Anxious parents told how to appeal if their child doesn't get a place at their school of choice

Local authorities face shortfall of more than half a billion pounds for educating children with special needs

Anxious parents waiting to hear if their child has got a place at their preferred secondary school on March 1 are being told how to appeal if they don’t get the place they want.

Leading law firm Stephensons is advising parents they may be able to appeal against a decision if they don’t get their first choice.

Mike Pemberton, a partner specialising in education law at Stephensons is offering a 9-step plan for parents if they don’t receive the news they were hoping for.

He said: “If a child or parent has their heart set on one particular school, it can be a massive disappointment when things don’t go to plan and their first-choice school is oversubscribed.

“But if parents and their children don’t get their preferred choice then they may be able to appeal against the decision.

“The thing for parents to remember is that they have time, as the deadline for appeals must be at least 20 school days from the national offer day and the exact deadlines must be published on the admission authority’s website.

“They should take time to consider the school which has been offered and whether it meets their child’s needs. Sometimes a second choice is entirely appropriate, albeit not ideal. Is travel feasible? Are any of the child’s friends going there? Is the child happy with the offer?

“Either way parents need to accept the offer to secure a place so they’re not left without a school, they can always withdraw it later if they make a successful appeal.

“If parents do decide to appeal it’s time to do their homework and gather information together to provide the best chances of success.”

Here Mike sets out a nine-step plan for parents:

  1. Find out who to appeal to – the type of school will determine who will consider your appeal which could be the academy trust or local authorities or governing body.

  2. Check the admissions policy of the school - check the school or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed and applied.

  3. Find out the published admission number of the school.  This may be provided within the admission policy or will be available by making enquiries with the admission authority.

  4. Look at the oversubscription policy of the school. Has it been applied correctly?

  5. You may also want to check the School Admissions code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.

  6. Gather evidence supporting any medical social or other exceptional circumstances you wish to rely upon.

  7. An appeal must be made in writing so make sure you do this in good time. Whilst it is possible to appeal after the time period this may cause delays and practically, in time appeals will be considered first and result in there being even less possibility of a place being offered on appeal. Also allow time to seek advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.

  8. Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing. As a parent you’re entitled to be represented at appeal by a friend or lawyer. If you decide on legal representation, it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible – it can get busy at this time of year.

  9. Once an appeal is lodged it must be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline.

More information on how appeal if your child does not get the secondary school place hoped for can be found here: School admission appeals advice