Lawyers report 500 per cent rise in school admission appeals

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The Independent Online

Record numbers of disgruntled parents are expected to seek legal advice this week after failing to secure their children places at any of their preferred secondary schools.

In some areas of the country the number of parents hiring lawyers to appeal against "unfair" local authority decisions has increased by up to 500 per cent in the past five years.

Law firms report success rates of between 80 and 90 per cent in overturning refusals, despite repeated government claims that the schools' admission system is fair and easy to navigate.

More than half a million children, aged 10 and 11, and their parents face an anxious few days as they await the texts, emails or letters telling them if they will have a place at their preferred secondary school in September.

More than 53,000 families lodged secondary school appeals in 2007-08. A third of those heard by independent appeal panels were successful. A further recourse for failed appellants is to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman who can recommend a fresh appeal. Complaints to the ombudsman doubled from 799 in 2005 to 1,583 last year.

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