Secondary School Admissions: What to do if You're Not Happy With Your Allocated School

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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The 1st of March is the big day for school admissions. Families around the country will find out if their children have been allocated places at their chosen secondary schools.

Although many parents are happy with the outcomes, not everyone gets the place they believe their child needs.

So, what can you do about this? This article should help you better understand the process, what's involved and how our team of Education Lawyers can help.

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Secondary School Admissions Appeals Process

Whenever a decision is made about a school admissions application, parents must be given a right of appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP).

Details of what to do should be included in your decision letter or email, and it is essential you check what date the appeal needs to be received by the admissions authority.

Once lodged, you will be sent more information on the timetable and you should usually have at least 10 school days’ notice of the appeal hearing date.

You should also be given the chance to send evidence in support of your appeal and you can make written representations.

The school must send any evidence they have together with a formal statement that explains why they cannot accept another pupil.

Once you fully understand this appeals process, it is a relatively easy one to do, and we can make it even more stress-free by walking you through what to do and when. We will also aim to make everything as transparent and open as possible, including giving you regular updates about what’s happening with your case at any given time.

This might feel like an intimidating process, especially when it’s all about your child and their enjoyment and happiness in school, but we can help you work towards hopefully getting the decision you want.

The Two Stages of Secondary School Admissions Appeals

Stage 1

First, the IAP will consider if the law and procedures have been followed. They will also look at the impact on the education of pupils already at the school, and the school’s resources. It is rare for appeals to be upheld at this stage, but do not worry, as there is a second stage the IAP must consider.

Stage 2

The second stage is your chance to convince the IAP of the need for a place at that particular school. Although it may not be pleasant, you need to focus on any difficulties that would occur should your child not attend. Good Ofsted reports, criticism of the allocated school, or areas that schools are based in, will not win an appeal.

We will work with you to figure out the best way of making this appeal, so you can understand how you can convince the IAP that your child or children needs to be at that specific school. At all times, we will listen to your worries and concerns, so we can really get to the bottom of why your child or children needs to change schools, and then we will be able to build a convincing appeal.

The IAP Panel Decision

The IAP will balance the school’s reasons against yours and if you can convince the IAP that it would be worse for your child not to attend that school than it would be for the school to accept another child, your appeal may be successful. If there are a lot of parents that manage to do this, the IAP will decide who they believe needs the place most and allocate to them.

Decisions should be issued within 5 school days, though often parents are given the opportunity to call for a verbal decision. However, written decisions must be issued.

Our Education Solicitors have vast experience in the type of arguments that can win appeals and are adept at finding gaps in school cases.

This way, we’ll be able to get you and your child or children the result you want, or at least find an alternative so that everyone is kept happy, whilst balancing the oversubscription of many schools right now.

We listen to your story and get to know you and your child or children’s situation, so we are able to build a case that can convince the IAP to allow your child to change schools.

We understand how difficult this can be, especially when it involves a child who’s upset about their place in a school, for whatever reason. We are adept at balancing these emotions and helping you see a way through, legally, to deal with the issues around your child’s allocated school.

How we got a Child a Place in a New School to avoid bullying

For some families, when a relationship breaks down, it’s often the children who bear the brunt of the fallout. In this case, the mother’s relationship with her ex-partner had completely broken down. But some of her ex-partners family attended the school where her child was offered a place. Due to the bad blood between the two sides, if the child went to this school, it was likely that they would receive negative attention from the older children who attended that school. No child should be subjected to bullying, so our Education Lawyers appealed the case to the Local Authority and fought to get a new place at a different school for this child. As a result of our appeal, the Local Authority did offer a new place for the child to study.

In quite sensitive situations like these, we make sure to provide our clients with a safe space to discuss their issues and worries around changing schools, so that we are able to create a convincing appeal.

Get in Touch

It can be really difficult watching your child struggling with negative feelings around going to a particular school. You might feel helpless, unable to make them feel better, which is an awful thing for any parent to have to go through. All you want, as a parent, is for your child to be happy.

With our legal team behind you, you’ll be equipped to create a convincing appeal to get you the best result you can.


Department for Education. (2021). Academies Admissions Appeals Review 2021. GOV.UK.

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Appealing a school's decision.

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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