If your child is gearing up to start secondary school in September, you might be awaiting the crucial decision of where they will be going to school. March 1 marks ‘national secondary school offer day’ where secondary school-age children will find out where they will continue their education, finish their GCSEs and may even go on to complete their A-Levels.
But what if your child isn’t allocated the school place they want? Whether it could cause transport issues, lack of disability support or failure to specialise in a particular subject, you might want to appeal the decision given by the government.
Erin Smart, an education law lawyer, at Irwin Mitchell has issued advice on what parents can do if they want to appeal the decision not to offer their child a preferred school.
She said: “School admissions can be very competitive but parents have a right to tell their local authority which school they would prefer their child to go to.
“The local authority must consider parents’ preferences and follow the School Admissions Code during the admissions process, but don’t have to give any reason for their decision when they do reach a verdict. If you feel that your preferences have been unfairly dismissed, you can appeal the decision with the local authority, the Independent Admissions Appeal Panel or even judicial review.”
Reasons why parents might appeal a school decision
- Religion or difficult family circumstances
- A special need or health issue
- A particular aptitude in the school’s specialism
- Transport issues
- Emotional reasons such as historic bullying
The government website outlines the appeals process and how to submit an appeal.
Secondary school offers - how to appeal the decision
The government website states that parents will be sent a letter with the decision about their child’s school and if their child is refused a place, they can appeal against the decision.
You must appeal against each rejection separately and you can only appeal once against each rejection.
Preparing your appeal
Parents have 20 days to appeal from when the admission authority sends the decision letter.
The admission authority will set a deadline for submitting information and evidence to support your appeal but if anything is submitted after the deadline, it might not be considered and may result in delays to your hearing.
When the hearing will be
The admission authority must give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the hearing.
Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal.
What happens at the appeal hearing
There will be a panel of three or more people at the appeal hearing. The panel must be independent and must follow the school admission appeals code.
The admission authority will then explain why they turned down the application and the parents can then give their own reasons why the child should be admitted to this particular school.
The appeals panel will then decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and comply with the school admissions code. If the criteria were not properly followed or do not comply with the school admissions code the appeal must be upheld.
If the reasons for the child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children at all, the appeal will be upheld. The decision will usually be sent out to parents within five school days.