Volunteers being sought by West Northamptonshire Council for independent panels on school admissions appeals

The call comes just under a month after admissions to schools closed

Friday, 26th November 2021, 5:24 pm

West Northamptonshire Council is seeking volunteers to sit on Independent Appeal Panels who hear school admission appeals.

This comes just under a month after admissions for Northampton schools closed on October 31 of this year

Parents have a legal right to appeal against the decision of an admission authority to refuse their child a place at their preferred school. Appeals must be set out in writing, as must the response of the admission authority.

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Volunteers are needed to sit on Independent Appeal Panels. (File picture).

The written submissions are then circulated ahead of an appeal hearing, with both parties being invited to attend and put their case in person to the Independent Appeal Panel.

Panel members would be expected to read the case papers of appellants in advance of the hearings, actively participate in the appeal hearing process and help decide whether to uphold or dismiss the parent’s appeal.

The council has laid out some very clear guidelines for those who are thinking of taking part.

They say that the Independent Appeal Panel member should be sensitive to the concerns of parents and to the pressures on local schools. They will also need to be a good listener and have the ability to be objective and act impartially.

West Northamptonshire Council say they will provide applicants with training on the legal framework of the appeal process and local procedures.

They say that, while service is voluntary, those who take part will be paid expenses to cover out of pocket expenses.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Department for Education guidance allows for school appeal hearings to be held remotely. Training on virtual remote appeal hearings will also be provided.

Anyone who is interested in serving the community in this way and would like an application form and further details sent to them is asked to contact Amanda Burns, West Northamptonshire Council School Appeals Service via e-mail: [email protected]