Back to school: More than 1,500 appeals against school places in Lancashire last year
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The Association of School and College Leaders said pressure is placed on certain schools by the Ofsted rating system, with those deemed ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ oversubscribed, while other schools do not receive the number of required applications.
The latest figures from the Department for Education show 1,763 appeals were made by parents and guardians in Lancashire against their child's school place before the 2022-23 academic year – up from 1,583 the year before.
It meant 5.8% of the 30,533 admissions were appealed. Of these appeals, 1,385 (78.56%) were heard, with 458 (26%) successful.
Nationally, there were 53,000 appeals submitted against the 1.5 million admission decisions to send a child to a primary or secondary school, accounting for just 3.4%.
Of these, 8,000 (15%) were successful.
75 appeals were made in Blackpool – down from 145 the year before.
Of these appeals, 56 were heard, with seven successful.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said appeal numbers tend to reflect the pressure on places at popular oversubscribed schools, which changes according to national and local demographics.
Mr Barton said: “The underlying problem is that this pressure is created by Ofsted judgements with positive ratings driving parental demand and negative ratings leading to schools being undersubscribed.
“Ofsted ratings need to be ditched and replaced with judgements which give a more rounded picture and schools must be given more targeted support.
“This would reduce the pressure on places and provide a basis for sustained improvement to the benefit of children and communities.”
Pupils' return to the classroom comes amid growing pressure on Education Secretary Gillian Keegan after more than 100 schools were told to partially or fully close because they are fitted with a concrete that could suddenly collapse.
In criticism caught on camera after an interview on Monday, a frustrated Ms Keegan hit out at those who she argued had “sat on their arse and done nothing”.
She also questioned why no one was saying “you’ve done a f****** good job”, before being forced to go before broadcasters to apologise for the language she used.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have created almost 1.2 million places since 2010, the largest increase in school capacity in at least two generations and we continue to work closely with local authorities to make sure they offer a school place to every child in the country.
“In 2023, 92.5% of families were offered their first-choice primary school, while 82.6% were offered their first-choice secondary school. The Chief Adjudicator’s most recent report shows that the admissions system is working well, and the level of appeals remains low.”