Advice around appealing for a school place

This page is for appeals without an EHC plan.

If you want to appeal the school or type of school named in an EHC plan, (provided this has been finalised or amended in the last two months) take a look at our information about  appealing to the SEND Tribunal service. 

It can be an unsettling time if you have not been offered a place at your chosen school, but try to remain calm and relaxed when speaking with your child.

If you decide to appeal, we recommend you think about what your back-up plan will be should you be unsuccessful. Accepting a place at another school should not affect your appeal.

The School Admissions Code 2021 says:

Oversubscription criteria must be reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and comply with all relevant legislation, including equalities legislation. Admission authorities must ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group, or a child with a disability or special educational needs, and that other policies around school uniform or school trips do not discourage parents from applying for a place for their child. (1.8)

Where an admission authority receives an in-year application for a year
group that is not the normal point of entry and it does not wish to admit the child
because it has good reason to believe that the child may display challenging
behaviour, it may refuse admission and refer the child to the Fair Access
Protocol. (3.10)

An admission authority should only rely on the provision in paragraph
3.10 if it has a particularly high proportion of either children with challenging
behaviour or previously permanently excluded pupils on roll compared to other
local schools and it considers that admitting another child with challenging
behaviour would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use
of resources. (3.11)

How do I appeal?

You have the option of appealing to one or more of the preferred schools you applied for, and this will be explained in your offer letter from Admissions.

To appeal read the guidance & complete the form:  Education Admission Appeals form and guidance

The  School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 (which explains the duties for admission authorities, governing bodies, local authorities and admission appeal panels) says:

The panel must consider the following matters in relation to each child that is the subject of an appeal:

a) whether the admission arrangements… complied with the mandatory requirements of the School Admissions Code and Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998; and

b) whether the admission arrangements were correctly and impartially applied in the case in question. (3.2)


The panel must then decide whether the admission of additional children would prejudice the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources. (3.3)

Infant class size (appeals for reception and Years 1 & 2) 

Classes in these year groups cannot contain more than 30 pupils with a single qualified teacher. There are very limited chances of success for Infant Class Size appeals, read more in the appeals guidance.

Fully explain your reasons for appealing when you complete the form, indicate clearly if you think your application was not treated correctly or in accordance with admissions law.

Start to prepare your evidence…

  • Gather evidence about your child and how they might be affected if they don’t attend this school, you could ask a current school or nursery for any paperwork that might help, for example any information about their needs or support in place.
  • Include documents which confirm any diagnosis for your child
  • You could ask other professionals and specialists working with you and your child whether they can provide you with any supporting letters or reports.
  • Find out what you can about the set up of classes in the school and whether they have previously exceeded their PAN (published admission number).
  • Consider what it is that this school can offer that others cannot. School websites can be useful here as they are required to publish information about how they support children with SEND. Take a look at their SEN & Behaviour policies, Prospectus, Ofsted report and SEN Information report.
  • The range and nature of the needs of other children in the school/year/class
  • Information you have gathered from visiting the school – pin-point what it is that makes you feel it is the right school, the environment, the children you saw when visiting and how they were being taught, the classes, or the curriculum/staff/facilities available etc.
  • If school location and start times are an issue perhaps due to siblings attending different schools, use maps to help you explain routes, you could think about how you can show to the appeal panel that a route is ‘unworkable’ for you, maybe a video of the journey at school pick up time. 
  • Consider what the appeal panel may question you about, for example whether there is another school with places which also offers breakfast and after school clubs that might resolve your location or start/pick up time issues. Show that you have explored other schools and why they will not be suitable.

You don’t need all of your supporting evidence before completing the appeal form, you can send this in later.

Have a look at the appeals guide which should answer any questions you have about the process.

You can contact us if you want to talk any of this through. 

Useful links

ACE Education admissions appeals information (small fee for information guides)


Choosing a school for a child with SEND

Download ‘Choosing a school for a child with SEND’ leaflet