Admission Appeals

A number of people attended the welcoming but socially-distanced event, including Fr Martin Sylvester. There were local representatives from other Christian traditions too.

Theresa showed the group three short films made by Pact. In one piece, Lewis, a former prisoner, performs his own powerful spoken word poetry.In another, two former prisoners speak movingly to each other about their experiences, how faith helped them to make a fresh start and how Pact staff and volunteers treated them: ‘They didn’t judge me. They spoke to me like a human being’.

Pact Services Manager, Lesley Ward, also attended the event and explained the life-changing work she leads covering a number of prisons and community hubs in the diocese and further afield. Lesley shared important insights into the challenges of the prison environment, particularly during the pandemic. She was able to give more information about some of the learning opportunities Pact provides, such as the parenting skills training, shown in another Pact short film. Pact works to strengthen family relationships where appropriate as this gives hope and the real potential of living a better life together in the future. Those leaving prison with strong family bonds are 39% less likely to return to crime.

The discussion led to several useful action ideas. While sharing the distressing ‘hidden sentence’ a family can live through alongside their loved one in prison, Theresa highlighted the National Prisoners’ Families Helpline which Pact provides. Fr Sylvester suggested that a poster giving details of the Freephone Helpline number ought to be in every church porch. Theresa agreed to take this forward.

Pact welcomes support from parishes and individuals. To keep in touch, if you have not already signed up to our magazine, Fresh Start, you can do so here: Sign up to Fresh Start | Prison Advice and Care Trust

There are opportunities to work as a volunteer supporting a number of Pact's services in the diocese. Pact has an established training and support programme for volunteers.

Parishes in the diocese may like to think about becoming ‘partners’ to prisons in the region where Pact has a presence. This has worked well in other areas recently. For example, parishioners have worked together to provide gift cards which prisoners can give to their children, sharing a little love and joy and strengthening family bonds this Christmas - as part of Pact's Operation Elf.

Catholic Schools Appeals Service (CSAS)

As the new school year starts, this is a short summary of what we do and who we are.

We arrange and manage admission appeals for admission authorities. During the recent summer term we dealt with over 300 appeals for diocesan schools. CSAS have five trained clerks and a pool of around 50 panel members and are independent of the Diocesan Education Service.

What we do

  • We ensure that all parents receive a fair and equal admission appeal hearing for their child/children at the school of their preference.
  • We ensure that all regulations and codes are adhered to before, during and after the hearing.
  • We ensure that all panel members and clerks receive appropriate training to enable them to carry out their role professionally, efficiently, and within the law.
  • We offer independent and impartial advice to headteachers and governing bodies on the admission appeals process and also to parents who have lodged admission appeals.
  • We collate and dispatch appeal hearing agendas and papers to panel members, clerks, schools and parents within set time periods, as detailed in the School Admission Appeals Code.
  • We organise and arrange the appeal hearing in an appropriate venue
  • We inform parents and schools of appeals decisions promptly and efficiently

Who we are

Appeals Officer: Anna Zimand

Appeals Administrator: Julie Sweeney Phone: 01332 293 833

Clerks: Anna Zimand, Brenda Whittaker, Christopher Cox, Margaret Cox, Sue Shuttleworth.

Admissions Appeals - Do you want to be a panel member?

The CSAS manages admission appeals for a large number of Catholic schools across the diocese. We need to be able to call on lay people and people who have experience in education for appeal hearings.

Lay Members must not have any professional educational background. Parents and school governors who do not work in education can be Lay Members but will not be used for appeals at their own schools or in their own immediate areas. Professional Members work in the education service currently or recently.

As a panel member, you will need to have a friendly manner and to be able to listen to the case put forward by parents and schools. As a member of a panel of three you will need the ability to make a balanced judgement based on the facts. You do not need to have detailed knowledge of the law relating to admissions but training in the basic principles will be provided. All panel members are volunteers but you will be able to claim travel expenses.

If you would like further information, please contact us on 01332 293833 or

Panel members FAQ

Expression of Interest Form

Admissions Appeals - Information for Parents

What do I need to do?

If you have not already done so you need to contact the school; you must send them a letter stating the reasons for your appeal. Your letter needs to explain clearly why you want a place for your child. You may attach any supporting information from priests or ministers of religion, social workers, health visitors or other professionals to support your case. School reports and test results are not admissible as your child’s academic ability is not relevant. It is important that all children have an equal chance regardless of ability. If you wish to add any further information, this should be sent to the clerk of the appeal panel. Their contact details will be sent to you by CSAS.

You may also wish to seek independent advice on how to present your case.

What happens next?

The Clerk will contact you and arrange the appeal hearing date. The hearing will normally take place within 30 school working days (6 weeks) from the date of your appeal letter. (School holidays are not included). The appeal is heard at a local venue to the school .All papers including the school statement, are circulated to you, the school and the panel members before the appeal takes place.

Multiple Appeals

Where there are a number of appeals for admission to the same school, the school representatives will state the school case to all the parents at a single meeting. Panel Members are also present. They and the parents may ask general questions about the school case. At this meeting, the Panel will decide whether to accept the school case. Individual hearings then follow during the next few days.

What happens at the appeal hearing?

Your appeal will be heard by an independent panel of three who have no connection with the school. At least one member of the panel must be a ‘lay member’, that is someone who has no connection with education. There is also a clerk in attendance who ensures the procedures are followed and gives advice if required. A representative from the school will attend. You are also expected to be there and you can bring a friend or representative to help you. Children do not attend. Please be on time as the panel may be hearing a number of appeals.

Appeal panels will always help you to be at your ease and you will be able to speak freely. Every effort is made to make sure you have a fair hearing

At the start of the hearing, you will be welcomed by the Chair and everyone will be introduced. The school representative will first explain why a place was not allocated to your child. This is usually because the school is full and has no places available. You and the panel will be able to question the school representative about the school case. (If there are a number of appeals, this part may take place at an earlier meeting for all the parents). The panel will decide whether the school is full and whether the governors have followed their procedures correctly. If the answer to either question is ‘no’ your appeal may be granted at this point. If the answer is ‘yes’ then the panel goes on to listen to your case. Here you should summarise what you have already said in your letter of appeal, drawing attention to any support from other agencies and adding any new points you wish to make. Both school and panel can question you about what you have said. Finally, the school representative and then you, have an opportunity for a final summing up.

How does the panel make its decision?

After the hearing, the panel has to decide if your case is strong enough to overrule the school case. This part of the appeal takes place after you and the school representative leave. There are often a number of appeals for the same school, so decisions are only made when all of them have been heard. Following the appeal, the clerk will write to you with the decision and will explain the factors which the panel took into account.

The decision of the independent panel is binding both on the admission authority and on the parent. There is no further right of appeal. However, you can complain about the way the appeal was carried out, information on how to do this is provided to appellants.