With primary school offers being sent out on 16 April, parents may be concerned about what to do if their child doesn’t get offered a place at their preferred school. 


Louise Tunstall
Louise Tunstall
Associate Solicitor - Civil Litigation

Louise Tunstall, an Associate Solicitor at McMillan Williams, explains what parents can do if they are disappointed with the place offered.  

When Can You Appeal?

Parents have the right to appeal if their child is not offered a place at their chosen school. The offer letter should set out the right to appeal and will generally give parents 20 school days to submit any appeal.

Often a place if refused due to oversubscription of that particular school. Each school must have an oversubscription policy which sets out the criteria against which places will be allocated. Parents can request a copy of this from the school or relevant admission authority. Common oversubscription criteria will include, but not be limited to, a policy where priority is given to :

  • Children with siblings at the school
  • Children who live closest to the school
  • Children who are looked after
  • Faith schools where the pupil is of the same faith

Appeal Hearing

The relevant Admission Authority will set a hearing date to consider the appeal which must take place within 40 school days of the deadline for submitting the appeal, which will happen in 2 stages:

Stage 1

The panel will consider whether or not the school complied with the relevant admission policies and procedure and whether those policies comply with all the relevant legislation. The panel will then consider whether the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of education or the efficient use of resources.  This involves a thorough review of a number of factors including:

  • The capacity of each year group
  • The actual pupil number in each year group
  • Average class room capacity
  • School size in relation to safety of certain numbers of pupils
  • Whether staff levels are at full capacity

Where the school receives a number of appeals and individually, the school could accommodate one additional child but collectively it would cause a prejudice if all were admitted, the panel must proceed to stage 2.

Stage 2

The school will seek to balance the prejudice to the school against your case for admitting your child. This will involve consideration of why you feel that particular school is better suited than others. This could include evidence from independent parties such as doctors and youth workers.

Parents can attend the appeal hearing although decisions will be sent out in writing in any event. There are very limited rights to appeal the decision of the panel.

We Can Help

McMillan Williams can draft the appeal on your behalf, making all appropriate representations including locating the relevant school data regarding capacity and can guide you through the whole process through to the final hearing.

Should anyone have any queries relating to school admissions or appeals, contact us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

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