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Government eyes making pandemic changes permanent with consultation on revised School Admission Appeals Code

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on a revised version of the statutory School Admission Appeals Code.

The DfE said the revised Appeals Code allows appeals to be held remotely (by telephone or video conference) as well as in person and allows appeal hearings to continue with just two panel members where the third panel member needs to withdraw.

“The changes make permanent some of the arrangements that were temporarily put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

The consultation, which closes on 3 April 2022, can be viewed here.

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The DfE said feedback on the temporary arrangements introduced by the School Admissions (England) (Coronavirus) (Appeals Arrangements) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which were introduced in April 2020 and subsequently extended, suggested that they were working well and provided benefits for local authorities, admission authorities, schools and appeal panels in both time and cost savings. A number had requested that the arrangements be made permanent.

The survey of local authorities and other bodies found many respondents reporting that parents were positive about the remote arrangements as well. “There was also a perception, confirmed in some cases by feedback to local authorities by parents, that the arrangements were enabling parents to more easily access the appeals system without, for example, having to take significant time off work and/or incur any other additional costs, such as arranging additional childcare.”

Admission authorities also reported a significant drop in the number of hearings where parents had failed to attend.

The DfE said it hoped, through the consultation, to gather more evidence on the direct views of parents of these arrangements.

The Department said it was its intention to bring the changes into force immediately after the expiry of the temporary regulations on 1 October 2022, but that it would keep this under review in light of the continuing impact of COVID-19. “We may need to make some changes to the way the temporary regulations expire to ensure that the two sets of rules align in the most sensible way.”

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