School admission policy is working in St Helens, says council

Primary school pupils and a teacher
Primary school pupils and a teacher

Education bosses in St Helens have hailed their school admissions policy after figures showed few parents were unhappy with the places given to their children.

New research showed just 14 appeals heard after youngsters were refused a place at a school they had wanted to attend found in favour of the parents.

Just seven out of 90 appeals heard concerning admissions between August 2014 and October 2014 were successful, with only Wirral and Liverpool recording a lower percentage than the St Helens figure.

The same number of appeals against decisions concerning secondary school places were successful out of 59 appeals heard by a panel.

A St Helens Council spokesman said: “We welcome the figures as further evidence that both our school admissions team and schools get it right first time.

“The very low number of appeals upheld by the independent appeal panels is a clear endorsement of the work that goes into making the process as clear and transparent as possible for parents.

“In addition, Department for Education (DfE) preference figures released in June confirmed that only a very small percentage of parents did not get one of their preferred schools for September 2015: 0.9 per cent for secondary and 3.1 per cent for primary.

“An impressive 95.6 per cent got their first choice secondary school and 90.5 per cent for primary.”

In total there were 2,342 primary school admissions between August and October last year in St Helens, 2,151 of them involving infant classes, and 1,982 places arranged at high schools.

A total of 123 appeals were lodged against primary school place refusals, with 73 per cent of those being heard by a panel. The percentage for secondary schools was even higher, with no fewer than 92 per cent of the 64 appeals lodged being heard.

Across England 54,600 cases were lodged for consideration in 2014-15, an increase of eight per cent on the previous year, with 22.8 per cent of all appeals being decided in favour of parents.

More cases are also being heard by the independent panels, with 40,014 cases reaching that stage in the latest figures compared to 36,967 in 2013-14.

Parents have the right to appeal if a school they applied to refuses their child a place and can argue that schools broke official admissions rules or there are compelling extra reasons why their son or daughter should go to that school.

A DfE spokesman said: “The fact that the proportion of appeals heard and upheld remains stable in the face of rising demand for school places shows the admissions system is working well.”