Guidance for parents and guardians on school admission appeals

Last updated: 18 February 2022

Grammar school appeals (qualified and unqualified)

In 2021, 4% of appeals for grammar school from out-of-county applicants were successful. 96% were unsuccessful.

In 2021, 8% of appeals for grammar school from in-county applicants were successful. 92% were unsuccessful.

The grammar schools are usually heavily over-subscribed. Think carefully about appealing, especially if your child does not live in Buckinghamshire or lives out of the school’s catchment area.

Qualified grammar school appeals

Your child will be qualified for grammar school if they:

  • achieved a score of 121 or more in the Transfer Test for year 7 entry, or
  • did not achieve 121 in the Transfer Test but were qualified at Selection Review, or
  • achieved the qualifying score in the Late Transfer Test for years 8 to 10 entry

If your child is qualified for grammar school but your application for a place was refused, this is because the:

  • admission authority has allocated all its places under the school’s published admission rules
  • school says it is full, and to admit another child will harm the education of the other pupils

No guarantees of a place

Your child may be qualified for grammar school but there is no guarantee that they will be offered a grammar school place.  Usually there are many more qualified children than grammar school places available.

In September 2021 there were 3,833 qualified grammar school applicants for year 7 entry, for 2,330 available places.

The schools offer places according to oversubscription criteria or rules. These are published on schools’ websites. Under these rules, places are more likely to be offered to children who have siblings at the school or who live near the school. 

Why most appeals fail - even for qualified children

Most appeals fail because schools:

  • are already full
  • can show they do not have the resources to admit further children without harming the education of the existing pupils

If a child is qualified for grammar school, it does not matter what score they achieved.  So a child with a score of 150 is not any more likely to be allocated a grammar school place or succeed at appeal than:

  • a child with 121
  • a child who achieved 119 but was qualified by the Selection Review Panel

It does not matter if a child achieved less than 121 in the Transfer Test but was qualified at Selection Review. In allocations and appeals they are treated the same as those children who qualified in the Transfer Test.

Your chances of success

In 2021, 188 appeals for year 7 by qualified grammar school applicants were heard.

14 were successful. 174 were unsuccessful.

7% were successful and 93% were unsuccessful.

What to do next

You should submit your appeal and evidence as explained in this guidance.

If your child is qualified for grammar school but you are unsuccessful at appeal, you can stay on the waiting list for the school.

You can contact the school admissions team for advice or queries about:

  • waiting lists
  • Transfer Tests
  • Selection Reviews

Unqualified grammar school appeals

Your child is unqualified for grammar school if they did not:

  • score 121 in the Transfer Test for year 7 entry, and did not go to Selection Review, or
  • score 121 in the Transfer Test, went to Selection Review and were unsuccessful, or
  • achieve the qualifying score in the Late Transfer Test for entry into years 8 to 10

If you have any questions about Transfer Tests and Selection Reviews, contact the school admissions team. Do not contact the Appeals Team.

Your chances of success

Most appeals for grammar school fail.

In 2021, 163 unqualified year 7 grammar school appeals were heard.

4 were successful. 159 were unsuccessful.

2% were successful and 98% were unsuccessful.

Think carefully before you appeal. Appeals are time-consuming and stressful for parents, and expensive for schools.

The two types of appeal

There are two types of appeal process for unqualified grammar school applicants:

  • you went to Selection Review and were unsuccessful
  • you did not go to Selection Review

You went to Selection Review and were unsuccessful

The Appeal Panel must decide if the Selection Review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way.

Your appeal will fail if the panel decides there is enough evidence to show it was.

In these cases, the panel cannot consider:

  • any academic evidence you provide
  • your reasons for wanting the school

The Appeal Panel must only:

  • review the Selection Review paperwork
  • decide if the Selection Review Panel followed the correct process

“Fair, consistent and objective” are not defined. Their ordinary meaning applies.

The Appeal Panel cannot consider the Selection Review afresh.

It can only look at evidence provided to the Selection Review Panel, at the time it made its decision.

In 2021, the Appeal Panel decided 86% of Selection Reviews were carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way.

If the Appeal Panel decides the Selection Review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way, your appeal will be unsuccessful.

Give your reasons and supporting evidence

The panel will only look at your academic evidence and reasons if they decide the Selection Review was not fair, consistent and objective.

In your Appeal Form, you should give reasons and provide supporting evidence to explain why:

  • you consider the Selection Review was not fair, consistent and objective
  • your child should be qualified for grammar school, with strong academic evidence
  • you want a place at the particular school

The Appeal Paperwork will include the evidence you submitted to the Selection Review, and the Selection Review Panel’s decision. The Admissions Teams will submit this to the Appeal Panel.

Do not send in your Selection Review paperwork. 

You will be sent copies of all the paperwork sent to the Appeal Panel before the appeal hearing. If anything is missing, you should tell the Appeals Team immediately.

You did not go to Selection Review

The panel will decide if there is enough academic evidence to show your child is the required grammar school standard.

The Appeal Panel cannot qualify your child unless there is.

Examples of academic evidence

Some examples of academic evidence include:

  • school reports
  • SATs results
  • other school test results where available
  • letters of support from current or previous schools

The Appeal Panel will want to see if your child is in the top third of the academic cohort. 

The panel will be interested in Maths and English results in particular. Especially where your child scored less than 121 in the verbal or maths parts of the Transfer Test.

The Appeal Panel will look at your child’s academic progress, and any comments their current or previous headteachers made.

Do not send in schoolwork or certificates. You can submit a list of relevant certificates or achievements.

Explain why your child did not achieve the required score

The Appeal Panel will also want to know why your child did not achieve the qualifying Transfer Test score. You should provide evidence in support of any reasons. For example:

  • relevant medical notes
  • letters from school or health professionals

The minimum Transfer Test qualification score is 121. The range goes up to about 180. The greater the shortfall in marks, the stronger the academic and mitigating evidence needs to be.

For example, the parents of a child scoring 100 are highly unlikely to succeed at appeal. They would need to provide extremely convincing academic and mitigating evidence to the appeal panel.

What happens next

Your appeal will be unsuccessful if the panel concludes there is not enough evidence to qualify your child for grammar school. You will not be offered a school place.

Your appeal will be successful and you will be offered a school place if:

  • the panel decides there is sufficient, strong evidence to show your child is of the required academic standard
  • there is a place available at the grammar school

However, most grammar school places will have been allocated and the school will be full.  There may also be more appeals happening, with not enough spaces for every child who is qualified.

At this stage, the panel will then look at your reason for wanting a place at a particular grammar school. You will need to provide a strong medical, social, or educational reason or reasons for wanting the particular school. You will also need supporting evidence.