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Primary School Offer Day 17.4.23 - What do I do if my first choice of school has been rejected?

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Today is the National Primary School Offer day and many parents will be breathing a huge sigh of relief when they find their little ones have been awarded a place in the school they were hoping for. But it's a different story for so many others who weren't so lucky, often through no fault of their own.

So what CAN you do if you've found yourself in this situation? Firstly, don't panic - this is not the end of the world. You are not alone and there are a number of options for you to explore:

1. Accept the place that has been offered to you if it is at a school that you are happy with. 2. Contact the local council or education authority to find out the reasons why your child was not offered a place at your preferred school. They may be able to provide further information and guidance. 3. Consider appealing the decision. This can be a lengthy process, but if you feel that your child would benefit from attending your preferred school, it may be worth it. 4. Consider going on the waiting list for your preferred school. All schools must keep a waiting list for the first term of each academic year and you may find that spaces become available as families move house, or their circumstances change. 5. If you did not explore other primary schools in the area when you made your choice of school (perhaps because you thought there was no way your child wouldn't go to your chosen school) then do so now. Look into other primary schools in the area that may have places available. Take the time to research and visit these schools to see if they would be a good fit for your child - after all, if you're going to put your child's name on a waiting list, it might be best to keep your options open.

6. Remember that your child can still receive a quality education at a different school.

How do I appeal against a primary school offer rejection?

According to GOV.UK, you’ll be sent a letter stating the decision about your child’s school, telling you how you can appeal against this decision should you wish to do so.


- You can only appeal once against each rejection.

- You must appeal against each rejection separately.

The admission authority for the school must allow you at least 20 school days to appeal from when they send the decision letter. They will set a deadline for the submission of any information and evidence in support of your appeal. If you submit anything after the deadline, it might not be considered AND may result in delays to your hearing.

Is my appeal likely to be successful?

An appeal will be upheld if the panel decides a school has not complied with the school admissions code or correctly followed their admissions criteria which parents must be able to provide evidence for. For example, if a child has a medical or special educational need that can only be met by a specific school, or if the admissions criteria have been applied incorrectly, then an appeal could be upheld. An appeal is also more likely to be successful if this is supported with letters or evidence from the likes of health or well-being professionals.

When will my hearing be?

The admission authority must give you at least 10 school days’ notice of the hearing.

Appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal.

What will happen at the hearing?

There will be a panel of three or more people at the appeal hearing. The panel must be independent and must follow the school admission appeals code. The stages of the hearing include:

1. The admission authority will explain why they turned down your application.

2. You’ll be able to give your own reasons why your child should be admitted.

3. The appeals panel must decide if the school’s admission criteria were properly followed and comply with the school admissions code.

4. If the criteria were not properly followed or do not comply with the school admissions code your appeal must be upheld.

5. If your reasons for your child to be admitted outweigh the school’s reasons for not admitting any more children at all, your appeal will be upheld.

6. You will usually be sent the decision within 5 school days.

You can find more information about appealing the decision for your child's first choice of primary school can be found on the government website.

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