Parents across England find out today which primary school their children will be placed in, via a letter from their local authority.
If you discover that your child has not got into the school you had hoped, there is the possibility to appeal.
Do you have grounds for an appeal?
As primary schools are limited to a maximum of 30 students per class for five to seven year-olds, any initial application for such schools will 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:
- the admission arrangements (a summary of which can be found here via Coram Children's Legal Centre) haven't been followed properly
- the admission criteria applied by the school do not comply with the school admissions appeal code
- the decision not to offer your child a place was "not reasonable"
If a school declines to offer a place to a child and still has places remaining, the independent appeal panel can make a judgement by balancing the child or family's circumstances against those of the school.
John Walker, a legal specialist in appeals processes, says parents need to be able to demonstrate why their child needs to go to the school to which they are appealing.
How to appeal
If you are unhappy with a school's decision, you can contact your local authority in writing to inform them of your decision to appeal.
Individual letters must be sent for each appeal a parent wishes to submit (for example, if you wish to appeal to more than one school).
Once this letter has been received, the local authority must respond with a date for a hearing, at least ten days before it is due to take place.
Your appeal should be heard on neutral grounds by at least three volunteers, including one lay person and one person with specific experience of the education system.
For more information, Coram Children's Legal Centre offers detailed advice on the appeals process.
What to do if an appeal fails
If your appeal is unsuccessful, the only way to overturn it is via court.
It is also possible to complain about the process, but not the decision itself - for example, if you think a badly carried out appeals process ruined your chance of winning.
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.