Appeal a secondary school decision

If you have been refused a place at a higher preference secondary school, you can make an appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel.

Appeals are heard by unpaid, trained, volunteers. Your appeal will take place as soon as possible depending on the availability of the Appeal Panel members. The Appeals Team is unable to offer a choice of hearing date.

Your appeal will be heard remotely by video conference.

Your decision to appeal

The admission authority for a school usually only refuses a place if:

  • it has received more applications than there are places available, or
  • the parent has applied for grammar school and their child is unqualified.

You may want to appeal because:

  • your child has a particular interest in the subjects offered by the school
  • your child has medical, social or educational reasons for wanting the place
  • you have recently moved house
  • you believe your unqualified child should be qualified for grammar school.

Think carefully before appealing.

Most appeals fail because secondary schools are full and cannot admit additional children without harming the education of the existing children.

Appeals can be stressful for parents and are expensive for schools.

The Department for Education advises parents: “You should be aware that an appeal can prolong the period of uncertainty for parents and children, so it’s important to be realistic about your reasons for appealing and the chances of being successful.”

When to appeal

If you were refused a higher preference school place on 1 March 2023 for Year 7, September 2023 entry, make your appeal before midday, 28 March 2023.

Appeals submitted by midday on 28 March 2023 should be heard by the end of the summer term. Delays may occur due to panel availability and numbers of appeals.

Appeals made after midday on 28 March 2023 will be heard from September 2023 onwards.

For late transfer appeals for September entry into Year 8 or 9 or in-year appeals for immediate entry, make your appeal within 20 school days of the refusal letter. The appeal will be heard as soon as possible.

Secondary school appeal timetable 2023
Date Event
1 March 2023 Secondary Transfer Allocation Day
28 March 2023, midday Deadline for submitting completed appeal forms
12 April 2023, 5pm Deadline for submitting any additional documents or information in support of appeal
10 school days before appeal hearing Appeals Team emails appeal date and time letters to parents
6 calendar days before appeal hearing Appeals Team posts appeal papers to parents, admission authority, and Appeal Panel
May to July Secondary Admission Appeals heard
Within 5 school days of the appeal decision Decision letter sent to parents, admission authority and school

How to appeal

Preparing your evidence

When you appeal, you'll need to provide evidence on why you want your child to get the place.

Parents need to provide exceptional medical, social or educational reasons for their preferred school, supported by evidence.

Strong academic evidence should also be provided for unqualified grammar school appeals.

You can read more about evidence you can use.

Appeal online

Before you start your appeal, you should:

You should:

  • ensure you submit your appeal and evidence within the timelines
  • complete your appeal form correctly, or your appeal may be delayed

After you make your appeal, the Appeal Team will send you an acknowledgement letter with your unique appeal reference number. Refer to this number if you contact the Appeals Team.

You cannot make appeals for all Buckinghamshire schools here. For example, the Appeals Team does not arrange appeals for Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Dr Challoner’s High School, Waddesdon C of E School or Aylesbury Vale Academy. If the school you are appealing for is not listed on the appeal form, contact the school directly to find out how to make your appeal.

Start now

If you would like a paper form, contact the Admissions Team.

If you need help making your appeal online, view our school appeals portal user guide.

Appeal hearing and outcome

The Appeals Team will email you the date and time of your remote appeal hearing at least 10 days before the hearing. You will also be told the deadline date for submitting extra evidence.

Late evidence is unlikely to be seen by the Appeal Panel.

About a week before the hearing, you will be sent by post copies of the appeal papers including:

  • your appeal form, and any evidence submitted by the deadline date and
  • the admission authority’s written case explaining why the place was refused

At the appeal hearing, you will be invited to explain your reasons for appealing for the particular school and the admission authority will explain why it did not offer a place. The Appeal Panel will uphold or dismiss your appeal depending on whether it decides you or the admission authority have the stronger case.

A decision letter will be sent to you no later than 5 school days after the appeal decision is made. Where there are multiple appeals for a school, the decision letters will be sent out no later than 5 school days after all the appeals for the school have been heard.

Last year, 85% of appeals were unsuccessful.

This is because in most cases the Appeal Panel decided:

  • the school was full and it could not admit additional pupils without harming the education of the existing pupils, or
  • in unqualified grammar school appeals, the Selection Review had been carried out correctly and / or the child was not of the required academic standards

If your appeal is unsuccessful, there is no further right of appeal.

Get help with your appeal

You will find information about your appeal in the Guidance for parents and guardian

If you have a further query you can contact the Appeals Team.

The Appeals Team aims to reply in 48 hours, but a response may be delayed if you do not provide:

  • your name
  • your child’s name
  • the school and year group you are appealing for
  • your appeal reference number, if provided
  • the date and time of your appeal hearing, if provided
  • your correct contact details
  • full details of your query

For advice on admissions, allocations, waiting lists, Transfer Tests and Selection Reviews, contact the Admissions Team.