Parents who are not offered a place at their preferred school or schools are given the right of appeal to an independent school admission appeals panel. If this happens to you, the relevant admissions authority will send you a letter that will give you further information and will explain what to do next, including the deadline for appealing (if you want your appeal to be heard along with all of the other appeals for that school) and who to contact.

Individual admission authorities are responsible for making arrangements for admission appeals. For community and voluntary controlled schools, this is the Local Authority. For foundation and voluntary aided schools, free schools and academies, it is the responsibility of the governing body or academy trust. Appeals must be arranged in line with statutory requirements.

Admission authorities must give anyone who wants to appeal at least 20 school days from the date of the notification that their application was unsuccessful to submit their appeal. Appeals against decisions made in the 'normal admissions round' must then be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for submitting appeals. For applications that were made by the closing date, admission authorities will usually try to ensure that appeals are heard before the end of the summer term, but there are sometimes exceptions to this.

Please see the timetable below, that sets out the timescales for main admissions round appeals for community and voluntary controlled schools. Foundation and voluntary aided schools, free schools and academies will make their own arrangements for appeals in line with statutory requirements.

Appeals schedule for community and voluntary controlled schools (PDF 340KB)

Independent admission appeal panel members are trained volunteers who are completely independent of the admission authority. At least one of the three panel members will have a background in education. They have the services of a clerk, who provides legal advice and takes notes at the hearing. Parents can chose to attend the hearing, or have the hearing heard in their absence if for any reason they are unable to attend.

At the appeal hearing, the panel will hear information from the admission authority about why the application was refused - and then need to make a decision as to whether or not the admissions arrangements were legal and correctly applied and whether or not the school would be 'prejudiced' (for example - disadvantaged) by the admission of another child.

If the panel does decide that the arrangements were legal and applied correctly, and that the school would be prejudiced by the admission of another child, they then hear the case of the parents. They will ask questions of the parents to try to get all the information they need to make a decision as to who would suffer the greater prejudice - the school if the child were admitted, or the child and family if they were not. This is a balancing exercise - the panels look at a wide range of factors when making their decision. If they find that the disadvantage to the child and family would be greater than that of the school, then the appeal will be successful and the child will be admitted.

More information about appeals will be made available if you are not offered a place at your preferred school(s). Find information about school admissions appeals or contact the School Admissions and Appeals Team:

School Admissions and Appeals
Cumberland Council
PO Box 415