Independent Appeals Panel Complaints

If your child has been refused a place at the school you have applied for you are usually entitled to appeal the decision. The appeal is heard by an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) in line with the School Admissions Appeals Code. It is not possible to appeal against the decision the IAP make. However, in instances where you believe that your appeal was not dealt with fairly or that the IAP did not follow the correct procedures, depending on the school type, you may complain to the LGO or ESFA. 

If you are making a complaint against the IAP it is in your best interest to seek legal advice and to do so at your earliest opportunity as the process to make a complaint may be time specific. 

We can also represent you at an Independent Appeal Panel hearing. Vist our School Admission Appeals page to find out more about our fixed fee packages.

Initial telephone consultation 

Everyone is entitled to seek advice if they are making a complaint about an IAP or would like representation at the hearing. Our experienced Education Lawyers can make sure that your position is protected and that your complaint is properly presented. They are here to take the worry off your hands. 

We will happily provide an initial free telephone consultation and if you are happy to proceed with our services, we will discuss our estimated fees with you. Please feel free to contact us for a no obligation estimate on 0808 168 5550 or email

Who are the ESFA and LGO? 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is the government agency responsible for investigating complaints about IAPs for academies, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools. Complaints to the ESFA should only be made in instances where you believe the IAP/Admissions Authority did not act in accordance with the School Admissions Appeals Code.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) can investigate complaints into local authority schools such as community, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools and nursery schools. Complaints to the LGO can only be considered after an IAP has taken place and was not successful. Complaints should only be made where you believe that the IAP or Admissions Authority did not act in accordance with the School Admissions Appeals Code. 

It is to be noted that the ESFA and LGO are not responsible for investigating complaints into independent (private) schools. 

Complaints to the ESFA or LGO: 

The ESFA or LGO can consider complaints where the Admissions Authority or IAP has done something wrong in the way it dealt with an application or appeal, or that did not follow the procedures set out in the School Admissions Appeal Code 2012. Complaints made about any of the following can be investigated:

  • The Admissions Authority failed to apply the admissions criteria properly or fairly 
  • The IAP did not follow the correct procedure as stated in the School Admissions Appeals Code 
  • The IAP did not take into account relevant information, or took into account irrelevant information 
  • The admissions appeal decisions letter received following the IAP hearing did not provide clear reasoning for their decision 
  • The IAP did not act fairly or independently
  •  The IAP was not set up in accordance with the School Admissions Appeals Code 
  •  You were not provided with the opportunity to state the case clearly without unreasonable interruption

Where merit is found in the complaint the ESFA or LGO may request the following: 

  • Ask the Admissions Authority to hold a fresh appeal with a different IAP 
  • Ask the Admissions Authority to offer a place to the child in question (This is only considered in very limited situations where it is clear the criteria have been wrongly applied, denying the child a place at the school as a result) 
  • Recommend the Admissions Authority reviews the appeals procedure so the issue does not arise with future parents, guardians and children 

It is sometimes also possible to apply for a judicial review of an IAP decisions. In this instance, it is important to seek legal representation as strict time limits and procedures apply.

How we can help

If you think that you have been treated unfairly and not in accordance with the School Admissions Appeals Code by an IAP, we are able to assist you with the complaint and if necessary help you take the matter to a judicial review. We can help with making complaints to both the ESFA and LGO.

Our services:

Package A - ESFA or LGO Complaint - £400 plus VAT 

Education Lawyer to provide legal advice and to draft and submit the complaint in respect of one IAP decision. Please call or email us to discuss purchasing this package.

Why Choose Us? 

We provide legal advice and assistance to help parents navigate the education legal system. We will help you to present the strongest case to secure the best chances of a successful complaint. If you are awarded a fresh appeal hearing with a new IAP, we can assist you with the preparation and presentation of your appeal. 

We have lawyers who can assist wherever you are based. We can also help you with other education law matters including Education Health and Care Plans, matters relating to special educational needs and exclusions. 

We are here to take the worry off your hands but it is important that you get in contact as soon as possible. As long as you act quickly there should be time to address the situation. 

How to make contact 

To contact our team of Education Lawyers please telephone 0808 168 5550 or email and we will call you back. At Cartwright King we have offices across the country. We can assist wherever you are based but we also have offices in BirminghamBedfordBoltonDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleLondon Fleet StreetLutonManchesterMiddlesbroughMilton KeynesNewcastleNorthamptonNottinghamOxfordSheffield and Worcester.

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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