School Admission Appeals – What to do if you don’t get the school you want

School Admission Appeals – What to do if you don’t get the school you want

So the results are imminent, and our children’s reception and primary school places are now being confirmed. Hopefully you are one of the happy ones who has successfully secured your desired school and are cracking open a bottle of something celebratory – but what if you are not? Here’s the low down on what to do if you have been rejected for your first choice.

Why has our first choice for my child been rejected?

Your local authority is responsible for allocating school places. If the school you have chosen is over subscribed (i.e. there are more applications than there are places), then places will be allocated based on strict selection criteria. These vary from authority to authority, but are usually something along the lines of:

  • Prority 1 – Children who are adopted/in foster care/have exceptional social or medical reasons.
  • Priority 2 – Children living in the catchment area
  • Priority 3 – Siblings (those with an older brother or sister at the school already)
  • Priority 4 – Distance – for those outside the catchment area, priority will be given to those closest to the school in order (as the crow flies).

If your place has been rejected, it is likely that all places at that school were filled before they reached your position in the prority order.  With some schools only having 30 places each year, unfortunately this is relatively common.

But my child goes to the nursery, surely that has a weighting?

Unfortunately not, whilst your child may attend the school’s nursery setting, for most local authorities this is not part of the selection criteria for school places.

What can I do?

Firstly try not to panic. It is very easy to get upset, especially if you had your heart set on a particular school. Stay calm and consider all of your options. I appreciate this is easier said than done – at the time of drafting this post I have no idea of the outcome for my daughter, but I know I will probably be blubbing my heart out if our first choice gets rejected!

Visit the school you have been offered

Have you ever actually visited the school you have been offered? For many, when they have their heart set on a particular school, they don’t actually visit the others in their area. Arrange a visit to go and see the school, chat with the headteacher, and ask them lots of questions – We wrote a list of all the questions to ask a school when making our choices that you may find useful. You may find that you are pleasantly surprised and that this completely reassures you.

Waiting List

When you login to your Parent Portal you will see which school place(s) have offered you a place, and which have been rejected. For any that have been rejected, you will be able to place your child on a waiting list. For some local authorities this is done automatically, for others you need to phone up (please check with your individual authorities).

There can be substantial movement before the first day of term – people may change their mind on their first choice, move home, or decide to defer their child’s place, and therefore, at times, places can become available prior to the first day of term.

It is unlikely that the place will become available straight away, but once on the list, you can ask your local authority to find out what position on the waiting list you are and therefore, how realistic the waiting list could be in securing a place.

Right of Appeal

Accepting the place you have been offered does NOT impact your right of appeal but ensures you have a back up place should your appeal be unsuccessful.

If you wish to appeal the decision, you can apply for an appeals form from your Local Authority – these will be available on your Parent Portal.

Think about WHY you wish to appeal, and outline your reasons clearly and concisely in writing. Focus on why the rejected school is right for your child as opposed to why the other schools aren’t as good. You are making an argument FOR a particular school rather than against others.

You can appeal on a number of grounds, but largely these would be expected to be something like:

  • Admissions error – do you feel that the admissions order or criteria has not been followed correctly?
  • Personal / Social reasons – e.g. being rejected for this school would have a significant impact on your child or family – I am no expert, but I would assume factors such as significant carers locations (e.g. grandparents), before and after school provisions, practicality for working parents (e.g. getting to and from various schools at rush hour), friends/family members at the school etc, would all  be factors to mention here.

Make sure you follow the correct appeal timescales to ensure that your appeal is considered. These dates will be published on your local authority website.

Cross your fingers. Your appeal will be heard  by an independent panel. Unfortunately however, in many schools places are limited to just 30, and as such, not every application can be accepted.

Fingers crossed you are celebrating the news today, but if not, I hope the above helps!





  1. Kim Carberry

    Fantastic advice….
    Thankfully we had no problems getting a school place when my girls were younger.

  2. Sarah

    All i’ve seen on social media this week is parents worrying about this. I am SO not looking forward to this when my little ones are older!

  3. Lisa (mummascribbles)

    This is such an informative post. Thankfully we got our first choice but I was speaking to a fellow nursery mum and she got third choice because the first two both had around 30 siblings! I was jumping up and down with joy and crying at the same time when that email came through!!!! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday


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