School admissions – appealing a decision

Federico Baglioni, Bishop's Stortford
Federico Baglioni. paralegal within dispute resolution and litigation in Bishops Stortford

If your child does not get into their first choice of school it can be frustrating and upsetting. You have the right to appeal the decision and may well choose to do so if you feel your child has been denied a place unfairly. 

You’ve probably not done it before and it can feel daunting. Our education lawyers help many parents, carers and guardians to make a stronger case to challenge the school’s decision and improve the chances of reversing the decision and being offered a place. 

Our school appeals services

Our experts help you to:

  • understand the criteria upon which you can base your appeal
  • build your case and present it in the most effective way
  • make sure you have evidence to back up your appeal
  • rehearse the key elements with you before the appeals meeting with the school
  • maintain good relations with the school – which we hope your child will attend.

Can a school refuse to admit a child?

If a school is over-subscribed you can be refused admission. Applications will then be ranked in order against the school’s over-subscription criteria which can include:  

  • distance of your home from the school
  • religion - if it’s a faith school 
  • whether a child has any siblings attending the school 
  • whether a child is looked after/previously looked after.

Schools are not allowed to discriminate or refuse admission based on disability, sex, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation. 

We’re here to help

You’ll find our team of education lawyers friendly and easy to talk to and we understand the ins-and-outs of education law. 

Our education law team is based in:

Cambridgeshire: Cambridge

Essex: BrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden

Hertfordshire: Bishop's Stortford and Royston 

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales

How do you appeal a school place?

To appeal a school place you must have a legal right to do so: this means that by law you have rights, responsibility and authority for a child and this will which includes decisions about their education. Children who are over age 16 can also appeal in their own right. If your child has been refused a place, the letter sent to you by the school will include information about how you can appeal the decision.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There are two grounds:

  • if the school didn’t apply their admissions criteria
  • if the school didn’t apply the criteria correctly. 

How long does a school admissions appeal hearing last?

The appeal will be heard by a panel of three or more people, who must be independent from the school. Appeals usually last for around 30 minutes and you will receive a letter with the decision within five school days. 

Can an appeal be rejected?

An appeal can be rejected by the appeals panel. The panel’s decision is final and can only be appealed by judicial review. However, your child can be put on the schools waiting list for the school of your choice. Schools will sometimes put on extra classes for oversubscribed years.

Make an enquiry today

Tees coronavirus update

We’re open and here to help you. We’re running as normal with our employees all working from home.

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You can call us as normal on 0800 013 1165 or email us:

You can also find contact details for all our advisers here. 

As a flexible and technologically-adept firm, we already had many home-working systems in place. We have now rolled this technology out to all our employees working for clients, so they can continue to work normally - and from home.

If you are a client, please be assured you can get in touch with Tees and we are still working on your case. To replace face-to-face meetings, we have the facilities to do video-conferencing, conference calls or just speak on the phone, as you need.

Due to the circumstances, please call us if you would have wanted a home visit, and we can organise the best and safest way of being in touch.

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