Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 30 Jul 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint that the Schools Admissions Appeal Panel failed to provide her child with a place at this 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 Ms X, says the School’s Admissions Appeal Panel did not properly consider her appeal for a place for her child, Z.
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 Ms X and the School, which included the appeal papers.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- Ms X had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.
- Ms X applied on time for her child, Z, to have a place at this School from September 2021.
- There were more applicants than places. The School applied the published admissions scheme to decide who should get the places. The last place went to a child in a higher admissions’ criteria than Ms X. The Council offered Z a place at School D, which is closer to her home than this school and less than the distance of three miles a senior school child is expected to be able to walk to school.
- Ms X appealed for a place at this School. She said:
- She is a single parent of four children and her neighbour could take Z to this school as her children attended it;
- Z has two or three friends attending this school and she is shy and
- She believes this is a good school and the right fit for Z.
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