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Infant class size guidance

Why is there specific guidance around infant class sizes?

In 1998 the Government introduced these regulations. They make it illegal for there to be more than 30 children in infant classes where there is only one teacher. This is called the Infant Class Size Initiative.

Infant classes are those classes of children who will be aged 5, 6 or 7 by the end of the academic year. This covers Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes.

Are more than 30 children ever allowed in a class? 

In limited circumstances  there are some exceptions to the Infant Class Size Initiative. These are prescribed by law. The excepted children are:

  • Children admitted outside the normal admissions round with statements of special educational needs specifying a school.

  • Looked after children and previously looked after children admitted outside the normal admissions round.

  • Children admitted, after initial allocation of places, because of a procedural error made by the admission authority or local authority in the original application process.

  • Children admitted after an independent appeals panel upholds an appeal.

  • Children who move into the area outside the normal admissions round for whom there is no other available school within reasonable distance.

  • Children of UK service personnel admitted outside the normal admissions round.

  • Children whose twin or sibling from a multiple birth is admitted otherwise than as an excepted pupil.

  • Children with special educational needs who are normally taught in a special educational needs unit attached to the school, or registered at a special school, who attend some infant classes within the mainstream school.

What right of appeal do I have?

Unless your child falls in any of the categories listed above, we cannot offer a place if there are already 30 children allocated to the class.

Under the strict rules on infant class size, the appeal panel will consider all the following matters: 

  • Whether the admission of an extra child or children would breach the infant class size limit 
  • Whether the admission arrangements follow the School Admissions Code and the admissions law
  • Whether the admissions arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case of your child or children
  • Whether the decision to refuse you a place was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of your case.

It is important that any appeal you put forward deals with all the above points.

If you are unable to submit a case which meets the above requirements you should consider whether to go ahead with your appeal.

What are the limitations of the appeal panels?

Where a child is refused a place on infant class size prejudice grounds, the panel can only offer a place to a child where it is satisfied that either:

  • The admission of extra children would not breach the infant class size limit; or
  • The admissions arrangements did not follow admissions law or were not correctly and impartially applied and the child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had complied or had been correctly and impartially applied; or
  • The decision to refuse admission was not one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

Arrangements deemed not correctly  applied

It is not enough to say that there has been mistake in implementing the school’s admission arrangements.

The panel can only uphold the appeal where it is clear that the child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented. They could also uphold an appeal if the arrangements were contrary to mandatory provisions in the School Admissions Code and the SSFA 1998.

Arrangements deemed not reasonable

The panel must consider whether the decision was one which a reasonable authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.

The panel must be satisfied that the decision to refuse to admit the particular child was ‘perverse in the light of the admission arrangements. This means it was ‘beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker’ or ‘a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it’.

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