Placing Request and Exclusion Appeals
The School Placings and Exclusions Appeal Committee
Appeals about most placing requests and all exclusions are heard by the SPEAC. View more information about this committee. Details of the appeals process can be found below.
Procedures before notice of appeal
Placing requests can be made and decisions appealed at anytime but usually occur during term time.
An authority's admissions procedures should ensure that the point of appeal is not reached until all other means of settlement have been exhausted. Aberdeenshire Council seeks to arrange its timetable so that notices of appeal can be lodged before customary holiday periods. This means that appeals for the following school session are normally heard and decided before the beginning of that session.
The notification of a final decision by the Committee not to uphold an appeal relating to parental preference, exclusion or an additional support needs case is accompanied by information on how a further appeal can be made about this decision (to the Sheriff).
Notice of appeal
A placing request appeal must be lodged by the appellant (usually a parent) with the appeal committee within twenty-eight days of receipt of the education authorities decision. The appeal committee has power, on good cause being shown, to hear appeals which have not been made timeously. In the case of appeals against exclusions, there is no time limit for appeals to be submitted.
Acknowledgement of appeal
Within five working days of receipt of a reference to the appeal committee, the appeal committee issues an acknowledgement of the appeal and gives notification of it to the education authority (in practice, this is carried out by the Clerk).
An appeal committee affords the appellant an opportunity of appearing and making representations and, in all cases, a time and place of hearing is determined. Notification given to an appellant includes information as to his/her rights:
- to appear or to be represented at the hearing, for example by a lawyer, relative or friend
- to be accompanied at the hearing by up to three friends including the person (if any) representing the appellant
- to lodge written representations
- to allow the presentation of his/her case to rest ONLY on written representations, should the appellant so wish
- that a hearing may proceed in the absence of the appellant
- that the education authority will be represented at the hearing
Appeals must be heard in private but any of the following persons may be present as observers (the first four by permission of the Chair of the Committee and the fifth by right:
- an elected member of the education authority (Aberdeenshire Council)
- the Director of Education and Children's Services of Aberdeenshire Council or any person representing him/her
- panel member who would benefit for training purposes from attending
- a member of His Majesty's Inspectorate of School; and
- a member of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council or its Scottish Committee
The procedures at the hearing are normally as follows:-
- Presentation of the case for the education authority
- Questioning by the appellant
- Questioning by the members of the appeal committee
- Case for the appellant
- Questioning by the education authority
- Questioning by the appeal committee
- Summing up by the education authority
- Summing up by the appellant
However, the Chair of the Committee has ultimate control over the procedure followed.
Suggested guidance on reaching a decision in placing request cases
It is for the education authority to satisfy the Committee that the duty to place the child in the school preferred does not apply because one or more the following grounds exists or exist (at the time the appeal is heard):
- Would make it necessary to employ an additional teacher
- Would give rise to significant expenditure on extending or otherwise altering the accommodation or facilities provided in connection with the preferred school
- Would be seriously detrimental to the continuity of the child's education or would be likely to be seriously detrimental to order and discipline in the school
- Would be likely to be seriously detrimental to the educational well-being of pupils attending the school
- Assuming that pupil numbers remain constant, would make it necessary, at the commencement of a future stage of the child's primary education, for the education authority to elect either to create an additional class (or an additional composite class) in the specified school or to take an additional teacher into employment at that school
Burden of proof
The burden of proof in all hearings rests with the authority. The onus is on the authority to ensure that they have applied the correct legal test for placing request refusals and exclusions.
The Chair of the SPEAC will inform the appellant and the authority that the Committee proposes to notify their decision with the reasons for it in writing after the conclusion of the hearing. If the appellant is not present or represented at the hearing, written notification of the deferral of the decision may be given to the appellant. Deferral is not the only option available to the appeal committee, however, as it may decide to consider the appeal and reach a decision in the absence of an appellant.
The appeal committee will notify their decision and their reasons for that decision in writing within fourteen days. The appellant will also be informed of his/her right of appeal to the Sheriff and the time limit applicable.
Record of proceedings of an appeal committee
The Clerk to the SPEAC keeps notes of the proceedings, the attendance, any voting, the decision and the reasons for the decision. Such documents will not be public. In deciding how long to keep any such notes, the Clerk takes into account the Freedom of Information policy of the local authority.