School appeal hearing guidance

You will be notified via email confirming the date, time and arrangements of the appeal hearing. You will usually be notified at least 14 days before the hearing to give you time to prepare. You will also receive a statement from the admission authority which will give the reasons why your child was not allocated to your preferred school / academy. This will normally be sent to you at least 7 days before the hearing.

Attending the hearing

It is strongly advised that you attend the appeal hearing as this will give you the opportunity to state your case in person and to respond to any queries and clarify any relevant parts of your case which are unclear. The Appeal Panel will have a better idea of your case if they can  talk/meet with you and have amiable and constructive discussion. You are able to send nominate a person to represent you if you are unable to attend. If you attend yourself you may be accompanied by a friend or representative.

If you choose not to attend the hearing the Appeal Panel will make a decision on the basis of:

(a) the written evidence you have provided: and (b) a written or oral statement given at the hearing by the admission authority, giving the reasons why your child was not allocated to your  referred school / academy (there may sometimes be a witness present [see b, d]).

You are able to defer the hearing if you are unable to attend and are willing to wait for a later date. There may be a deferral for a few weeks until the next hearing can be arranged. If you decide to defer your hearing you should confirm this as far in advance of the set date as possible. You may wish to consider nominating a representative in your place to present your case. Please note that you should confirm who this will be ahead of the hearing in order that all concerned are aware that the person has been nominated as your representative (see section 7 - The hearing).

It is however, strongly recommended that you attend the hearing.

Presenting your case

The hearing is not like a court case. Generally hearings last up to 30 minutes and are informal in nature. If you need longer to present/clarify your case, then this will be allowed. Venues are usually local or virtual via conference call. The intention is not to discuss points of law but for the panel to balance the strength of the relative cases in reaching their decision.

You are able to present any information which you feel is relevant to your case and circumstances. If on the day of the appeal you present new information without any evidence there is the possibility that the hearing may be delayed or deferred in order for this to be properly considered, e.g. if you refer to a bullying issue at your child's current or previous school / academy you should provide evidence or else the hearing may be delayed or deferred.

The hearing

You are strongly encouraged to attend your admission appeal hearing(s) in order to clarify or supplement your written appeal case.

You are able to have a friend, adviser, interpreter or signer in attendance and they may speak on your behalf at the appeal hearing. This may include a locally elected politician or an employee of the Local Authority e.g. a social worker (as long as this is not considered to lead to a conflict of interests).

Where appeals are for pupils above statutory school age then the parents and pupil may both attend the appeal hearing or may decide that only one party wishes to attend.

For pupils above statutory school age both the pupil and parents have appeal rights. Where both decide to appeal separately then the appeals will be heard together at a joint hearing leading to a single decision which is binding on all parties.

Please note that:-

  • If a signer or interpreter is required at your appeal hearing, you would need to make your own arrangements for an interpreter to be present to act on your behalf.
  • Appeal panels are prohibited by the School Admission Appeals Code from allowing Headteachers and representatives of the school being appealed for providing supporting information (written or verbal) in advance of or at your appeal hearing.

You are able to have legal representation at your hearing if you wish. This is however not normally necessary. Admission appeal hearings are not intended to debate points of law.

The following people will be in the room:

(a) A Panel of three people who are lay persons and persons experienced in education. These people are acting independently of the admission authority and have no connection with the school / academy for which you are appealing or the school which is your current offer. These are the people who will make the decision about your appeal;
(b) A Clerk, who is usually from the Office of the Chief Executive (Legal Services Group), will advise the Independent Appeal Panel about the law and procedures and who will also take notes of the meeting;
(c) A Presenting Officer from the admission authority who will present the case for the school or academy for which you are appealing).
(d) The Head teacher of the school which you are appealing for may be present (or may send a representative).

The presenting officer for the admission authority will explain why a place at your preferred school / academy has not been allocated to your child. You may ask questions and you may also challenge any statements which are made.

You may then be asked for the reasons why you feel that it is unreasonable for your child to attend the school / academy which has been allocated and you may also be asked questions.

The Independent Appeal Panel's decision

The independent admission appeal panel will initially hear the case from the admission authority. 

If they decide that this is not sufficiently strong to prove that prejudice would occur in relation to additional admissions, then they may decide that the case is "not proved". In these circumstances all appellants would be allocated places at the school without individual parents having to present their cases.

If you are the first appellant on a particular day then you may be present for this initial discussion. The panel may ask that you and the presenting officer (plus any witnesses) leave the room if they wish to debate the strength of the admission authority's case prior to deciding how they wish to proceed.

On most occasions however the Independent Panel will proceed to hear all parental cases for the school / academy being appealed for. They will not make any decisions until every parent's individual case has been heard.

You will not be present when they make their decisions and neither will the admission authority or any witnesses. Only the independent clerk will remain with the panel and he/she will have no role in their decision making about your appeal.

The panel will balance the strength of each parent's case against the case made by the admission authority for no more admissions to the school. They can allow every case or none at all (or anything in between). If they allow your appeal then the school / academy place must be accessed without delay. If this does not happen then you may receive a reminder letter giving you seven days' notice to confirm that you still want and will access the available place. Places will be withdrawn if they are not accessed promptly following a successful appeal.

If your appeal is refused, the school offer already made will be confirmed (subject to any other outstanding appeals which you may be awaiting). You will get an initial, brief, decision letter which will be followed up at a later date by a letter giving further details for the admission appeal panel's decision to refuse your appeal.

The decisions of Independent Admission Appeal Panels are legally binding on all parties

Finding out about the decision

The clerk will write to let you know the result of the appeal after the hearing. This is usually done in writing to all appellants shortly after the hearing has taken place.