Guidance for parents and guardians on school admission appeals

Last updated: 15 February 2023

Upper (all-ability) school appeals

If you applied for a place at an upper (all-ability) school and were refused, this is because:

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

When there are more applicants for school places than there are places available, the admission authority of the school will 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. Once all the places have been allocated to applicants under the rules, other applicants will be refused.

If you have been refused a place in a higher preference school, you can make an appeal. You should submit your appeal and evidence as explained in this guidance, particularly how to make an appeal and evidence you can use.

At the appeal hearing, the Appeal Panel will consider your reasons for wanting the place at your preferred school. It will also consider the admission authority’s case that all the school’s places have been allocated correctly under the rules and the admission of another child will harm the education of its pupils. The Appeal Panel will decide if you or the admission authority has the stronger case.

Most appeals are unsuccessful because the admission authority shows:

  • the school is already full
  • the school does not have the resources to admit an additional child without harming the education of the existing pupils
  • this harm outweighs the parent’s reasons for appealing