Kent school admissions appeal panel 'seriously flawed'

A school admissions appeal panel run by Kent County Council (KCC) was "riven with maladministration" and "seriously flawed", an ombudsman has found.

The panel, which dealt with dozens of appeals for places at Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar School, was also described as "hopelessly muddled".

The Local Government Ombudsman advised the school to never use one of the council's panels again.

KCC said serious action had been taken and it would not use the panel again.

Ombudsman Anne Seex investigated the panel following complaints from the parents of six girls.

Her report found the council was guilty of maladministration because it provided "the school's governors with a clerk and an appeal panel who proved incapable of fulfilling the requirements".

It also said the panel failed to manage the hearings efficiently and showed an "irrelevant and inappropriate interest in some parents' private affairs".

Ms Seex said she was concerned maladministration by the council could happen again and has recommended that the authority makes a number of changes.

Sarah Hohler, from Kent County Council, said: "We have very high standards. It's worth bearing in mind that we have approximately 2,300 appeals per year.

"This is a case where six appeals were handled badly so I agree with that and I acknowledge that. That's just one appeals panel.

"We have taken steps now the clerk of that particular panel resigned and we won't be using that panel."

She added: "One panel member was a qualified lawyer so you do question why that went wrong, and the other was very experienced.

"The clerk perhaps hadn't got the experience necessary for this kind of complicated appeal."

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