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School Admission Appeals – What Happens When Your Child’s School Placement Doesn’t Meet Their Needs?

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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If you’ve received the news of your child’s secondary school place and it’s not the decision you’d hoped for, the prospect of appealing may seem a little daunting.

The process for many parents is unfamiliar, especially if you’ve never had to apply for place for your child at secondary school let alone appeal the decision. However, here at Simpson Millar, we’re here to help to guide you through the process every step of the way. Our track record can be shown through some of the success stories we’ll cover in this article.

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School Admissions Process

In England you can contact your local council to find out what the state funded schools in your area are and the admission criteria for the different schools you’re interested in applying to.  All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state funded school.

Information about schools should be published on their website which, according to government guidance, should contain the following:

  • Admission arrangements, including how to apply
  • Details of the curriculum 
  • The behaviour policy 
  • Links to Ofsted reports
  • Links to performance data
  • The school’s latest key stage 2 attainment and progress measures
  • The school’s latest key stage 4 attainment and progress measures
  • Their special educational needs information report
  • The amount of money they get for taking underprivileged children, what they do with these funds and the effect that it has


School Admission Criteria

All schools have an admission criterion to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these. The admission criteria may be different for every school but they may give priority to children who: 

  • Live close to the school
  • Have a brother or sister at the school already
  • Are from a particular religion (applicable only for faith schools)
  • Pass an entrance exam (applicable only for selective schools)
  • Went to a particular primary school (i.e. a ‘feeder’ school)
  • Are eligible for the pupil premium or the service pupil premium
  • Has a parent who has worked at the school for 2 years or more 

If your child has attended at a ‘feeder’ school which means that their primary school is linked to the secondary school that they are likely to attend, it’s important to note that you must still apply for a place at the secondary school. You can apply for a secondary school place by clicking here.

If you think that a school has made an unlawful or unfair admission decision or admission arrangement, you or someone on your behalf, including a solicitor or law firm, can contact the Schools Adjudicator. Our specialist team of Education Solicitors here at Simpson Millar regularly deal with cases of this nature and have achieved positive outcomes for our clients throughout the years. If you feel that you are in need of legal representation, our team will be more than happy to take your call and discuss how we can help you.

Our Education Solicitors have successfully dealt with a large number of school admission appeals to Local Authorities, and below we’ve detailed three case studies; so you can see what we do.

If you do want to appeal get in touch with our Education Solicitors for legal advice.


School Admission Appeal: Family Issue

In this case one of our Education Law Solicitors acted for parents who have had quite serious family issues. Sometimes we find that family issues can be a key issue in determining the correct school for a child especially where the emotional development of their child is linked to their school placement. One case we handled, involved a mother who had been in a violent relationship. This meant that:

  • The child had emotional attachment issues, in particular with males – he had also been subjected to bullying at school.
  • His mother wanted to secure a place for her son at a school to where he would be able to maintain his existing friendships, as a number of his peers from primary school were also attending.

We successfully won the appeal after producing evidence to show that his social skills and confidence would be negatively impacted if he did not remain with his secure group of friends.


School Admission Appeal: Relationship breakdown affected child

For some families, when relationships breakdown, it’s often the children who bear the brunt of the issues. For one child whose case we took on, it was very likely that this would be the case:

  • The Mother’s relationship has irretrievably broken down with her ex-partner.
  • Some of the ex-partner’s family attended the school where her child was offered a place.
  •  It was very likely, due to the bad blood between the two sides of the family, that the child would receive negative attention from the older males who also attended the school.

As a result, the appeal prepared by our expert team of Education Solicitors, was successful.

These are just some examples of the amazing work that our expert team of Education Solicitors do daily. We have years of experience in dealing with cases such as this and achieving a positive outcome.  We want to help you get what’s best for your child. You can contact us to find out more information on 0808 239 0923 or by clicking here to request a call back.

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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.


GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Types of School." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Schools Admissions: Admissions Criteria." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Guidance: School Admissions Arrangements." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Schools Admissions." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Apply for a Secondary School Place." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Apply for a Secondary School Place." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

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