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With National Offer Day for primary school places having proceeded as scheduled on 16 April 2020, new regulations came into force on 24 April 2020, which relax some of the current requirements in the School Admissions Appeals Code 2010.
The School Admissions (England) (Coronavirus) (Appeals Arrangements) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 apply to appeals lodged on or after 24 April 2020, or those lodged before 24 April 2020 where the appeal was not fully determined by that date. The Regulations relax some of the current requirements in the School Admissions Appeals Code 2010 until 31 January 2021.
- Appeal panel hearings can take place in person, or with agreement from the school and parents, remotely (i.e. by telephone or video-conference) where all parties have access to the relevant means to do so and are fully able to make representations;
- Where a panel hearing cannot be held remotely, the appeal may be paper-based and determined on written submissions;
- Where one or more members of an appeal panel withdraws, the panel can continue to consider and determine the appeal as long as it consists of at least two remaining members; and
- Appeals deadlines may be amended – admissions authorities are to review their deadlines and set ‘reasonable’ new or revised deadlines (which must be at least 28 days from the date of notification of refusal).
The corresponding preliminary guidance emphasises the importance of carrying out the appeals process in a timely manner, with a view to minimising the potential for appealing families to be disadvantaged by the current public health protection measures and preventing term-time disruption for children whose appeals are upheld.
Requirements on clerking will not be relaxed.
Schools and academies should give consideration to how they might adapt their existing appeals procedure to ensure that the process remains fair and effective despite the current pandemic, and how panel members and clerks can be properly supported in carrying out their respective roles at this unusual time.
Should you require any advice regarding admissions appeals or other issues affecting schools, please contact our regulatory team.
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