If your application for a school place has been refused, you will be informed in your outcome email or letter of your legal right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel.
You cannot lodge an appeal until you have applied for a place at your preferred school and received a refusal letter or e-mail.
You can submit your appeal form online or you can download the Year of entry school admission appeal application form.
If you have been offered a place at a school you do not want we suggest you arrange to visit the school. You may change your opinion of the school once you have spoken to staff, seen what the school does and addressed any specific concerns you may have about your child’s education.
This page tells you more about how to make an appeal and includes useful information on how to prepare for your appeal. Please download the School Admissions Appeal Booklet in the Information and resources section of this page for more information.
Preparing for your appeal
You will need to think about the following things when preparing your case:
Has the law been followed? Check the Admission Arrangements.
There are rules about admission arrangements. To be lawful, the school's admission arrangements must comply with the School Admissions Code and relevant law. The Admission Arrangements for an Academy, Voluntary Aided, Foundation or Free school can be found on the school’s website. You can find the Admission Arrangements for a Voluntary Controlled or Community school on the ‘School Admission Policy’ page of the local authority’s website.
The admission arrangements contain the oversubscription criteria, which are criteria used to determine a child’s priority for a school place.
The oversubscription criteria are only used if there are more applications than the number of places available. For example, if 100 children apply for a school with 60 places, the oversubscription criteria will be used to decide which 60 children get a place.
Schools must first give priority in their oversubscription criteria to Looked after Children (children in care) or previously looked after children who have been adopted or are subject to a special guardianship or residency/child arrangement order.
Other common oversubscription criteria can include the measurement of distance from home to the school, faith criteria, and children of staff or having a brother or sister at the school.
The oversubscription criteria for Somerset schools can be found in the Primary or Secondary Admissions guide (on the pages Apply to start school or Apply to transfer school).
Have the rules been followed properly? Has an error been made in applying the oversubscription criteria in your case, in other words, has your child’s application been considered correctly?
Check that your child has been considered under the correct criteria, for example, sibling, catchment, religious criteria. Check how the Admission Authority has measured the distance between the school and your home address and that the method used to measure is as described in the admission arrangements. In all cases the Admission Authority must allocate places as described in their published admission arrangements.
If you think a mistake has been made and your child should have been given a place, contact the Admission Authority immediately.
If the Admission Authority agrees with you, your child may be given a place in the school without an appeal.
If the Admission Authority doesn't agree with you or you don't agree with the information in your appeal statement when you receive it, you can present your reasons as part of your appeal hearing.
Is the school really full?
Schools have a set number of places to fill in the year of entry. This is called the Published Admission Number (PAN). You can ask the Admission Authority for the PAN. You will also find this in the Primary or Secondary Admissions guide (on the pages Apply to start school or Apply to transfer school). All places must be filled before a child can be refused a place. If your child has been refused a place because the school is full, the school will argue that another child will cause prejudice to the efficient education or efficient use of resources in the school.
Prejudice to the efficient education or efficient use of resources means there will be an adverse effect on the education and resources provided by the school if they have to admit another child.
The school's case should explain how admitting an extra child will have a negative effect on the quality of the education they can provide. Think about the physical space and layout of the school. Find out if the school has any plans to create extra space by building an extension or using rooms in a different way. Does this show that the school can take an extra pupil or can meet the legal limit of 30 children per infant class?
The infant class size limit is a legal limit, which states that there must only be 30 children per qualified school teacher in an infant class, which includes classes containing Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.
Please refer to the School Admission Appeals booklet on the right hand side of this page for information on the limited circumstances that an infant class size appeal may be successful.
The appeal statement sent to you before your appeal hearing will include details such as the number of pupils on roll at the school and how the school classes are structured.
If you do not have the details you need to prepare your case ask the Admission Authority before the appeal for this information.
You can ask questions about any of the statements made in the Admissions Authority's case at or before the appeal hearing.
Preparing your case
You should try to explain why you want your child to attend the particular school.
Relevant points that could explain why this school is needed:
- What is your child good at?
- What does your child like to do?
- Any health problems now or previously?
- Any social problems - shyness, victim of bullying?
- Any family problems?
- Any emotional problems - anxiety, low self-esteem?
- Any difficulties with learning, special educational needs or a disability?
- Any problems at your child’s current/previous school?
- Have any recent changes affected your child?
- Is this school the only school that can meet your child’s needs?
- What issues would arise if your child did not attend this school?
List all the positive points about the school that you can think of. Use information from visits and documents such as the School Prospectus, the most recent Ofsted report, school policies and the school website.
Why other schools are not suitable
It is very important that you look carefully at the school you have been offered and other schools with places available. Visit them with your child. If you think that going to the other schools would cause your child problems you will need to be specific and explain why. Would the journey be particularly difficult? Does the curriculum not offer the right subjects or specialised facilities? Think of all the problems your child is likely to face. Again, explain the effects on your child.
Look at all the notes you have made and make sure all your points show why your child needs to go to this school and only this school. Think about how you can prove all your points. You will need to come up with evidence. This is very important and will make your case much stronger. Draw the panel's attention to your evidence and explain why it supports the point you are making.
More advice about appeals.
To lodge an appeal, you will need to complete and return an appeal form following the instructions in your refusal email or letter. You need to include all information requested on the form, as well as all the reasons why you want your child to attend your preferred school. Please make sure you sign the form.
In most cases the local authority will arrange the appeal. The Appeals Officer will write to you confirming that your appeal form has been received. The officer will make arrangements for your appeal to be heard as soon as possible and will write to you to inform you of the date of your hearing - you will be given at least 10 school days notice (unless you indicate on your form that you would not need this much notice).
A reasonable time before your hearing, the local authority or Admissions Authority will send you their appeal statement, which sets out the reasons why the place at your preferred school was refused. This will be sent to the Appeal Panel at the same time.
Your hearing is likely to be held at County Hall in Taunton or, if there are a number of people in one area who have submitted an appeal, a local venue may be used. We recommend that you attend the appeal hearing if possible, as the Appeal Panel will be able to ask you any questions they may have. You can ask a relative or friend to accompany you and should tell the Appeals Officer if you intend to do this. If you are unable to attend the hearing, you may request a conference telephone call to enable you to participate in the hearing.
For more information on the conduct of an appeal hearing, please see the information in the School Admissions Appeal booklet.
You may wish to ask for help from the Somerset Choice Advisor who you can contact on 01823 356903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information about this service at www.somersetsend.org.uk