The appeals process

Find out more about what happens after you have submitted an appeal for a school place.

​If you used the online appeal form, you will receive automatic confirmation that your appeal form has been received. Appeals lodged by email or post will be acknowledged within 7 working days.

Arrangements will be made to convene your appeal in accordance with the published timescales and alongside other appeals for the same school, where appropriate.

​The majority of appeals are held in Northampton. Some are held in the area where the school is located for convenience of the parties, but this cannot always been guaranteed.

​Yes, it is recommended that you attend, but you should arrange childcare to avoid bringing young children with you to the appeal. Childcare cannot be provided at appeal venues.

Attendance is not compulsory. The Independent Appeal Panel will consider your appeal in the same way as if you were there, except they will not be able to question you to verify facts. If you cannot attend, you should therefore ensure that all your reasons for appeal have been clearly explained, and that you have provided supporting evidence where appropriate.

You may be accompanied or represented (including legal representation) by anyone of your choosing, provided that there is no conflict of interest. For example, no member of the school to which admission is sought can support your appeal, as there would clearly be a conflict of interest. A professional advocate or legal representative will be at your own cost.

​An Independent Appeal Panel comprising 3 people with no connection with the school or local authority will consider submissions from the admission authority and yourself:

  • at least one member with experience in the provision of education
  • at least one member with no experience in a paid capacity in the provision of education
  • one member will chair

Only the panel will decide whether or not to uphold your appeal. 

The panel’s decision will be binding on the local authority and school. There is no further right of appeal.

Appeal type ​What happens at the appeal
Infant class size appeal
  • A clerk will greet you and explain the procedure to be followed.
  • You and the admission authority will be invited into the meeting room together.
  • An Independent Appeal Panel of 3 people will introduce themselves and the chair will first ask the admission authority to give a verbal explanation of the reasons for refusing your child a place.
  • You and the panel then have an opportunity to ask questions about the school’s case
  • The chair will then invite you to explain your reasons for appeal, indicating how your reasons for appeal fit one of the categories for upholding an infant class appeal.
  • All parties leave the room or premises as your appeal has ended.

The Panel will make its decision later, in private, after the parties have left. A letter explaining the panel’s decision will be sent to you and the admission authority within 5 working days after the panel has made its decision.

Note: In the case of multiple appeals for the same school and year group, the panel adjourns after the school’s case has been questioned, in order to hear individual cases in private, one at a time. All individual appeals will be heard before any decisions are made.

​Other appeals
  • A clerk will greet you and explain the procedure to be followed.
  • You and the admission authority will be invited into the meeting room together for the start of Stage 1.
  • The panel will introduce themselves and the chair will ask the admission authority to present its case
  • You and the panel will then be invited to ask questions about the school’s case to test and verify the factual information about the school and the admission arrangements
  • Adjournment - You and the school’s representatives will be asked to leave the room while the panel makes its Stage 1 decision – whether the admission of an additional child or children will cause prejudice to the provision of efficient education and the efficient use of the school’s resources.
  • If no, your child will be given a place.  If yes, the process moves to the second stage.

Note: In the case of multiple appeals for the same school and year group, the panel will decide if any additional pupils can be admitted without prejudice. Unless all can be admitted without prejudice to the school, the process will move on to the second stage and all individual appeals will be heard, one at a time, before any decisions are made.

  • Stage 2 - You and the admission authority will be invited back into the meeting room by the clerk
  • The chair will confirm their Stage 1 decision and ask you to explain your reasons for appeal
  • The admission authority and panel will ask you questions to clarify your reasons for appeal
  • When you have said all you wish to say and answered all questions, the chair will ask you and the admission authority to leave the meeting room or premises, as this is the end of your appeal.

Stage 2 decision - The panel will make its decision later, in private, or in the case of multiple appeals, after every case has been heard.

The panel will balance the weight of your reasons for appeal against the prejudice to the school and if they decide that your case is stronger, they will uphold your appeal; i.e. direct that the school admits your child.

A letter explaining the panel’s decision will be sent to you and the admission authority within 5 working days, or within 10 working days in the case of multiple appeals for the same school.

​The school will be notified of the panel’s decision, which is legally binding unless overturned by the courts.

The school will contact you to make the necessary arrangements for your child’s admission to the school without unnecessary delay.

You may contact the school yourself, once you have received a letter notifying you of the panel’s decision.

​You will need to either accept the school place offered to your child, or search the council’s website for other available schools and apply for them.

Your child’s name will remain on the school’s waiting list until the end of the school term, at which time you will need to contact the admission authority if you want your child’s name to remain on the waiting list for another term.

​You can write to the Appeals Manager, Northamptonshire County Council, Democratic Services, County Hall, Northampton, NN1 1DN, to explain the alleged flaw. An officer will investigate and respond to you in writing to inform you whether your allegation justifies offering you a fresh appeal.

If you remain dissatisfied, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman at 0300 061 0614 or via their website or email to advice@lgo.org.uk or write to The Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH.

For academies, you can address your complaint to the Education Funding Agency, Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT – Telephone 0370 000 2288.

​This can only be done by seeking permission to apply for Judicial Review through your own legal representative, at your own cost.

​You can only appeal once in respect of each academic year and school, unless there have been significant and material changes in the circumstances of the parent, child or school. If the admission authority accepts a second application under these circumstances, but is unable to offer a place, you will be entitled to a new appeal.

You can reapply (usually during the summer term) for a place at the school for the following academic year.

If you want to make an appeal, please use the online form:

Make an appeal

Additional advice and support about the appeals process

Coram Childrens Legal Centre
Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) 
School admissions and appeals code

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