Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 14 Sep 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about an unsuccessful appeal for a school place. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault and so we cannot question the merits of the panel’s decision.
- Miss X complained about an unsuccessful school admission appeal for her daughter.
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 an independent 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)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- I gave the complainant the opportunity to comment on a draft decision and considered any comments received.
- Miss X’s daughter (Y) is due to start Reception in September 2021. Miss X applied for a place at her preferred school (School Z). Because there were more applications than places available, the Council used the school’s oversubscription criterion to decide which children it would offer places. It did not offer Y a place and Miss X appealed the decision.
- Independent school admission appeal panels must follow the law when considering an appeal. The law says the size of an infant class must not be more than 30 pupils per teacher. There are only limited circumstances in which more than 30 children can be admitted. There are special rules governing appeals for reception and years 1 and 2, where admitting another child would mean there would be more than 30 pupils per teacher. Appeals under these rules are known as “infant class size appeals”. The rules say the panel must consider whether:
- admitting another child would breach the class size limit;
- the admission arrangements comply with the law;
- the admission arrangements were properly applied to the case;
- the decision to refuse a place was one which a reasonable authority would have made in the circumstances.
- Subject to any comments Miss X might make, my view is the Ombudsman should not investigate her complaint. This is because there is not enough evidence of fault and so we cannot question the merits of the panel’s decision.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman