Parents of Primary School Starters face Regional Appeal Lottery


  • School appeal success rate at less than 2% in 10 'worst' councils
  • Parents warned to stick to the facts and avoid making emotional arguments
Parents who wish to appeal their child’s primary school allocation face a regional lottery with some councils sporting a 0% success rate.

School Children

Official figures show how every single parent failed their appeal in the following six councils last year: Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Hammersmith and Fulham, Newham, Hounslow and South Gloucestershire. At the other end of the scale, parents in Durham succeeded in 66% of cases, and in 53% of cases in Sunderland.

As families approach national offer day for primary pupils on 18 April, solicitors at Simpson Millar have advised parents to stick to the facts if they are to have any chance of winning their appeal.

Imogen Jolley, education law solicitor at Simpson Millar says: “Last year, 32,160 parents appealed their child’s primary school allocation but only 13% of those were successful. In the West Midlands, for example, 3,395 appeals were lodged by parents last year but only 319 were decided in their favour. For most people, those would constitute fairly poor odds.

“Disturbingly, the success figure drops to below 2% in ten councils. At the other end of the scale, more than half of appeals are successful in places like Durham and Sunderland. For parents, this paints a very worrying picture of a postcode lottery system.

“We often see parents that have very real grounds to appeal their child’s school allocation but who fail because they don’t understand the process. The IAP (Independent Appeals Panel) doesn’t consider emotional arguments; they rely on facts and evidence alone.”

The number of appeals made by parents rose from 14,961 in 2014 to 15,791 in 2015 but the success rate dropped by 0.6% from 13.7% to 13.1%.

State funded primary schools appeals 2015 (APAD Admission Appeals Survey and School Census 2015)
Council Percentage of appeals decided in the parent’s favour
Hackney 1.7
Richmond upon Thames 1.4
Hillingdon 1.2
Harrow 0.9
Redcar and Cleveland 0.0
Rutland 0.0
Hammersmith and Fulham 0.0
Newham 0.0
Hounslow 0.0
Redcar and Cleveland 0.0
South Gloucestershire 0.0

Earlier this year, Simpson Millar issued a Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in England asking how many primary school places they have available this coming September, and for how many children applications have been made for entry to year R (Reception) in 2016. From those that responded, the most significant shortfalls were recorded in Sutton London Borough Council (-159), Reading Borough Council (-110) and Southampton City Council (-133).

Imogen says: “In situations where there are simply not enough school places to meet demand, we are likely to see a higher number of appeals. Some of those children have real and valid reasons for needing to attend a particular primary school but if their parents launch an emotional rather than a factual appeal, they are destined to lose. It is all about following the School Admission Appeal Code to the letter.

“Parents who are well-prepared stand a far better chance of winning their appeal. Sadly, as the figures show, it also depends a great deal on where they live.”

For parents who are unhappy with their child’s placement, Simpson Millar offers a free guide to making a successful appeal.

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