What is School Choice Advice?
In Milton Keynes the School Choice Adviser is based in the Parent Partnership Service. Choice Advice is free, impartial advice and information for parents who have children in years 5 and 6. It is for families who want support through the process of deciding which school is best for their child and applying for a secondary school place.
The Choice Adviser can provide realistic advice about school preferences and advise on the SEN provision within schools. There is help for parents to understand the school admissions and appeal hearing processes which can at times be daunting. Importantly, the service is there to provide clear and understandable information.
What information about schools can the Choice Adviser provide?
- School types and admission policies
- School profile and ethos
- Special needs policy and provision
- School specialism
- Uniform policy
- Time of school day and term dates
- Travel details
- Ofsted information
- School permformance and value added data
- Oversubscription data
It may be that you have recently moved into Milton Keynes and are unfamiliar with the area. You might need help with completing the application form or perhaps English is not your first language.
How will this support be provided?
- Information leaflets and factsheets
- Attending school open evenings
- Group drop-in sessions at accessible venues
- Telephone helpline
- Signposting to other support available
- Documents from relevant organisations
- Information in alternative formats and languages (upon request)
What can the Choice Adviser not do?
The Choice Adviser cannot offer or guarantee places at a particular school. The Choice Adviser cannot influence the allocation process or take a decision on behalf of a family. The Choice Adviser cannot recommend one school over another.
The Choice Adviser can offer advice and guidance via the helpline and email on the appeal process and how to prepare a Parental Case for an Appeal Hearing. For parents who are experiencing significant difficulties it may be possible for the Choice Adviser to accompany the parent to the Appeal Hearing and support in the presenting of a Parental Case.
Jane Cliff - Choice Adviser
School Choice Advice: 01908 253514
(9.30-1pm Monday - Friday, term time only)
If you would like to attend one of these sessions to discuss your concerns, please call or email Jane to book a place (see contact details above)
School Choice Advice Leaflets and Factsheets
Checklist to be used as an aid when gathering supporting evidence for appeal hearing. To be used in conjunction with Fact Sheet 1 - Appealing for a School
School Choice Advice Links
Choice Advice Documents
This document sets out the arrangements agreed for the admission of primary and secondary age children, including the council's Fair Access Protocol for vulnerable groups.
All admission authorities must comply with the mandatory requirements of this Code and admissions legislation.
A booklet produced by the Admissions Team of Milton Keynes Council and issued to all Year 6 pupils in September of that year. Contains all the admissions information: general information on types of schools, school details, admissions procedures, admissions timeline, how to apply for a school, allocations and appeals, transport etc.
A booklet produced by the Admissions Team of Milton Keynes Council. Contains all the admissions information: general information on types of schools, school details, admissions procedures, admissions timeline, how to apply for a school, allocations and appeals, transport etc.
School Choice Advice FAQ
- School Admissions
When will I hear about my child's secondary school place?
For children transferring to secondary school in September 2013, allocations will be issued on 1st March, 2013.
What if I do not get the school I want?
You have the right to appeal for a school you stated as a preference. You can accept a school place and still pursue another school/schools via the appeal process.
You should receive information about the appeals process when you receive your allocation letter from the Admissions Team within Milton Keynes Council. Contact details are: 0800 035 0335 | email@example.com
I live very near to the school I want my child to attend - do I still have to complete an application form?
Yes, it is VERY IMPORTANT that every child has an application form stating school preferences for secondary education completed and submitted by the deadline of 31st October 2012.
When is the deadline for my child's application for secondary education?
Return your paper application via your primary school by 12 noon on Friday 26th October (due to deadline falling in half term holiday). Check the Friday is not a training day. Or, direct to MK Council at Saxon Court by 5pm on Wednesday 31st October (if posted, to arrive no later than 31/10/12).
If you are applying on-line you have until midnight on Wednesday 31st October to submit your completed form. Ensure you receive confirmation that the submission has been successful.
What happens if I miss the deadline for the completion of my child's application form for secondary education?
Any applications submitted after the closing date of 31st October 2012 will be classed as late and will only be considered after those received on time. In very exceptional circumstances late applications may be considered alongside all those received on time.
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- School Admission Appeals
What is an Appeal Hearing?
When you have been unsuccessful in securing a school place for your child, you have the right of appeal. You will need to prepare and submit your parental case outlining the reasons why your child should attend a particular school. You will be required to attend an appeal hearing. An independent panel (usually three people) will consider both the parents' case and the school's case as to why they cannot accept another child. They will make a decision about whether the parental case outweighs the school's case following the appeal hearing.
I can't decide whether or not to appeal, what do I need to think about?
It may be helpful to consider:
1. The school's policy for admitting pupils (see LA's Information for Parents booklets - www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/schools and school's website/prospectus).
2. Your reasons for wanting your child to attend the school and the strength of your case. The parental case needs to be compelling (see Appealing for a School factsheet).
When can I appeal against the place that has been allocated to my child?
As soon as you hear about your child's school place, if you are unhappy about this decision, you can request information about the independent appeal procedure from:
School Admissions Team
Children and Families Services
Milton Keynes Council
502 Avebury Boulevard
Milton Keynes MK9 3HS
When do the appeal forms have to be returned by and where do I send them?
When you receive news of your child's secondary school place (1st March, 2013) and you subsequently make the decision to appeal against this decision, you will need to submit your forms within the specified time on the letter you receive at that time.
The forms need to be returned to wherever it states on the appeal form you complete. This will vary from school to school.
Do I have to send my supporting evidence with the forms or can I submit this later?
The Panel Clerk is required to send out appeal papers to parents, the presenting officer (for school or local authority) and the panel members at least 7 working days before the hearing. Evidence can be submitted after you have sent in your appeal forms, however, it is advised that this is no later than 3 days before the hearing to allow the panel members sufficient time to consider the additional evidence. It is also possible to produce a short document that can be easily considered by the panel members on the day of the hearing. However, it is important to bear in mind that if this last minute evidence is significant, the panel may require an adjournment to allow them time to consider the information. The admission authority may also need time to respond to this last minute evidence.
Who arranges an appeal?
For community and voluntary-controlled schools in Milton Keynes the council's Democratic Services Division arranges the admission appeal hearings. This is because the local authority is the admissions authority for these schools and therefore has the responsibility for school admissions.
For foundation, trust, voluntary-aided schools and academies, the governing bodies are responsible for admissions and organising independent appeal panel hearings. However, the Democratic Services Division do organise appeals on behalf of some of the governing bodies. There are some schools who use an outside organisation and one school who organises their own appeals but use local appeal panel members.
Who sits on the appeal panel?
The appeal panels are independent of the council and all schools. Members are drawn from a list of people, many of whom have an interest or experience in education. Training is provided to members so that they have an understanding of the legislation and local policies relating to school admissions in Milton Keynes. Panels usually have three or five members and will not include anyone who has previously been involved in an individual case or have links with the particular schools.
Can I appeal more than once to a school?
You can only apply and appeal to a school once within an academic year unless your circumstances change significantly since your first application. You can, however, appeal to more than one school.
What if my child's or our family circumstances have changed since my first application/appeal to a school?
You can approach the school to see if they will consider a further application for a place for your child. If they agree to you applying again and this second application is unsuccessful, you then have the right to appeal again.
How can Parent Partnership support me with a school admission appeal?
PPS can provide information about schools, admissions, the appeals process etc. PPS can offer support (telephone/email) to help you prepare your parental case for the appeal.
How long does an appeal last?
This will vary depending on the circumstances of an appeal but for straight forward appeals without adjournments for example, an hour is ample time to allow for the appeal. Secondary transfer appeals are usually around 30 minutes.
An appeal hearing sounds quite scary - what is it like?
An appeal hearing is, of course, an official procedure but it is not a court of law! The appeal panel Chairperson will be friendly and courteous and do his/her best to make you feel at ease. The panel members usually sit behind a desk at the rear of the room and the parent, presenting officer for the school/local authority and the clerk sit behind desks in front and to the side of the panel members. The Panel Clerk will tell when you are needed and where to sit and will also do his/her best to calm any nerves you may be feeling.
Should I take my child to the appeal?
It is not necessary for your child to attend and it is advisable not bring any younger children with you as they may be distract you during the appeal.
When do I hear the decision of the appeal panel - is it the same day?
No, they do not tell you their decision straight away. The Panel Clerk will usually send you details in the post of the panel's decision within 7 days of the hearing.
Who else who can help me with an admission appeal?
The Advisory Centre for Education offers independent advice on admission appeals together with helpful leaflets on a wide range of education issues:
ACE Education Adviceline:
0300 0115 142
Normal opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 10am to 1pm.
The Coram Children's Legal Centre provides free legal information, advice and representation to children, their families and carers:
08088 020 008 Mon-Fri 8am-8pm
Coram clc has a new 'how to guide' relating to admission appeals which can be obtained from their website.
How do I complain about an appeal hearing?
For schools other than Academies contact the Local Government Obudsman:
LGO Advice Team: 0300 061 0614
For Academies contact the Education Funding Agency which operates a dedicated enquiry service for academies: firstname.lastname@example.org
Academy Admission Appeal Complaints
Academies Central Unit, Education Funding Agency
8th floor, Earlsdon Park
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