Upsurge in number of place appeals at secondary schools

Suffolk county councillor Gordon Jones said a culture of parental preference and increased applicati

Suffolk county councillor Gordon Jones said a culture of parental preference and increased applications meant appeals had also increased. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

The number of parents lodging appeals after their child is refused a place at their preferred secondary school has more than doubled in the last four years.

Figures released by the Department for Education revealed that 176 appeals were issued to Suffolk County Council for the 2016/17 school year intake at secondary schools – two-and-a-half times the 68 lodged for the 2013/14 year.

Of those appeals, around four in 10 were decided in favour of the parent, making Suffolk one of the most lenient counties in the country and well above the 24.6 per cent average success rate nationwide.

Education bosses said the school applications climate had moved away from catchment areas towards 'parental preference,' which left schools oversubscribed.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said: 'Despite this, this year we were able to offer more than 97pc of students across the county one of their preferred school places this year. This marks a three-year high.'

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'The increase in the number of appeals also reflects the increase in the number of secondary school applications received year on year.'

The county council said it uses published criteria to fairly decide priority of placements, and outlined the appeal process to parents if they were unsuccessful.

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The process requires parents to submit a formal notice of appeal from the council's website for schools which are part of the sign up, while schools not on the list often deal with their own appeals.

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