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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:18 am
Posts: 63
Thanks Etienne, and no worries, you were doing me a massive favour just by reading through it all anyway - I sent the complaint summary back with just a couple of very slight tweaks in the end.

Etienne wrote:
It's remarkable to have 6 complaints against the ESFA upheld!

It is interesting, for sure - their response to me this time was markedly more thorough and considered than any of their previous responses have been. I think it's probably got more to do with the fact that my complaint about our first appeal is now with the PHSO than anything else - they know now that I will keep on pushing, if necessary, so they're dotting the i's and crossing the t's just in case they get held to account later.

Etienne wrote:
Did the school submit a separate rebuttal of your case - as late evidence - after the case papers were distributed? Or was it already part of their case when the papers were first circulated? If it was already in their case, was it confined to information they had already had access to (such as the test score), or did it respond to information that they could only have obtained from your appeal case? If the latter, then it sounds as if they had access to your case before you had sight of theirs.

They definitely had access to our case before we had sight of theirs, because their case actually included a section entitled 'response to other issues raised in appeal documents' (this was the section that formed the written rebuttal of our case). The rebuttal was completely personalised to the case we had submitted. The school, and the ESFA, have said that this was done in the interests of 'transparency'. However, I have argued that my complaint is not concerned with transparency - but with natural justice. The school were allowed an extra step in the process (the opportunity to submit a written rebuttal of our case) which we were not given. But the clerk (retrospectively) and the ESFA have also said that we could have chosen to do the same thing with the school's case if we had wanted to, and therefore there was no maladministration or injustice. However, even though I wrote to the school in advance of the hearing to express my concern at the procedures that had been followed, and raised it as a procedural point at the hearing itself, at no point was I told by either the school or the clerk or the panel that we could remedy the situation by also providing the panel with a written rebuttal of the school's case if we wanted to. I was given a deadline to submit additional documentation (which I think was about a week or so before the appeal) but my understanding, at the time, was that this was for actual documents to be submitted - not for addendums to be made to our case. Essentially the school were attempting to manage the process so that nothing was passed to the clerk at all, until it was no longer possible for anyone to submit anything else - if that makes sense. The procedure was: 1. We had to send in our stuff to the school. 2. School then passed our case and their case (including their rebuttal of our case) to the clerk. 3. Clerk then sent everything out to us (and presumably the panel, although this may have just been on the day itself). I still maintain that the school were given an unfair advantage through this process and I have already informed the ESFA that, if a fresh appeal is not now requested as a result of their new investigation (and the other matters they are investigating), I will raise this matter with them again as a Stage 2 complaint (and, ultimately, with the PHSO - if necessary).

I will keep you posted on any developments, but the new investigation could take up to six weeks to complete so it will probably be a few weeks before I hear from them again . . .

Thanks again!

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