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Secondary school offer – how to appeal the decision

Guidance on how and when to appeal


In view of the recent deadline for secondary school applications we thought it might be useful to provide some guidance on what you can do if you do not achieve your preferred choice of school, to enable you the opportunity to prepare.

Tuesday 01 March 2022 will be the national offer day for secondary school admission applications, when parents and pupils receive the decision on whether they have been successful in their choice of preferred secondary school.

If you do not get your preferred choice, then you may be able to appeal against the decision.

The first thing to remember is that you have some time to consider your options:

·       Check your deadline to appeal - The relevant admissions authority must publish an appeals timetable on their website by the 28th February each year, so check this to see what the deadline is to lodge an admissions appeal. It must be at least 20 school days from the national offer day

Some admissions authorities may have provided for a longer period in which to make an appeal, but 20 school days is the minimum (which takes us roughly to the 28th March)

·       Consider the school which has been offered and whether it meets your child’s needs. Sometimes a second-choice school is entirely appropriate, albeit not the ideal.

Is travel to the school feasible, are any of your child’s friends going there? Is your child happy to be offered that school? Will the offered school meet your child’s needs?

·       Accept the offer to secure the place, you can withdraw this acceptance later if you do decide to appeal and are successful, but make sure you do accept a school in the interim. If you do not, then you may be left with no place in September

Appealing the Decision

If you are appealing, then you need to gather some information together to provide the best chance of success. You also need to ensure you meet the relevant deadline. Whilst it is still possible to appeal out of time, this may cause a delay in the case being considered by the appeal panel. Practically, appeals made within the deadline may also be considered first and may result in more places having been assigned, which will make arguments over prejudice much harder.

You will also need to do some homework!

  • Who do you appeal to? The type of school will determine who will consider your appeal.

Type of school

Who is the admission authority?

Who is responsible for arranging an admission appeal?


Academy Trust

Academy Trust

Community schools

Local Authority

Local Authority

Foundation schools

Governing body

Governing body

Voluntary aided schools

Governing body

Governing body

Voluntary controlled schools

Local Authority

Local Authority

  • Read the admissions policy of the school. Check the school website or local authority website to view this and ensure that the correct policy has been followed

What is the Published Admission Number of the school?

What is the oversubscription policy? Has it been applied correctly?

You may also want to check the School Admissions code of Practice 2014, School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 and relevant parts of the School’s Standards and Framework Act 1998.

  • An appeal must be made in writing.  Make sure you do this in good time seeking advice on grounds to appeal if you need assistance.

Consider whether you will need assistance or representation at the appeal hearing? If so, it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible – it can get busy at this time of year!

  • Once an appeal is lodged, it must then be heard within 40 school days of the appeals deadline.

You are entitled to be represented at an appeal hearing by a friend or lawyer. Sometimes, having the correct legal advice in preparing your appeal could ensure that you are better placed for success. Or having a legal representative at a hearing could provide you with the confidence needed to achieve a better outcome. Secondary school has such an impact on our children’s lives, that it is well worth investigating whether you have a case to appeal if you do not get your preferred choice. 


Our site will enable you to search for lawyers who specialise in education matters, completely free and without taking your personal data. Check our useful guidance sections too for information on how to help you choose the right solicitor, or how to choose a solicitor with a specialist area of law, like education, which is particularly important, and how to make sure your solicitor is regulated. All solicitors listed on our site are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).