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11-plus panels to go

PARENTS whose children fail the 11-plus are to lose the right to appeal to county councillors over the result.

Kent County Council is to scrap its controversial appeals system that for years has allowed councillors to recommend that children be given a place at a grammar school.

Parents will continue to have the right to make a statutory appeal to a separate independent panel but the abolition of "member appeals" ends a practice considered by some to be unlawful.

Last year, councillors considered more than 451 appeals but of those only 107 were upheld just under a quarter.

KCC's appeals panel committee's decision to end the system stems partly from Government legislation, which has obliged education authorities to ensure that where a system of appeals for places at grammar schools is in place, the process must be completed by the time all secondary school places are allocated at the beginning of March.

In Kent, panels have traditionally considered appeals after this date conflicting with Government admissions codes.

KCC's decision has also been hastened by the intervention of the Schools Adjudicator, Philip Hunter, who told education chiefs last month that member appeals could no longer be justified in view of the new legislation.

Cllr Leyland Ridings (Con), cabinet member for schools, said: "Member appeals have actually prolonged the whole process of admissions. It is cumbersome and staff intensive."

County councillors have only ever considered parental appeals to so-called community and voluntary-controlled schools that is, schools which are entirely KCC's responsibility.

They can't consider appeals for places at selective foundation or voluntary aided schools, which have responsibility over their own admissions.

Opposition Labour group leader Cllr Mike Eddy welcomed the news. "KCC has finally got rid of part of a system which no other education authority has used for years," he said.

• Is KCC right to scrap the system? Write to Kent Messenger, 6-7 Middle Row, Maidstone ME14 1TG or e-mail messengernews@thekmgroup.co.uk

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