North East parents lodge thousands of appeals over school places

THOUSANDS of parents in the North East lodged appeals last year after their children were refused places at favoured schools, official figures show.

David Grigg, head at Lord Lawson of Beamish Community School in Birtley
David Grigg, head at Lord Lawson of Beamish Community School in Birtley

THOUSANDS of parents in the North East lodged appeals last year after their children were refused places at favoured schools, official figures show.

And new data reveals that this year the number of appeals against both primary and secondary school admissions has rocketed again as parents attempt to secure the schools they want for their youngsters.

In total last year, 2,420 parents had appeals heard about their failure to get their child into their favoured school, a rise of 17% on the previous year, with just more than half - 1,235 - successful. The number of successful appeals rose 23% on the year before.

The appeals over secondary schools bucked the national trend in going up, with nearly two-thirds of those appealing succeeding in overturning the council’s initial decision.

County Durham had some of the highest rates of successful appeals, with 61% of primary appeals and 80% of secondary appeals being successful.

Northumberland heard the smallest number of appeals over primary and first schools, at just 27, but heard 84 appeals for middle and high schools.

Principal David Grigg, of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy and chair of Gateshead Association of Secondary Headteachers, said his school has typically experienced up to 20 appeals a year.

“It doesn’t surprise me that more people are going through the appeals process. Popular and over-subscribed schools are obviously attractive to parents and parents understandably want to get their sons and daughters into a particular school.

“If anything, it shows the importance of education to people in the North East.” Academy schools like his own are set to introduce their own appeals hearings separate from tribunals, but he doesn’t expect this change to impact on the trend for more parents to appeal.

Mr Grigg said: “Appeals happen from time to time. The reality is there’s a limit to the number of students that we can take.” National Union of Teachers representative Peter Largue, of Heworth Grange in Gateshead, said: “Perhaps people have become more aware that they have more choice because it’s slightly easier now to appeal.”

Matt Richards, of schoolappeals.com, said the rise in primary appeals could be down to a lack of places in some areas. More Eastern European people coming to the UK may also be behind the dramatic rise in primary school appeals.

Mr Richards said it was more difficult to expand primary schools as they are often on constricted sites.

 
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