A new calling code for school admission for 2022
On October 1, 2022, the School Admissions Appeals Code 2022 (“the Code”) comes into effect, replacing the 2012 version and changes made during the pandemic. The Code will apply to all appeals filed on or after October 1, 2022.
The changes are limited but provide greater flexibility in how appeals are heard for admission authorities. The Code builds on the approach taken by the DfE in amendments made during the pandemic which allowed appeal hearings to be conducted virtually by video, telephone or, as a last resort, on paper.
Virtual hearings continue
In early 2022, the DfE consulted on changes to admissions appeals arrangements and 93% of respondents favored the continuation of virtual hearings after the Covid-19 Amendment Regulations expire.
The Code now allows appeals to be heard at a physical hearing, remotely or by a combination of both. Where appeal hearings are held remotely, admission authorities should be satisfied that:
- the appeal can be heard in a fair and transparent manner
- the parties will be able to fully present their arguments
- each participant has access to video or telephone facilities enabling them to participate in the hearing at any time
The clear presumption in the Code is that remote hearings should be by video and telephone only to be used as a back-up option in the event of accessibility or connectivity issues. Paper hearings are not permitted under the Code.
It is important that admission authorities understand these changes and adapt their operations accordingly.
When the admission authority purchases an appeal service, it remains important for the authority to understand the changes and ensure that its service provider implements the changes in accordance with the Code. Recent Ombudsman decisions have confirmed that even when a service provider is engaged, the intake authority remains responsible for meeting Code requirements.