By law, if you are refused a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal against that decision to an independent panel.
School admission appeal panels are independent of the school and the local authority.
It is not always possible to allocate a place at a parent or carer's preferred school(s). This may be due to the school(s) being oversubscribed or, in the case of a selective grammar school, because your child did not achieve the standard required in the selection tests. An admissions appeal allows you to present your reasons for preferring that particular school to an independent panel who will decide whether your reasons are strong enough to overturn the admission authority's decision. For community and voluntary controlled schools the admission authority is the local authority and in the case of an academy, voluntary aided, foundation or trust school it is the governing body.
If you submit an appeal, you will be informed, by the clerk to the appeals panel, when and where your appeal will be heard. At least seven days in advance of the hearing you will be sent a written summary of the case for refusing your child a place at the school. Your appeal hearing will be held in private and it is recommended you attend your hearing in person if at all possible.
At the hearing there will be three panel members who make the decision, a clerk who will record the proceedings and advise on matters of law and procedure, a representative from the admission authority and you as the appellant. The officer from the admission authority will state the case for not meeting your preference and you will be given the opportunity to explain the reasons why you wish your child to attend that particular school. In the first instance the panel will determine whether the admission authority has proved why it cannot admit more children and if so, will go on to consider all the points you have made. The panel's decision is based around balancing the needs of the child against the effect of admitting another child into the school. All admission appeals panels act independently and their decisions are binding on all parties. There is no further right of appeal for a place in the same academic year group unless there is a significant change in your circumstances.
The Local Government Ombudsman can investigate complaints of maladministration. Further details about this will be provided if your appeal is not upheld.
Infant class size 30 (CS30)
If you are appealing for a place in a reception class, you have a more limited right of appeal because the law states infant class sizes must be restricted to 30 children. In such cases the panel may only uphold your appeal if the admission rules were not administered correctly and your child should have been offered a place, or the decision to refuse a place was not one which a reasonable admission authority would make under the circumstances.
Special educational needs
Please note there is a different appeals process for children with an education, health and care plan (formerly a final statement of special educational needs (SEN)). Please contact the SEN team on 01609 535002 for details.
ACE education advice
Parents may also wish to contact ACE Ltd which is an independent national advice centre. ACE Ltd can provide advice and information on admission appeals through a national advice line and a wide range of publications. More information can be found at www.ace-ed.org.uk.
Community and voluntary controlled school appeals
To appeal for a place at a community or voluntary controlled school you should complete this form (doc / 41 KB) and use these guidance notes to help you (pdf / 22 KB).
Academies and trust school appeals
To appeal for a place at an academy or trust school you should contact us first on 01609 533679. You can use these guidance notes to help you (pdf / 374 KB).
Selective grammar school appeals
If you are appealing for a selective grammar school place please read these guidance notes (pdf / 144 KB).
Voluntary aided and foundation school appeals
To appeal for a place at a voluntary aided or foundation school you should contact the clerk to the governing body at that school to request the relevant appeals forms. Their contact details are in the school's prospectus. They are responsible for all the arrangements and for contacting you about the appeal.
Information about the appeals panel
The independent panel is made up of three people; one person with no specialist education experience, and at least one "independent" person who has experience in education or who is a parent of a registered pupil at a school.
The clerk to the panel will write to you to tell you the decision, and all involved are bound by that decision.
The appeals panel will not consider another appeal for the same school in the same academic year unless there has been a significant and relevant change in your circumstances.
If your appeal is successful and the school is not your normal or nearest school then you will be responsible for transporting your child to school.
Supporting documents for appeals
To support the appeals process, we have created notes for parents who wish to appeal a decision by the admissions authority (pdf / 374 KB) as well as a list of frequently asked questions (pdf / 28 KB) and information on primary class sizes (pdf / 87 KB).
In addition, you can view information about group hearings for admission appeals (pdf / 19 KB).