Secondary school place offers – what if you don't get your first choice?


On Monday 1st March and parents and pupils across England anxiously await the news of which secondary school place they have been offered – and for some it won't be good news. The letters go out today, so families will get the news in tomorrow's post – or via the internet if they're one of the 34,000 families registered for online applications this year; or via text message if they have registered a mobile phone number.

The official breakdown of which parents get their first choice of school will not be released until 11 March, though we know that in some areas of the country last year only around two thirds of pupils were offered their first choice of secondary school.

So what can you do if your child has been refused a place at the secondary school of your choice? One option is to accept the place offered but ask to be put on the waiting list for the school you'd hoped your child would attend. There are usually instances of pupils not taking up their places so you might be offered a place, though it's certainly not a 'first come, first served' process. Pupils on the waiting list for an oversubscribed school are ranked according to the school's criteria, and it's the child at the top of the list who gets the place.

But you can also lodge an appeal against your allocation of secondary school place. If you appeal, an independent panel will look at your individual case and allow you the chance to explain why it would be better for your child to attend the school of your choice rather than the one where a place has been offered.

The process is quite formal with forms to fill in and set time frames, including formal hearings in front of the panel which must take place before early July. It's not an easy system and some parents feel very daunted by it, not to mention nervous about the hearing itself.

That's why, increasingly, parents are turning to specialist education law firms like Simpson Millar to assist them in filling out the forms and to build a solid case for their appeal. We will also attend hearings with you to ensure your secondary school place appeal is as professional as possible and that your arguments are based on fact not emotion.

If you win your appeal with our expert assistance your child will be guaranteed a place at your first choice secondary school, bringing you peace of mind that your child is getting the education he or she deserves.

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