School Admission Appeals – Top 10 Tips

With competition for places increasing and admissions authorities cracking down on fraudulent applications, many parents may end up appealing for a place at their preferred school.
Tue 13th Feb 2018

It is important for parents to be realistic at the outset in selecting the schools to include in their applications. Every year we hear from disappointed parents who have been too aspirational and applied for schools that they stand little, if any, chance of obtaining a place at, based on the misconception that they must be offered a place at one of their ranked schools. This is not actually the case – the local authority is not obliged to offer a place at any of the preferred schools listed in the application. Parents can however appeal for a place at any of the schools that they have ranked but at which their child is not offered a place. 

Top 10 Tips for dealing with school admission appeals:

  1. Be realistic. More appeals fail than succeed. This is particularly the case if you are seeking a place in an infant class. However, you have nothing to lose by appealing and the following tips should assist you in maximising the prospect of your appeal being one of the successful ones.

  2. Find out who the admission authority is for your preferred school. If the school is a community or voluntary controlled school, this will be the local authority. If the school is a foundation or voluntary aided school or an academy, this will be the governing body of that school. It is the admission authority that arranges the appeal and will be your opponent in the appeal process.

  3. Be clear of the admission criteria that apply to your preferred school in the event of an over subscription of places. These are set by the admissions authority and should be available on the school’s website and in their prospectus.

  4. Understand why your child was not offered a place by reference to the admissions criteria. Was it because you live too far away? Was it because you did not fulfil the religious requirements for a faith school?

  5. Was an error made in applying the admission criteria to your child’s application? If so, contact the admissions authority as this may result in your child being offered a place without the need to make an appeal. Document this as well in your appeal form

  6. Don’t deal with the appeal in isolation. Remember to put your child’s name down on the Continuing Interest list for your preferred school(s). A surprising number of places can become available in this way – for example, if other parents decide to elect for independent education or move out of the area.

  7. Remember as well that you can appeal for a place at more than one of the schools that you specified on your application form and at which you were not allocated a place. In Hertfordshire, you can therefore appeal for a place at all four of your ranked schools.

  8. Know the test that the Appeal Panel will apply when they consider your appeal. The test is different depending on whether you are appealing for a place in an infant class place (ie Reception, Year 1 or Year 2) or for a place in subsequent school years.

  9. The appeal process consists of submitting a written appeal form or letter of appeal, followed by the opportunity to attend an oral hearing before the Appeal Panel. Make sure that you deal with all of the points that the Appeal Panel will consider. Focus on the school that you want and your child. Do not waste time criticising the school that you have been offered.

  10. Get your appeal in on time. The closing date for appeals can be found on your local authority's website. If you are appealing for a place at an academy, double check whether a different date applies. 

We wish you the very best of luck with your appeal.

We are able to offer legal advice for primary school appeals and secondary school appeals (including in-year appeals for parents new to the area or wishing for their child to move schools). Complete the enquiry form below to take the first steps and get in touch with our team.

Download your free guide to school admission appeals

The school admissions appeal process is complicated. Making an appeal for your child's primary or secondary school place is an emotional and potentially confusing experience.

SA Law’s free, practical guide highlights the pitfalls and provides hints and tips to walk you through the process of making an admissions appeal for schools in Hertfordshire and beyond. 

Click here to find out more and download your free school admission appeal guide. 

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Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.