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How to make an appeal

1. Your right to appeal

Parents can express a preference for a school for their child, but they do not have the right to a place at a particular school.

If you are a parent and you have applied for a school place for your child and the admission authority has refused your application, you have the right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel.

You are responsible for: making your appeal; explaining why you want the particular school place to the Appeal Panel and providing written information in support of your appeal.

There are important deadlines for making your appeal and submitting your evidence.

2. Appeal success rate

Last year, 9% of appeals were successful.

Most appeals fail because the school is already full and does not have the resources to admit additional children without harming the education of the existing pupils.

So please think carefully before making your appeal - they are time-consuming and stressful for parents and expensive for schools.

You are unlikely to be successful where you:

  • are appealing for a place in Reception, Years 1 or 2 (due to the law that applies)
  • do not live in the school’s catchment area
  • have been allocated a place at another school (even if it is not one of your preferred schools) at a reasonable distance from home
  • do not have evidenced strong medical, social or educational reasons for your appeal
  • want the school place to make it easier for you to get to work/ transport children to school
  • do not submit strong academic evidence for an unqualified grammar school appeal
  • are appealing for a grammar school and live outside the county
  • are appealing for one grammar school and have been allocated a place at another grammar
  • are appealing for a grammar school and have been allocated a place at another all-ability (non-grammar) school at a reasonable distance from your home, even if it isn’t one of your preferred schools.

3. What evidence should you submit?

For all appeals, you will need to say in your appeal form why you want the school place and provide documents in support, if possible.  For example,

  • you need to focus on what you feel the particular school you are appealing for can offer your child that the allocated or other schools cannot.
  • if you have medical or social or educational reasons for wanting the school place, provide written evidence from a doctor, medical practitioner, education or other professional.
  • if you want a place at the school due to the subjects offered there or the school’s ethos, explain why you particularly want these subjects or ethos.
  • if your reasons are due to a house move, provide written evidence of exchange of contracts or tenancy. (Do not send us the whole tenancy agreement or contract; a first and signature page or solicitor’s letter is enough).
  • if you are unhappy with the current school, explain what has happened and what you and the school have done to deal with the problems, and provide supporting letters, emails and reports. 
  • if your reasons relate to transport, provide information and maps.
  • if your reasons relate to family circumstances, provide details and supporting evidence.

These are examples only and it is your responsibility to provide your evidence and documents in support of your appeal and send it to the Appeals Team on time.

You will need to show that there are very strong reasons for wanting a place at the particular school as the school is probably already full and considers it cannot admit another child without harming the education of the other children.

For appeals for grammar school where your child is unqualified you will need to provide additional evidence.

4. How to submit your appeal evidence

You must explain in writing on the appeal form why you want the school place.  Documents and written evidence in support of your appeal should be submitted when completing the online appeal form.

Can further evidence be submitted?

If you wish to add further documents and written evidence in support of your appeal can be sent to the Appeals Team (by post, email or hand delivery).

Please remember:

  • It is your responsibility to provide evidence in support of your appeal and on time
  • The Appeals Team and the Appeal Panel cannot obtain evidence on your behalf
  • The type of evidence you need to send depends on the type of appeal
  • If you make more than one appeal, send separate copies of your evidence for each
  • Do not re-send documents
  • Number pages and write your child’s name on them
  • Write your reference number on documents sent separately from your appeal form
  • Provide documents in A4 size
  • Do not send:
    original documents; photographs of documents
    (they cannot be copied);
    highlighted documents
    (copies will be illegible);
    PowerPoint, video or other audio/visual presentations; letters of support from the school you are appealing for
    *;
    schoolwork or certificates
    ** (they will not be sent to the Appeal Panel);
    your Selection Review paperwork in grammar appeals
    ***

*You may send letters of support from your child’s current or previous school

**You can submit a written summary of relevant certificates/achievements

***The Admissions Team will provide the Appeal Panel with the Selection Review paperwork in grammar school appeals

 

Deadlines for submitting evidence

For secondary appeals submitted by 28 March – your evidence must be received by the Appeals Team by 5pm on Friday 16 April.

For primary appeals submitted by 16 April – your evidence must be received by the Appeals Team by 5pm on Tuesday 1 June.

For other appeals - evidence must be received by the Appeals Team by the evidence deadline date notified to parents by letter.

If evidence or information is received late, the Appeal Panel may not be able to take it into account or your appeal may be delayed

 

At least a week before the appeal begins, the Appeals Team will send you copies of the school’s written case explaining why it refused your application for a school place and all the documents you have submitted.  Please contact the Appeals Team immediately if anything is missing.

5. How to make an appeal

UPDATE - 1st July 2021
Appeals  for September entry submitted after the primary and secondary deadline dates ( 13 May and 28 March respectively) will not be considered until the autumn term (October or later).  This is because the on-time primary and secondary appeals from the first allocation rounds have been scheduled to be determined by the  Independent Appeal Panels during May to July.  Appeals cannot take place during the summer holidays because schools must be able to take part. Admission appeals are determined by independent, unpaid, trained volunteers and we are dependent on their availability.
Appeals will begin in October because,  before they can start, we are required to:  convene panels and arrange the appeal hearings; send required notice of appeals to parents and admission authorities/schools; receive in appeal papers from parents and admission authorities/schools; print, copy x 8, collate and send out paperwork to all appeal participants, and allow time for all involved to read the appeal cases and prepare for the appeal. 

Due to Covid-19, face-to-face appeal hearings are not taking place currently and appeal decisions are being made on the basis of written documents only provided by parents and admission authorities/ schools.  We shall write to parents to confirm when and how their appeal will be heard. In the meantime, parents  should read the  Parent’s Guide  which provides important information about  the appeal process.

Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to process your appeal.

You can make an appeal if you have applied for a Buckinghamshire School place and been refused.

 

What you need to know

  • You can appeal for any school which you have applied for and been refused
  • You can make an appeal as soon as your application for a school place is refused  
  • For each school you appeal for, you must complete a separate appeal form and there will be a separate appeal
  • You cannot make two appeals for the same school in the same academic year

 

Before you begin

  • Read the Parents' Guide it has important information about your appeal
  • Prepare any evidence you wish to upload in support of your application
  • Prepare your reasons for your appeal 

 

Primary school appeal

This form is for all primary school appeals.

For Primary appeals for Reception and moving up ro junior school in September 2021 entry.

If you are refused a school place on 16 April 2021, your appeal form must be received by the Appeals Team by 12 noon on Thursday 13 May 2021.

Appeals received by this deadline will be heard in June - July 2021. Appeals received after this deadline will not be heard until September 2021 or later.

Other primary appeal forms should be submitted within 28 calendar days  of the date you received written notification that your child was refused the school place.

The appeal form takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Request a primary school appeal

 

Secondary school appeal

This form is for secondary school appeals.

For Secondary appeals for Year 7, September 2021 entry

If you are refused a school place on 1 March 2021, your appeal form must be received by the Appeals Team by 5pm on Sunday 28 March 2021.

Appeals received by this deadline will be heard in May - July 2021. Appeals received after this deadline will not be heard until September 2021 or later.

Other secondary appeal forms should be submitted within 28 calendar days  of the date, you received written notification that your child was refused the school place.

The appeal form takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Request a secondary school appeal

If you want a paper form, please contact the Admissions team  

What happens next?

The Appeals Team will send you an acknowledgment of appeal letter within 14 days and give you a reference number which you should refer to if you need to contact the Appeals Team.

Tell the Appeals Team about any changes to your contact details.  Remember to check your emails, including your junk folder.

Who to contact

If you need help with making your appeal, contact the Appeals Team at appeals@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Questions about  Allocations of school places; Waiting Lists Transfer Tests for grammar schools; Selection Reviews; or Home-to-School Transport then please contact the Admissions Team (not the Appeals Team)

6. Timetable

Timetable for Appeals 2021

Date Event
1 March 2021 Secondary Transfer Allocation Day
28 March 2021, 5pm Secondary Appeals Deadline - completed appeal forms must be received by the Appeals Team by 5pm on 28 March 2021*

16 April, 5pm

Secondary Appeals - parents extra evidence deadline – parent/s must ensure that any additional documents/ information in support of their appeal is received by the Appeals Team by this date or it may not be considered by the IAP**

May - July 2021 

Secondary Admission Appeals heard
16 April 2021 Primary Allocation Day
13 May 2021, 12 noon Primary Appeals Deadline - completed appeal forms must be received by the Appeals Team by 12 noon on 13 May 2021*
1 June, 5pm

Primary Appeals – parents extra evidence deadline – parent/s must ensure that any additional documents/ information in support of their appeal is received by the Appeals Team by this date or it may not be considered by the IAP**

 

June - July 2021 Primary Admission Appeals heard
At least 14 calendar days prior to appeal Notice of appeal letters sent to parent/s
At least 8 calendar days prior to start of appeal Case papers are sent by Appeals Team by post to parent/s, admission authority/school and panel members  
No later than 7 calendar days of the appeal decision or, in the case of multiple appeals, within 7 calendar days of all appeal decisions for that school Decision letter is sent to parent/s and admission authority/school

*For the appeal to be heard before the end of July 2021. Appeals submitted after the deadline dates (28 March for secondary appeals and 13 May for primary appeals) will be heard from September 2021 onwards.

** For secondary school appeals submitted by 28 March and primary school appeals submitted by 13 May.  For appeals submitted after these dates, parents’ extra evidence must be received by the Appeals Team at least 10 calendar days before the appeal begins or it may not be seen by the Appeal Panel.

7. Your appeal during the Covid-19 crisis

Your appeal will be considered by the Appeal Panel on the basis of written information only provided by you and the admission authority, under the government’ emergency covid regulations and guidance.

The Appeals Team will write to you to tell you how and when your appeal will be considered by the Appeal Panel.

The Clerk to the Appeal Panel will send you written questions on your case for you to answer.  You will be able to submit written questions for the admission authority to answer.

Please see the flowchart and read the Parent’s Guide for more information.

It is very important that parents can fully explain their case. 

You can ask a friend or relative to help you provide your written reasons for appeal. 

If you have any difficulty in explaining your reasons for appeal in writing and need additional support, you should contact the Appeals Team as soon as possible.

8. Primary school appeals for Reception to Year 2 (Infant Class Size Appeals)

The Appeal Panel can only review the decision of the admission authority to refuse your child a place and it can only consider what the admission authority knew at the time you made your application.

In a class where most children will reach the age of 5, 6 or 7 during the school year, the size of that class is limited by Law to 30 pupils per teacher. 

In 2020, 117 Infant Class Size appeals were made and only 4 appeals were successful.

The Appeal Panel can only uphold your ICS appeal in exceptional circumstances and if it finds that:

  1. a) there will not be more than 30 children in the class if your child is given a place; or
  2. b) school places were allocated unlawfully, and you would have been offered a place if they had been allocated lawfully; or
  3. c) the admission authority’s decision to refuse admission was completely unreasonable, perverse or irrational under the admission arrangements (i.e. the rules by which places are allocated).

When submitting your appeal, please explain if you are appealing on grounds a, b or c above and provide evidence in support.

The law says that the Appeal Panel cannot take into account your personal circumstances or your practical difficulties. Parents are often disappointed that their reasons for wanting the school, however strong, cannot be considered by the Appeal Panel.

If you have been offered a place at another school reasonably near your home, your appeal is very unlikely to succeed, even if you have other children at the school you want.

9. Qualified grammar school appeals

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

There were over 3,900 qualified grammar school applicants for Year 7 entry in September 2020 but only about 2,300 available places.

Schools offer places according to oversubscription criteria or rules (published on school’s 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. 

Most appeals for grammar school places fail, even for qualified children, because the schools are already full and 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.  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 (or even a child who achieved 119 but was qualified by the Selection Review Panel.) 

In 2020, 214 appeals for year 7 were submitted by qualified grammar school applicants -  only 5 appeals were successful.

Only 3% of appeals for grammar school from out-of-county applicants were successful in 2019. The grammar schools are usually very heavily over-subscribed so please think carefully about appealing, especially if your child does not live in Buckinghamshire or lives out of the school’s catchment area.

10. Unqualified grammar school appeals

In 2020, 209 unqualified Year 7 grammar school appeals were made - only 12 were successful.

If you went to Selection Review and were unsuccessful

The Appeal Panel must decide first:  Was the Selection Review carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way? 

The Appeal Panel must only review the Selection Review paperwork and decide if the Selection Review Panel followed the correct process. The Appeal Panel cannot consider the Selection Review afresh and give parents “two bites of the cherry”. The Appeal Panel can only look at the evidence that was provided to the Selection Review Panel at the time it made its decision.

In 2020, the Appeal Panel decided that 77% of Selection Reviews had been carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way.

Only if the Appeal Panel decides that the Selection Review process was not carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way, can it go on to consider all the evidence you have provided, including academic evidence and your reasons for wanting the school place.

(Parents should not send their Selection Review paperwork to the Appeals Team as it will be provided to the Appeal Panel by the Admissions & Transport Team).

 

If you did not go to Selection Review, (or you did go to Selection Review but the Appeal Panel decides that the Selection Review was not fair, consistent and objective)

The Appeal Panel will then decide:  Is there enough academic evidence to show that your child is of the required standard for grammar school? 

The Appeal Panel cannot qualify your child unless there is clear, strong academic evidence to show that your child is of the required standards for grammar school.

You must provide academic evidence such as: school reports, SATs results, other school test results where available and letters of support from current / previous schools clearly showing why your child is academically suitable for grammar school.

The Appeal Panel will want to see if your child is academically in the top third of the cohort.  It will be interested in Maths and English results in particular, especially where the child achieved less than 121 in the verbal or maths parts of the Transfer Test. The Appeal Panel will look at academic performance and comments made by the child’s current (and any previous) headteacher. Please do not send in schoolwork or certificates but you can submit a list of relevant certificates/achievements.

The Appeal Panel will also want to know why your child did not achieve the qualifying score in the Transfer Test and you should provide evidence in support of any reasons, such as relevant medical notes, letters from school or health professionals.

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

If the Appeal Panel concludes there is not enough evidence to qualify your child for grammar school, your appeal will be unsuccessful.

If the Appeal Panel decides there is sufficient, strong evidence to show your child is of the required academic standard, and there is a place available at the grammar school, your appeal will be successful, and you will be offered a school place.

However, most grammar school places will have been allocated and the school will be full.  So, if the Appeal Panel qualifies your child but no places are available at the school, it will go on to look at your reasons for wanting a place at that particular grammar school.

11. Admission appeals process during Covid outbreak

Step 1

Parent submits appeal (with evidence) to Appeals Team

Step 2

Appeals Team writes to Parent with:

  • Details of appeal process & timing
  • Date for submission of additional information
  • Reference number

Step 3

Parents send additional information to Appeals Team

Admission Authority (AA) sends its case to Appeals Team

Step 4

Appeals Team sends case papers (Parents’ appeal & evidence and AA case) to Parents, AA, IAP & Clerk

Step 5

Stage 1 of Appeal

  • IAP & Clerk (by telephone/video Teams meeting) discuss & formulate Questions on AA Case
  • Questions sent to Parents who are asked to send any additional, relevant Questions on AA case by deadline date
  • IAP’s & Parent’s Questions sent to AA with request for Answers by deadline date
  • Answers from AA sent to IAP & Parents
  • IAP & Clerk (by telephone/video Teams meeting) deliberate & make Stage 1 decisions

Step 6

Stage 2 of Appeal*

  • IAP & Clerk (by telephone/video Teams meeting) discuss & formulate Questions on Parent’s case
  • AA is asked to send any additional, relevant Questions on Parent’s case by deadline date
  • IAP’s & AA’s Questions sent to Parent with request for Answers by deadline date
  • Answers from Parent sent to IAP & AAs
  • IAP & Clerk (by telephone/video Teams meeting) deliberate & make Stage 2 decisions

Step 7

Appeals Team sends decisions to Parents & AA within 7 calendar days of decision/s

 

*In multiple appeals (where there are two or more appeals for a school) the same Appeal Panel must consider all the appeals for the school before making its decisions, so there will be multiple IAP and Clerk’s Teams meetings at Stage 2.

12. Results of 2020/21 appeals

 

Appeal type Number heard Number successful Percent successful
Primary school, Reception to Year 2 64 4 6
Primary school, years 3-6 22 9 41
Upper school, year 7 100 16 16
Qualified grammar school, year 7 135 5 4
Unqualified grammar school, year 7, after selection review 137 12 8
Unqualified grammar school, year 7, with no selection review  60 1 2
Upper school, years 8-10  10 5 50
Qualified grammar school, years 8-10 109 14 13
Unqualified grammar school, years 8-10 52 0 0
All year 7 grammar school appeals for Out-of- county applicants 361 12 3
Total admission appeals 929 90 10

 

13. Contact the Education Appeals Team

If you have a query regarding the appeal process, you can get in touch with us online.

Contact us

You can also write to:

Education Appeals Team
Buckinghamshire Council
Walton Street Offices
Walton Street
Aylesbury
HP20 1UA

 

14. Further information

See the Parents Guide for information about:

 

  • What happens during the appeal
  • Decisions
  • Different types of appeal
  • Disabilities
  • Translators
  • Making a complaint