The muddle over complaints about appeals continues with schools and local authorities still too often providing wrong advice. As late as this week I received the following email: "I am trying to sort out the letter to send. Every number I phone to get an address seems to be the wrong one. Do you have an address for where I should send my letter or a name of anyone I should contact. The name and number on the back of the letter is irrelevant. I was wondering about emailing the clerk of the panel as he sent me the letter with the wrong info on?? I seem to be hitting a brick wall on this one". Both the Ombudsman's office and the Department of Education are clear. If a school is an Academy at the time of the appeal, the complaint should be made to: The Young People's Learning Agency, Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry, CV1 2WT. I am representing an increasing number of unhappy parents in their complaints. Too many of these concern failure by appeal panels to properly manage the process for oversubscribed grammar schools.
The facts I discovered about the scandalous number of children with statements of Sepcial Education Need being permanently excluded from Kent schools in the face of government instruction that such exclusions should only happen in very exceptional circumstances, created a major story in the media. At first KCC denied there was anything amiss, but Paul Carter, leader of KCC expressed his unhappiness about the situation. I was interviewed on both radio and television, including the BBC SE Politics show. The "Panel from Hell" story about the Appeal Panel at Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School last year also made the news (I represented one of the appellants), the published Ombudsman Report criticising KCC heavily, but once again the authority has denied culpability. I find this astonishing and it suggests the report has not been read by KCC representatives.