School Admission Appeals Factsheet

If your child has been refused a place at a school, the Admission Authority must explain why. The refusal will also explain your right to appeal the decision, how to do so and the deadline for submitting your appeal. 

When should I appeal?

The refusal notification you received will provide the deadline for submitting an appeal. This must be at least 20 school days from the date of notification.

How should I appeal?

Details of how to appeal will be provided in the refusal notification you have received; however do consider the following: 

  • there will be an initial form to complete before the deadline;
  • you can submit additional information later; and
  • you may want to send evidence to support your reasons for appealing (for example, a letter from a doctor, previous results or examples of work), this can also be sent later. 

What happens before the hearing?

You will be notified of the date of the hearing at least 10 school days in advance.

The notification will explain your right to call witnesses at the hearing, and it will provide the deadline for submitting any further evidence you would like the hearing panel to consider.

The Admission Authority (the local authority or the school itself) will also submit documents which explain its case for refusing admission.

Who will attend the hearing?

The Admission Authority must send a presenting officer to explain its decision and to answer questions. If the presenting officer does not attend the hearing, the panel can decide to go ahead if this person’s absence will not hurt your case. 

You must also be allowed to attend. You can have a legal representative or a friend to accompany you.

A clerk will also be present to ensure the hearing runs according to the rules and to ensure an accurate record of the hearing is taken.

Who will hear my case?

An independent panel will hear the appeal. There will be at least 3 members on the panel, which must consist of at least one of each of the following:

  • a lay person who does not have experience managing a school or providing education; and
  • a person with experience in education, who is knowledgeable about the educational conditions in the area, or who is a parent of a pupil at school. 

Some people are disqualified from being members of an appeal panel, such as: 

  • a member of the school’s governing body;
  • a member of the local authority in which the school is located; or
  • someone who has not completed the training required to be a panel member.

What is the procedure at the hearing? 

Each panel will have a chair who directs how the hearing takes place and ensures you have the chance to state your case and ask questions. Once the chair introduces the panel and explains their role, the hearing will start.

Admission appeals hearings do not have a fixed order of proceedings, but it will usually be as follows:

  1. the presenting officer for the Admission Authority sets out the case for refusing admission;
  2. you (or your representative) and the panel ask questions;
  3. you (or your representative) state your case for admission;
  4. the Admission Authority officer and the panel ask questions;
  5. the Admission Authority sums up its case; and
  6. you (or your representative) sum up your case.  

How will the panel make its decision?

Please note: this paragraph does not relate to decision making in infant class size appeals, please see our separate factsheet to see how those decisions are made.

The panel will make its decision by following a two-stage process.

First, it will consider the following factors:

  • whether the school’s admissions arrangements were lawful;
  • whether they were correctly and impartially applied; and
  • whether admission of an additional child would prejudice the efficient provision of education or efficient use of resources. 

If the panel decides it will cause such a prejudice, it will next consider where the balance lies between the following: 

  • the prejudice to your child if s/he cannot attend this particular school; and
  • the prejudice to the school as a result of the admission of another child. 

After this decision-making process, the panel will either decide to uphold or dismiss your appeal. If the panel decides your child must be admitted to the school, the Admission Authority is required by law to do so.

The decision is made by a majority of the votes cast by the panel members.

A letter which contains the written reasons for the decision will be sent to all parties within 5 school days of the hearing.

If my appeal is refused, can I appeal again?

You have the right to appeal only once for each school, per school year. However, if there is a significant change in circumstances and the child is still refused admission, the Admission Authority may accept a second application for an appeal.

In some cases you make be able to make a complaint about the way the appeal was conducted, if you think the proper procedure wasn’t followed for example. For more information see our website here.

You can also visit our admission appeals page for further information and our fees.

For further information please get in touch with our dedicated team.

You can always call us on 0808 168 5550 or email the Education Team on


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