Child missed out on their first choice school? Learn how to appeal the decision

2 Minutes to Read -


For many parents, National Offer Day is a positive one because their child has been offered a place at their preferred school. If your child is offered a place at your first choice, the next step is to accept the offer according to the guidelines in the offer letter/email.

But chances are you are reading this article because your child is one of 80000 children each year who did not receive a place at your first choice school. This could mean travelling to a school several miles away when your first choice is practically on your doorstep.

Receiving confirmation that your child has not been given a place at the school of your choice may seem like the end of the world but you should consider a number of options before you despair.

  • You could decide to accept the place given to you
  • You could apply to schools with places available ( a list is available from your local authority)
  • You could appeal the decision even if you have put the first 2 steps above into action.

Each school has an appeals process and you can appeal a decision on the following grounds:

  • The decision not to offer your child a place was unreasonable
  • Admissions arrangements were not correctly followed
  • The admissions criteria were illegal according to the Schools Admissions Appeals code. You can Download a copy appeals code from here.

It is important to note that class sizes for reception and years 1-3 are limited to 30 pupils. It is very unlikely that your appeal would be successful if classes are already full.

You can check your local authority for schools with place available via this link.

Preparing an appeal could be a daunting process since the rejection could still be raw and feel like a personal affront to all your efforts to secure your child a place at your chosen school. There is help available to ensure you approach your appeal in the most appropriate way.

Key points you must know about the appeals process:

  • You must appeal against each rejected place individually.
  • The local authority must give you 10 school days’ notice of your hearing.
  • Appeals must then be heard within 40 days of any appeals deadline

The appeals panel is independent and consists of 3 people. You should bear the following points in mind:

  1. The admissions authority will explain why your application was turned down
  2. You will have your opportunity to give your reasons why your child should be admitted
  3. The panel will decide if the school’s admissions criteria was legal and adhered to
  4. If the criteria was legal and properly adhered to, the panel must decide if they were followed thoroughly and fairly
  5. Your appeal will be upheld If the criteria were not properly followed or if they are illegal
  6. If your appeal was not upheld the panel must decide if your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the schools reasons for not admitting another child.
  7. You and the admission authority will receive the panel’s decision within 5 school days.

Coram children’s legal centre is an organisation which can offer invaluable assistance to parents who wish to make an appeal.

Complaining about the appeals process

You cannot complain about the appeals decision but you can complain about the manner in which the appeals was conducted

Only a court can overturn the panel’s decision  if your appeal fails.

Appeals for maintained Schools should be made to the Local Government Ombudsman via and online application form available at this link.

We wish you success in your appeal.

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