Questions and answers about appeals
The questions listed below are commonly asked by parents.
Please note: This information only relates to schools run by the County Council. If the school you wish to appeal for is a voluntary aided or foundation school, or an academy, you should contact the Clerk to Governors of the school direct. Your decision letter from us will tell you who to contact.
When can I appeal?
You do not have the simple right to choose a school for your child. The law gives you the right to express a preference for a school and the Admission Authority has a legal duty to meet your preference unless doing so will prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
If your child is refused admission to your preferred school, you can make an appeal to the independent appeal panel which the Admission Authority has set up to consider admission appeals. Your appeal must be in writing and must set out the grounds on which it is made.
Important dates to remember are as follows:
Allocation day letters
- Secondary Schools: 2nd March 2020
- Primary Schools: 16th April 2020
Deadline for lodging appeals (for local authority schools)
- Secondary Schools: 3rd April 2020
- Primary Schools: 29th May 2020
- (however appeals lodged after this date must be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged)
Date appeals will be heard by if received by deadline date (for local authority schools)
- Secondary Schools: 26th June 2020
- Primary Schools: 26th July 2020
I have received my child's results for the grammar school test. They didn't get the minimum score/got the minimum score but have not been allocated a place - when can I appeal?
Appeals for a secondary school place for September 2020 do not take place until May or June 2020. If you wish to appeal for a place you should contact the school you are interested in at the beginning of April 2020. They will then tell you how to lodge your appeal.
I have received my child's allocation letter and I don't want the school. How can I get the allocation changed?
You should complete your reply slip and return it to Co-ordinated Admissions by 8th March 2019 for secondary transfer and 29th April 2019 for reception entry if you would like to change your allocation. You will be told the results of the review after 29th March 2019 for Secondary School entry and after 15th May 2019 for Infant/Primary/Junior School entry.
My allocation has been reviewed and has not been changed. What can I do?
It is recommended to visit and speak with your allocated school where possible to find out if the school can meet your child’s needs and your situation. You can apply to or ask to be considered for other schools. Our ‘Find a School’ webpage will show what schools are near to your home address by direct distance.
However, if you wish to appeal for a school place, please check the deadline dates for appeal requests (as given in the answer to the first question - ‘When can I appeal?’). Appeal paperwork can be completed on-line via the link given in the refusal letter.
I would like to try to get a place at a different school to the allocated one, but don't want to lose the chance of the place at the school offered. What should I do?
Our advice is to accept the school offered and request your chosen school(s) at the second stage of allocation. If an alternative can be offered, the original allocated school offer is withdrawn. Accepting the school place allocated does not affect your right of appeal for an alternative school; but will ensure your child does have a school place if the appeal is unsuccessful.
I haven't been offered a school place anywhere - what should I do in case I don't win my appeal?
Contact Co-ordinated Admissions who will be able to advise you on schools with spaces should your appeal be unsuccessful.
Can I apply for other schools while I am waiting for my appeal hearing?
Yes - it will not prejudice your appeal if you apply for other schools in the meantime. Likewise, refusing a school place does not strengthen your case at appeal.
Can I accept the offer of another school place while I am waiting for my appeal hearing?
Our general advice is that you do accept the school place offered. There have been scenarios where families have declined the place offered and been unsuccessful at appeal for another school and have been left without a school place. If you accept the place offered this does not prejudice the appeal decision. If you refuse the place offered this will not strengthen your case at appeal.
What are the types of school appeal?
There are two types of appeal hearing.
- For Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (Key Stage 1), the majority of hearings are ‘Infant Class Size’ appeals, in cases where an additional child in the classroom would mean more than 30 pupils per class teacher.
- All Key Stage 2 (Year 3 upwards) - and a minority of Key Stage 1 hearings – are ‘Efficient Use of Resources’ appeals. In these cases, the appeal panel must decide whether or not your circumstances outweigh the admission authority’s circumstances.
What chances of success do I have if I appeal?
You are legally entitled to appeal. Success at the appeal stage depends on the strength of your case and the type of appeal that is taking place (see previous question); each appeal is considered on a case by case basis by the Panel.
There are 2 types of school admission appeal: ‘Infant Class Size’ appeals and ‘Efficient Use of Resources’ appeals.
The independent Appeal Panel considers ‘Infant Class Size’ appeals differently from other year groups. ‘Infant Class Size’ restrictions are rules that apply to all appeals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. These rules apply if your child’s admission has been refused because the class has reached its legal limit of 30 children per school teacher.
There are extremely limited grounds on which an appeal may be upheld. Parents/Carers can find it frustrating when they realise that the powers of the Panel are limited. We are therefore drawing this to your attention now so that you can make an informed choice about whether you wish to appeal or not. The purpose of this information is to explain clearly the role of the Appeal Panel and not in any way discourage you from appealing, which of course is your legal right if you feel you have ground to do so.
If you have been refused a place under the implementation of the Infant Class Size Regulations, then the Appeal Panel can only decide in your favour on 2 grounds i.e:
- if there was a mistake made in the Admissions process which affected the allocation of a place to your child
- if the admission authority has not acted in a “reasonable manner” in refusing to allocate a place at your preferred school.
If the Appeal Panel agrees that you have made a case on any of those grounds then they will grant your child a place at the school. If you have not proved your case according to any of those criteria, then your appeal will be refused.
The Code of Practice defines not acting in a “reasonable manner” as “perverse in the light of the admission arrangements”, i.e. beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker, or a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it.
The Local Government Ombudsman states that a decision that makes it impossible for you to transport all your family to school on time, or even impossible for you to continue working, is very unlikely to be “perverse”. The courts have established this. If the admissions authority refused a place to a child whose family had had to move house under a witness protection scheme, a panel might decide that the decision was perverse. This would be the panel’s decision and this would not be questioned if the Panel followed the correct procedures in reaching it (please see the ‘Local Government Ombudsman’ webpage).
For ‘Efficient Use of Resources’ appeals, the independent appeal panel will weigh up whether or not your circumstances outweigh the admission authority’s circumstances.
For further information about school appeals, please read our ‘School Appeal Guidance Notes’.
When are appeals heard?
Appeals for secondary school transfers in 2020 will be heard between May and July 2020. Appeals for reception entry in 2020 will be heard in June or July 2020. At other times of the year the County Council runs an appeal panel at least once a month to hear appeals for schools run by the council so usually your in-year appeal can be heard within 30 school days of you making it. If a school is their own admission authority you are entitled to have your appeal heard within 30 school days.
When will I be told when my appeal will be heard?
You are entitled to 10 school days notice of your appeal date. Sometimes we can give you longer than this. This means that we send out appeal appointments for secondary transfer appeals relating to schools run by the County Council in May. Appointments for reception entry appeals are sent out in May or June. If we want to offer you a date with less than 10 school days notice we ask you to agree to waiver your right to the stated notice period.
Can I appeal for more than one school at a time?
A family is allowed to have one appeal per child, per school, per academic year. In other words, you may appeal for more than one school at a time and if you do so this will not prejudice the decision for your most preferred school. The panel will make a separate decision for your case for each school.
When possible are all schools I am appealing for heard on the same day?
School appeals can be heard on the same day where possible. However, you can ask to have appeals heard on a different day if you wish.
Will the school my child has been allocated (or currently attending) be told about the appeal(s)?
No - no one will be contacted at the current or allocated school without your permission. However, we ask that if you are successful at appeal and your child will therefore be leaving a school, you do inform the school that your child will be leaving and when.
Can I withdraw or postpone my appeal?
If for any reason, you wish to withdraw or postpone your appeal, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org to make them aware that you no longer wish to appeal for a school place or wish to postpone your appeal. By formally cancelling or postponing your appeal it may then be possible to let another family have your appeal date and time.
What information should I put in my appeal statement?
If you have been refused a place because the school would be in danger of going over 30 in the infant age group (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) your appeal can only be upheld if you can demonstrate that the Council has made a mistake which has denied your child a place or that the decision to refuse your child a place is unreasonable. If you have been refused because the school has reached its published admission number and to take any more would mean it would become overcrowded, you should explain why you feel it is best if your child goes to this school, instead of the school the Council has allocated. Please attach any supporting documentation to your appeal form.
When will I get my decision?
You will be told at the appeal hearing when you can expect to get the letter. Decisions are always given in writing or via email if requested. This would usually be within 5 working days.
How often can I appeal?
You are permitted to have one appeal per child, per school, per academic year. This means that you can appeal once for a place in Reception, once for a place in Year 1, once for a place in Year 2 and so on throughout your child’s school career. However, if there is a significant change in circumstance you may be able to have another appeal for the same academic year.
Who can tell me what position my child is on a schools waiting list?
Co-ordinated Admissions can be contacted on 01452 425407 or email email@example.com for pupils starting primary/junior/secondary school. Waiting list positions are not available until after the second allocation stage.
If your child is moving schools within the school year, please call In-year Admissions on 01452 426015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – please contact the school first, as some schools hold their own waiting list information.
Can I complain about the Appeal Panel's decision?
The Panel's decision is binding. This means it can only be overturned by a decision in a court of law. You should take legal advice if you are considering taking this action. You can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman if you think something went wrong or was unfair with the admission or appeals process. The Local Government Ombudsman can't overturn the Panel's decision but can ask the Council to allow you a second appeal if your complaint is felt to be justified.
What can I do if I have other questions about school admissions and school appeals?
You can contact us to help answer any questions or queries you might have about applying to schools, the allocation process and/or school appeals:
- If your child is starting primary, junior or secondary school, please email Co-ordinated Admissions with any questions you may have:
- If you are looking to move your child from their current school to a new school, please email In-Year Admissions with any questions you may have:
- If you have any questions about school appeals, please email the Democratic Services Unit: