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Appeals over secondary school places in Suffolk more than doubled from four years ago

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 September 2017

Secondary school place appeals have more than doubled over four years in Suffolk. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Secondary school place appeals have more than doubled over four years in Suffolk. Picture: THINKSTOCK

ThinkStock

The number of parents lodging appeals after their child is refused a place at their preferred secondary school has more than doubled in the last four years.

Suffolk county councillor Gordon Jones said a culture of parental preference and increased applications meant appeals had also increased. Picture: JAMES FLETCHERSuffolk county councillor Gordon Jones said a culture of parental preference and increased applications meant appeals had also increased. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Figures from by the Department for Education revealed that 176 appeals were issued to Suffolk County Council for the 2016/17 school year intake at secondary schools – two and a half times the 68 lodged for the 2013/14 year.

Of those appeals, around four in 10 were decided in favour of the parent, making Suffolk one of the most lenient counties in the country and well above the 24.6% average success rate nationwide.

Education bosses said the school applications climate had moved away from catchment areas towards “parental preference” which left schools oversubscribed.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “Despite this, this year we were able to offer more than 97% of students across the county one of their preferred school places this year. This marks a three year high.”

“The increase in the number of appeals also reflects the increase in the number of secondary school applications received year on year.”

The county council said it uses published criteria to fairly decide priority of placements, and outlined the appeal process to parents if they were unsuccessful.

The process requires parents to submit a formal notice of appeal from the council’s website for schools which are part of the sign up, while schools not on the list often deal with their own appeals.

In Essex, there were 537 appeals last year for secondary places – up from 311 four years ago.

However, the number had come down from the 570 in the 2015/16 entry year, which Essex County Council said was down to its drive to create new school places.

The council’s education cabinet member Ray Gooding said: “We have an excellent track record of investment in new school places in Essex, including spending about £74million on 2,500 new places for the new academic year.

“As a result, we were able to offer a record percentage of pupils a place at their parents’ preferred primary and secondary schools for this September’s admission rounds, which is a fantastic achievement.”

He added that some could not be offered preferred places, particularly if applications were late or parents hadn’t used all preferences.

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