Information for applicants of the Education Appeal Panel
Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of the Bracknell Forest Education Appeals Panel.
This page provides information on the operation of the panel and the appeal process. Hopefully it will give you all the information you need to help you decide whether to apply to become a panel member.
If you have any further questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in contact with you.
Some of our panel members undertake extra training in order to sit on panels for Exclusion Independent Review Panels (IRP), which are rare in Bracknell Forest. If you would like to be trained and considered for an IRP panel, let us know.
Role of an appeal panel
Appeal panels make decisions on cases where a parent or guardian has appealed against the decision to refuse their child a place at a particular school. The appeal panel is independent of the local authority and its decisions are binding on the local authority, unless overturned by the courts.
Appeal panels perform a judicial function and are transparent, independent and impartial. A clerk will be present at all appeals to give legal and procedural advice to the panel.
Appeal panel membership
Each Bracknell Forest Education Appeals Panel consists of 3 people and there are strict legal rules about who can be a panel member. Panels must include:
- lay members – these are people who have not worked in a school in any paid capacity, although they may be (or have been) a school governor or work (or have worked) in a school as a volunteer
- people who have experience in education or are acquainted with educational conditions in the area, such as teachers or teaching assistants or parents of school pupils
Each admission appeal panel must consist of at least one member from each of these categories, with the third member being drawn from either.
In order to maintain the panel’s independence, panel members cannot hear appeals for any case where they have a connection to the school or family in question. This also means that employees or members of Bracknell Forest Council cannot sit as panel members.
There are no specific qualifications or experience that you need to become a panel member and almost anyone can take on the role. We welcome people with all types of knowledge, background and experience.
Panel members need the ability to carefully consider the cases of all parties and then make a balanced and reasoned decision based on what they have read and heard.
Panel members must be trained on the School Admission Code and School Admission Appeal Code. Training is arranged periodically by the Clerk, and new Panel members must be trained before sitting for the first time.
The role is voluntary although expenses are paid for attending all sessions.
Admission appeal hearings
Hearings take place during the day, on scheduled dates once or twice a month. It takes about 30 or 40 minutes to hear each appeal and it is normal for several appeals to be heard by the same panel on the same day. Refreshments are provided, including lunch if there are several appeals scheduled for one day.
The majority of appeals are heard during May, June and July for the September admissions, but appeals are scheduled each month.
Where there are 2 or more appeals for a particular year group at the same school, the same panel should hear all the appeals. This is most likely to occur during the main admissions round and it is possible that a panel will need to sit for more than one day depending on the number of appeals.
There are generally 2 parties present at appeal hearings:
- the presenting officer from the admissions authority
- the parents, who may be represented or accompanied by a friend or adviser
Each party has the opportunity to present a case to the panel. The panel members listen to the presentations and question the parties to make sure that they have enough information to reach a decision. Once the parties have stated their case and all questions have been asked, the parties leave the room and the panel makes a decision in private. This is recorded by the clerk, who subsequently notifies everyone of the panel's decision in writing.
Once the panel has made its decision it is binding on all parties, that is the parent(s), the school governing body, the head teacher and the local authority. The panel cannot revisit its decision once made.
Venue for appeal hearings
Hearings are usually held at the council offices in Time Square, Market Street, which is located in Bracknell Town Centre but may on occasion be held at another venue. Parking is not available at this office, but parking charges will be reimbursed for your time.