School admission appeals

If you are refused a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal against the decision.  An appeal is your opportunity to present your reasons for preferring a particular school to an independent panel who will decide whether your reasons are strong enough to overturn the decision of the Admission Authority.

This means that you can only appeal for places at your stated preferred schools, having made a formal application on-line or by post, for which you were refused a place(s) and have received a refusal letter.

Appealing for multiple schools

You can appeal for a place at more than one school, including places at Community, Voluntary Controlled, Voluntary Aided, Trust or Foundation Schools, Free Schools or Academies, as long as you named the school on your application and have been refused a place.

Types of appeal

There are two types of appeal hearing.

• For Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 the majority of hearings are 'infant class size' appeals.

• For other year groups appeal panels must follow the 'two stage process' for 'normal prejudice' appeals.

Infant Class Size appeals

Government legislation means that infant classes (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) with one teacher cannot contain more than 30 pupils.

At the appeal the independent appeal panel can only look at:

• Whether the admission arrangements were lawful

• Whether the admission arrangements were incorrectly applied and your child should have been offered a place

•Whether it was unreasonable/perverse (in law) to refuse your preference.  The appeal panel would need to be satisfied that the decision was so completely absurd/outrageous that no reasonable person, with the same facts would have made that decision.

('Unreasonable' here means that an admission authority's decision is not rational in light of the admission arrangements in terms of its legal responsibilities or is outrageous in its defiance of logic.  It is extremely difficult to win an Infant Class Size appeal on this ground.)

Given the extremely limited grounds on which an appeal may be upheld, Infant Class Size Appeals are rarely successful. Parents/carers can find it frustrating when they realise that the powers of the panel are limited.  We are therefore drawing this to your attention now, so you can make an informed choice about whether you wish to appeal or not.  The purpose of this information is to explain clearly the role of the Appeal Panel and not in any way discourage you from appealing, which of course is your legal right if you feel you have grounds to do so.

Normal Prejudice appeals

During the first stage the panel must have regard to the reasons for the decision to refuse admission and an explanation as to how an additional child would cause prejudice to efficient education or efficient use of resources.

The second stage is when the panel will balance the prejudice against the weight of the factors of your case.  The panel will take into account the reasons you have given for your preference.  If they feel that the reasons you have put forward outweigh the admission authority’s case they will uphold your appeal and offer you a place at your preferred school.

Appeal dates

For starting Reception, transfer to Year 3 in junior schools and transfer to Year 7 in secondary schools, often referred to as the ‘normal admission round’, appeals usually take place during June and July.  Appeals will usually be heard within 40 school days of the appeal being lodged.  This is in readiness to start school in September.

Bulk appeal hearings

When multiple appeals are lodged for the same year group at the same school they can be heard on the same date(s) and the panel will hear all appeals for that school before reaching any decision.  The appeal panel will deal with such appeals as ‘grouped multiple appeals’ where the case for the school will be presented to all the parents who have been refused a place.  This will be followed by the parental case being presented later on to the panel on an individual case basis.

In-year appeals happen throughout the year following an in-year application to a school in any year group.  Appeals resulting from in year admission applications (when parents move into the area or wish to move schools within the school year) will be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

Appellants will be sent notification of their appeal hearing at least 10 school days in advance of the hearing.

How to make an appeal

If you wish to appeal the details of how to make an appeal will be in your refusal letter (from the local authority in the normal admission round or the admission authority/school if an in-year admission) and will include the date within which to lodge your appeal and where to send the appeal submission to formally lodge the appeal.  If you have made a phone enquiry to the school you will not have a refusal letter so may not have the details of how to appeal.  If you submit a formal application you must receive a refusal letter giving details of how to appeal.

The admission appeals process for most schools (including academies) is administered by the Council's Democratic Services section. This ensures that it is separate from and independent of the schools concerned and the admission authority.

More information about the appeals process can be found in the appeals guidance attached to this page.

School Admission Appeals Timetable for September 2020 entry

Appeals resulting from year of entry or transfer applications for admission in September 2020 will be heard according to the following timetable:

(NB: Appeals will not start being heard until after the relevant closing date has passed)




Deadline for on-time appeals written submission to be lodged

Appeals to be heard


16 April 2020

15 May 2020

Within 40 school days


2 March 2020

1 April 2020

Within 40 school days


Amended March 2020

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