If we have not offered your child a place at your preferred school or if you are not happy with the school we have offered your child, you can appeal this decision.
You're entitled to submit an appeal of a school place decision and appeals are made to an independent appeals panel.
You can appeal for more than one school and there will be a separate hearing for each school you appeal for.
Primary school reception class appeals
To appeal a primary school reception class offer, please print, complete and return the form to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with any supplementary information.
- one appeal form per school
- one appeal form per child.
Secondary school Year 7 appeals
To appeal a year 7 secondary school offer, please print, complete and return the form to email@example.com, along with any supplementary information.
- one appeal form per school
- one appeal form per child.
Admission appeals guidance
Under section 94 of the School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998, the responsibility for making arrangements for appeals against the refusal of a school place rests with the admission authority of the school.
The Admission Authority and Appeal Panels must act in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code and the School Admissions Code. Appeal panels perform a judicial function and must be transparent, accessible, independent and impartial, and operate according to principles of natural justice.
This guidance explains how the appeals process works and will help you, if you wish, to appeal against the Bury Local Authority's decision not to offer your child a place at your preferred school(s).
We've gathered some frequently asked questions that will help you to:
- understand the process
- know what will happen at an admission appeal hearing
- understand how Appeal Panels make their decisions.
Infant class appeals frequently asked questions
Key Stage 1 infant classes are Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, where the majority of children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 by the end of the academic year.
There is a limit to the number of pupils in an infant class. Regulations made under section 1 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 limit the size of an infant class to 30 pupils per qualified school teacher. Only in very limited circumstances can admission over this limit be permitted.
Not necessarily. It depends on a variety of factors such as:
- the numbers admitted to the school
- whether or not the pupils are taught as single Year Groups or mixed with other Year Groups.
Here are 2 examples:
- If the Admission Number is 60 and the school organises as 2 classes of 30 Reception Year pupils then it will be an 'infant class size' appeal.
- If the Admission Number is 33 and the school mixes the seven year groups into nine classes there will be 25 or 26 in each class and it will not be an 'infant class size' appeal.
This does not mean that an appeal panel would definitely allow appeals just because the number has not reached the infant class size limit of 30.
For example, in some small village schools a classroom might only be able to accommodate 20 pupils and it might be very difficult to accommodate any more pupils in the classroom due to the size of the room.
The appeal panel must consider the following matters:
- whether the admission of an additional child would breach the class size limit (30 pupils)
- whether the admission arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code.
- whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question
- whether the decision to refuse admission was one which a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case.
The threshold for finding that an admission authority's decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable authority would have made, is high. The panel will need to be satisfied that the decision to refuse the child was 'perverse in the light of the admission arrangements, such as; 'it was beyond the range of responses open to a reasonable decision maker' or 'a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it'.
If the above apply in the case of an infant class size appeal then the panel must dismiss the appeal.
If the panel were to allow an appeal under the infant class size legislation, the school in question would have to take measures which would prejudice the provision of efficient education or efficient use of resources, such as; employ another qualified teacher and supply further teaching accommodation in order to comply with the legislation. The panel must consider the financial implications to the school if a further child was admitted to an infant class.
When the Local Authority's case papers are sent, normally at least seven days before the appeal hearing, they should state clearly whether it is or is not a class size appeal.
School admission appeal frequently asked questions
The School Standards and Framework Act (SSFA) 1998 allows parents and guardians to express a preference regarding the school you would like your child to attend.
However, you do not have an absolute right to choose a school. The law states that the Local Authority does not need to meet your preference if the year group has reached its admission number and as a result, compliance with your preference would 'prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources'.
As your child has not been offered a place at the school of your preference you have the right to appeal against the Local Authority's decision.
Appeals can be made in relation to any school year group up to and including the age of 18. The law gives you the opportunity to put your case to an Appeal Panel, whose decision is made independently of the Local Authority. The appeal hearing is your chance to put your point across and have your say.
You do not have the right to appeal for a school if your child:
- has been permanently excluded from two or more schools; and
- the most recent exclusion occurred within the past two years.
Local Authority's can direct Community and Voluntary Controlled schools to admit twice-excluded pupils. However, the governing bodies of the schools can appeal such a decision to an independent appeal panel.
If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, please contact the Special Educational Needs Team of your home Local Authority as a matter of urgency, as your appeal must be made to the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), not a school admission appeal panel.
The appeal hearing will take place in private with the following people invited to attend.
- you and your partner, friend, supporter, representative or legal adviser
- the appeal panel, usually consisting of three members
- the Clerk to the appeal panel
- an admissions representative from the Local Authority
- sometimes, a representative of the school such as the Head Teacher, Deputy Head Teacher or Governor who can answer questions about the school.
School place appeal hearings are treated with the utmost confidence.
The three members of the appeal panel are described as follows:
- one member must have experience in education, be familiar with educational conditions in the area or be a parent of a registered pupil at a school
- one member must be a lay person, meaning someone without personal experience in the management of any school or the provision of education in any school; disregarding experience as a school governor or in any other voluntary capacity
- one member will be from either of the above two categories.
No member of the appeal panel will have any connection with the school in question, as the panel is an independent body.
The Clerk is present to ensure the appeal is conducted fairly. The Clerk does not have any say in the appeal panel's decision. The Clerk is there to:
- explain the basic procedure and deal with any questions you may have
- ensure the relevant facts are established
- make sure each party is heard in turn
- be an independent source of advice on the law and procedures
- record the proceedings, decisions and reasons
- after the appeal, notify all concerned of the appeal panel's decision.
Local Authority admissions representative
The Local Authority officer is not involved with the decision making process of the appeal hearing in any way. They are responsible for presenting the Local Authority's case, stating why a place cannot be offered to your child at the preferred school.
They will present the case at the appeal hearing, on behalf of the Local Authority and answer any questions raised by you and the appeal panel members. You may ask the officer questions about the Local Authority's case.
To ensure a fair hearing, the officer may ask you questions about your reasons for appealing.
The appeal panel can either refuse or allow your appeal - it has no other power. The appeal panel cannot:
- attach any conditions, if it allows your appeal
- hear complaints or objections on wider aspects of local admission policies and practice, for example it cannot change the catchment area of a school.
However, an appeal panel can consider whether or not the Local Authority admission arrangements have been properly implemented. For example; if the distance between your home and the school has not been accurately measured.
Therefore, if an appeal panel found that your child would have been offered a place if the admission arrangements had been properly implemented, the panel will allow your appeal.
As the appellant, you should attend the hearing where possible. You are the best person to tell the appeal panel why you want your child to go to the preferred school, as you know your situation and will be able to provide information to help the panel make an informed decision.
It is your choice as to whether to bring your child with you to the appeal hearing.
Bringing someone to help you
If necessary, an interpreter or signer can be provided at your appeal hearing, with the costs borne by the council. If you would like the Clerk to arrange this for you, free of charge, please ask the Clerk in advance of the appeal hearing date.
If you would prefer, you are welcome to arrange for your own interpreter or signer to attend with you.
You may bring a friend to help you present your case or you may choose to be legally represented. If you choose to instruct a solicitor, even if you are successful, the panel has no power to award you the costs of your representation.
Where possible, you should attend the appeal hearing. If you are unable to do so, we will try to arrange another date wherever possible.
It is important that you contact the Clerk to the appeal panel as soon as possible to let them know if you cannot attend on the date or time scheduled for your appeal.
If you cannot attend and an alternative date cannot be arranged, your case will be heard in your absence and your appeal will be decided using the information that is available at the hearing.
If you do not attend the appeal hearing and the Clerk has not been notified, your case will be decided on the information that is available at the hearing.
Yes. You can withdraw your appeal before the appeal hearing by calling the Clerk to the appeal panel.
You will usually be sent a full set of papers approximately seven days before the appeal hearing. These will include:
- your appeal form and/or letter
- the case for the Local Authority stating why your child could not be allocated a place at your preferred school and may also show how the admission arrangements for the preferred school relate to your application
- relevant correspondence between yourself and the Local Authority
- information you've supplied to support your grounds for appeal.
These documents will also be sent to the appeal panel.
You are responsible for presenting your case, for deciding what you would like to say at the appeal hearing and what written information you want the appeal panel to have. Before the appeal hearing, you're advised to:
- familiarise yourself with the procedures
- make a note of any questions you have about your appeal
- make sure you have looked at the Local Authority's case papers before the appeal hearing
- make a note of any questions you would like to ask the admissions representative about the Local Authority's case
- prepare what you'd like to say when the panel invites you to explain your reasons for wanting your child to attend your preferred school
- make sure you have all the paperwork to support your appeal, such as;
- a doctor's letter
- confirmation of completion of your house purchase or rental agreement
- written evidence of Church attendance or Sacramental Programme from your priest or faith leader if your appeal is based on religious grounds
- any other documentation that supports your appeal
- on the day of the appeal hearing, bring with you;
- the Local Authority's case and papers that were sent to you before the appeal;
- your supporting letters and documents
- any notes of questions you may have.
It is very important that you tell the appeal panel everything that is relevant to your case. The appeal is confidential, so please feel free to say whatever you need to.
Make the most of your opportunity to talk to the panel. The Clerk and members of the appeal panel want to be certain that you do not leave your appeal thinking that things have been left unsaid.
In the first instance, please contact the Clerk to the appeal panel who can help you with any queries or concerns you may have.
The Clerk cannot represent your interest at the hearing as they are there to advise the panel.
If you would like further advice on how to put forward your appeal, the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) is a national charity that provides advice and information to parents and carers on a wide range of school based issues.
It is your responsibility to provide supporting evidence to the appeal hearing. The appeal panel is not able to contact people or request information on your behalf.
The following supporting documentation is likely to assist your case:
- if your appeal is based on medical or social grounds of either your child or anyone else in the family, you should, wherever possible, provide written evidence from a doctor or other professional, such as a social worker
- if your appeal is based on religious grounds, provide written evidence from your priest or faith leader
- if your case is based on a house move, you should provide evidence of confirmation of the completion of your house purchase or any other relevant documentation
- if part of your case for seeking a new school for your child is dissatisfaction with the current school, such as you believe your child is being bullied, you are advised to provide evidence such as letters of complaint and other correspondence with the school in question
- you are also invited to put forward any letters, written reports or documents or any other evidence that you think will support your case.
The members of the appeal panel have to make their decision on the information they are given, so it's important that you tell them what is relevant and important about your case.
You may submit additional information to the Clerk at any stage of the appeal process. If you bring a lot of written information on the day of the appeal hearing, you should be aware that the appeal panel may need to adjourn your appeal so that all panel attendees have the opportunity to read this additional evidence to ensure that they give your appeal full and proper consideration.
We try to make appeal hearings as informal as possible and ensure that both you and the Local Authority officer have the same opportunity to speak. The procedure is as follows:
- the Chair will introduce the appeal panel members, Clerk and Local Authority representative
- the Chair will outline the procedure to be followed
- the Local Authority officer presents the Local Authority's case
- opportunity to raise questions from you and the panel on the Local Authority's case
- you'll then have the opportunity to present your case
- your case will then open for questions from the Local Authority Representative and the panel
- the appeal will be summed up by the Local Authority officer
- the appeal will be summed up by you
- the Chair will ask if you've had the opportunity to say everything you wish the panel to know.
The Chairperson asks if you've had the opportunity to say everything you wish to say, as the members of the appeal panel and the Clerk want to be sure that you feel that:
- you've presented your case in the way you wanted to
- you've been treated fairly
- the appeal panel has listened to you.
If you do not think that this is the case, please tell the Chairperson so that it can be put right immediately. It is very important that you leave the hearing room confident and satisfied that you've said everything and feeling that you have been treated fairly.
Yes. The appeal panel may adjourn an appeal hearing to a later time on the same day or another day. This could be due to the following circumstances:
- if substantial new issues are raised for the first time during the hearing, it may be necessary to adjourn to allow any party to consider the issues
- if a parent or carer submits a lot of additional information on the day of the hearing and it is in the best interests of both parties that the appeal panel ensures it gives full consideration to the new information before it
- if the appeal panel requires further information to be obtained by the Local Authority, parent or carer
- if a panel member is unwell or otherwise absent
- for any other appropriate and unforeseen reason.
You are responsible for ensuring that you challenge what the Local Authority has or has not done.
However, it would be helpful if you could raise it with the Local Authority before the appeal hearing, as it may be necessary to adjourn the appeal before the appeal panel can make its decision.
Appeal panels must follow the two stage decision making process for all appeals.
First stage: examining the decision to refuse admission
Whether the admission arrangements complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question.
Whether the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources.
Second stage: balancing the arguments
The panel must balance the prejudice to the school against the appellant's case for the child to be admitted to the school. It must take into account the appellant's reasons for expressing a preference for the school, including what the school can offer the child that the allocated or other schools cannot.
If the panel considers that the appellant's case outweighs the prejudice to the school, it must uphold the appeal.
You will be informed of the panel's decision by a letter from the Clerk to the appeal panel.
At the hearing, the Clerk will tell you when you can expect to receive the letter, although this is normally within three working days of the appeal hearing.
For multiple appeals, the notification of decisions may take longer because the appeal panel has to hear all the appeals for a particular school before it is allowed to decide on any one appeal for a school. Some appeals for schools may take place over a week or more.
If your appeal is allowed, the decision is binding on the Local Authority and the governing body and your child must be admitted to the school.
Multiple appeals are when a number of appeals have been received in relation to the same school. Admission authorities must take all reasonable steps to ensure that multiple appeals for a school are heard by one panel. The panel will not make a decision on any appeal until they have all have been heard.
Multiple appeals are normally heard in groups, when the presenting officer's case is usually heard in the presence of all the appellants. The appellants' cases are then heard individually without the presence of the other appellants.
If your appeal is refused and you do not wish to send your child to the allocated school, you can apply for another school, or more. If they cannot admit any more pupils, you have the right of appeal for a place at these other schools. You should contact the Local Authority as soon as possible as you have a legal duty to have your child educated.
You will not normally be given the opportunity to make a further appeal, unless there are significant and material changes in your circumstances or the circumstances of the school.
Significant and material changes in circumstances might include the fact that you have moved home or a medical condition has arisen since you last applied.
It is perfectly understandable that stress can be caused to parents and children when an appeal is refused. However, this would not normally provide grounds for a re-appeal.
Only one appeal per school may be considered for each academic year group.
Appellants may complain about maladministration on the part of an appeal panel. These complaints should be made to the Local Government Ombudsman in respect of maintained schools.
A complaint to an Ombudsman is not a further appeal. It must relate to the administration of an appeal, rather than the appeal decision. Maladministration covers issues such as failure to follow correct procedures or failure to act independently and fairly.
It does not cover the merits of decisions that only the panel has the authority to make. The Ombudsman is not able to overturn the appeal panel's decision but, where they find that there has been maladministration, they may make recommendations for a suitable remedy. For example, they may recommend that an appeal is reheard by a different Panel and with a different clerk.
Admission appeals contacts
Enquiries about Bury school admission appeals frequently asked questions, guidance and appeals process should be addressed to:
- Clerk to the Appeal Panel, Democratic Services, Town Hall, Knowsley Street, Bury, BL9 0SW
- Telephone: 0161 253 5134
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enquiries about other aspects of admissions and alternative school preferences should be addressed to:
- Admissions Team, Children's Services Department, 3 Knowsley Place, Bury, BL9 0EJ
- Telephone: 0161 253 6474
- Email: email@example.com
The Local Government Ombudsman can be contacted at:
- Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH
- Advice line: 0300 061 0614
- Website: Local Government Ombudsman.