Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield has been criticised for the second time in six months by a local government Ombudsman over “serious flaws” in its appeals process for places.
The school was referred to the Ombudsman by a parent after her son failed to win a place at the boys’ school in 2010.
An initial report published by Ombudsman Anne Seex recommended the school pay the mother – known as Mrs K – £200 compensation, claiming that she had suffered “injustice”.
She also recommended the school stage fresh appeals for families whose sons missed out on places in 2010, despite achieving above the benchmark score in an entrance exam.
Ms Seex has now taken the “unusual step” of issuing a second report after Bishop Vesey’s governing body unanimously decided to take no further action and did not accept any injustice had been caused.
The report said the school had “refused to remedy injustice caused by serious flaws in the conduct of its admission appeals”.
Clerk to the governors Kerry Osbourne said a further meeting would be held to discuss the new report, and denied claims of any injustice.
Ms Seex said: “I am not satisfied with the response of Bishop Vesey School’s governing body.
“It has failed to understand that it is not for the governing body to judge the strength of [the complainant’s] case for appeal or the decision made by the independent appeal panel.
“The purpose of having an independent appeal panel is for people independent of the school to make a decision on the merits of an appeal, having followed the correct process and given proper consideration to all relevant information.
“The Ombudsman’s role in investigating complaints is to ensure that an independent appeal panel has followed the correct process and given proper consideration to all relevant information.
“A governing body cannot substitute its opinion for one made properly by a panel or substitute its view on how a panel has operated for my view.”
Mrs K contacted the ombudsman following an unsuccessful appealed after her son missed out on a place, despite scoring above the benchmark grade of 318 in an entrance exam.
An initial report by the ombudsman found that all 124 available Year 7 places were filled by boys who had scored 325 or above in the exam.
In the first report in September, Ms Seex recommended that fresh appeals be heard for families who appealed after their sons achieved a mark above 318.
The report also listed the school’s “many failures” to comply with the statutory Admission Appeals Code, a government code which ensures that independent admission appeal panels for maintained schools and academies are conducted in a “fair and transparent” way.
It was also claimed a “lack of training” provided for members of the appeal panel and its clerk were “significant factors in the mishandling of the appeals”.
Clerk of governors Mr Osbourne insisted governors felt there was “no case to answer” as the child in question was 48th on the waiting list.
He added that there were “no substantive grounds” put forward by Mrs K to support her appeal.
He said: “The governors have yet to discuss the further report so I can’t prejudge what they will decide.
“However there is no change in the circumstances. We had a very detailed report last year and one thing the governors are very adamant about is that there was no injustice.
“We are a selective school and if you are 48th on a waiting list then you are simply not going to get a place above pupils who have scored higher in the 11 plus.
“We are taking about a case two years ago which was heard by an appeals panel, but no new grounds were put forward.
“We did hold appeals that year and had three cases where three boys were awarded places because good reasons were put forward for them not doing as well as they would have expected to have done in the 11 plus.”
From this year, all appeals over the admissions process at Bishop Vesey’s are handled by Birmingham City Council.