A Leicester faith school has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for the way it handled a family’s school admissions appeal.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found a number of problems with the way a panel at Madani Girls’ School in Evington conducted the appeal.
The investigation criticised the panel’s poor record keeping, which amounted to a piece of paper with three words and three ticks in checkboxes.
Because of the poor minutes of the meeting, the panel could not evidence it had properly considered the family’s appeal. There was no record of discussions about whether its admission arrangements complied with the relevant codes and guidance.
The notes did not record whether the panel had even satisfied itself the school was full, or if more pupils could be accepted. The clerk told the Ombudsman that panel members had been taken round the school and the problems of overcrowding were explained to them. This meant the panel had access to evidence the parents did not, and left questions about the panel’s independence.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“Getting a place at the right school can have a significant impact on the education children receive. If they appeal for a school place, parents can only have confidence in the system if the appeals are conducted fairly and transparently.
“In this case there were serious shortcomings in the way the appeal panel recorded how they came to their decision, and the minutes that were taken.
“Panels need to be demonstrably independent and make properly evidenced decisions.
“I now call on the school to take heed of the recommendations I have made to improve its admissions processes for future pupils.”
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services.
In this case the school should arrange a fresh appeal for the family with a new panel and clerk, and offer to hold fresh appeals for others who have not had their appeal upheld in this academic year.
It should also ensure that clerks and panels are properly trained and understand their role as set out in the School Admissions Appeals Code (2012).
The school has not yet agreed to the recommendations.
Article date: 09 May 2018