Thousands of children are expected to miss out on their first choice of place at primary school this year, as the school-age population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Last year around 12 per cent of families were rejected for their first choice of school, but the figure this year is expected to vary greatly between regions.
Places at top-rated state schools are in higher demand than ever, but don’t panic if you find you don’t get the result you wanted.
Here’s what you need to know to appeal a decision:
1. Accept the place your child has been offered – even if temporarily
This will not affect your right to appeal, but will ensure your child has a place in September.
2. Make sure you respond to any request to include your child on a waiting list
Not all schools will have a waiting list, but it is recommended that you contact your preferred school and make your preference known.
3. Do you have grounds for an appeal?
In reception classes, year 1 and year 2, class sizes are limited to 30. Your application could be turned down if all the classes already have 30 children.
You can still appeal if your child would have been offered a place in ordinary circumstances. You may be successful if:
• the admission arrangements haven’t been properly followed;
• the admission criteria are not legal according to the school admissions appeal code;
• the decision to refuse your child a place isn’t considered “reasonable”.
If a school declines to offer a place to a child and still has places left, the independent appeal panel can overturn that decision.
How to appeal
Parents should contact their local authority to inform them they are appealing their child’s school allocation.
Separate letters must be sent for each school, if appealing for a place at more than one other school. Appeals must be heard within 40 days of the deadline stated by your local council.
Local councils are obliged to respond to letters with a date for a hearing at least 10 days before it is due to take place.
The appeal should be heard on neutral grounds by at least three volunteers, including one person with experience of the education system.
Parents and the admissions authority will both be given the chance to explain their side.
The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and are legal according to the school admissions appeals code. If not, the parent’s appeal must be upheld.
If a school has declined to offer a place to a child but still has places remaining, the independent appeal panel will balance the child or family’s circumstances against the reasons for refusal given by the school.
A decision will be made within five days of the hearing.