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School admission appeals


Your right to appeal

You have the right to appeal for a place at any school where you have applied and been refused a place.

What to consider before you appeal

It can take time for appeals to be heard, which can lengthen the period of uncertainty for you and your child. It’s important to be realistic about why you are appealing and the chance of your appeal being successful.

Accepting an offer of a school place at another school does not impact your appeal. Government guidance recommends you consider accepting any offers so that you have secured a school place for your child in case your appeal is unsuccessful.

Reasons for refusal

It may be helpful for you to know how your preferred school allocated places, so you can understand why your child was not offered a place. The school’s admission arrangements can be found on the School admission arrangements page.

You will also receive an admission decision letter which should give the reason why your child was refused a place at your preferred school. The most common reason for refusal is because there were other children who more closely met the school’s oversubscription criteria.

If you have applied for a school in year, it’s likely that the school was unable to offer your child a place because the year group which you applied for was full.

The appeals process

Submit an appeal

All school admission appeals need to be set out in writing. To submit an appeal you must complete our online School admission appeal form.

If you are unable to complete the online form you can also download, print and return the School admissions appeal form (Word, 63KB) by post. Contact us by telephone on 01472 324149 or email at legaladmin@nelincs.gov.uk if you need to request a copy.

Some of the schools in North East Lincolnshire manage their own appeals. You should contact the school directly if you wish to appeal for any of the following schools:

  • Cleethorpes Academy
  • Healing School – A Science Academy
  • Pilgrim Academy
  • Reynolds Academy
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy
  • St Mary’s Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy
  • Tollbar Academy

The address you detail on the form will be the address we use to send all correspondence to, so please make sure the address is correct.

If you move address during the appeals process, please make sure that you contact us as soon as possible on 01472 324149 or legaladmin@nelincs.gov.uk to provide your new address.

If you are appealing for more than one school, you will need to complete a separate appeal form for each school.

What information should I include in my appeal form?

You should clearly set out your reasons for why you think your child should have a place at your preferred school. This should include all relevant personal circumstances such as medical, educational, social or welfare reasons.

You can appeal for any reason but the stronger your reasons are, the better chance you have of your appeal being successful.

You can appeal if you think that the admission authority did not apply their arrangements correctly and if they had been applied correctly your child would have been offered a place at the school.

When giving your reasons, try to think about what your preferred school can offer your child that others can’t and the impact on your child if they do not attend your preferred school. 

Supporting evidence

If you have evidence which you feel supports your appeal, such as letters from professionals (doctors, social workers, medical reports etc), please submit these with your appeal form.

If you want to submit further supporting evidence after lodging your appeal, you will need to submit this to us at least 3 clear working days before your hearing. Please note, any evidence submitted after this deadline may not be considered.

Please note, the Appeals Panel cannot accept letters of support from schools, as this could create conflicts of interest and unfairness to other appellants.

Can I ask the clerk/Appeals Panel to contact anyone, such as a doctor or social worker to provide further information or to confirm what I have said on my appeal form?

It is your responsibility to provide any supporting evidence that you would like the Appeals Panel to consider. The clerk/Appeals Panel will not contact any third parties to obtain information and the Appeals Panel will only consider information submitted to them.

Additional needs

If you have any additional needs that we need to take account of, for example you require disabled access or an interpreter, so you can participate in the hearing, please detail this on your appeal form.

When will my appeal be heard?

Appeals are only heard during term time so will not be arranged during evenings, weekends or any school holidays.

Appeals timetable (2022–2023)

School phaseNational Offer DayAppeals to be lodged byAppeals to be heard by
Secondary1st March 202330th March 202313th June 2023 (40 school days)
Primary17th April 202317th May 202313th July 2023 (40 school days)

Appeals will not be arranged until after the relevant closing date has passed.

Appeals received after these deadlines will be heard within 40 school days of the appeal deadline or within 30 school days of the appeal being lodged. This may mean that your appeal will not be heard until after the summer holidays.

In year appeals

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

Where will my appeal be heard?

Appeal hearings are usually heard in person at Grimsby Town Hall.

If you have any difficulties with accessibility or attending in person, please contact the clerk to the appeals panel as soon as possible after receiving your appeal date to discuss possible options.

How long will the appeal hearing take?

Appeal hearings can vary in length but usually take no more than an hour. If you need more time, this may be allowed. This sometimes can mean that appeal hearings run late. If this happens, please bear with us, we will be with you as soon as possible and this will not limit the time of your hearing.

Should I attend the appeal hearing?

It is your choice whether to attend the appeal hearing however you are encouraged to attend, if possible, so that the Appeals Panel can ask questions of your case if they need further information. You will not be penalised if you are unable to attend.

Can I bring someone with me to help/support my case?

Yes, you can be represented at the hearing and/or bring a friend, family member or someone else (such as an adviser) with you.

Please note, it is not possible for representatives from schools, or anyone connected to schools, such as governors, to attend the appeal hearing with you. This is because such support could create conflicts of interest or unfairness to other appellants.

If you are bringing someone with you, please let us know on your attendance form.

Can my child attend the appeal hearing?

It is your decision as to whether your child attends the appealing hearing with you.

Your child is not expected to attend the hearing and they may find it difficult to attend, particularly if their needs or any difficulties they are facing are discussed at the hearing with the Appeals Panel.

Who attends the appeal hearing?

The Appellant

This is you (parent or carer). You should explain to the panel why you believe your child should be admitted your preferred school.

The Presenting Officer

This is a representative of the school or academy (the admission authority). They will present the school’s case as to why your child was refused a place.

The Appeals Panel

The Appeals Panel is the decision maker, coming to a conclusion as to whether your appeal is upheld (successful) or dismissed (unsuccessful).

The Panel consists of 3 trained members who are completely independent from the school, all schools in North East Lincolnshire and the local authority.

The Appeals Panel performs a judicial function and will be independent, impartial and transparent in their decision-making at all times.

The Appeals Clerk

The clerk is responsible for arranging the appeal. The clerk will convene the panel, make all the necessary administrative arrangements for the appeal and explain what will happen at your appeal hearing and after. They will also keep an accurate, but not word for word, written record of the appeal hearing, send written notification of the panel’s decision and give the Appeals Panel legal advice if they require it.

The clerk does not have any say in the decision.

The clerk is also able to give you independent and impartial legal advice on the appeals process and the relevant law.

What happens before the appeal hearing?

At least 10 school days before your appeal hearing, we will send you a letter confirming the date, time and place of your hearing, unless you have told us that you don’t need this much notice. We will also include an attendance form so you can let us know whether you will be able to attend.

If you are unable to attend the hearing, please contact the clerk to the Appeals Panel as soon as possible. In limited circumstances, requests for alternative dates will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.

Approximately 7 days before the hearing we will send you a set of appeal papers. This will include details of the parties attending, the admission authority’s statement and a copy of your notice of appeal form and any additional information submitted with it.

What will happen at the appeal hearing?

The appeals hearing is not set up like a Court. The appeals hearing will be conducted in private, usually in a room in Grimsby Town Hall.

The appeals hearing must follow a formal process, but the Appeals Panel and clerk will try to make it as informal as possible and to put you at ease.

At the start of the hearing, the clerk or chair of the panel will make introductions and deal with any preliminary issues, such as consideration of any new information, whether an adjournment is necessary, etc.

For standard appeal hearings, the appeal will be heard in 2 stages:

Stage 1 – the admission authority’s (school’s) case

The presenting offer will explain to the Appeals Panel why your application was refused and why the school can’t take any more pupils.

After the Presenting Officer has presented the school’s case, both you and the Appeals Panel will have the opportunity to asks questions.

Once stage 1 is finished, you and the presenting officer will briefly leave the room so that the Appeals Panel can decide whether to uphold your appeal at this stage or proceed to stage 2.

Stage 2 – parent’s case

This is your opportunity to put forward your case and to explain why you would like your child to go to your preferred school.

There is no right or wrong way to present your case. You may find it helpful to write a statement or bring written notes with you to remind yourself of all the points you would like the Appeals Panel to consider.

After you have finished presenting your case, both the presenting officer and Appeals Panel may ask you questions.

Please note, the Appeals Panel may not be able to consider any new evidence or information you present at the appeal hearing if you have not already submitted it in writing before the appeal hearing.

At the end of the hearing both parties (you and the presenting officer) will have the opportunity to summarise the main points of your cases.

Decision making

Once the Appeals Panel has heard both cases, it will make a decision in private whether to uphold or dismiss your appeal. In reaching its decision, the Appeals Panel will weigh up your case for wanting your child to attend the school against the school’s reasons for not being able to admit any more pupils.

Please note, the decisions of Appeals Panels are legally binding on all parties.

Infant class size appeals

These appeals are heard slightly differently to standard appeals, as Appeals Panels can only uphold Infant Class Size appeals in certain, limited, circumstances.

This is because the law limits the size of infant classes (usually reception, year 1 and year 2) to a maximum of 30 pupils per teacher. In an infant class size appeal, the school will have refused your application because admitting your child would breach this limit, either now or in the future (known as future prejudice).

An Appeals Panel can only uphold an Infant Class Size appeal if:

  • It finds that the admission of an additional child would not breach the infant class size limit
  • It finds that the school’s admission arrangements were unlawful, or were not properly applied, and the child would have been offered a place at the school if the arrangements had been lawful or had been properly applied
  • It decides that the decision to refuse admission was not one that a reasonable admission authority would have made in the circumstances of the case

The threshold for finding that an admission authority’s decision to refuse admission was unreasonable is high. This means that the Appeals Panel would need to believe that no reasonable admission authority considering the case could have come to the same decision.

As the threshold is high, it’s unlikely the Appeals Panel will be able to uphold an appeal for this reason. It’s important for you to be aware of this so you can be realistic about the likely result.

If you no longer wish to proceed with your appeal (perhaps due to accepting a place at another school or due to a change in circumstances), please contact the clerk to the Appeals Panel as soon as possible. It is preferable for this to be done in writing.

Will my appeal be successful?

Parents will often ask whether their appeal will be successful. It is not possible for us to comment on the likelihood of success for standard appeals, as each case is considered on its own merits, by an independent Appeals Panel. However, for Infant Class Size appeals there is a limited chance of success, due to the circumstances when an Appeals Panel can uphold an Infant Class Size appeal.

When will I receive the Appeals Panels decision?

Decisions will not be issued on the day of the appeal hearing.

The paperwork that will be sent to you before your appeal hearing will include a date and time when you can call the School Admissions Team to obtain the decision. This will be followed up in writing by the clerk to the Appeals Panel, usually within 5 school days of your hearing.

If the Appeals Panel is hearing a number of appeals for the same school, known as multiple appeals, then no decisions will be made until all of the appeals have been heard.

If there is likely to be any delay to this timescale, the clerk will confirm this to you at your hearing.

What happens if my appeal is unsuccessful?

The decision of the Appeals Panel is binding so only the Courts, by way of a judicial review, can overturn the decision.

You will need to seek independent legal advice if you wish to start a claim for judicial review.

If you wish to discuss alternative school places for your child, please contact the School Admissions Team on 01472 326291 (option 4), who will be able to advise and inform you of any available places at other schools.

Can I appeal again?

You can only appeal once for the same school in the same academic year unless the admission authority has accepted a second application due to a significant change in circumstances and you have been refused a place.

Admission authorities must operate a waiting list for at least the first term of each school year of admission (up to 31st December). For most schools this would be for reception and year 7. Some schools may operate a waiting list for longer and for other year groups, but you will need to check this with the School Admissions Team.

Your child can remain on the waiting list for your preferred school even if you have accepted a place elsewhere.

Waiting lists are ranked according to the school’s oversubscription criteria, not by when your child joined it or for how long they have been on it. This means that your child’s place on the waiting list may fluctuate (go up or down).

If you would like to know your child’s place on the waiting list for your preferred school, please contact the School Admissions Team. Please note, you will not be notified if your child’s place changes on the waiting list, so you may wish to contact the team again at a later date to check.

If you feel that the Appeals Panel has not followed procedures correctly or failed to act independently or fairly you may make a complaint of maladministration. Please note, you can complain about the way the appeal was dealt with but not the Appeal Panel’s decision.

Maintained schools

If your complaint is for a school maintained by the Local Authority, you will need to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).

The LGSCO can be contacted at lgo.org.uk.

Telephone: 0300 061 0614

Address: The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH

Academies

If your complaint is for an academy, you will need to complain to the Department for Education (DfE).

The DfE can be contacted at GOV.UK – Appealing a schools decision.


Contact details

Legal Services, Municipal Offices, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1HU

Email: LegalAdmin@nelincs.gov.uk

Telephone: 01472 324149

Opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm, except bank holidays