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How to appeal

If your application for a school is refused, you have the right of appeal against this decision to an independent appeal panel.

This is known as a school admission appeal. This is governed by legislation produced by the Department for Education (DfE).

You can only appeal against a refusal of a place, so please don’t contact the school or local authority about an appeal until you've received a formal refusal letter or email.

What you can appeal

Your legal right of appeal is against a particular admission authority’s refusal of a place for your child.

You are not lodging an appeal against the school that has offered you a place. You are also not appealing against the planning and admissions policies of the schools – as long as they are legally correct and applied correctly. School admission policies are determined at least 18 months in advance – the appeals process is not the forum to raise issues with a valid legal admission policy.

You're unable to appeal against your position on a school’s waiting list. If you lodge an appeal and it is not successful, your place on the waiting list is unaffected.

When you can appeal

Normally, you'll need to submit your appeal by a certain date.

Read the appeal timetables for community schools.

Timetables for all other schools should be published on the schools' own websites.

For September entry appeals, no appeals can be heard until after the specified closing date. They are normally heard from May through to July on weekdays during term-time only.

If you lodge your appeal after the deadline, it might be that it is not possible to hear your appeal until after the start of the new school year in September.

If you wish to make an appeal for immediate entry, you'll need to lodge your appeal as soon as possible. We'll aim to hear your appeal within 30 school days from the date your appeal is lodged. This will be on a weekday during term-time.

It's worth noting that many schools receive multiple appeals for entry in September. Unless it's proven that the school has spare teachers, budget and classrooms to take all the children appealing, successful appeals will mean that those children will be added to existing classes. It will be limited to the children with the most need to attend the school concerned. The school are unable to keep spaces back to allocate at appeals.

How to appeal

Before you lodge your appeal, we suggest that you read all the information on these pages to help you fully understand your legal rights and the appeals process.

Your appeal must be made in writing and must explain the reasons why you are lodging an appeal.

If you attempt to lodge an appeal without giving your grounds, you will not be able to proceed with your appeal, as you will not have lodged your appeal correctly.

Submissions where it is stated that grounds are ‘to follow’ will be rejected.

The School Admission Appeals Code requires that reasons for lodging your appeal are clearly stated at time of submission.

We use an online Appeals Management System to ensure we have everything we need to arrange your appeal.

You can appeal for a place for your child at more than one school, provided you have been refused a place at each school. You will need to submit a separate appeal for each school.

There is specific legislation around infant class sizes which may affect your appeal.

Accept the place your child is offered even if you appeal

If your child has been a offered a place, we recommend that you accept it.

You will still be able to appeal, or affect your child’s position on a waiting list, and it will guarantee that your child has a school place if no places become available at your preferred school.

If you have not already done so, we recommend visiting the offered school or other schools in the area with available places – do not just take the word of others when forming your opinion.

You should also consider ensuring your child is on the waiting list for your preferred school and any other schools that you may wish to add your child to the list for.

Waiting lists are not on a first come, first served basis. They are based on the school’s admissions criteria. This means a child’s place on a list can go up or down if other children join or leave the list.

It's sometimes possible to change your child’s allocated school, provided that the alternative school still has vacancies.

Please contact the School Admissions Team to discuss how to do this. They can also help you with regards to waiting lists for other schools in the area too.

Reasons why your child did not get a place at your preferred school

Parents have a right to express a preference for the school they would like their child to attend. The admission authority must offer a place at the school unless there is a legal reason for refusing a place.

We appreciate it is disappointing if you are not offered a place at the school you prefer. Parents have a right to express a preference for the school they would like their child to attend. The admission authority must offer a place at the school unless there is a legal reason for refusing a place.

However, while parents have a right of preference, they do not have a right of choice.

The most common reason that a school does not offer a place is that the school received more applications than places available, and other children had a higher priority for a place at the school when the school’s admission policy was applied.

For in-year applications, a place may be refused because the school is at its published admission number.

The school will not want to admit more pupils than they have spaces available, as this will affect resources and the education of other children at the school. 

For main entry admissions – in September to Reception Year, Year 3, Year 7 and so on - details about the numbers of preference stated for each school are shown on our apply for a school place page.

Appeals for children with Special Educational Needs

There is a different appeal process if your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and your application is not successful. To pursue this, please contact the Children’s Information Service.

The School Appeals Service is unable to hear your appeal under current legislation.

If your child is currently being assessed for Special Educational Needs or an EHCP, you can lodge an appeal up until the point the EHCP is issued to your child.

Previous appeals at your preferred school

Previous decisions on school admission appeals do not set precedents, so no-one can predict whether your appeal will be successful or not.

In addition, school admission appeals are confidential, so you cannot ask to see copies of previous appeals or know why other appeals were successful.

Your appeal will be considered on your own individual circumstances.

Withdraw your appeal

If no longer wish to go ahead with your appeal, you'll need to either withdraw your appeal via your account.

Appealing more than once

Schools do not normally consider a second or subsequent appeal in the same academic year unless you can prove that there has been a significant and material change in your circumstances.

All requests linked to a change in circumstances should be sent to the school, as it is the admission authority’s decision on whether they accept a second application.

Such a change could include:

  • where a sibling link has been created at the preferred school that was not there at the time of the original appeal
  • where a change of address has occurred, which means the home address is significantly closer to the preferred school or is now in the catchment area of the preferred school
  • where new evidence is introduced and is supported by a letter from the medical professional or social worker which could not have been introduced at the original hearing.