Appealing a School’s Admission Decision

Published: 19/04/2016

Hearing your child has not got their school of choice can be devastating news. However there are a number of things you can do to try and resolve the situation including being placed on the waiting list or even reapplying if your circumstances have changed. You can also appeal the decision and here’s how to go about it plus tips and advice on how to submit a successful appeal:

Secure a place first

Although you intend to appeal the school’s decision you need to accept the place at the school you have been offered. If you don’t you run the risk of having no place at all come September. Appeal panels are often disgruntled when parents do not accept the place offered, like they are presuming they will automatically get the decision overturned.

Who can appeal?

Anyone who did not receive their first choice can appeal the decision. However it is important to consider what grounds you have for a successful appeal.

  • The school failed to follow its admissions procedure correctly (incredibly rare)
  • The harm done to your child is greater than that caused to all other children by overcrowding.

Class sizes for reception, year 1 and 2 is strictly limited to 30 by law.

Lodging an appeal

How to appeal against the decision will be detailed within your offer letter. Make sure you follow the correct procedure and submit your appeal and all supporting documentation before the deadline (this differs from school to school).

If you have been offered your third choice school and wish to appeal to both other schools (there is no harm in doing this) then you will need to appeal against each rejection separately. You can always drop out later on if you are offered a place.

Tips for successful appeals

When it comes to school appeals it is always better to concentrate on why your preferred choice is best for your child rather than focusing on the negatives of the school you’ve been offered.

Whilst there are no guarantees you’re often in with a better chance if:

  • The school caters for a special need or health issue your child has
  • Your child excels at something the school specialises in (e.g. a musical instrument, particular sport etc.)
  • The school is local to you and within walking distance
  • The other school is difficult to get to
  • You already have children in attendance.

There may be emotional reasons why you don’t want your child going to the school offered. For example, they have been bullied by children who are going there and you want them to have a clean break. In this instance it is important to have evidence such as a letter from your children’s previous school confirming the problem.

Providing evidence to support your appeal is essential. At some schools, only one or two appeals may be successful so the stronger you can make your case the better. Possible evidence could include:

  • A letter from your doctor about your child’s condition
  • A letter/reference from a teacher/coach
  • Bus/train timetables to demonstrate journey difficulties.

Try to avoid over-promoting your child. You won’t win an appeal just because they have a lot of brownie or scout badges or because they always say please and thank you and respect their elders!

The hearing process

Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the appeal’s deadline. You will be contacted by the ‘admission authority’ (typically the school itself or, in some cases, the council) re your hearing. They must give you at least 10 school days’ notice.

During the hearing itself an independent, 3-person panel will hear why:

  • The admission authority declined your application
  • You think your child should be admitted.

The panel will first ensure the school’s admission criteria was properly followed fairly and thoroughly.

If they haven’t been, your appeal will be upheld.

If the correct procedure has been applied, the panel will consider both sides and decide if your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting another child.

You will receive the panel’s decision within 5 school days. This decision can only be overturned by a court.

Content correct at time of publication

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