Appeals for school places
As a result of restrictions imposed due to COVID 19, we have had to make some temporary changes to our school appeals service. We are continuing to follow temporary guidance issued by the Department of Education in April 2020 regarding regulatory changes in the appeals process. This prohibits face to face appeal hearings until further notice and therefore your appeal will be heard via Video, Telephone or Paper submission, depending on your preference.
Planning and organisation for all In-year, Transfer and Reception Appeals continue as normal following statutory guidelines and timescales. Appeal hearings will take place in line with the temporary COVID 19 restrictions outlined above.
If you have been refused a place at a school you have the right to appeal against the decision. You are not able to submit an appeal until you have been formally refused a place at a school.
An education appeal panel is a formal procedure held in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code, and is independent of the council, the admission authority and the school. It is the opportunity for the admission authority to present why your child was not offered a place at the school of your choice, and for you to present why you feel your child needs to go to that school.
Both cases are heard by an independent panel who will reach a decision on whether your child should be admitted to that school.
If you are considering submitting an appeal you are advised to contact the school appeals clerk . Some schools conduct their own appeal hearings. The appeals clerk will be able to advise you of this.
If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), 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 an additional child would not increase the size of the class to more than 30 pupils to one class teacher.
- If the admission arrangements (how school places are allocated) do not comply with the law
- If the Admissions Authority made a mistake when they were allocating school places and had the mistake not been made, your child would have been allocated a place.
- If the decision to refuse a place at the school was 'unreasonable' given the circumstances of your child’s case.
‘Unreasonable’ is specifically defined in law for school admission appeals. It means that the decision would have to be ‘outrageous’ and ‘perverse’ and not based on the facts of the case. Personal circumstances such as home to school distance, childcare arrangements or having relatives at the school 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.
- Whether the admissions arrangements complied with the law
- Whether the admission arrangements were applied correctly and fairly in the case of your child.
- Whether or not admitting an extra child would adversely impact on the provision of education at the school.
The appeals process
If you are the only parent appealing for a place at the school, the appeal follows a simple and standard format as described below. When more than one parent is appealing for a place in the same year group at a school, they are often held as multiple appeal hearings.
Attending the appeal hearing
The clerk will invite you to a hearing to present your case.
You will be given at least 10 school days notice of the date and time and venue of the Hearing (unless you agree to a shorter notice period).
The clerk will send a copy of the information that the admission authority will present to the Hearing, before the set date. This will include the reasons why the school has refused your child a place. You will also receive the names of the panellists.
If you have any further evidence to support your appeal, you must provide this to the clerk at least 7 working days before the hearing. The panel does not usually accept evidence after that date.
The clerk will ask you to confirm whether you want to call any witnesses or to be represented at the hearing. If you attend the hearing you will be given time to present your case and say what you want to say. If you do not attend the hearing, the appeal panel will hear your appeal on the basis of the information you have provided.
The appeal panel is made up of at least 3 trained members: a person with experience of education, a lay person (without personal experience of provision of education) and a chair. The clerk is independent, does not take part in the decision making and ensures that the panel follows the correct procedure.
The appeal hearing
When you arrive at the venue, the clerk will meet you. When it is time for your appeal to be heard, everyone goes into the hearing together: the clerk, the admission authority representative and you.
The chair of the appeal panel introduces everyone and explains the order of the proceedings as follows:
- Case for the admission authority (If there are a lot of appeals for the same school year group, all parents/carers who have submitted an appeal are invited to attend this part of the hearing together, but will put the case for their own child separately)
- Questioning by you (the appellant) and panel
- Case for the appellant – this is your chance to present your case
- Questioning by the admission authority and panel
- Summing up by admission authority
- Summing up by you (the appellant)
When the appeal panel has heard all the evidence at the end of both stages, you and the admission authority representative will be asked to leave.
The appeal panel will carefully consider all that they have read and heard, and come to a decision.
After the hearing
You are able to call for a yes or no decision the day after the appeal is held.
The clerk will also write to you usually within 5 working days of the hearing advising you of the appeal panel decision and the reasons why they came to that decision. The decision is binding on you and the school, and can only be overturned through the courts by Judicial Review.
If your appeal is not successful
If your appeal is unsuccessful, another 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).
Contact School Admissions for advice on places at other schools: Contact telephone number: 0191 2787878 email: email@example.com
The appeals team does not routinely acknowledge receipt of appeal forms, if you would like to confirm that we have received your form, please contact us.
Timetable for reception or transfer places in middle, secondary and high schools
For reception or transfer appeals for places in September, 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 - 1 April 2021
- Reception place - 18 May 2021
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 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.
Sixth form appeals
For applications to sixth forms the deadline is 30 school days if the offer would have been conditional upon exam results or 40 school days if the offer would not have been conditional upon exam results.
How to appeal
Please ensure you have read the relevant guidance 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.
Please complete the appropriate online form below depending on the year group you are appealing for a place in:
Complaints about the appeals process
You can't complain about the decision of the appeals panel. The panel's decision is binding on you and the school. You can complain about how the appeal was conducted, for example if the correct appeal procedure wasn't followed.
- If you're 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.
- If you are unhappy with the way in which your appeal was conducted for a free school, academy or university technology college, you may complain to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Independent help and information
Need more information?
Contact the Appeals Clerk by phone on 0191 277 7427 and leave a message or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that currently staff are working remotely and picking up telephone messages, so email is the preferred method of contact.
We can arrange an interpreter for your appeal if you think this would help.
The School Admissions team are always there to help you find a school for your child and can be contacted even if you have an appeal pending. You can decide to withdraw your appeal if you find a place for your child you are happy with. Contact Admissions on 0191 278 7878 or email@example.com