How to appeal against a school place decision

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At a glance

Guidance on deciding to appeal if your choice of school doesn’t offer your child a place.

How do I appeal?

You'll receive a letter from your local authority stating that your child has not got a place at your chosen school. It will tell you how to make an appeal against this decision and the deadline by which you need to do this.

You must inform the local authority of your decision to appeal in writing. You’ll then be given a date for your appeal hearing at least ten days in advance.

What happens at an appeal hearing?

An appeal panel of between three to five members of the public will assess your case. At the hearing, the panel will be told why your application was turned down. They’ll check that the school’s admission arrangements comply with the Schools Admissions Code. Then you’ll be invited to say why you’re appealing against the school’s decision. You’ll need to explain why you think this school is best for your child and any special circumstances that support your application.

Once the appeal has been heard, the panel has to decide whose case is stronger – yours or the school’s. You’ll be told the result by post within seven days. The decision is legally binding. If your appeal is successful your child will be given a place at the school. If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can still put your child’s name on the school’s waiting list.

Tips for success

  • Contact the Advisory Centre for Education, which offers excellent advice on appeals.
  • Write down what you want to say at your appeal hearing. You may find it easier to read out loud than speaking from memory.
  • Know your arguments and practice what you’re going to say.
  • You'll need to explain why this school would be the best place for your child – concentrate on this, not on why an alternative school would be bad.
  • Take any additional evidence or documents with you - like a doctor’s letter if there are medical needs - to back up your case.

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