School appeals: Jargon buster

Confused by catchment areas, admission authorities, class size appeals, prejudice appeals and Independent Appeal Panels!

This jargon buster will help you to understand the key terms that are used for school admissions and appeals.

Academies are independently managed, all ability schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the local authority. Together they fund the land and buildings, with the government covering the running costs. All new academies are covered by the Codes of Practice and the independent appeals process, but some of the original academies are not.

Admission authority
This is the authority responsible for setting the admission criteria of a school. For community schools and voluntary controlled schools it's the Local Education Authority, although some Local Education Authorities have delegated this decision to the governing body of the schools. For all other schools the governing body of the school concerned is the admission authority.

Admission criteria
These are the priorities established by the admission authority to determine which pupils will be offered school places for oversubscribed schools, where there are more applications than places available.

Balancing exercise
This is the process where the appeal panel considers whether the issues raised by you outweigh the case put forward by the admission authority. This is used for normal prejudice appeals in England and Wales.

This is the system of oversubscription criteria in which all children applying for a place at a banding school are placed in ability bands based on their performance in a test or other assessment. Places are then allocated so that the school's intake either reflects the ability profile of those children applying to the school, or those children applying to a group of schools jointly, or the local authority ability profile or the national ability profile.

Catchment area
This is the geographical area defined by the admission authority where children living within it will be given priority for places at the school. The catchment area is defined before applications are sought.

City technology colleges
These are independently managed, non-fee-paying schools in urban areas for pupils of all abilities aged 11 to 18. They are geared towards science, technology and the world of work, offering a range of vocational qualifications, as well as GCSEs and A-levels. The Codes of Practice may not apply to the colleges, but you may need to check.

Class size appeals (infants)
This appeal is where the admission authority argues that the admission of an additional pupil will require the school to employ another teacher or provide additional accommodation so that the statutory class size of 30 isn't exceeded for children aged 5, 6 and 7.

The person appointed by the admission authority to advise all parties to the appeal about procedures, the law and any matters arising out of the appeal process. The Clerk is independent and will write to you to advise you of the appeal panel's decision.

Codes of Practice
These are statutory guidance issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The admission authorities must follow the Code of Practice on School Admissions, when they are arranging school admissions, and the Code of Practice on School Admission Appeals, when they are arranging school appeals.

Community schools
These are schools that are run and maintained by the Local Education Authority.

Comprehensive schools
This is a general term that refers to schools that don't select by ability.

Faith schools
These are schools that are mostly run in the same way as other state schools. However, their faith status may be reflected in their religious education curriculum, admission criteria and staffing policies. Faith schools are usually voluntary aided schools or voluntary controlled schools.

Foundation schools
Formerly referred to as grant maintained schools. The governing body is responsible for setting and implementing the published admission criteria.

Grammar school appeals
Grammar schools select their pupils by ability, so pupils hoping to attend a grammar school will have to pass an entrance test. Grammar school appeals occur when a pupil hasn't achieved the required pass mark and the parent can provide good reason why their child didn't secure enough marks (e.g. the child was ill on the day of the test) or the parent can demonstrate that their child is suitable for a grammar school place.

Grammar schools (designated)
There are 164 schools designated as grammar schools by virtue of section 104(5) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. A grammar school is defined in section 104(2) of the Act as a school that selects all (or substantially all) of its pupils on the basis of academic ability.

Independent Appeal Panels
The group of people appointed to hear appeals in accordance with the Code of Practice on School Appeals. Panel members are appointed by the admission authority and are independent. Panel members should receive regular training.

Local Education Authority
The council/local authority responsible for setting and determining local education policy and management.

Maintained schools
This includes all community schools, voluntary controlled schools, foundation schools and voluntary aided schools.

Normal prejudice appeals
This is where the admission authority refuses a school place because it believes the admission of one more pupil would have an adverse effect on the efficient use of resources and/or the efficient education of the children already at the school. In other words, the admission authority has determined the number of admissions that the school can admit without causing problems for the school.

Published admission limit
The maximum number of pupils per year group to be admitted, agreed between the admission authority and the governing body of the school.

Qualifying measures
These are the measures that the school would have to take if it admitted any more pupils in Key Stage 1 (i.e. children aged 5, 6 and 7), which would result in the class size limit of 30 being breached. Qualifying measures are either the employment of an additional teacher or the provision of additional accommodation.

Voluntary aided schools
A school where the governing body is the admission authority and it sets the admission criteria for the school. It's usually a school with a religious ethos.

Voluntary controlled schools
These schools are similar to voluntary aided schools, but the Local Education Authority is the admission authority for this type of school.

Find out more terms and tips on school admissions and making a school appeal with Lawpack's book Your School Your Choice.

Published on: May 28, 2008

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