Primary & secondary school admission appeals

Every parent will have experienced the angst of applying for a school place for their child (although surprisingly, some parents do not realise that an application has to be made for their child to progress from the nursery at the school to the reception class) and the associated worry of whether their placement will be the one which they wanted.

When you consider that the initial allocation is going to have an effect on the next seven years of key stage one and two; or five years of high school leading to GCSE examinations and qualification – it is not surprising that the admissions process can be stressful.

In reception and Infant classes the law states that there can only be 30 children per qualified teacher in a class unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

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Preferred options

You have the right to provide preferred options for your child’s school and each admission authority or independent school must publish their admissions policy in the case where a school is oversubscribed setting out what criteria has to be met and in what priority. If unsuccessful in your first choice, the second or third choices may be.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the allocation, then there is a right of appeal. This will be heard by an independent panel and details are set out below:

Type of schoolAdmission authorityComplaints about arrangementsResponsible for appeal against place refusal
AcademiesAcademy trustSchools adjudicatorAcademy trust
Community schools foundationLocal authoritySchools adjudicatorLocal authority
Foundation schoolsGoverning bodySchools adjudicatorGoverning body
Voluntary aided schoolsGoverning bodySchools adjudicatorGoverning body
Voluntary controlled schoolsLocal authoritySchools adjudicatorLocal authority


If an Infant school already has 30 children in a class, an appeal can only succeed you can show either that the admissions arrangements or the law were not applied properly and the child would have been offered a place if they had been, or if the decision was totally unreasonable

You are entitled to make representations to the appeal hearing and we can make arrangements to present your case in writing or by legal representation at the hearing.

The appeal panel will consider the case and decide whether the school can justify not taking an extra pupil above the capacity stated. This involves a balancing exercise considering the needs of your child and other children’s education together with practical issues such as would they fit in the classroom. Reception cases are often more difficult than secondary admissions as there is more flexibility in the procedure.

A decision will then be provided which can be advised on. There is no further right of appeal, but a judicial review may be available.

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