School admissions – appealing a decision

Challenging an admissions decision can feel daunting. Our legal specialists can guide you as to whether and how you can improve the strength of your case.

Gabriella Cox, Chelmsford
Gabrielola Cox, Trainee Solicitor Tees Law

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

Call our specialist solicitors on 0808 231 1320

Make an enquiry today

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Schools admission appeals - FAQ's

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.

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