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School admissions & placement FAQs

Finding the right primary and secondary school for your child is very important to all parents. It’s a nerve-wracking time, deciding where you would like your child to take their first steps into school. Parents can invest a great deal of time and effort searching schools before making their school choices applying for a place. We’ve collated some school admissions and placement frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you understand how the system in England works.

Admissions and placement FAQs

When are school places announced?

For primary school places that national offer day is 16th April. For secondary school places, the national offer day is 1st March 2020.

School Admission Appeal

While you have a right to express a school preference for your child, sadly not all families will get the decision that they want.

If you have received the school places decision and your child has not given a place at your preferred schools, Education Lawyers can provide advice on the school’s appeals process and assist you with all aspects of the appeal including drafting grounds of appeal and collating supporting documentation and give you tips on how to present your appeal at the hearing.

What do I do if my child hasn’t been given a place at any of my preferred school choices?

Follow these steps to help you appeal a place. We can help at any stage if you need support to make an appeal.

  1. Understand why your child has been refused a place at your preferred schools by reading the letter you have received very carefully.
  2. Make a note of the appeal deadline.
  3. Ensure your child’s name is on the waiting lists of your preferred schools and find out how often the list is reviewed.
  4. Accept the place that is currently being offered to your child; this will not affect your right to appeal for places at your preferred schools or to have your child on the waiting lists of your chosen schools.
  5. Follow the instructions given about how to lodge your appeal. The process will be explained in the letter. In particular:
    • Very important: Make sure your school appeal form is returned to the admission authority on time.
    • Carefully identify your reasons for appealing against the admission authority’s decision not to offer your child a place, e.g. medical or social reasons, educational and logistics.
    • Set out your reasons for appealing in order of importance with the strongest ground first.
    • Collate your supporting evidence – if relying on a medical reason – you will need a medical letter explaining why your child must attend your preferred school.
    • In your reasons, explain why your child should be given a place. Reasons can include for example, it’s a local school; within walking distance; friends attend the school; the ethos of the school; that the school offers specialist subjects.
    • Challenge the admission authority’s statement and reasons for refusing your child a place at your preferred school.
  6. Be brave and ask the school admission authority for the following information in writing:
    • The Pupil Admissions Number (PAN)
    • A copy of the Net Capacity Assessment
    • The number of classes per your group
    • Staff capacity and pupil-teacher ratio
    • Actual number of pupils in each year group
    • Actual size of classes and communal areas.

What does it mean if my child has been refused a school place due to infant class-size prejudice?

Infant classes i.e. Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 must not by law contain more than 30 pupils with a single class teacher. Therefore if your letter references class size prejudice this means the school has already filled all 30 places. There are very limited and exceptional circumstances which allow for additional children to be admitted.

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Can I accept the place offered and still appeal for my preferred schools?

Yes, you can accept the place offered to your child and appeal the refusal to admit your child to your preferred school. Also you can appeal to all your preferred schools who have refused to admit your child. There is no limit on the number of appeals you can pursue.

Can I refuse a place at the school being offered because it has a poor Ofsted rating?

Unfortunately, the Appeal panel will not decide in your favour if the school which has offered a place is rated poor by Ofsted. The Appeal panel will only determine in your favour if you demonstrate why your child’s needs outweigh the prejudice caused to your preferred school by accepting your child.

If you do not want to send your child to school with a poor Ofsted rating then you could accept the place but also try and locate another school for your child. 

What should I do if the school offered is too far away and I can’t get them there?

If the school place offered is too far away and you can’t get your child there, they may qualify for free school transport. This is the case if the place offered is the nearest qualifying school with places available that can provide education to your child appropriate to their age, ability and aptitude, and it is outside the statutory walking distance.

The statutory walking distances beyond two miles (if below the age of 8); or beyond 3 miles (if aged between 8 and 16). Local authorities must make transport arrangements for all children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of
issues related to their special educational needs or disability (SEND). Government guidance says children with SEND should be assessed on an individual basis to identify transport requirements.

Before appealing, you should make enquiries to find out if your child qualifies for free school transport, if distance is the main reason for your appeal.

How we can help

We hope these admissions and placement frequently asked questions have helped. If you would like to talk to us about how we can help with your admissions appeal or your search for a suitable placement, please get in touch. You can also read our main page on admissions and placements here

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