School appeals

We are monitoring government guidance for managing admission appeals. It is likely that alternative arrangements will be made in order to hold admission appeal hearings. Further details will be published on this page when available.

Page contents:

About an appeal

By law, an Admissions Authority must enable parents to appeal to an independent body if their school application is unsuccessful. South Gloucestershire Council is the Admissions Authority for community and voluntary controlled schools in this area. For voluntary aided schools and academies, the school’s governing body is the Admissions Authority.

The appeal panel must be independent of the Admissions Authority and the decision it takes is binding on the Admissions Authority. This means that whatever decision an appeal panel reaches, neither the Admissions Authority nor the school can reverse it. The decision of an appeal panel can only be overturned in a court of law where the appellant or Admission Authority are successful in applying for judicial review of that decision.

Please note that under the School Admissions Appeals Code 2012 there can only be one appeal per school, per academic year unless there has been a significant and material change in circumstances.

A second round of allocations, where any places that become available are re-allocated, will be completed first and you will be sent further details of the appeal process and date of any appeal hearing, if the Admission Authority remains unable to offer a place at your preferred school(s).  As all places which become available within the school’s admission level will be allocated using the published over subscription criteria only, no automatic priority is given to those who have lodged an appeal as opposed to those just on the waiting list.

Secondary school appeals

If you decide to lodge a formal appeal for your preferred school(s) please ensure that it is sent to the appropriate school/Admission Authority by they published deadline.

The reason you might lodge an appeal for a secondary school place will depend on your own particular circumstances, but there are some specific reasons where you should provide evidence in support of your case.  The two most common circumstances where this applies are:

  • Change of address - If you have made an appeal because of a change of address, proof of the address should be submitted with your appeal letter. If you have made an appeal because you are buying a property, a Solicitor's letter confirming exchange of contracts and completion date is needed.  if your appeal is based upon a new address which is a housing association or rented property, a rental agreement or a Solicitor's letter is needed.  in some cases, we may ask for proof of occupation of a particular property.
  • Medical - you may feel that the medical condition of your child is an important part of your appeal.  If you wish an Appeal Panel to consider medical/psychological evidence for your child you should submit a supporting letter from the Doctor/Specialist, before your appeal is due to be heard.

An Appeal Panel can offer places over and above a school's admission number if it feels that parents have put a strong enough case to them.  They are not bound by the same criteria as the Admission Authorities who can only offer places in accordance with the published admission criteria.

Infant and Primary school appeals

The vast majority of reception appeals are heard in the context of infant class size legislation, that is no infant class may contain more than 30 pupils (except in very limited circumstances). Infant class size appeals will only be upheld in very exceptional circumstances and it is important to note that there have only been seven successful infant class size appeals in South Gloucestershire since the 2004-5 admission round.

At infant class size appeals, the independent appeal panel can only look at:

  • whether the admission arrangements were lawful
  • whether the admission arrangements were incorrectly applied and your child should have been offered a place
  • whether it was unreasonable/perverse (in law) to refuse your preference – the appeal panel would need to be satisfied that the decision was so completely absurd or outrageous that no reasonable person, with the same facts, would have made that decision

Parents and carers can find it frustrating when they realise how very limited the powers of the appeal panel are. We are therefore drawing this to your attention now, so you can make an informed choice about whether you wish to appeal or not. The purpose of this information is to explain clearly the role of the Appeal Panel and not in any way discourage you from appealing, which is of course, your legal right if you feel you have grounds to do so.

Further information on infant class size appeals updated since the coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency is available in our leaflet, Independent school admission appeals – amended during Covid-19 emergency.

How to make an appeal

If you wish to appeal for  school you will have to set out your reasons for appealing in writing.  You can appeal for more than one school, but each school must have its own appeal letter.

If you decide to lodge a formal appeal for your school(s) please ensure that it is sent to the appropriate school/Admission Authority.

Different admissions authorities

Admission arrangements will vary between the different admission authorities e.g. academies, voluntary aided church schools and schools in other local authorities. For further information on the reallocation of places, how applications are dealt with and the appeals process for your preferred school(s), contact the appropriate admission authority for the school(s) directly.

Change of address

Make sure that you keep us (or the relevant local authority) informed of any change of address or contact details. If a change of home address is to be considered in the re-allocation of school places, the relevant admission authority may ask for documentary evidence in support of a move (a copy of a tenancy agreement, for example, or a solicitor’s letter confirming exchange of contracts and completion on a property).

How places were allocated at oversubscribed schools

Allocation statements are available to show how school places were allocated where the school was oversubscribed and why it was not possible to offer places to all children who applied.

Allocation statements for the schools in South Gloucestershire are available, after National Offer Day, on the Primary admissions page or the Secondary admissions page as appropriate.

If you have been refused a place at a school in another local authority, you will need to contact that local authority directly.

Admission appeal timetable for community and controlled schools 2021

Year 7 Admission - September 2021

On time applicants:

23 April 2021 - Deadline for on time applicants to lodge appeals

By 28 June 2021 - On time appeals heard

Late applicants (applications received after the closing date of 31 October 2020):

Appeals will be heard by 28 June 2021 where possible or within 40 schools days of the appeal being lodged.

Reception Admission - September 2021

On time applicants:

21 May 2021 - Deadline for on time applicants to lodge appeals

By 3 September 2021 - On time appeals heard if possible

Late applicants (applications received after the closing date of 15 January 2021):

Appeals will be heard by 3 September 2021 where possible or within 40 schools days of the appeal being lodged.

In Year Admission Appeals - Academic Year 2020/2021

Appellants have 20 school days from the date of notification that their application was unsuccessful to prepare and lodge their written appeal.

Appeals will be heard within 30 schools days of the appeal being lodged.

Sixth Form Admission Appeals - Academic Year 2020/2021

Where the offer of a place is conditional upon examination results, appeals will be heard within 30 school days of the confirmation of results.

Where the offer of a place is not conditional upon examination results, appeals will be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for lodging appeals.

Appeals Procedures

Appeals for community and controlled schools in South Gloucestershire are arranged by the Legal and Democratic Services team which is independent of the Department for Children, Adults and Health.

The clerk to the independent appeal will:

  • ensure that appellants received at least 10 school days' notice of their appeal hearing
  • ensure that the appeal papers are sent to panel members and other parties involved within a reasonable timescale
  • ensure that decision letters are sent within five school days of the decision.

Beta This is our beta website, your feedback can help us improve it.