If you apply to a school and are refused a place, your application outcome letter will give you the right to appeal the decision. Your outcome letter must also explain why the school cannot offer a place.

You have the right of appeal to any school you have formally applied to that has refused your child a place.

If you have applied for a school and been refused a place:

  • you can submit an appeal request. It is your right for an appeal hearing to take place
  • you can submit appeals for more than one school
  • appeals for different schools are considered independently of each other

You can only have one appeal per school per academic year.

To request an appeal, complete the appeal form and return it to the admissions authority for the school you are appealing for. Download our guide on where to return your appeal.

Appeal hearing

Information about the appeals process, including the School Admission Appeals Code (SAAC), can be found on the Department for Education website.

Before the hearing

You should consider the following before your appeals hearing:

  • appeals must be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being submitted.
  • you will receive a letter including the date of the hearing no later than 10 school days before the hearing
  • appeals must be heard by an independent appeal panel which has no connection to the school
  • you will be invited to attend the appeal hearing and give your case about why you wish your child to attend the school
  • if you are appealing for a grammar school, you must prove that your child is of the required academic standard (you can provide test results, recent school reports and/or a letter of support from their current or previous school)

During the hearing

There will be a clerk present who makes sure the correct process is followed and keeps a record of the meeting. The school will be asked to give their reasons why a place cannot be offered. 

After the hearing

  • the panel decides whether to uphold the appeal, not the school
  • the decision will be made after the appeal hearing has finished
  • the panel decision is binding on the school and the local authority
  • the clerk will send the appeal outcome to you

Infant class size legislation

Infant class size legislation limits class sizes in Key Stage 1 (reception, year 1 and year 2) to 30 pupils.

If you have been refused a place in Key Stage 1, your appeal may be heard based on infant class size legislation.

There are limited circumstances under which an independent appeal panel can uphold an infant class size appeal. Some of the reasons this appeal could be upheld are:

  • the admission of additional children would not breach the infant class size limit of 30
  • the admission arrangements did not follow admissions law or were not correctly applied
  • your child would have been offered a place if the arrangements had been correctly and impartially applied
  • the decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable admissions authority would have made in the circumstances of the case

Exceptions to infant class size legislation

Exceptions to this legislation include:

  • children admitted outside the normal admissions round and has special educational needs or an educational health and care plan (EHCP) naming a school
  • looked after children and previously looked after children admitted outside the normal admissions round
  • children admitted because of a procedural error made by the admission authority or local authority
  • children admitted after an independent appeals panel upholds an appeal
  • children who move into the area outside the normal admissions round where there is no other available school within reasonable distance
  • children of UK service personnel admitted outside the normal admissions round
  • children whose twin or sibling from a multiple birth is admitted as a standard in-year admission

Prejudice and fullness appeals

Fullness is where a place cannot be offered as any further pupils would mean the school could not efficiently educate the current pupils.

The independent appeal panel will consider whether the school’s admission arrangements are lawful and have been correctly applied. They will also consider if prejudice would arise if your child were admitted to the school.

If the panel decides the school is full it will then consider whether your grounds for admission of your child to the school outweigh any prejudice to the school.

Make a complaint about an appeal hearing

To make a formal complaint, visit the Department for Education website to make a complaint about an appeal hearing process.