Appeals for school places

Appeals for school places

School Appeals

If you have been refused a place at a school you have the right to appeal against the decision. You are not able to submit an appeal until you have been formally refused a place at a school, this means once you have received a letter or email telling you that you don’t have a place.

An education appeal panel is a formal procedure held in accordance with the School Admission Appeals Code, and is independent of the council, the admission authority and the school.  It is the opportunity for the admission authority to present why your child was not offered a place at the school of your choice, and for you to present why you feel your child needs to go to that school. 

Both cases are heard by an independent panel who will reach a decision on whether your child should be admitted to that school.

If you are considering submitting an appeal it is important that you read the full guidance before you submit your appeal. It will help you focus on what your grounds of appeal are & understand your chances of having the appeal upheld. Copies of the guidance can be found here: KS1 APPEAL GUIDANCE 2022-2023KS2 AND UPWARDS APPEAL GUIDANCE 2022-2023 .

Some schools conduct their own appeal hearings, and the appeals clerk will be able to advise you of this.  If you are Appealing for a place at St Cuthbert's Catholic High School, we ask you to contact the school in the first instance.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), different arrangements apply. Please visit the special educational needs and disability tribunal for further information.

Appeals for reception, year 1 and year 2 classes (Key Stage 1)

In reception, year 1 and year 2 it is very difficult to win an appeal because of infant class legislation that limits the size of the class to 30 pupils to one class teacher. Very few of these appeals are successful because of the limited grounds that can be considered by an appeals panel.

The appeals panel will review the decision to refuse a school place. By law an appeal for a place in reception, year 1 or year 2 can only be successful if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • If the admission of an additional child would not increase the size of the class to more than 30 pupils to one class teacher.
  • If the admission arrangements (how school places are allocated) do not comply with the law
  • If the Admissions Authority made a mistake when they were allocating school places and had the mistake not been made, your child would have been allocated a place.
  • If the decision to refuse a place at the school was 'unreasonable' given the circumstances of your child’s case. 

‘Unreasonable’ is specifically defined in law for school admission appeals. It means that the decision would have to be ‘outrageous’ and ‘perverse’ and not based on the facts of the case.  Personal circumstances such as home to school distance, childcare arrangements or having relatives at the school will not usually fall within this definition.


Appeals for Key Stage 2 and above

By law an appeal for a school place in Key Stage 2 and above can only be successful if the following circumstances apply. You are advised to consider carefully whether your case falls within the grounds.

  • Whether the admissions arrangements complied with the law
  • Whether the admission arrangements were applied correctly and fairly in the case of your child.
  • Whether or not admitting an extra child would adversely impact on the provision of education at the school.


The appeals process

If you are the only person appealing for a place at the school, the appeal follows a simple and standard format as described below. When more than one person is appealing for a place in the same year group at a school, they are often held as multiple appeal hearings.

Attending the appeal hearing

The clerk will invite you to a hearing to present your case. We have returned to running appeals face to face as far as possible, however this may be subject to change, dependant on the current Covid situation, or the capacity for parties to attend. If we are unable to run an appeal face to face for whatever reason we will run it by Zoom.

You will be given at least 10 school days’ notice of the date and time of the Hearing (unless you agree to a shorter notice period).

The clerk will send a copy of the information that the admission authority will present to the Hearing, before the set date.  This will include the reasons why the school has refused your child a place.  You will also receive the names of the panellists. 

If you have any further evidence to support your appeal, you must provide this to the clerk at least 7 working days before the hearing.  The panel does not usually accept evidence after that date.

The clerk will ask you to confirm whether you want to bring anyone with you to support you or you can choose someone to represent you at the hearing if you wish.  If you attend the hearing you will be given time to present your case and say what you want to say. If you do not attend the hearing, the appeal panel will hear your appeal on the basis of the information you have provided.

The appeal panel is made up of 3 trained members: a person with experience of education, a lay person (without personal experience of provision of education) and a chair.  The clerk is independent, does not take part in the decision making and ensures that the panel follows the correct procedure.

The appeal hearing

When it is time for your appeal to be heard. everyone starts the meeting together: the clerk, the admission authority representative and you.

The chair of the appeal panel introduces everyone and explains the order of the proceedings as follows:

Infant Class Size (ICS) (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2)

  1. The representative of the admission authority will explain the admission arrangements, the application of the admission arrangements and why your child had been refused admission, including the steps which would need to be taken should another child be admitted over the 30-pupil class size limit.
  2. You and the panel members will ask any questions of the admission authority’s representative and challenge their case.
  3. You will put your case for your child’s admission to your preferred school.
  4. The admission authority’s representative and the panel members will ask questions of you.
  5. The admission authority’s representative will sum up its case.
  6. You will be given the opportunity to sum up your case.

If there are a lot of appeals for the same school year group, all parents/carers who have submitted an appeal are invited to attend Stage 1 together, however after all questions have been asked about the admission authority’s case, the panel will adjourn and parents/carers will be invited to come back individually to meet with the panel and admission authority and put the case for their own child separately.

Key Stage 2 Appeal (Year 3 upwards)

Stage 1

  1. Case for the admission authority (If there are a lot of appeals for the same school year group, all parents/carers who have submitted an appeal are invited to attend this part of the hearing together, but will put the case for their own child separately)
  2. Questioning by you (the appellant) and panel

Stage 2

  1. Case for the appellant – this is your chance to present your case
  2. Questioning by the admission authority and panel
  3. Summing up by admission authority
  4. Summing up by you (the appellant)

When the appeal panel has heard all the evidence at the end of both stages, you and the admission authority representative will be asked to leave the meeting.

The decision

The appeal panel will carefully consider all that they have read and heard, and come to a decision.

After the hearing

You will be emailed the Panel decision the day after the appeal is held.

The clerk will also write to you usually within 5 working days of the hearing advising you of the appeal panel decision and the reasons why they came to that decision.  The decision is binding on you and the school, and can only be overturned through the courts by Judicial Review.

If your appeal is not successful

If your appeal is unsuccessful, another appeal for the same school in the same school year is not allowed unless there is a significant change in circumstances

Contact School Admissions  for advice on places at other schools: Contact telephone number: 0191 2787878 email:


Appeals timetable

The appeals team does not routinely acknowledge receipt of appeal forms, if you would like to confirm that we have received your form, please contact us.

Timetable for reception or transfer places in middle, secondary and high schools

For reception or transfer appeals for places in September, you will have at least 20 school days to submit an appeal from the day you received notice that your application was unsuccessful.

The deadlines for submitting an appeal in order to ensure that it is heard before the end of the summer term are:

  • Transfer place -  2 April 2024
  • Reception place - 17 May 2024

Appeals submitted within the deadlines will be heard within 40 school days of these dates. You can submit an appeal after these dates but it may not be possible to hear your case until after the summer holiday. Then it will be considered after the panel has already heard any appeals which were submitted within deadline.

Where possible appeals arising from late applications will be heard within 40 school days of this deadline or within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

Appeals submitted after the deadline will be heard within 40 school days of receipt where possible.

In-year appeals

Appeals for in year admissions will be heard within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged.

Sixth form appeals

For applications to sixth forms the deadline is 30 school days if the offer would have been conditional upon exam results or 40 school days if the offer would not have been conditional upon exam results.

How to appeal

Please ensure you read the appeal guidance carefully. It will help you focus on what your grounds of appeal are. If you want to appeal for more than one school you will need to appeal separately for each school.

Please complete an online form via the link below.

Complaints about the appeals process

You can't complain about the decision of the appeals panel. The panel's decision is binding on you and the school. You can complain about how the appeal was conducted, for example if the correct appeal procedure wasn't followed.

  • If you're unhappy with the way in which the appeal was conducted for a community, voluntary aided, voluntary controlled or foundation school, you may complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
  • If you are unhappy with the way in which your appeal was conducted for a free school, academy or university technology college, you may complain to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Independent help and information

Need more information?

Contact the Appeals Clerk by phone on 0191 277 7427 and leave a message or by email to Please be aware that currently staff are working remotely and picking up telephone messages, so email is the preferred method of contact.

We can arrange an interpreter for your appeal if you think this would help.

The School Admissions team are always there to help you find a school for your child and can be contacted even if you have an appeal pending.  You can decide to withdraw your appeal if you find a place for your child you are happy with.

Contact Admissions on 0191 278 7878 or

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