whether the:
- admission arrangements comply with the law;
- admission arrangements were properly applied to the case; and
- admission of another child would prejudice the education of others.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman