Father whose child missed out on preferred school has appeal rejected

A father complained to the watchdog after his child was denied a place at their chosen school while others whose families applied late got in.

The father's appeal was rejected by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
The father's appeal was rejected by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

'Mr X' said it was unfair but Telford & Wrekin Council said the post-deadline applicants lived closer to the school, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report says.

The child, referred to only as 'Z', was offered a place at the family’s catchment school, but Mr X said this was less convenient for the family’s work and childcare arrangements.

The anonymised LGO decision notice says the council and its appeals panel followed the rules.

Summarising the case, the report says: “Mr X applied on time for his child, Z, to have a place at School Y from September 2021.

"There were more applicants than places.

“The council applied the published admissions scheme to decide who should get the places.

“The last place went to a child closer to the school than Mr X.

“The council offered Z a place at School D. This is their catchment school.”

Mr X appealed, arguing that his child had friends attending School Y, and it was “located in a better place for the family’s childcare and work” than School D.

After a hearing in June, the council’s Schools Admissions Panel decided not to award the child the place.

“Mr X says the appeal panel did not properly consider his case,” the report says.

“He says the council offered five places in a review stage to other applicants who had applied late.

“He says this is not fair as he is second on the waiting list and should have been offered one of those places.”

The LGO decision says: “If the panel has been properly informed and used the correct procedure, it is entitled to come to its own judgment about the evidence it hears.

“The published admission scheme says that late applicants will be considered after national offer day. The council calls it a ‘review stage’. If there are places left, or some become available because, say, parents turn down the offer, they are located on the basis of who is highest on the admission criteria.”

It adds that the other late places were offered to children legitimately ahead of Z in the waiting list when the admissions formula was applied.

“It is unlikely we would find fault in the appeal panel’s decision based on the information I have seen,” the report concludes.

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