Appeal Panels have either three or five members. There are strict rules on who may and may not be a member of an Admission Appeal Panel to make sure that the Panel is independent and impartial.
A clerk to the Panel also attends the hearing. The Clerk is a legal officer of the Council who is there to see that the appeal is heard properly and to provide legal advice to the Panel. An administrator may also attend to take notes.
Powers of appeal panels
Panels can uphold all appeals and instruct the Admission Authority to allocate a place for your child at your preferred school. They can uphold some of the appeals and reject others and they can also reject all the appeals.
Once all the appeals have been heard Panels must first decide whether further admissions to the preferred school 'will prejudice efficient education or the efficient use of resources'. Prejudice cannot normally be proved until the year group your child would enter is full. This means that the year group has not only reached its admission limit but cannot accept any more pupils in that year group without prejudicing the provision of efficient education at the school or the efficient use of resources. The Admission Authority will provide a statement giving their reasons why they consider that to accept further pupils would cause prejudice to the school.
If the Panel believes that the school can admit all the pupils whose parents have appealed without causing prejudice your appeal will automatically be upheld. The Panel may decide that places can be allocated to some of the appellants before the point is reached when further admissions will cause prejudice. The Panel will decide how many more places can be offered. Any such places will be allocated by the Panel according to the factors in the individual case.
If the Admission Authority's case that further admissions will cause prejudice is accepted by the Panel (either as presented or after some further places have been allocated) the Panel will then proceed to the second stage.
This requires panel members to balance your own arguments in support of your child's admission against the extent of prejudice to efficient education and the efficient use of resources which would be caused by the admission of further pupils. If the Panel believes that your child's circumstances outweigh the extent of the prejudice to the school your appeal will be upheld, otherwise your appeal will be rejected.