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  1. ITV Report

Primary school places: How to appeal a decision

Tens of thousands of parents across England find out today which primary school their children has been placed in, and whether or not they have got their top choice.

For some, the letter from their local council will come as a disappointment - but there is the chance to appeal if children have not been awarded a place in their desired schools.

Parents find out today where their children will be placed. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Do you have grounds for an appeal?

Primary schools are limited to a maximum of 30 students per class for five to seven-year-olds, meaning any initial application can be turned down if a school has already reached that limit.

However, parents can still appeal decisions by these schools if any of the following apply:

Parents can appeal by writing to their local authority Credit: PA

How to appeal

Parents should contact their local authority in writing to inform them that they are appealing their child's school allocation.

Separate letters must be sent for each school to which a parent wishes to appeal.

Once this letter has been received, the council must respond with a date for a hearing, at least ten days before it is due to take place.

The appeal should then be heard on neutral grounds by at least three volunteers, including one lay person and one person with specific 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.

John Walker, a legal specialist in appeals processes, says parents need to be able to demonstrate specifically why their child needs to go to the school to which they are appealing.

A decision will be made within five days of the hearing.

What to do if an appeal fails

If an appeal is unsuccessful, the only way to overturn it is through the courts.

It is possible to complain about the process - for example, if a badly carried out appeals process ruined the parent's chance of winning - but not to complain about the decision itself.

Details of who to contact for complaints can be found on the Government's website.

Parents can also request that their child is added to a waiting list for the school(s) in question, so their child can receive a place should any become available in future.

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