How to appeal if you have not been offered a place at your preferred school

If you have been refused a place at a school you have the right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel. You are not able to submit an appeal until you have been formally refused a place at a school.

If you are considering submitting an appeal you are advised to contact the Appeals Clerk on 0191 277 7427 or by email . Some schools conduct their own Appeal hearings. The Appeals Clerk will be able to advise you of this.

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan, different arrangements apply. Please visit the special educational needs and disability tribunal for further information.

Appeals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes (Key Stage 1)

In reception, Year 1 and Year 2 it is very difficult to win an appeal because of infant class legislation that limits the size of the class to 30 pupils to one class teacher. Very few of these appeals are successful because of the limited grounds that can be considered by an Appeals Panel.

The Appeals Panel will review the decision to refuse a school place. By law an appeal for a place in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 can only be successful if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • If the admission of the child would not increase the class size limit over 30
  • If the admission arrangements do not comply with the law
  • If the admission arrangements were incorrectly applied
  • If the decision to refuse admission was unreasonable (completely perverse and outrageous) in light of the admission arrangements

If you are considering an appeal for these year groups you need to consider carefully whether your case falls within these grounds. Personal circumstances such as home to school distance, childcare arrangements, transport issues or having children at other schools will not usually fall within this definition.

Appeals for Key Stage 2 and above

By law an appeal for a school place in Key Stage 2 and above can only be successful if the following circumstances apply. You are advised to consider carefully whether your case falls within the grounds.

  1. Whether the admissions arrangements complied with the law
  2. Whether the admission arrangements were applied correctly and fairly in the case of your child.
  3. Whether or not admitting an extra child would adversely impact on the provision of education at the school.

Appeals Process

You will be given at least 10 school days notice in writing of the place and time of the meeting of the Appeals Panel that will consider your case, unless you have agreed to a shorter notice period.

Before the appeal hearing, the Clerk will send you a copy of the case that the Admission Authority will present to the Panel. This will set out the reasons why your child has not been offered a place at the school.  The Clerk will also inform you of the names of the Panel Members who will consider your case.

If you wish to submit further evidence, you must submit this to the Clerk in writing at least 7 school days before the date of the appeal hearing.

You will be given the opportunity to appear before the Appeals Panel to present your case. You may be accompanied by a friend or be legally represented (as may also the admission authority for the school). It is not essential for you to attend and you can choose to allow the appeal to be considered from the information on your appeal form. If you do not attend on the day, the appeal hearing will go ahead without you being there.

The conduct of the appeal hearing is at the discretion of the Panel but is usually as follows:

  • Introduction by the Chair
  • Case for the admission authority (Stage 1)
  • Case for the parents or carer(s) (Stage 2)

If there are a lot of appeals for the same school, the admission authority will present its case with all the parents present for the first part of the hearing (multiple appeal hearing).

The Clerk will write to you and the admission authority telling you the decision of the Appeals Panel and the reasons why it was made. This will be within five school days of the hearing date wherever possible. The decision of an Appeals Panel is binding on the admission authority. If the Appeals Panel upholds your appeal, the school will have to admit your child. If your appeal is unsuccessful, a second appeal for the same school in the same school year is not allowed unless there is a significant change in circumstances (for example a change of address).

Appeals timetable

For Reception or Transfer appeals for places in September 2018, you will have at least 20 school days to submit an appeal from the day you received notice that your application was unsuccessful.

The deadlines for submitting an appeal in order to ensure that it is heard before the end of the summer term are:

  • Transfer place - 6 April 2018
  • Reception place - 21 May 2018

Appeals submitted within the deadlines will be heard within 40 school days of these dates. You can submit an appeal after these dates but it may not be possible to hear your case until after the Summer holiday. Then it will be considered after the panel has already heard any appeals which were submitted within deadline.

Where possible appeals arising from late applications will be heard within 40 school days of this deadline or within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

Appeals submitted within the after the deadline will be heard within 40 school days of receipt where possible.

Appeals for in year admissions will be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

How to appeal

Please ensure you have read the relevant guidance and frequently asked questions carefully before you submit your appeal. If you want to appeal for more than one school you will need to appeal separately for each school.

Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (Key Stage 1)

Year 3 upwards (Key Stage 2 and above)

Frequently asked questions

Contact the Appeals Clerk by phone on 0191 277 7427 or by email to

Complaints about the appeals process

If you are unhappy with the way in which the appeal was conducted for a community, voluntary aided, voluntary controlled or foundation school, you may complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can only look at matters relating to the administration of an appeal, not the actual decision (for example a failure to follow the correct procedure).
Tel - 0300 061 0614

If you are unhappy with the way in which your appeal was conducted for an Academy, you may complain to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Page last updated: 
7 February 2018
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