You can still appeal exclusions from school and refused placing requests to mainstream schools to education appeal committees at the moment.
Our factsheet on Education appeal committees explains key information about how the process works.
At the moment, it may take the appeal committee longer than normal to hear your appeal and there will be changes to how they conduct the appeal. These changes are explained below.
The law has been changed so that you can submit appeals by email as well as by post.
There have not been any changes to your deadlines for submitting an appeal to the committee, which are:
• 28 days from receiving a placing request refusal letter
• no deadline for appealing against exclusions from school or nursery, though it is still best to do this as soon as possible.
Our factsheets Exclusion from school and School placements explain more about when you can make an appeal to your local authority’s education appeal committee.
The committee must let you know within 28 days that they have received your appeal letter (this used to be within 5 working days).
If the committee decide that your appeal is something they can consider, they must tell you the date, time, and place of the hearing as soon as they reasonably can. This used to be within 14 days, but it may now take them longer.
The committee must hold the hearing as soon as they reasonably can within 3 months (this used to be within 28 days). If this is not possible due to reasons beyond their control, they need to hold the hearing as soon as they reasonably can.
For placing requests for the beginning of the next school year in August that were submitted by the 15th March, education appeal committees are being urged to try and make their decisions before the start of the new term wherever possible.
The committee should give you clear information about how your appeal hearing will be conducted and the expected timescales for each part of the process.
Once your appeal has been heard, the committee need to tell you their decision and the reasons for it within 28 days (this used to be within 14 days).
If you have still not had a hearing within four months of submitting your appeal, you can treat it as if the appeal committee have refused your appeal (this used to be two months). This is often called a ‘deemed refusal’. This means you have the right to take your appeal to the Sheriff Court. If you are considering this option, it may be best to first seek legal advice.
The format of appeal hearings may change to help everyone follow the current guidance to keep us safe and well during the coronavirus outbreak. For example, the appeal is likely to be heard by telephone or video call rather than in person.
If a hearing is organised, you may need to wait longer than normal for a date for your appeal.
If the hearing happens by telephone or video call, the committee will need to make sure that everyone has the necessary equipment and facilities for the hearing. The chair of the committee should make sure that everyone can hear everything that is being said, and that all have an equal chance to participate. You still have the right to be represented or accompanied by a supporter if your hearing happens remotely.
If you and the local authority agree, the appeal committee can also decide an appeal without a hearing. They would base their decision on written arguments and evidence that you and the local authority submit (for example, by email). The committee will need to make sure that doing this still gives you the opportunity to fully present your case, and that they can still make a fair and transparent decision.